The University of Calgary's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine hasn't even graduated its first class and is already changing the way students are taught.

Professors want students to begin gaining hands on experience as soon as possible and part of that philosophy starts in a lab with equine and bovine simulators.

Emma Read, the Senior Instructor of Large Animal Surgery, wanted something for students to touch and see in three dimensions.

Now three full-sized horse simulators are available to students and are as realistic as it gets.

The simulators allow students to become familiar with the internal workings of a horse and learn a variety of procedures.

Read asked for help from Calgary's movie industry and consulted with prop experts to come up with the gastro-intestinal tract of a horse.

The abdomen on the horse simulator is exposed so that students can see how the intestines are arranged and experience the different parts of the GI tract.

The simulators cost about $20,000 each but are well worth it according to instructors and students.

"We don't use these simulators to replace live animal use, but it certainly reduces it a lot, and it increases the learning curve so by the time we take them to the live animals they're competent and confident in the skill they're going to perform and that's so much better for them and so much better for the patient," said Read.

Veterinary programs all over North America and the United Kingdom are interested in the simulators.

The simulators have become so popular the props experts who built them have started their own business to keep up with demand.

For more information on the simulators, visit the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine website.