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New course about horses approved by district
Nanaimo students with an interest in equine-related activities might soon be able to earn credits toward high school graduation.
Trustees approved Introduction to Horsemanship 10 at a board meeting Wednesday .
The course, developed by assistant superintendent Francine Frisson and teacher Gayle Brase, is a four-credit elective delivered through the district's distance learning program.
Students learn about safety, horse behaviour and psychology, the different ways horses are used by humans, breeds, health and care, and riding theory.
The course is set up so that students don't have to actually ride a horse to participate, said Frisson, although students can earn credits for riding activities with certified coaches.
"It's a costly sport," she said. "We've set it up so you don't have to spend a penny."
Frisson, who keeps her own private stable, started a horsemanship club when she was principal at Nanaimo District Secondary School and has continued to run the club since becoming assistant superintendent.
The club attracted 18 students the first year and similar numbers ever since, she said, so she thought the course – which any student in the district or province can take once the Education Ministry gives final approval – would be popular.
"There's a huge number of horses on the Island and there's lots going on in terms of the equine industry," said Frisson. "There are a number of opportunities right at our doorstep."
This type of course also fits nicely with the province's new focus on personalized learning, she added, because it caters to the needs and interests of certain students.
While the course will be run through the district's Learn@Home program, students could go on a number of optional field trips, including visits to the horse surgery at Petroglyph Animal Hospital, local stables, a horse conference in Chilliwack and an event at the Vancouver Island Exhibition grounds at Beban Park.
Carol McNamee, vice-chairwoman of the school board, said when she first looked at the course, she was a little skeptical about the educational value of the program, but as she learned more about it, she started to get excited.
"The course looks fabulous," she said. "If I was a kid, I would take it."
Students will be more engaged in learning valuable skills, such as research, reading and writing, because it is a topic that interests them, said McNamee.