Nanaimo district develops new horse courses

Students interested in studying equine-related activities will soon have three elective courses on the subject to choose from.

This fall, a locally developed Introduction to Horsemanship 10 course was offered for the first time and  attracted 40 students.

Francine Frisson, assistant superintendent for Nanaimo school district and co-developer of the course, said because the course is offered through the distance learning program, students from other areas of the province have enrolled – 21 are local and others are from other parts of the Island, the Lower Mainland and Interior.

Participants indicated a willingness to continue with horsemanship studies, so the district developed  courses at the Grades 11 and 12 levels, both of which can be taken without taking the lower level.

"The first course is just an introductory course," said Frisson. "There's so much more the students could learn."

The intro course covers safety, horse behaviour and psychology, the different ways horses are used by humans, breeds, health and care, and riding theory.

Frisson said the senior courses cover topics such as colours and markings, famous horses and riders, sports psychology for the rider, how to determine to what a horse is best suited, and stable construction and pasture management.

All the courses have a riding component where students can use riding activities with a certified instructor to obtain a percentage of their course mark, although the courses are set up so students don't have to actually ride a horse to participate.

Students can sign up for the courses at any time of the year and complete the course at their own pace.

"The most important thing is providing students with opportunities to personalize their own learning," said Frisson. "Students are going to be writing, responding to readings, doing research. They're developing their skills based on something they're interested in."

Some students in the intro course have gone on some optional field trips this year, she added, including to a veterinarian clinic in Cedar and to a three-day horse conference in Chilliwack. Students in other communities are encouraged to do similar activities in their own communities, Frisson said.

The courses bring some additional revenue into the district and enable students provincewide to follow their interests, she said.

Nanaimo school board approved the new courses last week and they will be offered starting next fall.

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