CLIFTON State High School is breaking new ground in their agricultural department with the introduction of an Equine Program in 2013.
In what is believed to be a first for the Darling Downs and south-east Queensland, students in years 8 and 9, will be offered Equine Studies, from the start of next year.
School principal Joy Craig said the new Equine Program was made possible by the generous offer of two foundation animals for the program by a parent of students at the school, Steve Mantova.
I'm not aware of any other secondary school offering a similar equine course.
"We are very excited to have a community led initiative in a rural area with a lot of students interested in horses," Mrs Craig said.
"Steve's offer of two well-handled quiet horses is an ideal start," she said.
"One horse to be an integral part of the new course is Steve's 24-year-old mare, Ayda, which he rode in the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympics in 2000."
Ayda is a very experienced horse, taking part in Equitana in Melbourne in 2003, and performing in the Outback Thunder Arena Spectacular at the Brisbane Ekka in 2002.
School head of Department, Alternate Pathways Jayne Kennedy said the Equine Program would provide a great opportunity for students who didn't have the chance to work with horses.
"However, it will be equally as good for those students with experience with horses to demonstrate their expertise," Mrs Kennedy said.
"At this stage the Equine Program will be aimed at Year 8 and 9 students, with plans to expand it into years 10, 11 and 12 in the future and incorporate it into the Certificate III in Rural Operations," she said.
Mrs Kennedy said Clifton High School had a depth of experience within the staff relating to equine pursuits.
"The course will be taught by experienced teachers with a wealth of knowledge when it comes to horses - Dick Collyer, Alice James and Charlotte White," she said.
"We are hoping the course will appeal to our students who have a long standing love of horses, and we hope to introduce equine sporting activities down the track."
Mrs Kennedy said one of the strengths of Clifton State High was how the staff worked closely with and responded to the interests of the local community.
"This course wouldn't work in all schools, and I'm not aware of any other secondary school offering a similar equine course," she said.
"It's lovely to be involved in something that's uniquely Clifton."
Teacher Dick Collyer quoted Winston Churchill in saying, "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of man".
"This basic horse care course will teach students the basic horse care skills of safety, appreciating the horse, catching, leading, grooming, saddling, feeding, and in the future, basic riding skills," Mr Collyer said.
"It will also teach students responsibility, co-ordination and balance."
Mr Collyer is an expe
rienced endurance rider and horse breeder who holds a Pony Club Level C instructors badge.
He will be assisted in the course by Alice James, who is a Level B Pony Club instructor, has competed at State level in dressage, and has many years' experience riding and instructing children.
Deputy principal Charlotte White is also very excited about the opportunity students at Clifton High will be offered with the introduction of the new course.
Mrs White taught a Certificate II for Stable Hands at Harristown High for five years, on behalf of Queensland Racing, has been a racehorse trainer for ten years, and is an accomplished dressage and showjumping competitor.
The school is calling for donations of panels for the new horse yards, which are imperative for the equine course.
As a form of acknowledgement, each panel will be engraved with the names of the donors.
Any businesses or individuals who would like to donate a panel to the school, at a cost of $80 per panel, please contact Joy Craig at the school on 4697 4777.
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