Equine-management course teaches teens some horse sense

An new barn will more than double the size of the school's riding area.
CHAMPION -- Some want to own their own ranches. Others hope to aid sick and injured animals through veterinary medicine.
The equine-management program at Trumbull Career and Technical Center provides instruction to 29 students in everything from the parts of a horse to horse psychology to various riding styles and training.
A contract is expected to be awarded later this month to construct a riding space behind the school. That would allow the barn, now used to house and ride the horses, to be converted into a stable barn, said Lisa Street, who has been the instructor at the school for four years.
Students taking the course range from those who have never or rarely been around horses before to those who grew up with them.
"It's about 50-50," Street said.
Bryan Christner, a junior at LaBrae High School, had been around horses only sparingly at fairs and other people's houses before enrolling in the equine-management program. He's learned about the parts of the horse but hasn't decided what career he'll pursue upon graduation.
Plans veterinary career
Jennifer McCarty, a Lakeview High School junior, plans to go to college to become a veterinarian. Jennifer's friend owns a horse, so she wasn't new to the animals but endured a scare a few months ago.
Something startled Reno, the horse she works with in the program, while she was riding him in the small ring. He bucked and nearly threw her off.
"That was a little scary," Jennifer said. But she managed to muster the courage to get back on the horse shortly after.
Juniors Kylie Wells of Hubbard and Cindy Rishaw of Bristol are examples of more experienced students.
Kylie holds the title of Ohio High School Rodeo Queen after competing in rodeo competitions throughout the state. Her family owns five horses and she's been riding since she was 7.
"I want to move out West and own my own ranch," Kylie said.
She hopes to be an equine sports massage therapist, providing a spa treatment to horses' aching muscles.
But even as an experienced horsewoman who often provides guidance and support to fellow classmates, Kylie learned some new things in the course as well: "We break 2-year-olds [horses] and I had never done that," she said.
Undecided future
Cindy has three horses of her own and has been riding for about half her life. She's torn between a career as a large-animal veterinarian and a lawyer-journalist.
"But with this class, large-animal vet has kind of moved to the front of my mind," she said.
Because she rides in the English style, where riders post -- or bounce up and down in the saddle with the movement of the horse -- she's had to learn to ride Western style, a less formal style in which riders don't post.
"Most of the riders in here are Western style, so I've had to learn that," Cindy said.
The school's barn houses 10 horses and Arthur the donkey. The horses belong to members of the course's advisory council and other members of the community.
Street said the class teaches students that not every horse may be trained the same way and that just because a technique works with one horse doesn't mean it will be successful with the next.
"These three horses here are educational tools," Street said, indicating horses in the ring. "If you were to think of them in terms of people, they have doctorates.
"This other one is more like a first-grader," she added, pointing to a fourth, less obedient, animal. "And he'd probably spend a lot of time in the principal's office."

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