Submitted. Students at Robert Bateman Secondary are saddling up in a new Equestrian Program officially launched this week. The program, initially for Aboriginal students, is a first for the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland, and fairly unique in BC. Eleven students from Grade 9 to 12 are currently enrolled in the independent study course, and school and district personnel are developing plans to introduce a full equestrian curriculum in September 2013.
Robert Bateman Secondary Equestrian Education is sponsored by the Abbotsford School District, the district’s Aboriginal Education department and Farm Credit Canada. The program’s mission statement states: “Bateman Equestrian Education is designed to educate students through personalized learning; connecting students with horses to participate in a high school accredited course focusing on horsemanship skills along with the care and management of individual project horses.”
To get the four credits for the equestrian course, the students put in some classroom time to work on the equine curriculum, and make twice-weekly visits to the barn where they learn skills such as horse and barn safety, grooming and saddling, lunging (exercising horses on a long lead line) and riding. This educational experience is combined with personal growth and development, social responsibility, healthy living, and life skills. Instruction and horse training is provided by Ruth Neveu, Bateman Secondary’s Aboriginal Youth Services worker, along with three professional trainers at Cayley Wilson Performance Horses in south Abbotsford.
“It’s a perfect opportunity to find passion and engagement for Aboriginal Students – and earn credit for that towards their graduation,” notes Aboriginal Education District Principal Perry Smith.
“This program underscores two key aspects of the Board of Education’s Strategic Plan, those being: flexibility in programs and services, and student access to programs and services,” says Trustee Shirley Wilson, speaking on behalf of the Board. “It is also reflective of how our school district works — building partnerships to offer programs and services to our students. It is those partnerships that have enabled this program to happen.”
Organizations involved in the partnership are: Robert Bateman Secondary, the District Aboriginal Education department, Cayley Wilson Performance Horses, Farm Credit Canada, and Horse Council BC.