Recreational equestrians can soon receive credit for working with their horses and studying what they love most.
A new partnership between Olds College and Guelph University has created the Western Recreational Rider Certificate. The one-year program focuses on the recreational and personal interest aspects of owning and working with horses.
“This is an innovative program,” said Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph, at the Ontario university. “There isn’t anything that’s linking that wilderness experience with the science of horse care in quite the same way that we’re doing.”
The program combines hands-on courses at Olds College with science-based courses offered online through Guelph University.
Dalin Bullock, chair of the Olds College School of Agriculture, said he thinks the partnership will bring out the strengths of both institutions while meeting the demands of a growing group of people.
“More and more people owning horses are using them for recreational purposes,” Bullock said. “I think the program will be very attractive to students.”
The certificate program is less career-focused than the two-year equine science diploma currently offered at Olds College. However, Bullock said students will still acquire the skills they need to find work in the western recreational sector.
The first students will begin instruction at Olds College in July. They will take classes there for two months before switching to Guelph University’s online courses from September to April. The program wraps up with two more months of classes at Olds College and then a three-day pack trip through the Rocky Mountains in June 2012.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Ecker said. “Very few of us get to go ride horses out in the wilderness anymore.”
Students began submitting applications for the program in January. There is no deadline for applications but only 24 people will be accepted. Bullock encourages interested students to apply sooner rather than later.