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Horse delights students at Reading College

Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools’ literacy project at RDP
Students attending Reading College had a visit from Becky Wylie-Jardine, coach with Red Deer Polytechnic Royals Rodeo Team, and her horse JoJo on July 19, 2023. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Students at Reading College can add equine education to their list of summer experiences.

The 69 Grade 2 students enrolled in the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools’ month-long literacy program had a special visit on Wednesday afternoon from Absolute Hottie, a registered quarter horse nicknamed JoJo, and her owner Becky Wylie-Jardine.

Wylie-Jardine, a coach with Red Deer Polytechnic Royals Rodeo Team, answered the students questions as they admired the seven-year-old, 540-kilogram horse.

Held at Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre at RDP, Reading College provides students with a literacy-rich environment where they receive support from mentor teachers as well as recent graduate teachers of RDP.

Students also enjoy fun activities each day at RDP, which increases their excitement about the program and introduces them to possibilities for their future, and JoJo did just that.


Red Deer students enthusiastic about Reading College

Reading College co-ordinator Sue Carmichael said Wednesday’s visit from a horse was a first for the literacy program that has run every summer for the 12 years.

She said seeing a live horse may also have been a first for many of the students and it’s these kinds of unique experiences that can make a big impression on the students. They may be inspired to learn how to ride a horse, or even pursue a career that involves horses or other animals.

“It’s all about possibilities,” Carmichael said.


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Wylie-Jardine said many people probably don’t know that RDP has a rodeo team.

But this year, two students on the eight-member team finished as the top competitors at the recent Canadian Collegiate Rodeo Association Finals in Brooks in May.

Makayla Willows, of Buck Lake, was named 2023 Canadian Collegiate Rodeo Association (CCRA) Cowgirl of the Year.

Cayden Nickel, of Evansburg, was named the CCRA Cowboy of the Year and CCRA Tie Down Roping Champion.

Wylie-Jardine, who has been with the team for eight years, said a lot of Canadian students end up studying at American colleges that have rodeo teams. But the RDP rodeo team is hoping to reverse that trend and attract American students to Red Deer.

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Susan Zielinski

About the Author: Susan Zielinski

Susan has been with the Red Deer Advocate since 2001. Her reporting has focused on education, social and health issues.
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