Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Experiential Learning Week Spring 2016 – Horsemanship

Josh Davis - Matthew Halton High School held its 2016 experiential learning week from May 2 – May 6. One of the courses held throughout the week was a horsemanship, which took place at the Pincher Creek & District Agricultural Society’s Horseshoe Pavilion. Audrey Westrop helped teach both the beginner and intermediate horsemanship courses. Westrop provided horses for the beginner students inside. She taught intermediate students first couple of days, then taught the beginner students on Wednesday and Thursday. Westrop donated all of her time.

5 Students from grade 7 – 12 took the beginner level course, Beginner students learned horse safety, arena etiquette, and horse behaviour in the first day, before moving on to riding in the later days.The Intermediate students had a larger group, and an age range of 12 – 15.

Grade 8 teacher Michelle Watt grew up on acreage, and has barrel raced since age 8. In that time Watt has earned several barrel racing titles to her name. Watt helped supervise the beginner course. “This is my first time doing experiential learning week,” said Watt. “It’s very interesting. It’s fantastic for all of the different opportunities the kids have this week. This has been so rewarding for these kids.” Watt said that the group started off not even knowing how to halter or lead a horse, but progressed quickly. “We’ve had to switch up horses for a couple of kids. For them to change from on horse to another is an excellent experience. They’ve just done so well. I’m proud of their perseverance.

In addition to Watt, Westrop’s daughter Billy Lowe, an educational assistant from Matthew Halton, helped supervise the beginner course. Lowe also provided one of the horses. “A lot of confidence building is happening,” said Lowe. Lowe explained the students earned their credits by completing a workbook and demonstrating the knowledge they learned about the code of practice for equines. “It’s just a great way to spend a week. I’m really proud of the beginner girls. I’m proud of all of them, but these ones I’m especially proud of because they’ve never really done it to this level. Some have ridden around a bit, but never where they’ve asked the horse to do something that the horse didn’t want to do. So for them to build the confidence to do that, and build that trusting relationship with the horses is worth kudos.”

Later in the week, retired teach Hilary Matheson volunteered to help the intermediate course outside. “We’ve been working on flection, we’ve been working on cues for turning, we’ve been working on side-passing, and we’ve worked on backing up.” Matheson said it was going excellent. “I think experiential learning week is one of the most valuable things that we do with students. It gives them hands on experience in an area of interest that they can look into in depth.”

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