Tri-Tech students take hands-on equine science course (w/video)

Murrow News ServiceMarch 27, 2014 

River View High School instructor Keith Holman teaches the only full-year, live-horse equine science course in Washington state. He even provides his own horses.

On Thursday, 16 of Holman's Finley students taught 28 pre-veterinary students from Kennewick's Tri-Tech Skills Center the basics of horseplay, so to speak.

Tri-Tech students learned washing and grooming techniques for manes, tails and feet. They learned how to saddle, tie to trailers and posts, and feed horses and load them into trailers.

They ate pizza -- the students, not the horses -- provided by the local Domino's, before ending the afternoon with a saddling race.

"It was a challenge but the kids did real well," said Holman, who has been teaching the course for eight years. "I thought they did excellent today."

Holman's students spend a lot of time preparing and hitting the books to learn horse anatomy, care and behavior, he said.

The students also took several field trips to local ranches to see how horses are handled, and spent portions of the last two months outdoors with horses, he added.

While some of the students had prior experience with horses, others did not.

Teaching all of them to be on the same page, Holman said, is important when it comes time to teach other students, especially since the course was opened up to freshman and sophomores after being an upperclassman course in prior years.

"It was a challenge," he said of the freshmen. "Those students were nervous; they're ... teaching students that are two to three years older than them."

The course offers students hands-on experience, as well as a partial science credit toward graduation, Holman said.

Having live horses on school grounds is something other schools would like to do, Holman said, but factors like insurance costs and physical location prevent it.

"We are extremely lucky," he said.

The course was lobbied for by the community eight years ago, and has had funding and support from community members and local businesses, he said. A community veterinarian also helps with the class.

"It turned out to be a really cool thing," he said.

-- Tri-City Herald intern Matt Benoit is a Washington State University student: 509-947-9277, mbenoit@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Matt_Benoit

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