by PETER OWENS
OAMARU — All schools offer subjects to suit the various talents of different students. If that is a “horses for courses” approach, St Kevin’s College also offers courses for horses.
There is understood to be a growing anxiety among parents with the curriculum of many state secondary schools serving the rural community.

St Kevin’s College students prepare to ride a cross-country course.

Some schools do not offer the range of scientific and mathematical subjects needed today. Many parents are also more particular about not only academic subjects, but want their children to be able to carry on extracurricular interests while at boarding school.
St Kevin’s College near Oamaru has stepped up to try to meet that need by developing an international-size equestrian arena.
The arena is nestled amongst the trademark oaks of the school and signals a move that the school hopes will attract students who want to work in the equine industry, as well as those
who have a plain old love for horses.
The college introduced an equine course in term two this year so students could learn about horse care, the training of young horses and, for those who know how to ride, practise those skills.
From the outset, demand has outstripped capacity, and the arena has been a logical
development.
In 2015, the school will begin to assess achievement standards relating to the equine industry and provided by the Primary Industry ITO. Through this partnership, students will be able to gain credits in professional grooming, trekking and the tourism and racing industries.
The school has changed its timetable for 2015 to cater for the increased demand St Kevin’s College students prepare to ride a cross-country course. College students learn about horses
for industry-related courses, so those undertaking the courses will not be at a disadvantage in mainstream classes.
Tutor Ingela Anklew has worked in the Swedish industry for years as a groom and understands the demands of a professional stable. Her experience includes work in Germany, America and Spain, as well as in her home country. This is her first time teaching an equestrian course
in a school, and she is enjoying the opportunities it presents.
“[I] have great students to work with, so it couldn’t be better,” she said.
The school stresses that the equestrian venture is open to all students. There is no prerequisite for experience, or owning a horse. Classes are structured so students
can participate at every level.
“We have been very lucky in the generosity of people who have allowed us to use their horses so that the course is accessible to all,” said assistant principal Jo Walshe. “Animals provide opportunities to develop a real sense of responsibility in our students and for them to challenge themselves. We are thankful to those who enable that to happen.”
The arena will be officially opened on October 31.

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