Irvine School teacher Linda Kraft has seen her idea of the Irvine School Equestrian Club come through over the last month and with the help of volunteers, taught students techniques related to rodeo and gymkhana.
Students were able to showcase what they learned at finale class on June 14 at the Irvine Rodeo Grounds.
Classes commenced every other Thursday in May and June where students learned barrel racing, pole bending, flag picking, roping and obstacle course work.
“Horsemanship is the main focus of all of it,” said Kraft.
Kraft said this is “such an awesome opportunity,” for those rural kids to have this class available because both them and the parents enjoyed it.
“It’s even better when they get out amongst their peers and develop that self confidence,” said Kraft.
“We are lucky to have the Irvine Rodeo Grounds right here. We have lots of people who are interested who do equine events.”
Some riders competed in the junior high rodeos, while others had not been on their horse for a year because they did not how it would react.
“It was truly incredible to see some of the growth and how far they came in the times we were here,” said Kraft.
The equestrian club received a $5,000 grant from Canlin Energy for the program at the end of the event.
Her hope for next year is to open the club to all Prairie Rose School Division students and have the classes at the Dunmore Equestrian Centre.
“It would be awesome if horses were able to be a part of every kids daily life,” said Kraft.
“The therapeutic side of horses is truly incredible and to be able to have a rodeo academy would be fabulous.”
Kraft’s daughter, Addison, has been on a horse since four years old and rode seven-year old-Stella at the finale, who she considered “very nosey.”
Her favourite events were the pole bending and the flag picking and the idea the school was receiving the club excited her and fellow classmates.
“At first it was Grades 5-9, but a few days later they changed it to 3-9,” said Addison.
“At first I was really sad because we didn’t get to do it. But then when it turned to Grade 3, I got really excited.”
Grade 9 student Lacie Weiss has been riding since she was three and always something she loves doing.
“When I found out, I thought it was a good opportunity for me to get practice and for me to do it in high school,” said Weiss.
“ We have people who come out and specialize in it and help us help other kids. I’ve learned a lot more about barrel racing, that’s what I’ve done.”