Nambour State College believes it is the only state school in the nation to include a Certificate II in Rural Operations and Horse Husbandry Assistance in its curriculum.
The State Government-funded course is open to students across the Sunshine Coast region, but an online version can also be accessed across Australia.
The Equestrian School of Excellence was the brainchild of teacher and equine enthusiast Lynda Page-Bickley.
“This is an opportunity for kids to be passionate about what they do,” Ms Page-Bickley said.
“They form amazing friendships, but the big thing of my philosophy of teaching is to teach the kids to love to learn.
“If they’re doing what they love, they love to learn and that goes across into their other learning as well.”
Ms Page-Bickley said when she first decided to establish the course, she spent a long time looking at state school examples of how to run an equestrian school of excellence — and there were not any.
“There’s a girl here who wants to study vet science, so she’s doing all of her high level academic subjects,” she said.
“This is her one Vocational Education and Training subject that she does on her flex day. I’ve also got a boy who wants to go and work at a riding school.
“There’s so many fields to be involved with.”
Once every week, 14 students start their day with their teacher and horses at the Nambour Showgrounds, using facilities provided by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council.
“They do two periods of theory in the morning on a Wednesday and then two periods of prac,” Ms Page-Bickley said.
“Because it is a Certificate II, they are learning about how to work in an industry, not just the horse industry but any industry.
“On the practical side, I bring people in from all over the community.
“I have a professional horse clipper that comes and teaches the kids to clip horses, I have a farrier come in, I have a dentist, I have Bowen therapists.
“I have so many people that want to share their love of what they do with horses.”
Keith Humphreys describes himself as an equine leader, and volunteered his time to share his decades of knowledge with students, giving them a lesson in horse and human interaction.
“So we’re just going to ask this horse to move his head around and I say thank you for moving his head around,” Mr Humphreys said.
“But if he’s going to come and beat me up with his head, the last thing I want to see is you hurt and I don’t want to see me hurt, so this guy just needs to learn a few manners.
“Horses hate to be controlled as anybody does.
“Being in a partnership and togetherness is more valuable than anything, so it’s teaching people to have a partnership with their horse.
“I love it, it’s my passion. Giving 40 years of experience and passion and learning to these girls, I couldn’t be in a happier place.”
Samantha Monaco, 16, soaked the information in.
“I found it really interesting and really eye-opening as well because my horse can be very pushy, and it’s really interesting to see how I can get him to back off and respect people’s space a little bit more,” Samantha said.
“It’s understanding your horse, but it’s also understanding yourself and how you communicate with your horse.”
Kathryn O’Donnell works for OnlineHorseCollege.com, which is helping run the course.
The nationally-accredited company is approved for funding under Queensland’s Vocational Education and Training in Schools program.
“We have government-funded courses available for high school students available for all students across Queensland,” Ms O’Donnell said.
“The online nature of the course means there is no restriction on your location anywhere in Australia.”
Abbey Whitford, 16, was one student who wants life after school to be all things equine.
“My main focus right now is probably getting my traineeship within the Bowen therapy side of things, because of my natural ability to have a spiritual connection with the horses,” Ms Whitford said.
“I also want to be a horse trainer and a professional dressage rider.