Equine enthusiasts hone skills
NORTHERN Territorian Sophie O'Brien might have temporarily traded the wide open spaces of the inland to study on the Southern Downs but her plans for the future are centred firmly on the bush.
The Scots PGC College Year 12 student is one of a group of equine-keen teenagers juggling school work with a Warwick TAFE course specialising in horse breeding.
It is the second year Sophie has been involved in the Certificate III course and the first year the program has been expanded to all secondary school students across the region.
For this northerner, the Warwick program is an integral part of her plan to be accepted to Marcus Oldham College's reproductive equine studies.
"I started the horse breeding course here last year and it's been great; it's very hands-on and very relevant," Sophie said.
"The course is pretty comprehensive and I find it a really nice change to be learning outside a classroom."
Long term, she hopes to use the skills she acquires through her studies to work with horses, ideally with a campdrafting connection.
The articulate teen is one of 16 students from across the Southern Downs enrolled in the Warwick TAFE horse breeding program this year.
Program co-ordinator Kellie Monckton said expanding the program to include students from Warwick High and Assumption College, as well as Scots PGC, had been an easy decision.
"Most of these kids tend to have had experience with horses, which certainly isn't critical," she explained.
"What is important is the kids are keen and willing to learn and we've been fortunate that those enrolled here definitely want to be here."
School students complete their certificate course in horse breeding in two years, spending every Wednesday in at the horse sheds at Warwick TAFE campus.
For equestrians like Alison Dennis, the program offers valuable experience in horse breeding, as well as insight into employment opportunities in the thoroughbred industry.
"I am really interested in working with horses after school but I am just not sure what sort of qualifications or direction I want to take yet," the Year 11 student explained.
"The horse breeding program has been really interesting so far, though and I would definitely recommend it."
The Warwick TAFE horse breeding program is open to secondary school students on a part-time basis over two years or full-time as part of a Certificate of Agricultural studies.
The next course starts in July. For information phone Warwick TAFE on 4660 4600.