The life of an Equestrian student - Bridgwater & Taunton College

I have been studying Equine Studies at Bridgwater College’s Cannington Centre for the last two years and am thoroughly enjoying my experience. I interact with a diverse collection of horses and participate in many events. The yard is always working with both students and commercial clients.

Our week is usually filled with lectures which are based on various aspects of the horse from; the care of the competition horse, stud management, feeding but also the fitness and business management of horses. These are just a few of the lectures we take in our second year, we also have a mandatory riding lesson once a week with an optional jumping course which is also available to us if we would like to take it – this is optional purely because not everybody likes jumping!

In our second year we complete modules which require us to teach. The College welcomes Bristol University vet students to the yard to help them prepare for their internal exams. We teach the students, are monitored on our performance and help the vet students understand basic horse handling and care. We teach them these subjects as many have never even been near a horse let alone had to tack up. Our teaching lessons give us the chance to share knowledge and past experiences with each other and also help better our understanding and riding.

On the other hand it’s not all work at the yard, there are plenty of events going on in which we can have some fun. Every Wednesday we have riding club sessions available to us in which we have instructors from the area come in to teach us; either on our own horses or the college ones. These sessions are diverse and educational from dressage lessons, show jumping, horse agility and even the chance to prepare for BHS exams.

We also get the chance to compete at College and represent the College in competitions. We have the opportunity to either take our own horse/s to other equestrian establishments, compete for our riding club or the national schools, yet we also complete in ‘in-house’ competitions against each other.

These in house competitions have provided many students the chance to compete for the first time and others to enhance their competition skills. The competitions provide a great chance for friends and family to come and watch us ride, the day usually ends in high spirits and exhausted students after scrubbing each part of the horses squeaky clean!

As part of our course we have the chance to take part in educational visits. This year we have visited international shows including Olympia, The Horse of the Year Show, Badminton Horse Trials and Aldon. At Aldon we helped the organisers by arranging the arena party for them—this is where we spent the day in shifts putting up fallen poles from the show jumping ring and setting up in the course for the next classes. As a thank you we had the chance to walk the cross country course and watch eventers such as. Mark Todd, William Fox-Pitt and Vittoria Panizzon tackle the fences with ease.

We've also had the chance to experience a full horse dissection at Dartmoor Zoo and another on a horse’s leg at College, demonstrated to us by Lottie Merry. I really enjoyed it and even those with a weak stomach came back for more! Dissections are one topic that students do like to have, as it's much easier to understand the horse’s anatomy when it is right in front of you rather than in a book.

We are always being challenged to help develop our skills. The College has 25 horses which vary in size, temperament, age and other factors, these include, Cobs, Ex-racers and natives and everything in between. All of the horses have different levels of experience, from those who have raced to those who are pets. Each horse has its own personality and therefore allows us to work with different natures and learn from each one individually.

The facilities are forever improving at the College. In the last year a solarium, horse walker, hot shower and new stables have been added. These facilities are a great addition to the Centre itself and to our learning, as it gives us the experience to try new equipment. The horse walker is always appreciated on a windy day when the horses have spent time in the stable and are a little sprightly!

If you would like to know more about studying Equine Studies at Bridgwater College’s Cannington Centre, contact Information and Guidance 01278 441234.

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