Equine institute opens at CCC

Education: Students can learn basic horse care, training and how to manage a business in the new program.

March 07, 2004|By Amanda Ponko | Amanda Ponko,SUN STAFF

The Mid-Atlantic Equine Institute has opened at Cecil Community College, specializing in the care, training and business management of horses for students and professionals in the area.

The institute will begin teaching two enrichment courses this month covering basic horse care and ownership as well as an eight-week introductory riding class.

Future courses, held in five-week modules but spanning a normal 15-week semester, will provide students with hands-on experience with the animals, as well as classroom-style course work that will include lectures and exams on the equine industry.

In addition to the spring classes, courses offered in the fall will cover equine business management, the racing industry and possibly horse photojournalism.

The directors of the institute, Ted and Jo Ann Dawson of North East, have owned and operated Tailwinds Farm since 1986. The recreational riding facility offers pony and hay rides, horse shows and riding lessons.

Jo Ann Dawson, who is also the author of a series of children's horse books and a member of Maryland Horse Council and several other equine-related organizations, has worked as an equine science teacher and has worked on 12 movies, including The Sixth Sense, as an actress and horse wrangler.

Ted Dawson, who has a degree in business administration and finance, said that Cecil Community College began forming the program about six months ago with the help of a committee made up mostly of horse professionals in the area.

"I think [the college] realized lots of kids are interested in the equine industry," he said. "They're really involved in trying to offer practical classes that have immediate job application."

The institute will allow students to earn training certificates, Dawson said, which can then be applied to the college's expected two-year equine program and eventually turned into a four-year degree in equine farming and facility management.

Dawson said this academic progress creates a stepping-stone approach to achieving a quality education, making schooling easier for students.

The equine program "can attract students that have an intense desire to learn about horses that may not want to go to a full-time school," he said. "It ties it all to an academic setting."

The institute is working on a partnership with the University of Maryland and several other four-year universities to offer an equine associate degree in the courses. The program also plans to work with Harford County public schools to give high school students a chance to earn college credits in the field before graduation.

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