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Is horse ownership your dream? Short course is for novice, potential horse owners

A summer horse program started over 40 years ago has added a new session -- one designed not for veteran horse people but for people who want to buy their first horse.

"It's for people who have their first horse and feel a little bit lost and for people who want to get a taste of (horse ownership)," said Kris Hiney, an assistant professor at UW-River Falls.

"Buying and Managing Your First Horse," a Thursday through Saturday class, is intended to help the first-time or novice horse owner successfully select, care for and manage a horse, said Hiney.

The class will be held June 21-23 at UW-RF. The fee of $250 also covers take-home materials. Hiney said those materials are "a solid pack of information" about horse ownership and care.

The UW-RF Horse Science Institute was started 41 years ago by Jack Brainerd and Larry Kasten, a UW-RF instructor.

"It used to be they'd go on the road," said Hiney. The early programs were called "Horses A to Z" and covered a range of equestrian topics. The summer program later became the "Horse Science Institute," an independent summer program.

Kasten retired last year, and enrollments have dropped significantly in the last few years, said Hiney. She believes some of the decline was due to mid-week class schedules that were inconvenient for working people or to availability of similar programs elsewhere.

"What we kept are the things that are extremely popular," said Hiney. Those include the youth camps and reining and cow horse clinics.

Classes added are a two-day youth camp and the introduction to horse ownership session.

"Lots of people look and say, 'Oh, he's so pretty,' and that doesn't always go so well," said Hiney of the way some people choose their first horse.

Hiney said the dream of horse ownership can fall flat if the new owner isn't prepared to handle the responsibility and cost.

The class will focus on criteria, including temperament and level of training, used to select a horse; and safe handling techniques for working on the ground and in the saddle. Hiney said health management and nutrition and the realistic costs of horse ownership will be emphasized.

By the time they finish the program and study the materials, participants should have the skills and knowledge to make their first horse ownership a successful experience, said Hiney.

Or at least, she said, "That's our lofty goal."

The horse ownership class is intended for adults, but allowances can be made for mature teens, said Hiney. "Any exception, we screen them and talk to them personally beforehand."

Horse Science Institute staff includes Hiney, who has been a faculty member at UW-RF for five years, teaching equine management, equitation, horse production, equine reproduction and horse judging; Jeff Kasten, who trains and shows in reining, working cow horse and cutting; Nathan O'Connor, a staff member in the UW-RF Animal Science Department who managed the UW-RF equine facilities for 10 years; and Dr. Peter Rayne, a veterinarian, who will teach jumping, dressage and equine health classes.

As with all the Horse Science Institute sessions, registration is required two weeks before the first class. Interested persons may call 425-3785 or print a registration form from the Web site:

New Generation Horse Science Institute

These classes are offered this summer:

  • Buying and Managing Your First Horse -- June 21-23
  • Show Day! Successful Preparation for the Young Rider -- June 2-3
  • Working Cow Horse -- June 9-11
  • Training and Showing the Reining Horse -- June 9-11
  • Youth Horsemanship Camp (advanced rider) -- June 25-28
  • Youth Horsemanship Camp (intermediate rider) -- July 9-12
  • Youth Horsemanship Camp (intermediate rider) -- July 16-19

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