Homeschooling a Horse Lover
My little horse lover is all grown up. This year she will graduate our homeschool and head off to college where she will major in equine science.
Before her passion for horses blossomed, we knew her heart held a soft spot for animals in general – and all the jobs that come with those animals. For as long as I can remember, all the dog and cat pets have naturally become “hers” as she cared for and loved on them as if they were humans. If her daddy needed help working cattle, she was right there without question or complaint. When newborn calves lost their mommas, she stepped right in to bottle feed and spoil them joyfully.
Around third grade, she started trail riding with her papaw and it became very clear that a piece of her heart would forever belong to horses.
Her love for horses was more than a passing hobby, it was a passion. She needed to read about horses, ride horses, groom horses and talk horses.
Because homeschooling affords us precious time, flexibility in our schedule and flexibility in curriculum choices, I was able to help Mahayla cultivate her passion. And it’s grown into so much more than just a hobby.
Homeschooling a Horse Lover
The cool thing is – regularly scheduled curriculum never had to take a back seat…and neither did horses. Following a Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling allowed us to get the three R’s (plus a lot) finished before lunch most days. The hour or so after lunch would wrap up loose ends, leaving at least a few hours of “free time” before supper.
Time to Chase Passions
My go-getter used much of that free time to pursue her passion. Warm afternoons would find her mucking out stalls, sweeping barns, grooming horses, training horses or riding horses. I should mention, it’s truly been a blessing that my father-in-law, retired for most of these years, loves horses as much as my daughter. In other words, the two of them have spent many blissful hours together and his mentoring has been invaluable.
Books to Grow Knowledge
Cold afternoons would find her devouring books about horses. I truly believe she read every horse book available in two different library systems – and we’ve purchased what she couldn’t borrow. In between horse books, she read about border collies, cattle, pigs, goats, chickens and more. We’re talking a serious passion, remember. (My boys call her nerdy, by the way.)
Interrupting the Regular Schedule
When the vet stopped by, we would postpone schoolwork so Mahayla could soak up valuable knowledge with the doctor. When the horses were needed to herd cattle in the morning, we would get to our lessons in the afternoon so she could gain experience in ranching. When Keeneland’s horse sale took place, we would call it a field trip day so she could see the value of the thoroughbred industry. I don’t regret one moment of “interrupting” our school day for these opportunities.
Taking Advantage of Opportunities
We purposely looked for horse (or ag) related opportunities. I’ll admit, that’s pretty easy living in Central KY, the horse capital of the world, where events are held at The Kentucky Horse Park and Keeneland quite often. Besides those special events, though, we found others:
- A horse club sponsored by 4-H allowed her to meet other kids who love horses.
- Special classes offered for adults through our local extension office welcomed her heartily.
- Visiting local horse rescue missions made great field trips.
- Trips to local horse hospitals were uh-mazing.
- We took a trip to a feed mill which produces special feed blends.
- Several nearby towns (ours included) host horse festivals that our whole family attends.
- We’ve enjoyed horse themed art exhibits.
- We’ve taken horse farm tours.
- Mahayla’s papaw worked at a horse training facility for a little while and he would take her once in a while to watch the trainers in action.
Focused High School Courses
Of course you can find all kinds of curriculum having to do with horses for the elementary and middle school years. My sweet girl had already taught herself all of that and more. (That’s the cool thing about a passion that drives you, right?)
When I realized by high school that this love of horses was really serious – her future career serious – we needed to come up with a four year plan that honored her goals. That four year plan also had to meet the college-bound requirements. Since the study of horses mostly falls into the field of science, that’s where we tailored her education.
After fulfilling the three college-bound science requirements (she started in 8th grade), there were two years left. The first year (her junior year), we allowed her to design her own agriscience course. All plans had to be approved by mom and dad! Basically, she read books, wrote papers and completed “in the field” labs. She learned SO much!
An Invaluable Apprenticeship
The second year (this year – her senior year), she’s been blessed to take part in what we’re calling a work study. By God’s design, we have a new neighbor who owns a horse farm where she trains and boards horses. And, it just so happened, she needed help that Mahayla was willing and able to give. I cannot describe to you how perfect this situation has been!
In this work study, Mahayla has been mentored by a sweet lady who is giving her experience and advice in everything having to do with owning and running your own horse farm. Nothing could be more perfect.
The End is Actually the Beginning
I just feel so incredibly blessed to have been able to give my horse lover an education worthy of her passions. Homeschooling truly rocks.
Bonus: Fiction Books About Horses
When I said my daughter read book after book about horses, I was very serious. Even her free time reading was often consumed. These are some that she remembers with fond memories. Several of them are parts of series, so there are actually quite a lot to choose from in all.
Homeschooling Help for You
If you have a smart kiddo with serious passions and you aren’t quite sure what to do, I wrote a book for you! Homeschooling Gifted Kids can help you figure out the best ways to meet your child and his or her passions in ways that breed great success.
Other Posts All About Horses
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So similar to my middle who is a full blown animal lover. Isn’t it great how you can SEE that passion even when they are young?
That is wonderful, I have a horse lover as well…. Do you still do personal homeschool training?
I sure do, Dana. https://ourjourneywestward.com/homeschool-consulting/ 🙂
This is such a blessing! My daughter is ending her 9th grade year. She is heading toward a career with horses. I have been looking into how we can make her classes fit her plan. This is such an encouragement! I was finding nothing for high school and really struggling with what we could do. Your post as help me so much! Thank you for sharing!
You are welcome, Teresa! I know you’ll find wonderful ways to help her soar!
Um, thank you! My oldest daughter is very interested in equine science. She is almost through 7th grade and with 5 years left I need a plan for her high school goals. I appreciate this post!
I also have a horse/animal lover daughter going into her 8th grade year but starting hs level work this fall. Can you give me some more information on what other courses you choose for 10-11th grades please. I would like to follow in the same footsteps so to speak and could use guidance with this being our first child entering hs years. Thank you for your time and knowledge. She will be taking an Equine Science course for science credit and hopefully a work study at a horse farm this summer so she is pretty excited about it!! Along with involvement with 4-H soon.
Can I ask which college she’ll be attending? My daughter LOVES horses & is considering studying equine science with a bent towards hippo-therapy.
Tammy, my daughter is beginning her education at a two-year community college here in KY. The official name of the program is the North American Racing Academy, I think. They have a compact program that will immerse her in equine studies and meaningful electives that support working in the equine industry. After the associate degree, she has the option of transferring to one of our state schools to get her bachelor degree in any equine or ag related field. The associate program tends more toward those who plan to either work in the racing industry or own their own boarding/training facilities. Since Mahayla doesn’t know specifically what her horse niche will be yet, we felt like this option (nearby and relatively cheap) was the best place to start. If she knew for sure she wanted to go into hippo-therapy, pre-vet or something else, we would probably start right into a college that had those goals in mind. Best wishes to your daughter!
We went with the traditional sciences (using Apologia) for 8th-10th: physical, biology, chemistry. Her 11th grade year was a general ag course designed by us. You can find a post about that year at https://ourjourneywestward.com/homeschooling-high-school-student-led/. Her senior year has been a work study/apprenticeship.
Those were the “formal” science courses. She has been reading about horses from adult-level books on her own time for years and years. I hope htat helps! Enjoy the high school years!
Great post! When we follow our passion, the motivation to learn is built in. That’s what Horse Lover’s Math is all about!
My dd is in 8th grade this year. We have already done Biology 1(w/lab). I’m contemplating either moving on with Abeka Physical Science class (w/o lab) or letting her enjoy this year with Apologija Zoology. Our goal is to do an Equine science in high school (we hs overseas). Are there no high school hs curriculum for Equine science? I have to create my own? She does already work at a horse ranch, so a work study is definitely a possibility. Would this count towards a lab? Is there an advantage to doing Zoology before Equine over getting the high school physical science out of the way??
Vanessa, I’d be happy to consult with you about these questions. I just worked with another sweet momma to help her think through high school studies for her horse loving daughter. You can find information about my consults on this page.
I´ve just begun my search for my 10 year old daughter that too is very interested in horses. She will read anything she can get her hands on and I would appreciate any recommendations you could give. We are in Peru so it is difficult to get books but we do have access to the internet and she has begun equestrian classes. Since I have 0 background with regard to horses/farms I am kind of starting from scratch. I love the plan that you laid out for your daughter, interest lead learning is what we are also seeking (we home school as well.) I will investigate how to subscribe to your blog and stay tuned!
Peru! How cool! Here is a list of horse books my daughter enjoyed over the years. Equestrian classes will be wonderful for your daughter! I don’t have a list of internet resources for you. My daughter is a book loving kind of girl and really didn’t do much besides necessary research online. I sure hope your daughter enjoys her horse studies!
Your post brought back a lot of memories for me. I was exactly like your daughter – totally horse crazy – and convinced my mom to home-school me when I was young so I could spend more time at the barn. It was a huge gift and a wonderful blessing for me and I’m so glad you are doing the same for your daughter. Now, I have a daughter of my own who’s two and I plan on home-schooling her as well. Thank you for the list of books and resources!