SCHOOL-WIDE EQUESTRIAN PROGRAM
Included in tuition!
Odyssey Heights is the Only School East of Alberta, and the Only Girls School in Canada Where Everyone Rides.
Part of the OE3 curriculum, the equestrian program at Odyssey Heights is designed to develop self-confidence, compassion, empowerment, healthy living habits, and a connection to nature in all our students. Over their years at Odyssey Heights School for Girls/École pour filles Odyssey Heights, students will experience a wide range of equestrian activities including: English riding lessons, Western riding lessons, trail rides, Royal Winter Fair trips, equine therapy, wagon/sleigh/buggy rides, farm visits, donkey horse rescue farm visits, an overnight horse pack trip in the Rockies (and possibly Algonquin), riding on Icelandic horses across Iceland, and maybe (hopefully) a visit to the set of Heartland!
Frequently Asked Questions about the School-Wide Equestrian Program
FAQ: Where Does Odyssey Heights School for Girls Do the Equestrian Program?
With the program changes this year, Odyssey Heights is using this as an opportunity to find a long-term home base for our equestrian program.Country Hill Farms is so lovely, and the owner Kathy and her staff are amazing, but it's a small stables, and couldn't accommodate multiple classes. Once Odyssey Heights has grades 7-12 (we currently have 7-10), and a middle school French Immersion program, we could have 40-50+ students. Even speed over two days, there's only a handful of equestrian facilities that can handle those numbers. It's a tall order, but we've narrowed it down to a few wonderful farms. Hopefully we'll be able to announce our new equestrian home soon.
What we are looking for in a long-term equestrian home:
We need a single farm/stables that offers all or almost all:
A warm, rural atmosphere away from all the traffic and noise in Toronto and area.
English and Western lessons
Horsemanship - especially requiring girls to tack up and untack, groom their horses
Trail riding/hacking - This is extremely important.
Horse behaviour/psychology and/or horse/human connection
Farm animals, dogs, cats, livestock,...
A focus on animal rescue, second chance horse training (think Heartland on CBC), kindness, and responsible ownership
Be able to have some lessons, tours, and/or demonstrations on farm management - especially from a sustainable agricultural ecosystems perspective.
Be able to handle a growing school size.
Longer term, have the possibility to be a home stables for a school equestrian team. (Whether or not a team is started is up to the student council.)
Close to a conservation area, hiking/xc skiing/snowshoeing trails, outdoor centre, or other OE3 locations would be a bonus.
FAQ: What Do Students Do in the Equestrian Program, and When Do They Do It?
Every Friday is POGO Friday - Project or Going Out. The equestrian program trips are on approximately half of the Fridays that are school days, and the students aren't away on overnight trips.
This means about 15 days per school year are dedicated to equestrian activities. That's the equivalent of three school weeks every year with horses!
Activities At Our Equestrian Home (to be):
The exact activities, and daily timetable at the stables will depend on which farm becomes our equestrian home. However, there are essential activities that all the farms we're considering have. One of the main activities is trail riding as it connects with our nature, adventure, and mindfulness physical education program. Trail riding also prepares students for overnight horseback riding trips. Girls will have both English and Western riding lessons. There will be lessons on sustainable agriculture and agricultural ecosystems, farm management, horsemanship, horse psychology, and hands-on experience in barn and farm management. Students will also learn about veterinary care, and have opportunities to connect with people in different equestrian professions such as coaches, farriers (horse shoe specialists), managers, owners, ...
Activities At Other Facilities:
Royal Winter Fair annual trip
Overnight horseback riding on the major year end trips (Alberta 2021, Iceland 2023,...)
Possible visit to the set of Heartland on the Alberta 2021 trip
U Guelph - possible field trip, or guest speaker
Visit other farms
Possible day or overnight horseback trail ride near Algonquin
Volunteer for equestrian events/organizations
Students ages 16 and up can do online/in person courses though U Guelph equestrian and include them on their OHS student record.
FAQ: What Are the Goals/Reasons/Rationale for the Equestrian Program?
The reasons and rationale for the equestrian program is to:
get the girls (and teachers!) out of downtown,
connect them to farms and animals,
develop well rounded equestrians with a broad base of skills,
have hands-on connections to science
Provide over 50% of the instructional time for the Agriculture & the Environment courses
to prepare girls for overnight horseback riding trips (Alberta Rockies 2021, Iceland 2023,...).
to engage and inspire girls in their academic studies.
to provide experiences that will help them in exploring post-secondary and career options and in their university applications. For example:
The University of Connecticut has been actively recruiting future OHS graduates for their equestrian management and science programs since before we opened.
U of Guelph Vet program requires related experience
FAQ: How Does It Work When There's Different Levels of Riders?
For experienced riders the school-wide equestrian program is a compliment to their competitive training. It provides breadth, provides competitive riders a chance to relax and enjoy a trail ride or a Western lesson, enriches their academic studies in most subjects, and may facilitate experienced riders developing a passion for horse training as well as riding. The focus is not on riding lessons, but on horsemanship and breadth of equestrian experience. Lessons may be broken into two or more sections, and/or absolute beginners may have a few introductory sessions before joining a group lesson. Interested older experienced riders may be able to have some volunteer hours being a peer mentor to a younger new rider. One of the essential activities is trail riding. For new riders it's a wonderful way to get outside and bond with a horse. For experienced riders .who doesn't like a good time hacking around - especially in a busy showing season?
The exact details of how and when different activities and lesson levels will run, will be available after we've chosen our long-term equestrian home.
FAQ: Does Odyssey Heights Have an Equestrian Team/Club?
Co-curriculars at Odyssey Heights are mostly driven by student interest. If the student council (or a committee of the student council) votes to start a club, or team, Odyssey Heights teachers and staff will do our best to facilitate the program starting. The student council will be supported and encouraged to start a competitive equestrian team, 4-H Club, and/or equestrian club. Realistically, the earliest that a club could form would be late spring 2020, with the club/team in full operation for fall 2020.