Horsing around at school: Temple High students get hands-on equestrian experience

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Teachers usually don’t like their students to horse around in class, but when it comes to getting visual with learning, you can bet the farm that Temple High School agriculture science teacher Jaycee Thompson will make the exception.

“It is great for them to actually put their hands on the animal and actually feel what we have been learning about,” Thompson said.

Friday afternoon, Thompson brought her horses to class as a part of her lesson plan. In her second year at Temple High, she said it is nothing new for her, but the concept is fresh to her students.

“I have always done this when I teach anatomy because being hands on and seeing it in person helps the students grasp the content so much better,” she said.

Thompson had her class identify the external anatomy of the horse by posting sticky labels all over its body.

Belen Flores is a sophomore in Thompson’s equine science class and hopes to become a large-animal veterinarian.

“The other day in class I didn’t understand all of the parts on the horse,” she said. “But with the horses here, it is clearer to me.”

Sophomore Riley Royal said this type of learning experience versus opening up a book gives him the chance to see it in person rather than pinpoint the horse’s anatomy on a diagram.

“I love animals and grew up around them all my life,” he said. “I want to follow in my grandpa’s footsteps and become a veterinarian. Outside of class, I also get to practice at my grandpa’s vet clinic.”

Thompson said lessons like these are beneficial to the students in her class who have plans on becoming a veterinarian one day.

“It is great for them to see the actual size of the animal they are learning about,” Thompson said. “It might even change their mind sometimes because they might actually think they are a little too scary…so they may realize they’d rather work with small animals.”

Thompson talked to students about the evolution of a horse’s body as compared to its prehistoric ancestors.

“It shows me firsthand about horses and what I have learned in class about their history and how they are in the wild versus domesticated,” Flores said.

Thompson also taught students how to restrain the horses for veterinary procedures.

“It is also great for them to witness a horse’s behavior and how to handle them safely,” Thompson said.

Thompson, who refers to her horses as her “babies,” said bringing them to class is an advantage for the high schools students.

“I wish I had these opportunities when I was in high school,” she said. “I didn’t get most of my experience with large animals until I was in college.”