Milton Hershey School Students Compete in Horse Show to Showcase Learnings from Summer Work Experience
Milton Hershey School students recently competed in the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association (CATRA) benefit horse show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Showing off months of hard work, these Senior Division students demonstrated horsemanship skills developed during their summer work experience with the Agricultural and Environmental Education (AEE) program.
“The horsemanship program started in 1993 and for 30 years our students have been learning all aspects of caring for the animals, including proper nutrition and grooming, but also how to communicate with and show mutual respect,” described Sue Orban, the instructional advisor for the horsemanship program since the program’s inception. “It has been great to see our students grow in confidence and skills when they dedicate their time and energy to working with the animals.”
Senior Autumn Tyree started in the horsemanship program when she first enrolled at MHS in the 10th grade. Coming from West Virginia, being around and working animals is natural to her. Now, after two years, she and MHS horse Lucy took on the Assisted Dressage challenge at CATRA and she is on her way to achieve her goal of competing with horses when she gets to college.
“People assume that horsemanship is just riding,” described Autumn. “But really, it’s hard work to make sure they are also clean, healthy, and at their best for the show. Communicating with the horses is the hardest part because they are reading my body language for direction.”
Also joining Autumn as a first-time competitor is fellow senior Mia Ramos. From Liberty, Pennsylvania, Mia has grown up around horses and rides for fun when she goes back to her home community. Being in the barns here at MHS is a chance for her to reconnect with animals she loves so much. In addition to working with the horses, Mia also has experience working with cows and sheep as part of AEE’s Animal Club.
“When I first enrolled at MHS in 10th grade, I was going through a rough patch and my houseparents suggested I reach out to Mrs. Orban to learn how I could be around the horses because they are such a comfort to me at home,” said Mia. “Now I’m excited to see the hard work and dedication pay off.”
Mia competed with Chip, the newest horse in the MHS Horse Barn and also a first-time competitor in a show setting. They displayed their talents in groundwork and effective communication.
MHS senior Emma Buckingham and 11th-grade Gabrielle Eshleman also competed. Emma steered a cart being led by a pony in a driving challenge and Gabrielle worked with the miniature horses through obstacle trail and cone course competitions.
Each student placed during the competition and brought several ribbons back to MHS, ranging from first to fifth place in several categories.
“This show is a great first show for our students and animals. They get to showcase their skills, gain confidence, and see the success that comes with their hard work and dedication,” added Orban.