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In France’s Alsace region, an agricultural high school and an equestrian centre have come together to launch an educational project for young people no longer in mainstream school. Groups of eight teenagers attend regular sessions at the Haute Ehn equestrian centre, learning new skills and trades as the basis for careers in the field.
In the Haute Ehn, in Alsace, a local horse club hosts groups of eight teenagers who have dropped out of mainstream education, introducing them to equestrian skills and trades as part of a professional day-release scheme. Participants (aged 15 years) are enrolled as apprentices at a partner institution, the agricultural high school in Obernai; work experience at the horse club complements their training in agriculture, horticulture, and landscape gardening, helping to broaden their horizons and enhance their employment prospects.
Eight participants spend a half-day at the centre twice monthly, learning about its different jobs – groom, stable lad, activity leader – and acquiring new skills: how to clean a horse’s hoof, how to fasten and unfasten a bridle strap, etc. Participants are encouraged not only to observe but to involve themselves fully in the centre’s activities, helping them to feel comfortable in this distinctive working environment. Riding is an integral aspect of the training provided.
Working in a variety of different situations, participants gain greater self-confidence, and learn to focus on the completion of specific tasks. As an alternative to mainstream education, the scheme enables young people to discover new opportunities in a specific professional milieu. Many are now actively considering an equestrian career.
The project was selected for support by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès as part of the H³ programme: Head – heart – hand.