A college in Texas that moved their stallion-handling course online due to the COVID-19 pandemic is promising students they will get the same experience as they would in the typically hands-on course with none of the risk associated with horse breeding in real life.
“We spent the summer developing a curriculum that gives an immersive experience online. We are certain that by the end of the semester, all of our students will be able to confidently work in a breeding shed and handle even the most difficult of horses,” said instructor Bob Studminder.
The coursework includes watching videos of stallion handling techniques and writing critiques; a VR session where students will ‘handle’ a virtual stallion as he mounts a mare; and a hands-on sheath cleaning lesson using an anatomically correct model that was mailed to each student at the beginning of the semester.
“We didn’t think this kind of course could be taught online, but the pandemic forced us to get creative,” said Studminder. “They say there’s no substitute for hands-on training, but we disagree.”
Studminder says the biggest benefit of the course is that students will never be in danger the way they would be in an in-person course.
“We all know that stallions can be unpredictable, this takes all the guesswork out of learning. Who wants to be outside in a barn, in all kinds of weather, risking getting injured, when you can learn something from the comfort of your couch?”
When asked if he would be willing to hire graduates of the course to handle stallions at his own farm, Studminder was quick to say yes, but added they would need to sign an ironclad liability waiver. “There might be a bit of a learning curve when you get to the real deal,” he conceded.
Nevertheless, the high enrollment numbers of the course have inspired him to bring more of his courses online. “I am working on developing an online jockey curriculum where you can get your jock’s license without ever throwing your leg over a racehorse,” he said.