Students at St. Joseph School of All Saints Parish can choose from a variety of sports — such as basketball, candlepin bowling and volleyball — as well as a variety of clubs — such as cooking, photography, Lego and improvisational acting.
Now the school is trying something new and different by offering children an equestrian club that teaches them how to care for and ride horses.
Principal Carol Simone says there are students who love animals, so why not offer them an opportunity to learn about horses?
"I wanted to offer an equestrian class to teach them how to care for an animal," Simone said. "Girls seem more interested in the program. I think the outfit attracts them, and when they are on a horse they are in control ... they're in charge."
So far only two students signed up for the five week program held at Cornerstone Farm on Amesbury Line Road.
The club meets on Mondays from 3 to 6 p.m. Children pay $40 a lesson for five weeks for a total of $200.
"I wanted to bring it in, just like I want to bring in wrestling, which would be great for young boys," Simone said.
St. Joseph parent Jennifer Eaton is a riding instructor at Cornerstone, and leads the riding lessons for the school. Her daughter Emma, a sixth-grader, has been taking lessons there from farm owner Monica Hunt and assistant trainer Triston Smith for the last year.
Eaton said each session includes a mounted lesson as well as hands-on activities that expose children to the many aspects of horse care and maintenance.
She said the three-hour long class allows ample time for children to be around horses, learn to communicate with them, and learn about the equipment needed to ride, such as saddles and bridles.
"Kids learn a sense of responsibility and learn to take care of these enormous animals," Eaton said. "My goal is to give children an all encompassing experience in the barn and allow them to progress at their own pace."
Simone said she hopes to offer the program again in the fall.
St. Joseph School Equestrian Club
What it is: Teaches children how to care for, communicate with, and ride horses
Where classes are held: Cornerstone Farm, 32 Amesbury Line Road
Class meets: Mondays from 3 to 6 p.m. beginning March 24
Instructor: Jennifer Eaton, a state licensed riding instructor
Cost: $40 per lesson for a five week program