Telford Equine Training
The largest live-in equine training facility in New Zealand also offers online learning
Telford has more than 100 students in equine studies, either in residence using the excellent horse handling facilities, or through distance learning, in partnership with other education providers, including the National Trade Academy, Christchurch; or by way of video conferencing to schools. Telford is the biggest live-in equine training facility in New Zealand.
New Zealand has a long history of horse care and training and three broad divisions, racing, breeding and sport horse, employ many thousands of people. Training is provided through cadetships and apprenticeships and NZQA-recognised unit standards. Telford offers levels one to five qualifications in equine. At levels three and four certificates in equine are awarded.
The equine sector is worth about $1.5 billion a year, in racing thoroughbreds or standardbred (harness) horses, in bloodstock breeding and in coaching and riding for sport horses.
The main opportunities for employment are in grooming, track working and stable management. An estimated 47,000 people are involved nationwide, on full or part-time basis.
Most training in the past has been on-the-job, but industry training organisations (ITOs) are formalizing and co-ordinating nowadays. Telford started live-in equine courses in 1991.
From 2010 the Telford equine programme has been reviewed to focus on what the big horse industry wants in its employees. No “pony princesses” who just want to groom and ride at their own pace, but people with solid commercial skills, according to Head of School, Anton van Schalkwyk. The residential course period of 34 weeks takes one year to achieve the Telford Certificate of Equine (Level Three and Four), and most students come straight after school. However there are students who have previous experience and qualifications – vet nursing for example. Each year three or four out of the 20+ students elect to go on to a second year for a Diploma in Rural Business (Level 5). Some international students in equine find their way to Telford and the horse/breeding/racing sector has a shortage of NZ employees, with many jobs filled by non-Kiwis.
Telford has small classes with a hands-on emphasis. At Level 3 Certificate the course includes:
• Equine Health – Nutrition and feeding, anatomy/ physiology, keeping equine records, preventative measures for health maintenance, treating ill health, faecal egg counts, safe working practices, work skills.
• Equine Industries – Harness racing, track riding, breeding – reproduction, equine careers/history, work skills.
• All – gearing up, lunging, long reining, handling weanlings, build simple course.
• Equine Land Skills – Tractors, quad bikes, hand tools, carpentry, fencing, post/rail, hand tools, water reticulation, plants/weeds/grasses, pasture management, soils, fertilisers, agrichemicals, work skills.
• Stable Practices – Stable management, stable design, care of stabled horses, conformation and action, identification of horses, transport, show presentation/clipping, introduction to farriery, work skills.
Telford has a dedicated equine unit with a high standard of facilities. Horses can be brought into the class room and anatomy and physiology classes have screens, tables and dissection capability. The indoor arena of 60 by 40 metres cost over $1 million to build. The equine unit also includes:
• Covered loose boxes
• Cross country fences
• Covered teaching / work area
• First aid room
• Covered wash bay
• Horse float
• Horse truck
• Round yard
At any one time about 30 horses are kept at Telford, all at different stages – foals, weanlings, yearlings, breakers, brood mares, stallions and sport horses.
Most students also have interests in recreational horse activities like cross-country, show jumping, dressage and western riding.
Head of School, Anton van Schalkwyk was born and brought up on a family thoroughbred farm in South Africa and did equine studies in Pretoria. He has significant experience managing large thoroughbred stud farms in South Africa before coming to NZ and working for Chequers Stud, Cambridge and Northfields Stud, Whitford, Auckland. He moved into computing and education and was self-employed in e-learning before getting the Telford job in late 2008. As HoS he is responsible for 10 different courses, not just equine. His three passions are horses, people and teaching.