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Black Hawk East Community College Has Top Equine Program

Apr 3, 2008
Just outside of the small town of Kewanee Illinois sits a community college often overlooked in the listings of horse colleges. Surrounded by fields and laying on a 102 acre campus at the intersection of highways 78 and 34 in Illinois, the school has become well known not only for the competitive teams, but for the graduates that continue to support the program and what they have done "in the real world." A recent trust of 80 acres makes additional land available for the college.

It's sometimes said you go to college and learn the book work then get out in the real world and find out how much you don't know, and there is some truth to that. But when you get into the real world with the concept of running a 69 head facility, with additional work experience on a daily basis under your belt - it means a jump ahead of the game.

Long at the top of the judging awards at judging competitions such as the AQHA World and Congress, Black Hawk East Community College indeed has so many awards over it's 41 year history that despite several LARGE trophy cases scattered throughout the campus there is not enough room to display them all. Not only the horse judging team but the livestock judging team is highly successful at the top level.

With horse science technology, equestrian science, ag production and a university transfer program this small often overlooked college has a top class teaching facility. There is an active agriculture alumni (including horse alumni) that still support the current students including sponsoring and paying for a high tech classroom, sponsoring trips to farm progress shows and other financial support. The curriculum at the college where horses are concerned is focused on horses but includes other things often not thought of - soils, forages and marketing which horse people need to understand every bit as much as those raising crops or cattle. Without proper soil nutrition and forage handling the horses don't do as well.

There is classroom instruction as well as hands on labs - whether it's backfat testing of pigs, semen testing on cattle or learning different methods of training horses, these labs can offer the knowledge even if it's something you never have to do again.

Now hosting a state-of-the-art heated indoor arena as well as an outdoor arena, a smaller indoor work area, wash racks, classrooms, hay storage and, of course, the horses. Appaloosas, Arabians, Quarter horses and other breeds nibble hay in clean stalls. A stall card on each stall lists what the horse is fed, who the owner is and any other pertinent information. There is an organized information board, a work schedule and regular farrier and veterinary service available. Acres of crop fields make use of the manure and bedding cleaned from the stalls. There are several school owned horses, which are kept off campus during the summer when the ag classes don't run.

Besides the judging team there is an active horse show team on campus, and dormatories on campus as well as places to rent in the local towns near the campus. Students carrying 12 credit hours qualify for either team.

At the 2007 AQHA Congress for the third consecutive year and the fourth time in five years the judging team won the Junior College Division. Five students placed in the Top Ten. The influence of the college holds up in that at the same contest, alumni Kindra Gradert now at Kansas State University won the Performance and Reasons competition and alumni Renee Gradert, now at West Texas A&M, was second overall while another now-Kansas State Student made the Top Ten. Two freshmen participated and were Top Ten in the Youth Division.

The Horse Science Technology progam is suited for those looking to raise, breed and train horses as well as operating horse related businesses. Alumni own tack stores, are equine writers and hold other service positions in the industry as well as directly raising and training horses. The Equestrian Science offers some similar courses but leans towards instructors, trainers, judges and show personnel as well as towards transfer to a university.

The program is for those who eat, sleep, live and breathe horses. Not only a full schedule but show team practices, judging team practices, labs, daily maintenance of the facility keep students busy. There is still time for attending basketball games in the winter and other activities throughout the year. There are scholarships available.

The crowning glory of the campus is the ag/horse facility itself which hosts not only college but also community activities. If you're interested in an active horse/ag program consider looking at the school in your list of possibilities. Stables, farms and other facilities in the industry host students in the spring as part of the student's education and grade.

The newest constructed section of the agriculture facility at Black Hawk East is a state of the art arena with classrooms and seating.

The heated, well lit arena is host to not only classes but other events. The weekend this photo was taken a dog agility competition was being hosted in the arena.

A floor to ceiling, wall to wall display holds just some of the awards BHE students have won over the past 40 years in the ag and horse programs. The alumni that won in the past have an active group that still supports the students of today.
About the Author
Ron Petracek was raised in southern Idaho with horses and the great outdoors. With this continued passion He now shares through a a vast equine network. Learn more by clicking the links below. Amazing Equine Network System - Horses for sale or trade anything equine related. Get More Horse Classified coverage and distribution with less cost and work. Hot Equine Social Community
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