Chicago agricultural magnet school introduces new horses for therapeutic riding program

Mark Rivera Image
Friday, September 2, 2022
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A South Side agricultural magnet school is introducing three new horses for a therapeutic riding program to help diverse learners.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's a donation that's spurring high school students to an unbridled study of horses and agriculture on Chicago's South Side.

Meet Thor, Sugar and Stone, the new additions to Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood.

"I'm so happy. This is a fantastic thing. All these brand new horses are going to allow more people to join our program, learn more about them, like learn how to ride them -- all this other stuff," said CHSA student, Antonio Contreras. "I'm just so happy we get to have all this stuff here."

Contreras, whose enthusiasm is, quite frankly, infectious, is a junior at the Agricultural magnet high school, where they have stables, a riding area and a farm - all run by students.

"They say 'Oh, you go to the farm school right?' I'm like, 'It's way more than just farming," he said about his friends who don't go to the specialty school.

The three new quarter horses are going to help the school establish a therapeutic riding program for diverse learners, adults with disabilities, veterans and first responders with PTSD.

"It is far beyond my expectations in how your curriculum is a university-level curriculum," said Rudy Arredondo, executive director of the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers.

National Latino Farmers and Ranchers donated the horses. Arredondo says he was inspired by the South Side school showing young people viable career paths in agriculture, food sciences and more.

Students, like senior Karime Gutierrez, who wants to be a veterinarian.

"I do own a cow [and] I study with animals because I want to be a smarter consumer and a smarter caretaker," Gutierrez said.

She said what she learns in the classroom is put to use immediately.

"Agriculture is just farming, animals, plants, but it's so much more because then you learn here in the school the production. How from farm to table exactly how it exactly is," she said.

It's something Principal Bill Hook is proud of.

"It's food science, it's equine science, it's commodities," Hook said. "There are so many opportunities, the kids have no idea! "

Principal Hook said Thor, Sugar, Stone, as well as the school's first horse Felice, will be ready to start the therapeutic riding program in just a few months.