About a mile and a half down the road from Linn-Benton Community College on 53rd Avenue lies the LBCC Horse Center, a place you might not have known exists.
Just down the dead-end gravel road, you’ll find a big barn with stables full of horses, a plethora of equipment, lively students, and an enthusiastic teacher.
Classes at the Horse Center are available for all students, whether horses are just your hobby or your lifelong career goal.
There are two programs students can complete. One program is the associate of applied science in horse management. Students in this program take more hands-on classes such as the horse training class at the Horse Center, for which you need prior horse experience. In the horse training class, students get the horses used to being handled, and saddled. The horses then get comfortable with different environments such as the round pen, the arena, and outdoor rides.
The second program is an associate of science transfer program that is mostly for students interested in being veterinarians, such as student Kathryn Burgett.
“I’m going for veterinary and majoring in equine,” said Burgett. “The majority of the people who take classes like this [horse training class] are either veterinary students or horse management students. A lot of us have horses of our own and this is a passion of our own.”
Other classes include breeding classes, training classes, facility management classes, herd management classes, health classes, and business management classes.
The Horse Center currently holds 32 horses. Seven of the horses belong to LBCC and are mostly used for Equestrian Team riding, four of the horses belong to students in the training classes, and the remaining belong to local owners who board their horses at the center. Students are paired with a horse and work with them throughout the term.
Tess Sonntag Johnson, a student in the training class, was paired with 11-year-old Mudd.
“It’s been very rewarding, but it’s taken a lot of time and effort to build the partnership.”
Johnson said her favorite thing about riding horses is everything.
“It requires so much trust between you and the animal. It’s very different when you get on a horse for the first time who you’ve never ridden, versus a horse that you’ve ridden for a year or for your whole life.”
Jenny Strooband has been working at the college since 2002. She is the equine specialist in the Agricultural Sciences faculty and works as a full-time teacher, the Horse Center director, faculty advisor for the LBCC Equestrian Team, and the Equine Science and Pre-Vet advisor for LBCC.
“Linn-Benton tries really hard to be student-oriented and we work hard to figure out what the best thing is for students and I just love being a part of that,” said Strooband.
“I was seven when I first got involved with horses, so that would be about 1983. I’ve actually never taken a break, so I’ve been riding that whole time.”
At the young age of 7, Strooband didn’t know she wanted to work with horses for a living. She was more interested in physiology and ended up earning her master’s degree from Oregon State University in physiology and focused on the reproductive physiology of the mare. Strooband excelled at handling horses, and OSU needed somebody that could restrain horses for that kind of work. Her work there led her to the job she has now at LBCC.
If you’re interested in taking horse classes at LBCC, don’t hesitate. Fall and Winter term focus on Equestrian Team and riding, and Spring focuses more on breeding.
“It’s a really friendly environment out here. We welcome everybody regardless of level or experience. You’re never too old to start. It’s a great hobby and LB is a great place to try it,” said Strooband.