Graduates of Canyonview Equestrian College give a new and positive meaning to the phrase "been there, done that." The unique horsemanship and ministry school sends young people into just about any corner of the horse world prepared to tackle almost any task with the confidence that comes from, in fact, having "been there and done that." So says CEC president Ren Bannerman, who brings 40-plus years of horsemanship experience to the task.
Located in the Williamette Valley outside of Portland, OR, CEC is licensed by the Oregon Department of Education as a private career school. Ren describes it as a "trade school for the horse industry," with an equal emphasis on incorporating horses and horsemanship into Christian ministry. The two-year program accepts eight students per year and graduates receive a certificate in horsemanship. CEC is affiliated with the Certified Horsemanship Association. Students go through two CHA clinics as part of their studies and the facility also hosts CHA clinics that are open to the public.
Along with the blending of ministry and horses, Canyonview Equestrian College is unique in its mix of study and hands-on experience and its emphasis on multi-discipline horsemanship. Students serve on the staff of the Equestrian Center's public riding program, giving lessons, leading camps and learning to handle the daily realities that entails. Equine nutrition studies, for example, are enhanced by feeding 70 head every day. Veterinary study is backed up by de-worming, wound treatment, lameness evaluation and other basic doctoring tasks. Students set jumps, mend fences and handle the myriad issues that arise while operating an equestrian center.
Well-rounded horsemanship is a CEC priority. First year participants ride dressage, hunt seat and western on a regular basis. In the second year, it's combined training, reining and cutting, plus working with young horses. Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods, Drafts, Miniatures and other breeds comprise CEC's four-legged faculty. The stable includes everything from well-bred, performance horses to youngsters with whom students learn handling, gentling and introduction to under saddle work.
Thanks to its good reputation, Canyonview receives donated horses of top quality from owners across the country. "Students get to ride a lot of horses they would otherwise not have the opportunity to throw a leg over," Ren explains.
A Rigorous Program
"It's extremely intense and comprehensive," Ren says of the live-in curriculum. The Equestrian College was established 25 years ago and Ren and his wife and fellow horseman Melissa have been there for 15. The school has attracted participants from throughout the country and beyond, and from a wide set of circumstances. That includes young people direct from high school and those adding CEC to a two- or four-year degree, including some who already have a degree in an equine science track.
Students are attracted to different aspects of the school, Ren notes. "For some, it's the ministry piece. Others feel they have not gotten enough (from other programs) to go forth into the job market." So long as graduates are willing to go where the work is, job placement "is not a problem," he states. "We have students working in all phases of the horse industry. Trainers, teachers, veterinarians and those working in various veterinary fields. Many run their own businesses." Fulltime ministry, with and without horses, has become a path for others.
Canyonview Equestrian College applicants must be 18 and have graduated high school or passed an equivalency exam and their faith must be rooted in ministry experience. Horsemanship experience is required and determined by an interview, plus a written and a riding evaluation. The 92-acre facility includes indoor and outdoor arenas, trails, a cross-country course, a mechanical cow cutting machine, roping and vaulting equipment and much more.
CEC is a division of Canyonview Ministry and Ren serves as the Canyonview Equestrian College's president. He's a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and CHA Clinic instructor for standard and combined clinics. Showing, teaching, training and designing and managing facilities, across the country, are all resume highlights. "Melissa and I have been blessed to work with top trainers in all disciplines," Ren notes. "A lot of people are involved in what we've been able to bring to our students."
He leads a faculty that believes "this instruction is only meaningful by incorporating the heart," Ren explains. "CEC students all partake in Bible classes where the instructors have been pastors and teach straight from the Greek in a book-by-book, chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse fashion.
"Even young people that have been Christians for a long time learn how to make their faith personal and life changing for others," Ren continues. "Similar to the theory and riding lesson model, there are classes that push students from learning about God to sharing Him with others. Discipleship, ministry and outreach, and spiritual dynamics of leadership classes prepare students to share their faith using horses."
For more information on Canyonview Equestrian College, visit www.canyonviewequestriancollege.org or call 971-239-1352.