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Bring Your Horse to School Day?

By Leslie Potter

Thursday, November 4, 2010

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When I was a senior in high school, my class decided that our senior prank would be to stage our own Take Your Dog to School Day. One spring day, a bunch of seniors went to class with Fido in tow. It's a pretty tame senior prank, but it was cute and amusing, and the administration had a sense of humor about it, although the principal did make everyone take the dogs home by the end of first period.

Now, what if this had been horses?

Dan DePaolis, a high school senior in Massachusetts took his school's spirit week to a new level when he arrived dressed as a knight and took his parents' horse for a lap around the parking lot. He was led by a friend, Keegan Blute, who was dressed as a squire. According to an article in the Gloucester Times, the horse had been on the school grounds for just a few minutes when DePaolis was confronted and suspended on the spot by the assistant principal. He received a two-day suspension and Blute was given a day suspension plus two hours of community service.

What's the offense? Bringing an animal to school. According to DePaolis's father, the school administrators told him that riding the horse at school was akin to bringing a loaded firearm to school.

We all know that horses can be dangerous, especially in crowds, but when you get all the details, it's hard to see how the punishment fits the crime. This kid didn't come galloping on to school property with a jousting lance out in front of him. He only walked and was led the entire time. DePaolis had his parents' permission to bring their horse to school, and in fact they had trailered the horse to school for him and were present at the time.

I can understand coming out and telling the student he needs to get the horse off school grounds, but the suspension doesn't make sense. Is it really a good idea to punish a student for having too much spirit during spirit week? Would they rather he be a stereotypical apathetic teenager?

Then there's the opposite end of the spectrum. A private school in the suburbs of Philadelphia not only allowed a student to ride his Percheron to school every day, but they gave him the go ahead to build a corral for his horse on school property so he'd have somewhere to "park" during the day. (Click here to read the article and see some photos of the horse and his boy en route to school.) Which school would you rather attend?

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Reader Comments

Sarah    God and Jesus Love You, AL

1/13/2011 7:23:49 AM

Honestly, aren't there more important things for school advisors to be worried about nowadays? I can see how a lawsuit could arise from this; however, the safety of the other students wasn't compromised. In my opinion, a fair warning would have been good enough. I also think that with gas prices soaring, we should be able to ride anywhere.

Linda    Mifflinburg, PA

1/3/2011 6:04:09 PM

If gas prices keep going up we should all be allowed to ride our horses where-ever whenever!

Linda    Mifflinburg, PA

1/3/2011 6:01:42 PM

I think I would rather have the second day suspension then the two hour community service. The punishments seem really harsh. Noticed most of the students seemed to ignore them, too bad the other students didn't get pumped by their actions, and that there was not more than could be expended involved in the first place.

Leslie    Lexington, KY

11/8/2010 2:47:26 PM

Emma, I had the same thought about other students feeding the horse who-knows-what or otherwise putting him at risk, but the corral is next to the headmaster's house (remember, it's a private school!) and not actually in a place where students would be able to get to him easily. Also, he's not just tying the horse up to a hitching post all day. The horse is turned out just like he would be at home, but instead of being left alone in his corral at home all day, he's groomed and ridden twice a day. Check out the photos in the article. It actually looks like a pretty nice arrangement for the horse and the student.

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