By Debbonnaire Kovacs, submitted April 29, 2015     I admit it—this soon-to-be-senior-citizen is seriously envious of Milo Adventist Academy’s Equestrian Program! I mean, yes, I did learn to ride horses while I was at academy—we went to the church camp once or twice and I got to perch atop a swaying, bored camp horse while it (placidly or reluctantly, you never knew) followed its buddies. But a full-fledged Equestrian Center? Really?

Yes, really. Milo (in Day’s Creek, Oregon) already had horses, which were housed in greenhouses that had been jury-rigged to act as barns. Now they have a new facility with fifteen stalls, a classroom, an office, a tack room, and even a large indoor arena. In the past, the empty field that served as an arena could be so muddy that one student reported that the mud could be as deep as the horses’ knees. The arena shelters kids working with their horses, but if the weather is bad enough the horses have some outdoor shelter even when their people are not nearby. A structure next to the pasture has been adapted for that purpose.

Some of the thirteen horses housed at Milo’s new facility belong to individual students. One option is that kids can bring their horses from home when they come to school, a choice that delights horse lovers. And that horse is still private property. The academy has a policy that no one else may ride a privately owned horse without written permission from both sets of parents/guardians.

The Milo horse program accomplishes quite a few goals.

  • Employment The program provides employment for six student wranglers. These students not only care for the horses and their surroundings, but also help to teach other students, giving one-on-one instruction (under the supervision of horsemanship director Dannia Birth), and leading out in recreational riding.
  • Education There are beginning and advanced classes in horsemanship, teaching horse care such as grooming, cleaning up, tacking up, and so on, and of course, riding.
  • Recreation Any student may sign up to ride horses, just as we used to do at our church camp. According to, “Milo Adventist Academy is situated on 479 beautiful acres, with room for a number of riding trails. You can ride along the river, up mountain trails, along a creek, around a pond or across pastures! What a fantastic way to spend time with friends!”
  • Horse Club For serious horse lovers, the equestrian program provides more advanced training in all aspects of horse ownership, health, and care.

The program began, in a way, during director Dannia Birth’s youth. As a student at Milo in the 1990s, she and some classmates got permission to bring their horses to school with them. Later, she directed a camp horse program in Missouri, and now she directs Milo’s program, which gives students far more opportunity to be around horses (and through them, around the whole outdoors) than they would in summer camp programs. One student, junior Katie Beth Miller, was reported in the March 2015 Gleaner as saying that Birth is “patient and willing to work with people’s different abilities,” qualities that are necessary at all times in life and are well-taught by horses.

As Winston Churchill famously said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a [human being].” Milo’s equestrian program takes full advantage of that “something” about horses.

Learn more: