EDU 563, William Woods University
Karen Pautz
Fall Term 1 2013

Badges: A method of displaying equine industry-specific skills

calendar hourglass shovel halter bandage lungeing ribbon braids clippers loading trailer

Introduction: For university students intent on securing a job in the horse industry, the diploma and grade report are surprisingly useless things. Horse employers are notoriously unimpressed by a baccalaureate degree -- instead, they want to know what specific skills their potential employee possesses.

The dressage industry already has several methods of assessing and grading riding skills (see "Existing methods of demonstrating skills," below), but there's currently no way to demonstrate practical horse-handling skills, other than asserting an abillity to perform, using video to document the skill set, or asking for references from industry professionals.

What's needed is a simple method of indicating possession of desired industry skills. "Badges," or graphical icons depicting standard skills, would be a simple but powerful way to demonstrate, via imagery, these qualities that are so important to an employer, but nowhere indicated in college records.

How it would work: Each badge is a graphical representation of a skill set desired by equine-industry employers. Instead of reviewing a student's transcript, the employer could see a "cheat sheet" list of badges with a simple description of each. The badge system could be linked to each student's e-portfolio, with badges hyperlinked to appropriate artifacts.

How to earn badges: This will be the most challenging part of developing a badge system for potential employers. Some skills are difficult to quantify -- what constitutes, for instance, the ability to safely drive a loaded horse trailer -- and many of the softer skills are difficult to assess. Rubrics must be carefully constructed, requiring enough rigor in skill assessment to be meaningful to employers, without becoming so requirement-heavy that they are impossible to assign scores to.

halter bandage lungeing ribbon braids

Existing methods of demonstrating (riding) skills: In the United States dressage industry, there are already several methods of displaying, badge-like, a person's abilities.

  • Levels: Competition dressage is divided into progressively more difficult levels.
  • Medals: Competitors in USDF-recognized shows can earn medals for earning a specified number of scores at a certain level. These industry-standard medals easily indicate a rider's progress
  • Certifications: Instructors and judges can become licensed by the National Governing Bodies of the sport by attending certification workshops, working in the field, and passing nationally-governed tests.

calendar hourglass shovel clippers trailer

Other badge options for equestrian students:

  • Administrative: Badges for bookkeeping, filing taxes, developing billing system, maintaining social media
  • Creative: Badges for photography, videography, art, tack construction, musical freestyle development
  • Teaching: Badges for teaching lessons at varying levels, giving clinics, teaching riders on the lunge, classroom teaching

 

  Badge Skill 
Attendance badge Attendance Awarded to the student who has perfect or near-perfect attendance in equestrian classes. "Just showing up" is an extremely important skill for the working equine professional, and grade transcripts rarely indicate this attribute to a potential employer.

Requirements: Attendance through all equestrian classes of at least 95%, calculated through Owlnet (WWU's Learning Management System). Earned throughout university career.
hourglass Keeping to schedule It's not only important to show up every day, but also to show up on time. Being late can disrupt barn schedules, throw lesson schedules into disarray, or eliminate a competitor from a competition.

Requirements: Non-"tardy" attendance of at least 95%, calculated through Owlnet. Earned throughout university career.
shovel Stall cleaning

There's no more ubiquitous job in the horse industry. It's not fun, and certainly not glamorous, but regardless, it has to be done every day. Stall cleaning should be thorough but efficient, with an eye toward maintaining horse health and comfort.

Requirements: Demonstration of accurate, efficient stall cleaning and re-bedding as approved by faculty, graduate assistants or "super keepers." Number of stalls to be cleaned, and time frame, to be determined. Earned during applied riding or keeper classes.

halter Horse handling

This skill includes leading a horse to and from turn-out, and leading two horses at once. Being able to safely and efficiently lead horses to turn-out helps the daily routine progress with little disruption.

Requirements: Demonstration of correct horse handling/leading, as approved by faculty, graduate assistants or "super keepers." Demonstration practicalities to be determined. Earned during applied riding or keeper classes.

bandage Bandaging

Horses' legs are easily overstressed or damaged, and horse handlers must know how to apply bandages to maintain soundness. Improperly-applied bandages can damage a horse's legs, so proper bandaging techniques are vital to maintain the soundness and useful life of the horse.

Requirements: Demonstration of correct application of bandages and protective equipment, as approved by faculty, graduate assistants or "super keepers." Earned during applied riding or keeper classes.

lungeing Lungeing

This common exercise technique can help maintain a horse's fitness and muscle development, and will also help prevent unwarranted bucking sprees. Proper lungeing includes knowledge of equipment (cavessons, side-reins, surcingles) and proper handling of the lunge line and whip.

Requirements: Demonstration of correct application of lungeing equipment, and practical lungeing skills, as approved by faculty, graduate assistants or "super keepers." Earned during applied riding or keeper classes.

ribbon Show grooming

Along with braiding, this badge indicates that the student is aware of proper turn-out of horse and rider for the showring, including care and adjustment of tack and knowledge of showring rules and etiquette.

Requirements: Demonstration of correct application of lungeing equipment, and practical lungeing skills, as approved by faculty, graduate assistants or "super keepers." Earned during applied riding or keeper classes.

braids Braiding

Competition fashion requires that a horse's mane is braided for competition. Good braiding takes skill and practice, and while a poor braiding job won't change competition results, it will reflect poorly on the professionalism of the facility.

Requirements: Demonstration of correct and time-efficient braiding, as approved by faculty, graduate assistants or "super keepers." Earned during applied riding or keeper classes, or during horse shows.

clipping Clipping and trimming

Almost all horse transport is via horse trailer or van. Employees must know how to safely, confidently and properly load and unload even a reluctant horse from a trailer.

Requirements: Demonstration of correct and time-efficient clipping and trimming, as approved by faculty, graduate assistants or "super keepers." Earned during applied riding or keeper classes, or during horse shows.

trailer loading Trailer loading/
unloading

Depending on the discipline, horses' hair coats, manes, tails and whiskers must be maintained in the appropriate fashion. The clipping badge denotes a student's ability to both trim faces and fetlocks, and to body-clip the entire horse.

Requirements: Demonstration of correct and safe trailer loading and unloading, as approved by faculty, graduate assistants or "super keepers." Earned during applied riding or keeper classes, or during horse shows.

trailer driving Trailer driving

Properly driving a trailer loaded with fractious horses is a skill that employers value highly.

Requirements: Demonstration of correct and driving of loaded horse trailers, as approved by faculty, graduate assistants or "super keepers." Currently difficult to achieve due to university insurance liability issues.

Badge graphics by Karen Pautz, with lots of help from Photoshop!
calendar hourglass shovel halter bandage lungeing ribbon braids clippers loading trailer

 

Scholarly references

Deterding, S. (2013). Gameful design for learning. T+D, 67(7), 60.

Cook, W. (2013). Five reasons you can't ignore gamification. Chief Learning Officer, 12(5), 46-55.

Abramovich, S., Schunn, C., & Higashi, R. (2013). Are badges useful in education?: It depends upon the type of badge and expertise of learner. Educational Technology Research & Development, 61(2), 217-232. Retrieved from the web October 16, 2013 at http://www.lrdc.pitt.edu/schunn/research/papers/Abramovich-Schunn-Higashi.pdf

Young, J. R. (2012). 'Badges' earned online pose challenge to traditional college diplomas. Education Digest, 78(2), 48-52.

 

Useful links:

Open Badges: a new online standard to recognize and verify learning
http://openbadges.org/

A future full of badges (Chronicle of Higher Education)
http://chronicle.com/article/A-Future-Full-of-Badges/131455/

Expanding education and workforce opportunities through digital badges (All4Ed)
http://all4ed.org/reports-factsheets/expanding-education-and-workforce-opportunities-through-digital-badges/

How badges really work in higher education (Campus Technology)
http://campustechnology.com/articles/2013/06/20/how-badges-really-work-in-higher-education.aspx

Seven things you should know about badges (Educause)
http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7085.pdf

Show me your badge (New York Times)
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/show-me-your-badge.html?_r=0

Digital Badges: An Annotated Research Bibliography v1 (HASTAC)
http://www.hastac.org/digital-badges-bibliography

 

Karen Pautz
WWU EDU 563: Instructional Theories and Strategies Using Technology
Fall Term 1, 2013. Project last updated October 20, 2013