Isothermal Community College

Polk Center

Equine Program and Groom Elite Classes

trainer working with a horse adjusting saddle.

Shouldn't your love for horses lead you to a career that starts in Horse Country?

Why not turn your passion for horses into a career?

Wouldn’t you like to start your career with horses in the center of one of the most energized equestrian areas in the country? Wouldn’t you like to train with the best ranked trainers and instructors in the country? Would you like to be close to the action such as three competition venues, a nationally respected equine surgical hospital and some of the best horse farms around?

Tryon Horse Country has it all. Opportunities abound for hands on instruction. We can boast world class riders, horses, trainers and The Tryon International Equine Center. We have a multitude of recreational and commercial horse farms. We have 25 equine organizations. 

Historically, Polk County is the birthplace of the modern Equestrian Olympic team and as such, has a long record of attracting the country’s best trainers and riders. Today, equine professionals settle here for the year round climate, good footing, excellent industry infrastructure (noted vets, farriers, equine construction, two equine ambulances and nationally rated shows). We are on the north-south corridor for competition schedules.  

The Groom Elite Program

Faculty: Anita Williamson, Dr. Helmuth Von Bluecher, Tescha Von Bluecher, Nikki Guerrazzi, Dr. Than Boyum, Ann Troppman, Lilia White

Groom Elite 99 
This course provides an overview of the basic information a new worker or horse owner needs to know to start handling horses. Classes will cover the basics of equine behavior, terminology, equine anatomy, safe horse handling, introduction to equipment, observation for signs of injury and illness, bathing and more...
Next Class:  Tues/Thurs, 1-5p.m.  12 Hours, $70. 

Groom Elite 101 aand 201 Certification Classes
These are flagship 40 hour courses that focus on important horse care skills, including: equine behavior, grooming basics, equine anatomy, digestion and feeding guidelines, horse health evaluation, application of bandages, safety, barn management and much more. The courses are designed for horse care workers and horse owners with some experience who desire to have a deeper, more comprehensive knowledge of horses and working with horses. Originally created for the racing industry, this nationally recognized groom certification curriculum has been modified for Isothermal Community College to address the needs of the local show horse community.
Next classes: Groom Elite 101:  Tues/Thurs, 1-5p.m.  40 Hours, $125.  Groom Elite 201: TBA

Introduction To Equine Assisted Activities And Therapies (EAAT)
This course introduces a variety of equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) used to benefit persons with disabilities. The class will provide an overview of activities and therapies such as therapeutic horseback riding, Hippotherapy, therapeutic driving, and equine facilitated therapies. The history of equine assisted therapy, an overview of common physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities, careers with equine assisted activities and information on therapeutic riding instructor certification will be presented. The class combines classroom lecture with hands-on experience at a barn facility. Students will receive volunteer training by assisting in a therapeutic horsemanship class.
Next classes:   Thurs, 6-9p.m. February 7 - March 7, *Saturday, 12-3p.m. March 2, $70.

Intro to Equine Braiding & Competition Prep
Introduction to the core skills needed to create beautiful, professional braided manes for competition! Topics covered include: mane pulling, different tools and techniques for different manes, clipping and trimming for horse shows. Class size is limited. Groom Elite 99 or experience around horses is a prerequisite.
Next classes:  TBA

Advanced Equine Braiding & Competition Prep
The hands-on class builds on the skills learned in Intro to Equine Braiding & Competition Prep. Michelle will provide an overview of braiding, different trimming & braid needs for different disciplines and breeds (wet lab/ hunter braids/ dressage braids). She will also cover Tail Braids and Tail Ribbon Colors, wet lab Jumper Braids, Mane Banding Tail braids, Pinwheel, wrap around, mud braids, attaching a fake tail and more. Class size is limited. Intro to Equine Braiding & Competition Prep class is a prerequisite.
Next classes:   TBA

Limited financial aid is available to qualified students.

Coming Soon:

  • Equine Massage Therapy
  • Barn Management
  • Vet Assistant
  • Equine Nutrition
  • Equine Videography and Photography

Equine Sciences Logot

Kate Barkschat
Director, Polk Center
828-395-1163
kbarkschat@isothermal.edu