Monte Vista Christian school in Watsonville, California not only boasts strong academics, a robust performing arts program and competitive athletics, but it also offers something most middle school and high schools do not: an equestrian program. Middle school and high school students from Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Santa Cruz, Salinas, and San Jose are able to take part in horseback riding lessons in lieu of traditional physical education classes. This private Christian school has an expansive equestrian center on campus, featuring two large arenas with jumps. Students are also able to take advantage of the horse boarding that is offered on campus, provided by Belmont Training Stable. One distinctive feature of this Watsonville equestrian program is the students ability to participate in the International Equestrian Association. These horse shows are unique in that when a rider arrives at the show, they are assigned a random horse that they may never have ridden before. These events feature both flat and jumping classes. Riders begin with local shows, and may eventually move on to Regionals, Zones, and Nationals. One student shares, “My favorite part of IEA is getting the opportunity to work with so many horses. It’s kind of exciting because you never know which horse you’re going to get, and the challenge is that you have to figure out how to ride that horse well in a short period of time.”