Eight offenders at the Putnamville Correctional Facility recently earned certificates after graduating from the first-ever Equine Management Program offered at the prison.
The program was a joint effort of PCF and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. Students in the program received hands-on training and classroom instruction on general stable procedures, horse behavior and psychology, tack care and selection, grooming, nutrition, equine health issues and first aid and health care.
Ten retired Thoroughbred racehorses from Indiana were used in the program. Six horses from out-of-state were used.
Putnamville Superintendent Michael J. Osburn opened the graduation ceremony and introduced the attending guests, which included retired Putnam County Superior Court Judge Sally Gray, State Rep. Amos Thomas, R-Brazil, Jackie Brown, coordinator of Thoroughbred Breeding Development; Deb Hartman, president of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Committee; and Dale Huber, a Ferrier instructor.
The keynote speaker of the ceremony was J. David Donahue, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Corrections.
"It will be difficult to find employment after your release, that's just a fact of life, gentlemen, but, I submit to you that if you cease criminal behavior and utilize the learned skills acquired from this program, you will have a much better life than you've experienced as an incarcerated individual," he said. "I commend you for your accomplishments and wish you well in your endeavors."
Osburn said the program -- and the graduation ceremony -- were milestones.
"I attribute the success of the program to the diligent efforts of staff," he said. "Today, the Putnamville Correctional Facility became part of the history of the state of Indiana and the Indiana D-epartment of Corrections.
"This has been a unique opportunity for both staff and offenders, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to make a contribution."