Students from France experience working at ranch

Duval loads fresh straw into a truck to change out horse stall bedding
Blanchet brushes a horse

French foreign students Claire Duval (19) and Cassandra Blanchet (18) arrived in Hokkaido and started internships at Tanioka Ranch as part of a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries initiative promoting interaction among French and Japanese agricultural high school students. Tanioka Ranch produces and raises light-breed horses in Shinhidaka, a town located in the Central Hokkaido Hidaka region. The two students clean stables and care for horses, and are enthusiastically tackling their work responsibilities out of a desire to, “learn how to handle horses and be able to contribute in the future.”

This initiative aims to enhance the quality of education through opportunities for young Japanese and French students to learn about each other’s agricultural practices, think about the issues they face, and cultivate a global perspective. Moving forward, the initiative will also send Japanese students and instructors to France as well.

The two students have graduated from a standard high school in France, and entered a two-year school that teaches agriculture. Duval graduated from that program last month. Blanchet will enter her second year in the program in September. They arrived in Shinhidaka on June 18, and participated in the Tanioka Ranch internship from June 19 to 26.

Duval grew up in a farming household and has experience raising cows and horses, so she is used to the work. Blanchet has almost never come into contact with any horses, but is enthusiastically applying herself. Tanioka Atsuko from the ranch commented admiringly, “Both of them are very good at handling horses.”

Duval, who wants to become a veterinarian, said, “It is fun learning how to handle horses. I want to learn the differences in animal handling between countries and expand my perspective.” Blanchet, who wants to work with animals in a position such as an animal handler, said with a fulfilled air, “Horses can be dangerous animals at times, but as long as you work together with the horse to make sure everything is safe, it is fine. Horses themselves teach you how to handle them.” She added, smiling, “I want to interact with many kinds of animals, develop a broad perspective, and be able to contribute in the future.”

Tanioka expressed her positive expectations for the internship, “Being able to interact with people from a different country through the process of caring for horses is stimulating for local high school students as well. And I also want people in Europe to learn about Japan.”