Jessica Pascoe has always loved having horses in her life but didn’t believe she could turn her passion into her career until she discovered the Bachelor of Equine Studies at Melbourne Polytechnic.
"I have a picture of me (on a horse) when I was two-years-old and my legs didn’t even come past the saddle; I got my first pony at five and have always loved working with horses but had no idea of what I wanted to do," recalls Jessica.
After completing secondary school, Pascoe commenced a Bachelor of Applied Science (Biotech and Biomedical Science) at another institution but after a year she transferred to the three-year Bachelor of Equine studies degree at Melbourne Polytechnic (formerly known as NMIT). "I just felt that it (the Applied Science degree) was too broad and not where I wanted to go. At the time I was also working part-time at a racing stud (Miscellany Bloodstock) and that got me interested in doing the NMIT degree."
Jessica, who lives at Strathewen, continued to work part-time at Miscellany while completing the final year of the Bachelor of Equine Studies at Melbourne Polytechnic’s Epping campus. She also spent time at Melbourne Polytechnic’s commercial scale training facility, Northern Lodge Stud (at Eden Park), where Melbourne Polytechnic students receive hands-on training in horse breeding, training and racing operations. Her typical day included an hour’s work at Miscellany in the morning, studies at Melbourne Polytechnic from about 10 am to 4 pm, another hour’s work at Miscellany in the evening, then home for dinner, homework and sleep.
Jessica says that she changed her mind about what area she wanted to specialise in "about 40 times" during the three years of the Melbourne Polytechnic degree. "With each new class I thought ‘Oh that’s really interesting, I want to breed horses’ and the next week, when we did nutrition, I would say to myself, ‘that’s also really interesting, I want to be a (horse) nutritionist’."
While Jessica has long-term ambitions to "work in the stud-management side of things, maybe as a stud-manager or owner", her short-term plans include specialising in equine pasture management, an increasingly sought after field of knowledge in a time of drought, rising feed prices and competing demands for land.
"I think also, in the pleasure horse industry, there’s scope to work as a pasture consultant where you go out to people’s properties and advise them on improving their pastures through seeding, fertilisation, rotation, strip back grazing and other techniques," says Jessica.
Jessica completed the Melbourne Polytechnic Bachelor of Equine studies at the end of 2008 and plans to build on her equine pasture management knowledge as well has her general business management skills by commencing a Post-Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Agriculture through Charles Sturt University. Her further study will be made all the easier by an $8000 Melbourne Polytechnic Faculty of Earth Sciences Study Grant. The grant, sponsored by the Yallambee & Eliza Park Stud on behalf of God’s Own Syndicate, was awarded to Jessica during her final year in recognition of her outstanding performance during her course
Bachelor of Equine Studies