It could be argued that Sean Jones and Kaleb Gnerer took the Billings Senior High School’s Western Day theme a little too seriously when they showed up to school in the saddle.
“It’s kind of extreme school spirit,” said Sean as he and his friend Kaleb trotted down Avenue D atop Sugar and Paco.
The two juniors decided it would be a good idea to ride their horses, which are stabled at Sean’s grandmother’s Heights home, after Kaleb’s dad took away his driver’s license for a traffic infraction earlier this year.
“His dad put it into our head to ride horses to school,” Sean said.
While Kaleb only lost his license for two days, the idea stuck around and the Bronc fans thought homecoming week would be a perfect time to make good on their plan.
A group of students lined up in front of Senior to pet the horses, while others stood and looked on with amusement as they made it to the front entrance of the school.
“They said that they were going to go all out,” said junior Leena Burke. “I didn’t think that they were actually going to ride horses to school.”
The boys also were greeted by Senior faculty and staff who were curious about what they planned to do with their steeds during the school day, and suggested a suitable parking spot.
“They are out in one of the designated practice areas, secured,” said Dennis Holmes, Senior High principal. “They have feed and water, and Sean’s grandmother is going to come pick them up later this afternoon.”
The staff had a few moments of frenzied research Wednesday morning after hearing that the horses were making their way toward the school, to decide what to do with them and whether having horses at school was allowed in the first place.
Their quick research yielded a 1992 report on Montana school transportation policies and funding, which addressed modes of transportation prior to 1980 in Montana.
“It doesn’t say that it’s illegal,” Holmes said.
But it does say whether a school chooses to accommodate a horse on grounds is a separate matter generally left up to individual school boards.
“I’ve never seen in our school board policies whether it’s legal or not to ride a horse to school,” he said.
Because it is homecoming week, and Western Day, school officials decided not to expel the horses, letting them graze peacefully.
“It’s not a prank, in my opinion,” he said.
“As long as they take care of the horses and clean up after the horses and make sure the horses are secured, we’re just having fun with it,” Holmes said.