Virginia high school officials say nay when teen rides horse onto campus

GLOUCESTER, Va. — A Virginia teenager thought it would be a memorable prank to ride his horse into the halls of his high school.

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For the most part, students and teachers were amused by Austin McGill riding 27-year-old Sonny into Gloucester High School on Nov. 5, WVEC reported.

However, there were some naysayers who believed that McGill should have reined in his enthusiasm. The result was a 10-day suspension, the television station reported.

“I was talking to my friends and I was like ‘you know, I should ride my horse into school’ and they were just like, ‘That would be hilarious,’” McGill, 18, told WVEC. “Nobody’s ridden a horse into this school. Everybody rides a horse to the school.”

Gloucester is one of Hampton Roads’ more rural communities, so seeing a horse in the area is not unusual.

McGill saddled up Sonny and rode the Arabian gelding two miles from his family’s farm to the school, where he was met by many of his classmates,

“I was outside for I’d say about a good 20 to 30 minutes and nothing happened, so I was like, ‘OK, I’m gonna go inside,’” McGill told WVEC.

McGill said he only guided the horse into the hall for a few steps because he did not want the animal to get hurt. He was inside the building long enough to get the reaction he wanted, as students and teachers took photographs and videos.

After one teacher appeared to be upset, McGill turned Sonny around and left the building.

“Nobody told me to go,” McGill told WVEC. “I was like, ‘I don’t want to offend anybody,’ so I walked him out. I got off of him and walked him out and that’s when I just rode right back to the farm.”

McGill said he was suspended for 10 days for “causing a demonstration or disruption,” but said his slip recommended a punishment of long-term suspension up to expulsion, the television station reported. He said he will meet with school officials soon.

“I wasn’t technically suspended for riding my horse into the building,” McGill told WVEC. “In the rule book, there’s nothing that doesn’t allow you to ride a horse into the building.”

“They have given him 10 days suspension and recommended long-term suspension,” McGill’s mother, Melissa Warden McGill, told McClatchy News. “It was just a harmless senior prank to bring smiles and laughter. I don’t think he needed to be suspended for 10 days -- or more -- over something that hurt no one.

“Three days max, if a punishment was really necessary. In my opinion, it was not. Nothing in code or laws prohibits riding a horse to school.”

School officials have not responded to WVEC’s request for comment.

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