All American Quarter Horse Congress: a networking opportunity for equine students

By Annaliese Rizzo,

The All-American Quarter Horse Congress (or informally known as Congress) just wrapped up for this year, but that means that University of Findlay western equestrian students made new contacts for future jobs.

Every year, at the end of September, the All-American Quarter Horse Congress sets up at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus and horse trainers from all over the country come to compete for Congress champion. This offers UF equestrian students an unmatched opportunity to network with the best of the best from a different neck of the woods.

Meredith Marsh, a riding instructor at the western farm and the director of the equestrian studies and equine management programs, oversees a program for equestrian students to go and work for horse trainers at Congress. Trainers who are familiar with the equine program at UF reach out to Marsh in hopes to get in contact with a hardworking, driven individual to work with them at this show.

Marsh herself worked for trainers while she was a student at UF and encourages current students who are academically able to work at Congress and interested in learning the ins and outs of the show industry to give it a try.

“I think our students getting that insight while they are still in school gives them the opportunity to understand if that is the direction they want to go after graduation,” Marsh said. “I don’t think that the experience at Congress is for every student, [but] I think in certain situations it is helpful for them.”

Some students who attend Congress do not work for trainers, however they still take the opportunity to network with the various trainers who attend, getting phone numbers and introducing themselves to potentially secure a summer or post-graduation position.

Senior western equestrian student Cheyenne Longbreak is currently searching for a post-graduation job working for a trainer who will help her grow as an equine professional. This year, instead of working for a trainer Longbreak chose to network, introducing herself to prospective employers and giving them a quick overview of her experience.

While working Congress is typically geared toward the western equestrian students, there are opportunities for the English equestrian students as well.

Rusty Miller, the director of the English riding program offers that there are many opportunities for English equestrian students to network and work for trainers at various shows on the eastern side of the country, but that is not the only way that students, western or English, can begin networking.

“I always tell students that their networking begins here with their fellow students and instructors,” Miller said. “Even though I graduated in 1984, I still do business with people I went to school with in the 80’s. I still have ties to them.”

Students at UF, whether an equestrian student or not, are given a unique opportunity to network with those that are in program specific areas. The Center for Career & Professional Development (CCPD) on campus offers a wide variety of networking opportunities for students and alumni through resume workshopping, internship searches and mock interviews.