Life in the equine program

Photo by MJE Media

By Kendall Westgate,

From learning to manage time freshman year to waking up at 4:30 a.m. sophomore year to riding three horses daily junior and senior year, the English equine program requires hard work, responsibility and lots of time management.

Typically, a freshman class starts with 40-50 students, but typically ends with 15-20 students. There are many different factors into why students switch out of the English Equine Studies major.

Many students coming into the program double major with Equine Business Management; however, others major in straight business or even other degrees like criminal justice or journalism. Coming into college, I planned to double major in Journalism and English Equine Studies, but the scheduling was too tight to finish both degrees in four years. Instead, I dropped my Journalism major down to a Digital Media minor and added a Business Management minor.

Other students in the equine program follow a similar route. However, they drop their Bachelors in English Equine Studies to an Associates degree, so they can focus on their other double major.

While the double major may seem doable at first, the times on-campus classes are offered create many class conflicts during junior and senior year. It can also be very difficult for students to take full 18 credit course loads or even overload just to finish both majors in four years.

Besides students dropping the English Equine Studies major due to the stress of double majoring, other students may drop due to the nature of the program. Some students come into the program with very limited horse experience, which becomes difficult sophomore year when students work with green horses. A green horse refers to a horse who is relatively inexperienced or untrained, according to Equiniction.

Others may no longer want to pursue a career in the horse industry. This program helps riders decide if they want to continue professionally or enjoy horses on the side.

The program builds up your skill levels and knowledge each semester. Freshman year, students attend the barn class from 2-5 p.m. The focus of freshman year is to establish the basics and create a foundation. They are also put in charge of evening feeding chores, while also cleaning two stalls.

Sophomore year barn time starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 10 a.m.; yet, many students arrive at the barn as early as 5:30 a.m. to clean their two stalls and prepare for their lessons. As sophomores, riders are assigned a green horse, as well as a “made” horse. They also complete morning feeding chores.

During junior and senior year, students are only assigned to one stall and do not need to complete any feeding chores. They, instead, focus more on riding horses, since they are typically assigned two-three horses. The junior and seniors barn class takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The English Equine Studies program is not easy to complete, but it is very worth it. My riding has improved tons under the instruction of these trainers. This program also offers many opportunities I didn’t have previously.