Amanda Arnold, Averett University
Attending a university with an equestrian program is one of the best learning opportunities a student can ask for. Most equestrian programs are designed to teach students the basic concepts of horse care, stable management, riding practice, and riding theories. With this solid basis, a student is more capable of securing a job in the equine industry upon graduation. I chose to attend a university, instead of becoming a working student, because of the educational opportunities and connections. While being a working student is a great experience and can be very helpful in getting your foot in the door, I believe school can offer a greater variety of classes and learning opportunities. I am a student who loves to learn a wide variety of information, so the Equine Business Strategies and Business Law classes at school keep me interested in the industry. As a part of the general program, many universities also require their students to complete an internship in their chosen field. As a junior at Averett University, I have had the opportunity to complete two internships thus far in my academic career.
As a Business Management and Equine Studies double major, I could apply for an internship in either the business department or the equestrian department. Since my goals after graduation are equine related, I chose to focus there. I looked at Yard and Groom, USEA area I and II, and other equine job search related websites to find an internship. Most online advertisements will give a detailed description of the job and the requirements for the individual, however they do not always describe the farm itself or the work environment. Eventually, I went to our department head, Ginger Henderson, to see if she knew of any places that were looking for a summer intern. That is where I found Scattered Acres, a small eventing based farm in Catlett, VA.
While I believe that the internet can be a great place to job search, I also think that students should use every human connection available to them. In the equine industry, connections to people who value your work ethic, can help you find internships that might not be available to just anyone searching online. By utilizing a school’s resources, and the professors who have connections with people in the industry, you can get a more personalized experience at an internship. Using a school’s resources can also narrow down your search, because they will know your experience level and the type of internship that you are looking for.
My second internship, at Hilltop Farm, Inc., came to me in a different way. In 2015, the Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) created a Quiz Challenge, in which members would take a test to determine the extent of their knowledge in horse care, riding theory, and a few other categories. A preliminary test was administered to determine the qualifying members, who then would travel to Ohio for IDA Nationals to take a final test. The grand prize for the highest scored test of the final round was a month long internship at Hilltop Farm, Inc.
I believe that organizations like IDA, IHSA, USHJA, and many others, are really critical in helping young, motivated students to find internships and other opportunities. IHSA in particular is known for its willingness to help riders further there intercollegiate careers, whether it be riding or academic. They offer several scholarships for members of IHSA, such as the T. McDonald Scholarship Challenge (which tests theoretical and practical concepts of horse care), the IEF Scholarship and the All-Academic Award, among others. I participated in the T. McDonald Scholarship Challenge and placed 7th, after the practicum final, at IHSA Nationals in 2015. It was one of the best experiences I could have asked for because I learned a lot in the area of horsemanship, and I was given a scholarship for my placing. The USHJA is another organization that I was introduced to in school, because of my IHSA coach Cricket Morris. The USHJA is a great organization for young riders because of their educational programs, such as the Emerging Athletes Program, which has the goal of helping young riders to become more knowledgeable horsemen/women. I would highly recommend checking out these programs if you are looking to further your horsemanship.
After completing my internship at Scattered Acres, and finishing up my month long internship at Hilltop Farm, Inc., I can say that I would not have had these amazing opportunities if I did not have the connections and opportunities established through my university’s equestrian program. However, an internship can teach you so much more and help you to apply all of the information that you have learned. I knew a fair bit about horse care, stable management, and riding theory when I arrived at my internship in Catlett, VA. However, over the summer I was able to apply my knowledge and learn even more about stable management. I was also able to develop my riding skills and theory even further with instruction from Autumn Rae.
Taking the knowledge gained from that internship, I felt much more prepared when I came to Hilltop Farm, Inc. in December. There I was also able to learn about handling young horses and the management involved in running a large facility. In classes at school, they teach you how to do things and the theory behind the practice. Then, when I got to my internships, I was able to take that physical practice and theory, and actually apply it to a real life situation. I absolutely believe that internships is the best possible way to experience the industry you are looking to enter and gain practical knowledge first hand.
A collaborative effort produced by the USSHBA Education Committee, USSHBA members, and our partners.