The William Woods Equestrian Department attracts a lot of people from all over. There are so many opportunities that come from being a part of this program like showing at A-level shows, clinics with well-known equestrian people, and soaking up all the knowledge you can from our very well qualified instructors. But what is it like on a day to day basis?
Even though I am not an equestrian major, I spend a lot of time at the barn. With my riding class, equine anatomy class, stable management class, and Mentor-Mentee project I've had a lot of great experiences with the faculty and students in the program.
This semester I am riding in an intermediate Dressage class with Karen Pautz. It meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4PM. Regardless of your seat, riding classes meet twice a week. Then Friday-Sunday there are opportunities to free ride horses that you have successfully ridden in class. Each riding class also has a few teaching techs (usually 2) who are learning how to teach people to ride. I enjoy taking tech lessons on the weekends and free riding.
Because this program is geared toward preparing students for all aspects of the equine industry, riders are responsible for making sure their horse is comfortable and cared for on the days they ride. On a typical class day, I get to the barn around 2:45. Since my class is later in the day, I like to get there early to clean out my horses's stall and give him some love. It is also nice to have some extra time to chat with the other people in my riding class. We always like to guess what we will be working on in class that day.
After the stall is done, I spend extra time grooming. It is one of my favorite things to do! I get to know the personality of the horse and the repetitive brush strokes is calming. I also use the time to go over some anatomical structures I've learned about in my anatomy class (what can I say, I'm a little nerdy!). Once the class is all tacked up and ready to go, we head over to the arena together.
We ride for an hour, and there are six of us in the class. The number of people does depend on your instructor, but it is never more than eight and there is always plenty of room! The way our class is structured there is usually a topic or a skill for the day. Karen tells us about it after we've warmed up and then she either explains an exercise for us or gives us the opportunity to master the skill on our own.
After we get off, we head back to the barn. Then it is time to un-tack and do a little more grooming. I usually spend about twenty to thirty minutes (depending on how sweaty the horse gets!) putting my stuff away and getting my horse settled in for the evening. Then it is off to Tucker Dining Hall for some dinner!