This week, 12 Metropolitan Equestrian Team students received grants for a week-long equestrian training session at Emily Elek’s Stonewall Farm in Ixonia, Wisconsin. During the first day of the training session, MET students rode in two to three riding lessons and learned from hands-on demonstrations from veterinarian Dr. Shannon Roska from Johnson Equine Veterinary Service as well as Kendra Skorstad of Skorstad Farrier Service.
“Having these students here has been an amazing experience. They have been fully immersed in our daily training, rehab, and sales program,” says Elek. “With multiple riding lessons a day and studying with various equine professionals, they are learning really valuable lessons.”
MET is a nonprofit organization for young riders who are passionate about horses and learning, providing students nationwide with grants to attend programs and prepare for college. Stonewall Farm has been an immersive equestrian education learning site for MET students since 2019.
“These student athletes are headed off into an amazing week of mounted and unmounted instruction,” says Lana Ciaramella, Director of Operations and Riding Programs at MET. “Coming off a month-long Clarkson University equine course, taught by Dr. Piper Klemm, has given them a newly educated lens to experience this equestrian immersion program.”
Students watched Dr. Roska perform flexion tests, joint injections, and hoof X-rays, all while learning about the veterinary industry and what being a general equine practitioner entails. Kendra Skorstad worked all day discussing hooves and taking student questions while shoeing various horses and ponies in their rehab processes.
“Teaching young equestrians is so important because we need so many more people in all aspects of the equine industry, and veterinary medicine in particular. Only 6% of veterinary school graduates enter into equine practice and 50% leave within 5 years,” says Dr. Roska. “We are lacking in large animal and equine practitioners across the country. These events are important to stimulate interest and encourage kids to think about what opportunities there are.”
Skorstad and Dr. Roska worked collaboratively on a horse with a hoof abscess while students watched and discussed how they collaborate with Elek on every horse from a veterinary, farrier, and training fitness and program perspective to make each horse their best. All three women take the holistic approach to care from nutrition and fitness to hoof health and accounting for performance and conformation. Skorstad spoke with students about connecting internal and external anatomy to help train their eyes.
“We have a really cool team here. It’s really important to share the team experience with young riders to show how professionals communicate on behalf of the horses so they can be their best,” says Skorstad.
Helen Gurley Brown Genius Grant recipients, MZ Farms Grant Recipients, and the Becky Family Grant recipient are participating in Stonewall’s training session as well as equestrian courses at Clarkson University with Dr. Piper Klemm.
Throughout the week, students will be immersed in hands-on learning about horse care, various equestrian job options, and riding lessons.
“It’s amazing for students to see behind the scenes of a great program like Stonewall Farm. High quality programs that have space for future industry professionals to learn from are essential to caring for our horses and our community long-term,” says Catherine Muzzy of MZ Farms.
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