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Piper speaks with Sarah Crosier about the equestrian program at the University of Vermont. Listen in!
GUESTS AND LINKS:
- Host: Piper Klemm of The Plaid Horse Magazine
- Guest: Sarah Crosier a senior at the University of Vermont, majoring in Public Health Sciences with a minor in Animal Science. Sarah is also the Barn Manager and member of the UVM Horse Barn Co-operative.
Read below for Sarah’s excerpt on her experience at the UVM Horse Barn Co-operative:
“I want to bring my horse to college,” a sentence that no parents want to hear from their 17-year-old horse crazed daughter.
My love for horses has existed throughout my life and was supported continuously by my parents. I knew of the University of Vermont Horse Barn Co-op (also known as the Ellen A. Hardacre Equine Center) through a few friends who had gone to UVM and had been involved in the barn in one way or another. Luckily, UVM had a huge variety of majors that I was interested in, was in an awesome college town, and most importantly had a barn less than a mile from campus. How could it get any better?
I knew no matter what, taking my horse to college was going to be difficult. I was either going to have to work a lot to be able to afford it or I was going to have to do work in exchange for his boarding. UVM offers a barn co-op, which made the latter possible for me. I was able to board him in a great facility, at a low price, and be involved in his care. The UVM Horse Barn does not have any paid staff, therefore the students do the work all year long. The combination of 12 student boarders, the UVM Dressage Team, students in EQUUS, and the EQUUS advisors do all the daily work for the horses.
Starting at 6:30 am going off and on until 9:30 pm, students and advisors are at the barn, with a partner, taking care of the horses. To me, this seemed like a good way to be involved in my horse’s care at a low price and with other students, which was exactly what I was looking for.
I applied, was accepted, and arrived at the UVM Horse Barn Co-op in late August of 2019 with my beloved pony, Jack. I got Jack when I was 12. He had been with me through middle and high school and now we were starting college together. Freshman year proved to be difficult for me. Going from living in rural Southern Vermont to a building with several hundred people in it. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit during spring break of my freshman year. My sophomore year felt like the opposite of college. There were so many restrictions, so much isolation, and so much uncertainty. But I still had the barn to go to and my horse to spend time with. It gave me an outlet that other people did not have during that time.
Along with allowing students to board their horses, the UVM Horse Barn Co-op offers so many learning opportunities.
“From dragging and maintaining arenas to fencing to managing horse nutrition to hauling hay, the program at the barn has also exposed me to far more areas of horse and farm care than I had ever experienced despite my lifetime of horseback riding,” says Marcy Bucheit, a barn member.
Experiential learning, something that is seemingly invaluable but dwindling throughout our education system, is the cornerstone of our farm. It takes an exponential amount of work to pull off experiential learning, but it is one of the most valuable ways to learn. It takes the entire community to pull off our co-operative barn but for many it can be the most impactful experience for someone during their college career.
The UVM Horse Barn Co-op has given me way more than just a place to keep my horse and an outlet to my stress. Over the last three and a half years I have met incredible friends, had amazing learning and leadership opportunities, and created some of my favorite college memories. I have acted as a barn manager for half of my time at UVM, taught riding lessons and horsemanship skills, participated in clinics and barn events, and so much more.
Overall, my favorite thing about the UVM Horse Barn Co-op is the community that exists there. I can be having the worst day and the positive energy from the barn always overcomes my bad mood. Everyone plays a different role at the barn, and we have many variations of skill, experience, and ability but together we are able to learn and grow as horse enthusiasts.
Each student is expected to do two hours per week of chores, one night check a week, a few weekend chores throughout the semester, and clean their horse’s stall almost every day. We unload the hay and put it in the loft, we handle conflicts, management issues, and so much more. A few weeks ago, a group of ten or so unloaded two wagons of hay at 9:30 am on a Saturday morning. We all smiled and laughed through the whole thing while listening to music over the barn speakers. Then, after being coated with a layer of dirt and hay, we wandered down to a local diner for breakfast and more laughter.
The UVM Horse Barn Co-op exposes you to many students you may otherwise not meet. We have a variety of majors and ages within the co-op, which allows for students all to get to know each other. Our barn community allows us a place where many people understand our love for horses. In addition, we are all going through the ups and downs of college. As students and horse lovers, we have so many things to relate to each other on, and we support each other through these times in and out of the barn.
“The environment is welcoming, members are always willing to help each other out, and everyone in the barn works very hard to ensure that all our horses are happy and healthy,” says Abigail Western, one of our Dressage Team captains.
As my time at UVM and the UVM Horse Barn Co-op closes, I am ready to move onto the next part of my life. I will graduate this May with a degree in Public Health Sciences and a minor in Animal Science. While I am ready to move onto the next chapter, I am dreading the move from the UVM barn. It is quite honestly the only part of college that I will miss because of my friends, the community, the support system, and social interactions that I have there.
I was a little crazy to bring my horse to college with me. It can be stressful to manage your time when you have two projects due and three exams in a week while also needing to get down to the barn and complete your chores. But the smell of the barn and interacting with the horses immediately eases that stress.
I have never once regretted my decision to bring Jack to college with me. I am so lucky to have family and people in my life who support my love for horses that made it possible for me to do this. He and the barn community have gotten me through all the ups and downs that college poses, and I am eternally grateful for my time here.
Our farm constantly has turnover of boarders because students graduate. We typically have 2-5 open stalls at the beginning of each school year. So, if you are wanting to bring your horse to college with you, consider applying to UVM and the UVM Horse Barn Co-op. It can offer you a great college experience while joining an incredible community of horse people.