Four University of Delaware students with an interest in equine sciences spent their spring semester as interns at Fair Hill International (FHI) in nearby Maryland, learning the ins and outs of the equine industry and getting hands-on experience as they helped to put together an international equestrian event.
This internship opportunity was supported by a College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Teaching Mini-Grant awarded for equine science outreach to Amy Biddle, assistant professor of the Department of Animal and Food Sciences.
Leveraging the proximity of FHI, an organization that hosts horse trials at all levels, the goal of the internship was to offer students hands-on experience in the world of competitive equine events from local starter shows to Olympic qualifying events.
Those students included Kassandra Moyer, a senior majoring in animal and food sciences and agriculture and natural resources with a minor in food and agribusiness marketing and management; Jenna Deal, a sophomore pre-veterinary medicine and animal biosciences major with an equine science minor; Jacklyn Rind, a sophomore pre-veterinary medicine and animal biosciences major with a minor in biological sciences; and Charlotte Cilio, a junior majoring in animal and food sciences and agriculture and natural resources.
The students said the internship program leaders at FHI did a great job of designing the first half of the internship to focus on a specific area of the equine industry for which they had an interest.
Moyer, for instance, grew up on a dairy farm and wants to get into the dairy nutrition industry after school, with a specific interest in sales.
Because of this interest, Carla Geiersbach, executive director of FHI who oversaw the students for the internship, put her in charge of selling advertising space in FHI’s horse trial program.
“I thought the sales part of it was really beneficial for me personally because now I can actually put some numbers on my resume – I’m graduating, so that’s really important,” said Moyer.
Deal is going down the veterinary road and said that she was able to get good veterinary experience through the internship.
“There was a Foxcatcher endurance race and I got to help with the vet officials and check heart rates before the horses went on to actually be inspected by the vets,” said Deal. “Later on in the day, I got to hang out with the vets and talk to them, ask them about their experiences and what they suggest for vet school in the future.
“Then throughout the competition, we got to help set up and see the mechanics that the horses have to go through and during the competition itself seeing them compete opened my eyes to what they actually go through and what I’ll be getting into.”
Deal said that she would recommend the internship to students interested in equine sciences specifically because of how the staff at FHI worked to accommodate their areas of interest.
“Just knowing that they want to work with you because that way you get the most out of it. They cycled us through to make sure that we all got to see the aspects of it but they definitely wanted it to pertain to our interests,” said Deal.
The students also helped with an eventing competition at FHI that took place over a two-week span, and which they said took up a good chunk of the internship period.
“We helped with set up, we helped walking the courses to find distances and optimum times for riders, and we helped with in-barn inspections because some of these horses are international horses that have passports and are microchipped. As such, they have to come in and be inspected by veterinarians to make sure their microchip matches their passport, make sure they have all their vaccinations and that they’re generally healthy so they can compete,” said Moyer.
As for how they all found their love for horses, each said that it was instilled at a young age.
“I was four and my mom wouldn’t let me ride until I turned five and I haven’t stopped since,” said Cilio.
Deal said that she grew up around horses in her hometown where there were horse farms everywhere and Moyer started when she was five and got involved with the United States Pony Club.
Article by Adam Thomas
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