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Equine center furthers education on horses

By Megan Carey
On October 22, 2010

Unlike many other areas of study on campus, there is more to Agricultural and Equine Science than just a desk and a book. This is due largely in part to the Equine Center, which offers both agriculture and non-agriculture majors hands-on experience with horses, and a chance to build on their knowledge of the care, health and handling of horses.

"[The Equine Center's] main purpose is for the equine classes," Lecturer of Equine Sciences Lindsay Walton said. "We have both an equine science minor and an equine study minor that I added last year. Due to the overwhelming interest in equine classes by students of other majors, I added the equine studies minor, which is for any major."

The Equine Center is located at the A&M-Commerce Educational Farm and Ranch off Sate Highway 50. It consists of two barns and arenas, round pens, and many horse runs and pastures. The Equine Center used to share its location with the cattle barns, but when Walton took over the program in fall 2007, she immediately made some changes.

"We got the cattle barns built in a separate spot in 2008," Walton said, "so that it was solely the equine center and no longer had to be shared with cattle. Until then, [it] was the livestock center so it was multi-purpose."

The Equine Center is used for many activities outside the realm of the university, such as summer camps for children, trail rides, arena ride nights, the Redneck Horse Games and the boarding of horses. The center is also used for the Equine Club, a student organization that was started in 2008, and the Equine show team, a branch off from the Equine Club, which practices in the arena three times a week.

"I am very passionate about horses," junior pre-veterinary medicine major Holly Pryor said. "So the Equine Center has helped me by giving me a place where I can be around horses as much as I want to. It has also given me a place to further my education about showing and training horses because of Show Team,"

Pryor, who is secretary of the Equine Club and captain of the Equine Show Team, is very involved with the Equine Center and has taken most of the classes. She recently received the overall high point buckle for the Morgan Horse Club of Texas show series in the Western pleasure division. There are still more shows for the show team to attend, but according to Walton, every year the team bring home high point year-end buckles.

"It is a great program that I think the university should invest more resources in because of the opportunities to learn that it gives students," Pryor said.

The Equine Program is best known for its hands-on training.

"The students do all of the work and I am just there to instruct," Walton said. "This is a lot different than just reading about it alone."

The classes that Walton teaches allow students to follow weanlings (four to six-month old horses) and train them from yearlings until they are two years old, and ready to go under the saddle and enter the riding program.

"It is very unique to have a program that starts its own horses that are born on property and gets to finish them through until they become riding horses," Walton said.

As of August 2010, the university had 15 broodmares, 15 riding horses, three show horses, three studs, five yearlings and nine weanlings.

"It's great to watch them grow and learn," junior animal Science major Robyn Serrao said. "It's even better when you can grow and learn with them."

Serrao, who is a student-worker at the Equine Center, as well as the Equine Club President and the Show Team Secretary, thinks the greatest part about the Equine Center is the raising and training of the horses on the school's farm.

"Every day is a learning experience," Serrao said. "[Horses] are good for you physically, emotionally and mentally. Something about a horse heals a person's heart." 

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