Kelsy Maguire, Brittany Beninger and Moira Rosenbaum have “horse fever”
“I was always either riding or at the barn,” Maguire remembers. “On weekends, it was horse shows. My non-riding friends didn’t always understand.”
Fellow UF sophomores agree. Brittany Veninger and Moira Rosenbaum also grew up nurturing their passion for all things horses. Rosenbaum tried high school soccer, but found she just didn’t have the time. Veninger spent non-school hours perfecting her riding and caring for her horse; not a lot of time left for school activities, shopping, or just hanging out.
Another thing these three students have in common, though, is the belief that all the hard work and sacrifice has been worth it. Some would say they have an incurable case of “horse fever.” Emerging Athletes The “fever” spiked in late August when all three young women were selected to participate in the Region 5 Clinic for the Emerging Athlete Program (EAP).
Developed by the United States Hunter Jumper Association, the EAP provides opportunities for young riders to advance their education and become knowledgeable horsemen within the hunter/jumper community. This year, UF’s James L. Child English Equestrian Complex had the honor of hosting the four-day clinic.
Participants from 10 regional clinics throughout the nation are vying for one of 16 spots in the National Training Session, scheduled for Nov. 15, 2012, in Gurnee, Ill.
Selection of these top 16 riders is based on riding and stable management skills, written test results and potential shown during the regional clinics.
“If you get chosen for the national session, it can really help your riding and training career take off,” said Rosenbaum. “If you actually are picked as the top Emerging Athlete at that session, you’re pretty much set.”
Nominated for the Clinic by UF hunter/jumper instructor Stella Prescott, the three UF students spent Aug. 23-26 riding, working, and studying under the direction of Julie Winkel, a USHJA Certified Trainer and Emerging Athlete Talent Scout. They also took “night duty” at the barn and increased their stable management skills.
Participation in the clinic also included a rigorous written exam. The announcement of national qualifiers will be made in early November.
“I’m just so grateful to my parents for allowing me to ride and for supporting me in my choice of a college major,” added Veninger.
Actually a dual-major in equestrian studies and business, she hopes to become a professional rider/trainer, as do Rosenbaum and Maguire, equine business management majors.
Maguire applied to seven colleges, but once she visited The University of Findlay and toured its equestrian facilities, she was “hooked.” Rosenbaum knew someone who had graduated from the program, and Veninger heard about UF from a friend.
All agree that it’s the premier equestrian program in the country.
“When you tell someone at a horse show that you go to The University of Findlay, they’re really impressed,” said Maguire.
“UF has connections,” added Rosenbaum. “I got two jobs this past summer because our faculty has contacts everywhere. I even worked at the Kentucky Horse Park.”
Sophomore equestrian students are responsible for morning feeding at the English farm. This means being at the barn before 7 a.m. (and horses are hungry even when the temperatures are below zero!) While roommates and other students are snuggled into warm beds in warm dorms, those suffering from horse fever don Muck boots, hats and gloves and serve hay and grain to more than 100 horses.
It’s a labor of love, though.
“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” they laughed.