Like so many other younger siblings over the course of family history, Kendall Cox saw her older sister doing something when they were young, and decided that she wanted to do it as well. After watching her sister around horses, and seeing particularly her desire to ride them, Cox quickly realized that she wanted to follow in her footsteps. Eager to get started, she began riding show horses and ponies at the young age of five, eventually switching to dressage—dancing with horses—and instantly fell in love with the idea of a life spent around them. Fast forward several years, and Cox is now working as a summer intern, learning about and building on her love of horses at the Hannoveraner Verband Association, one of the most prestigious warmblood breeding associations in Germany.
Cox, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, will be a junior equine science major at UF in the fall. Her summer internship isn’t the first time she’s been to Germany, as her familiarity with the country and its horses goes back to December of 2016, when she first traveled there with UF. “In my two weeks abroad back then, I tested for my large bronze medal which is the first training medal in jumping, ground work, and dressage,” Cox explained. “The medals create an opportunity to gain more knowledge, build up my resume and give me the opportunity to learn under incredible trainers. They are proof that a person from another country can ride and compete in Germany.” She pointed out that the system of training is quite a bit different in Germany, and is sometimes considered to be superior to that in other countries.
Cox explained that she came across the opportunity to train horses in Germany through the Director of the English Equestrian Program at UF, Nicole Thungen. Thungen was born and grew up in Germany, and when the internship was finalized after she reached out to the people at Hannoveraner Verband to see if they could use Cox for the summer, both were overjoyed. Thungen was particularly thrilled by the potential. “In the case of Kendall,” she explained, “who arrived at our university with an already magnificent skill set, such programs are essential to maintain and manifest the student body. It instills confidence in other students and secures a better and higher image of the University of Findlay in offering such opportunities.”
A typical day for the intern, who will be in Germany until shortly before classes start in August, begins at 7 a.m. with bedding the horses’ stalls and getting them fed. This is followed by a thirty-minute breakfast, and then a few hours of riding the 3 to 6 horses she’s been assigned. The rest of the day, she said, consists of the same type of focus, except for the days when there are auctions. “In the case of an auction event,” Cox said, “I still ride and train my assigned horses, but then report to the competition arena across the street. We have auctions for foals, young horses, and middle-aged horses.” She explained that being in a position to help run these auctions and prepare the horses to look their finest is a perfect opportunity for her to see behind the scenes and to learn just how much work goes into preparing and selling a horse. “I am loving learning how the Germans have become so successful,” she added.
Cox, who mentioned that she is “very blessed” to be on tuition exchange to UF, also added that the University and its equestrian program have already shaped her in meaningful ways. “UF is a wonderful fit for me,” she said, “because I am given the room to push myself to become a better rider, and am always supported when I take the next step. My passion for riding is so strong that I want to make sure I never shut it down.”
As for her sister, Cox said that “she fell out of the sport a few years ago,” and is pursuing other great things. While very thankful for the influence and guidance she had from her when they were growing up together, it seems that, through UF and her internship, Cox is proud to now be able to handle life—both with and without horses—on her own. “I have learned how to exercise my independence to the fullest,” she said. “UF is one of the best schools for riding in the country, and after my first trip to Germany in 2016, I knew that it had endless opportunities for me.”