Morrisville State College Equine Students Trade Summer For Showmanship Experience

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The hours were long, but the payoff was worth every minute for six Morrisville State College equine students who traded their summer plans for experience in the western show arena.

The students participated in the college's western (stock seat) summer internship program to gain valuable skills toward their future careers in the industry.

Under the direction of Dodie Howard, instructional support assistant, the internship included competing at various AQHA and NRHA shows throughout the Northeast. Students also managed the western equine facilities and trained several outside-owned horses.

This is the first year Howard ran the western summer intern program after taking the reins from Lewis “Spike” Holmes, who retired last year.

Howard, of Rome, is no stranger to the arena. She grew up surrounded by horses and participated in the western internship program when she was a student at Morrisville State College. Graduating in 2000 with an associate degree in equine science, she started her own business, Dodie Howard Show Horses.

Coming back to teach is an exciting experience for Howard who added Quarter horse western pleasure and hunter under saddle competition to the summer program's show ring experience.

Again this year, Morrisville State College horses and students were a strong presence at reining horse competitions throughout New York state.

Students were consistently at the top of their classes in several area AQHA Quarter horse competitions, showing Morrisville State College owned horses in Western Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle and Trail at Quarter horse shows in Syracuse, N.Y., Cobleskill, N.Y., and Centre Hall, Pa.

Each student worked with a reining horse and competed at several NRHA competitions. Since most of the reining horse shows are held at Morrisville State College, students were responsible for preparing the facilities for the horse show and helping show management during shows, in addition to cleaning up after the competition.

“Every one of the student interns was totally dedicated this past summer,” Howard said. “They worked very hard and I am so pleased that their dedication paid off in the show ring.”

The college has approximately 85 western horses on campus. Students were in charge of maintaining those horses and the facilities, including cleaning stalls, turn out, and training, while also working with several outside-owned training horses under Howard's supervision.

They also had to pack and unpack the trailer for shows and set up and tear down the college's display at competitions.

Despite working long hours, sometimes 10-hour days between barn chores and riding, it was a worthy tradeoff.

“I missed riding my horse at home, but I gained a lot of show experience,” Kristen Scull, of Honesdale, Pa., who swapped the beach and pool for the experience, said.

For Jesse Fisher, of Pittsfield, N.H., it was a first.

“I had never showed a horse before and wanted this summer experience,” he said. Fisher is an equine science and management bachelor of technology student with a concentration in western training. His twin brother, Mark, is also a student in the same program at Morrisville State College.

The summer internship helped students develop and refine their riding and training skills, learn about managing and conditioning horses, and network in the industry.

They'll gain more skills through classroom and lab work throughout the year while participating in campus activities like the college's annual Standardbred Yearling Sale and riding with some of the top trainers and riders in clinics and workshops.

In the classroom they're also learning how to implement a business plan to run their own business.

The western interns who participated in the summer program, all enrolled in equine science and management bachelor of technology with a concentration on western riding, are:
Heather Vaughn, of Cuba, N.Y.
Jill Featherly, of Hilton, N.Y.
Kristen Scull, of Honesdale, Pa.
Lindsey Seewaldt, of North Java, N.Y.
Elizabeth Scott, of Chittenango, N.Y.
Jesse Fisher, of Pittsfield, N.H.

Morrisville State College offers one of the most diverse equine science programs, with specializations in breeding, western, hunt seat, draft/driving, thoroughbred racing, standardbred racing, and business.

Students can try out to be part of the Equestrian Team, which competes in Region II (Western) and Region III (Hunt Seat) of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA).

Degrees offered are a bachelor of technology degree in equine science and two associate degrees in equine racing management and equine and science management. An Equine Breeding and Training Center, a 34,000 square-foot breeding and hunter/jumper facility, includes a breeding and foaling barn, hunter/jumper barn, stallion barn, a complete breeding laboratory, collection area, laptop classroom and three indoor riding arenas.

In addition to the Equine Breeding and Training Center, the college has an 80-acre Equine Center complete with paddocks, stables, and the only half-mile harness racing track on a college campus in the nation. Additional stables include a draft horse barn with a covered round pen and runouts. Construction will begin soon on an equine rehabilitation facility in the Town of Nelson on Route 20.