For The Love Of Horses

Being a part of a rural community, I am often questioned about my stand on horses. If you haven’t already figured it out…I am definitely pro equine. However, the beef producers and crop farmers do not quite see to eye with me or my fellow equestrians.

It is true that we are definitely a league of our own. I mean, how many other groups of people throw money into an animal that we so often see no returns from? To help you gain an insight on how we work…I have compiled a list of thoughts that we have and how we perceive them that others may not see. As always, enjoy!

1. They have been our confidence boosters.

Not every day do we get to handle a thousand pound animal, and ask of it things that we want it to do knowing it has a mind of its own. Doing so is truly a unique feeling that many do not understand. The feeling of have a successful ride often times makes you feel as if you can accomplish anything.

“These thousand pound animals are letting us ride them, and as a kid, letting us do a number of shenanigans with them. They could seriously injure us in a matter of seconds, but they don’t.”

                                                                                                                                                                -Brittany Rucker

“It’s crazy how I can trust a three year old stud to take care of me, but I can’t even trust the cashier at a store to give me back the right change.”

                                                                                                                                                                -Jessa Haley

But the confidence boost goes even deeper as you progress. After all the hard work that you have put in builds, you often find yourself showing beginners a few ropes. Teaching others your passion solidifies your experiences, and it turn makes you glow as you realize you have reached a pivotal moment that you know enough to share with someone else.

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2. They are our escape from reality.

Take a moment and stop and think about all of the annoying moments that fellow humans have put you through….just today. There are rude people, people that just get on your last nerve, and those that are just set out to destroy you. Now I’ll be honest, there are horses out there that are the exact same way, but the beauty of horse ownership is that you choose to put them in your life as opposed to having to get along with them on a day to day basis.

“For me its like horses are in my life to remind me that we can’t be in control of everything, and that is ok.”

                                                                                                                                                                -Jessa Haley

“Horses mean life to me. They were my rock and escape when the world was too rough for me to handle.”

                                                                                                                                                -Whitney Amelong

“When I’m riding I’m not worried about anything else, all my concentration is on my horse. I’m free from everyday stress.”

                                                                                                                                                -Crystal LaRae

With this in mind, you seek out your equine partner to escape the world and its stresses. For a few moments, you take time out of your busy and sometimes chaotic life to care for and think about something else. Our horses seek our attention while we are with them, making this easy for us. This is truly a gift, not often do many have a hobby that genuinely allows them to reach peace at this level.

3. They are a responsibility.

For myself, having a horse to learn about, to learn from, to care for, to provide for, etc. has taught me the most about life in general. Not only do you learn the general knowledge involved and how to ride, you also learn about daily chores that an animal requires, time management, and have a financial obligation that will teach you the importance of money. The beauty of a horse in this aspect is that you seek out a horse to own and care for, as opposed to having to learn these lessons paying bills that no one looks forward to.

“My horse does cost me alot, but she has also taught me alot and I think that pays for most of it.”

                                                                                                                                                -Crystal LaRae

“In rain or shine, snow or sleet, high winds or a gentle breeze, in 98 degrees or 6, We train, ride, prep and care for our horses.”

                                                                                                                                                -Izzey Nanninga

“It is not about the money; however it is about what makes you happy. Horses make you happy.”

                                                                                                                                                -Alison Bos

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4. They have kept us out of trouble countless times.

Horse people are truly unique; we plan our life around daily chores, riding, and shows or events. We often find ourselves forgoing a social gathering on the weekend because we would rather miss the party of the year as opposed to the horse show we have been training so hard for. We also go to bed early not because we have a curfew or no social life, but because we know we have to get up those two hours earlier for feeding, stall cleaning, and turnout before we face the real world. Consequently, we also seem to band together as we all understand the same priorities. So next time you get that DWI or get grounded for missing curfew, just remember that the crazy horse girls would have kept you out of trouble!

“A wise artist aged 78 shared his fountain of youth secret with me. Your friends should always be at least 10 years younger than you are. He said it was his secret to keeping his ideas fresh, his enthusiasm robust, and his outlook positive. My equine partners have enabled me to connect with younger competitors, and force me to ride beyond even my own expectations.”

                                                                                                                                                -Lynn Carbol

“A social life consisting of all sorts of horses, ponies, barn cats and farm dogs who all (sadly) hold better conversations than most humans in your life.”

                                                                                                                                                -Izzey Nanninga

5. They allow us to participate in a sport….and riding truly is a sport.

Many non-horse lovers refuse to accept the art of riding as a sport. We compete, there are professionals in the face of every discipline, associations are established to monitor many aspects of the industry, and there are even horse racing and equestrian sports on the television. This may be the one and only argument we can make for financial defenses outside of a stud or selling a horse, because after all just like many other sports, there are many opportunities to win checks at upper level horse shows.

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6. They have taught us that failure is simply a part of the process.

We all have good days and bad days, and so do our horses. Just because we have won several shows in the past doesn’t mean they will always win in the future. But in our defense, failure happens in every aspect of our lives. If you do not fail, then ironically you are not doing something right. After all, our most valuable lessons have often been taught through embarrassment of being wrong. But the unique thing when dealing with a horse, they are often very honest. A large majority of accidents or mistakes are often the result of rider error, forcing us to take the brunt of the liability of failure and forcing us to work that much harder.

“When you fall, you always get back up. You never quit when you fail.”
-Crystal LaRae

7. They keep you humble, in more ways than one.

It is often said that you are not truly a rider until you have fallen off 7 times. As fellow riders we have all been there! We know how it feels to go over the top of your horse at a jump refusal, to be taken by surprise when your horse spooks out on the trail, and being unseated during a quick cut after your horse makes a great effort to beat a calf. Whatever your situations that you relate through, you learn to simply remount and try again and often in good spirits since no one likes a sore loser.

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8. They take the necessity of patience to a whole new level.

There is a very apparent language barrier between our horses and us. With this in mind, we are forced to find alternative ways of communication to train and handle our horses. And even better yet, each and every individual horse learns differently just as we do. A responsive horse may learn after a couple repetitive cues, others take a couple days. But as equestrians, we are able to achieve communication skills that many others do not ever have the chance to understand because they only ever surround themselves with fellow humans.

“You can’t rush them, it just takes repetition.”

                                                                                                                                                -Crystal LaRae

9. They teach you to multi-task.

This is the ultimate reaction I look for when teaching my new beginner riders. I often start with individual aspects of the importance of body position in riding, and 9 times out of 10 when all aspects are grouped together they are amazed with how many things they must remember while riding. From keeping your heels down, to sitting up straight, to looking where you are going, and not falling into your corners, it is certainly not as easy as it looks. As equestrians, we learn to make the not so seemingly easy task of riding look graceful. Very few things in life can accomplish both of those individual aspects in one overall task.

“It is a constant learning experience when dealing with horses. Even if it is a horse you ride every day, they always seem to do things that you learn from. You know what they like, what they don’t like. What they understand and what they don’t understand. You know just how far you can push them. How do we know these things? Horses teach us.”

                                                                                                                                                -Alison Bos

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10. They teach you to be responsible for your actions.

Your horse not only acts how you let it, but they also look like how you manage and maintain it. This creates a reflection back upon yourself, if your horse is not up to your standard then there is not anyone left to blame but yourself. This is important as our horses mean so much to us, forcing us to constantly work towards our mounts. As soon as we quit trying, then our lack of effort soon catches up with us.

“My horse reflects me, and my training. And my actions reflect who I am to the world.”

                                                                                                                                                -Crystal LaRae

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In a crazy way, we are crazy in our way…but yet so much better off than many others in the world. I owe so much to my horses, with the variety of lessons I have been taught throughout the years. Even though my viewpoints with my involvement in the agriculture world may not be the same as many others in different aspects, I have still managed to learn many of the big picture lessons that others have…..just did so through different experiences. We are definitely a league of our own, but we don’t think the way that we do or do the things that we do for no reason. I hope that my non-equestrian readers now see a few viewpoints from our perspective, and thanks again to my wonderful friends and followers for sharing yet again!



Misconceptions of Animal Science Degrees

 “Are you in school?”

“Yes, I study Animal Science at Missouri State University.”

“Aw, a vet. Good choice!”

If you are a fellow Animal Science student, I’m sure you understand this classic conversation with new acquaintances. We barely get one question answered about our college career, and the common misconception occurs about us all wanting to be veterinarians. If we have time, we share with them that this is not the case and enlighten them on what we plan to do with the rest of our lives. But there are always those moments where a conversation is cut off early, and we have no way to correct them on their assumptions. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a vet, we just simply have different aspirations and visions with our degree. As a way to educate the public, I have surveyed several college students to see just what they are up to and more specifically, how they plan to use their Animal Science degree in the real world.


Brittany Rucker, working with a young horses in one of her classes.
Brittany Rucker, working with a young horses in one of her classes.

” Horses are my passion. I knew I always wanted to be around them since I was 12. I may never be money rich, but if I get to be around horses everyday I won’t work a day in my life. I’d rather muck stalls in 20 degree weather than be a paper pusher in a warm office. An animal science degree will allow me to do that. “

Brittany Rucker, a student at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO sought after an Animal Science degree because she simply wants to work with horses for the rest of her life. After graduation, she would like to obtain a job in Equine Management. Prior to MSU, she attended Redlands Community College in Oklahoma. Her favorite moments so far in her college career have been the memories made while she has been a part of various Equestrian and Ranch Horse teams.



Kerstine and one of her horses, Blaze.
Kerstine and one of her horses, Blaze.


” Looking back I wouldn’t have spent my money or time learning about anything else. Animals and agriculture are what make the world go round. With out it we would be naked and hungry. “



Photo from a field trip for Meat Evaluation.
Photo from a field trip for Meat Evaluation.

Kerstine Whittaker’s journey begins at SBU in Bolivar, MO. Her advisor asked her what she would like to do with her life, and she instantly thought of teaching agriculture. After realizing that teaching teenagers takes a very special person, she then decided to see what the animal world had in store for her and her interest then turned to Animal Science. After graduation, she would like to find a job that would allow her to inform the public about agriculture as she feels that the agriculture industry is under fire the most when people are ignorant about where their food comes from. Kerstine now also attends Missouri State University where some of her favorite experiences have been the hands on activities such as artificial inseminating mares and preg checking cattle.

” This is why the animals science degree means so much to me, being around animals and learning in a way that actually teaches you instead of out of a book. “



Dakota meeting Rex Peterson RJ Masterbug, a horse trained for Hidalgo.
Dakota meeting Rex Peterson RJ Masterbug, a horse trained for Hidalgo.

” My favorite things that I have learned or experienced were back at NEO. I absolutely loved the equine training and management course. I learned so much, and there is no greater feeling in the world then showing a horse that you started and doing decent at it! To tell you the truth, I learned so much from the equine program there as a whole…..just loved it all! “

Dakota Keith started her Animal Science journey at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College where she obtained a degree in Equine and Ranch Management. Today, she attends Oklahoma State University where she continues her Animal Science major with an added Agricultural Communications major, Agricultural Economics minor. After graduation, she is hoping to obtain a in the equine industry working in horse show management or for an equine publication.

As part of her journeys, she works for the Pinto Horse Association of America where she works during the World Championship Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This last year, she assisted Samantha Hearn in managing Rex Peterson’s appearances during the event. Dakota chose an Animal Science degree because she simply loves all aspects of the livestock industry. She hopes that she can use her knowledge of animal agriculture to inform the public through her news stories!

Cassie with a new baby at MSU!
Cassie with a new baby at MSU!

” I wanted a career to work with animals in some way, shape, or form. “

Cassie O’Hara first began her journey at Northern Illinois University, then University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, but she now calls Springfield, MO home where she is pursuing her Master’s degree at MSU in Animal Science. When she graduates, she would like to see herself working at a university or a community college working with an equine program, but is also now considering a research related career. She is on the fast track to pursuing her dreams as she has been busy conducting fecal sample studies through her graduate project, while also assisting in coaching the MSU Western Equestrian team. Her favorite experience during her time at Missouri State, has been learning how to care for and treat livestock of different species.


Michelle with a baby bottle calf from her farm!
Michelle with a baby bottle calf from her farm!

Michelle DeLong chose an Animal Science degree because she has always loved animals and has always had jobs in that related area, whether it be working on a horse ranch, to working on a dairy farm, and now owns her own ranch. She is proud to be an alumni of Missouri State University, where her favorite experience occurred during an Animal Companionship class where she was graded on training an animal all semester. Another one of the classes that she enjoyed was the Equine Exercise Physiology course where she was granted the opportunity to take a field trip to another college to see they work that they did with ex-racehorses. Michelle now runs her own ranch where she raises many different species including beef cattle, dairy cattle, dairy goats, pigs, and horses. On top of all of this she even makes time to do horse training and give lessons!

”  I feel I couldn’t be doing anything better with my degree. “

My student and I posing for the camera!
My student and I posing for the camera!

During my own adventure to achieve an Animal Science degree, I have been so blessed to experience many great things. From my days at NEO with the livestock and equestrian team, to being a certified riding instructor, to being a part of the behind the scenes show management for the NRHA, and to learning the ropes and methods of management at various horse barns…I wouldn’t trade any moment for the world. With graduation sneaking up on me in a few short weeks, I have realized that I am right where I want to be. No, I have no intentions of attending vet school, but I respect those that do as I will have many dealings with them in the future as does any animal owner. So to my fellow Animal Science majors that are reading this, continue to rock what you do and create your own success story! Thanks again to those that contributed to this blog post and took time out of your busy lives to share your experiences with me!