Ellsworth Equine Program lets students experience the real world
The Ellsworth Community College Equine program is truly something special. That’s why it’s ranked second in the nation by HorseSchools.com. That’s why there are more than 50 students enrolled in it. And that is why Kaitlin Uber of Kingston, TN, chose to enroll in a double major of Equine Management and Equine Science at ECC last fall.
ECC equine students live what they learn. In two years of comprehensive courses, the hands-on learning includes every aspect of caring for horses and managing a successful equine-related business. Students work with horses several times a day, training and riding in various classes, and they are assigned to a new horse every eight weeks.
“The ECC Equine program is real to the world,” says Kaitlin. “This is what you’ll be doing as a horse trainer. Someone who wants to be a PE teacher doesn’t get to go out and be a PE teacher every day they are in college. We do!”
Kaitlin compares her education at ECC to filling her equestrian toolbox. “Every day I figure something else out. All of the teachers, the students, and even the horse owners that cross my path in a day share a different experience or a new training style that has worked for them. We all watch and learn and store that tool in our toolbox so it’s there when we need it. It takes different tools and techniques for different horses. Everyone has their own training style. It’s interesting to watch each person communicate with the horses in a unique way.”
Kaitlin was born in Indiana to Ron and Angie Uber. Kaitlin’s Grandpa Gary gave her first pony to her when she was eight years old. She was addicted to horses from that moment on, riding and showing appaloosas and quarter horses. Her family moved to Iowa when she was 12. In 2010, her family moved to Tennessee. They were in Iowa for a horse show when a judge talked to her about the equine program at Ellsworth Community College. They toured the barn and were very impressed. She knew she loved working with horses but she wasn’t quite sure if she could make a living at her “hobby.”
“It was always something I wanted but I wasn’t sure it was worth the work it would take,” said Kaitlin. “My parents seemed to have known before I did that a career in equine was right for me. They have been very supportive. I’m the only one in the family who shows; I owe them a lot.”
Since coming to ECC, Kaitlin has received confirmation that she will indeed be able to make a career with horses. On just the sixth time out with one of her training horses it was the ECC Student Horse Show. Her training horse won the walk/trot class and did extremely well in the showmanship class. Then the owners of a horse she trained last semester asked to have her train another horse this term. These experiences helped give Kaitlin a real boost of confidence in her abilities.
“Everyone in the equine program wants to be here. That affects the barn in a very positive way. We have tons of fun, even when cleaning the stalls! We hang out in the barn a lot and our motto is that you can’t take life too seriously,” says Kaitlin. “My roommate is also an equine major. We get along so well. She wants to do equine massage therapy. The program is helping me make good connections and I’ll be able to earn my horse judging certification while I’m here. I know ECC will help me reach my goals of training horses and becoming a judge.”
Ellsworth Community College’s Equine program helps students develop comprehensive skills and gain well-rounded knowledge of the equine industry. With opportunities to learn with others and work with professionals in the field, students graduate with the ability to take the next step toward securing a successful profession. For more information on the ECC Equine programs or to schedule a tour of the Ellsworth Equestrian Center, call 800-322-9235, ext. 8519, or go to EllsworthCollege.com.
Photo Caption: Kaitlin Uber and her assigned training horse at the Ellsworth Equestrian Center, Iowa Falls, Iowa.