From the four walls of a classroom to the open farmland, ACU students learn about and ride horses weekly.
Jason Davis, ACU Rhoden Farm manager, and his wife, Erin Davis, both ACU graduates and from Abilene, instructs students on the ways of riding, breeding and management principles of horses. The Horses and Horsemanship course provides students with an opportunity to gain not only three credit hours, including a PEAC credit, but also a break from the routines of a work filled life.
Students are expected to attend a class period and a lab. Jason conducts the class period that educates the students in the categories of riding, grooming, training and basic skills of a horse. On the other hand, the lab brings the students onto a 400 acre, ACU owned, farmland that Jason and Erin manage.
On the farm, Jason, with the help of his wife, guides the students in raising and riding horses. At the beginning of the course, students are responsible for their own unique horse.
“They start to learn that each horse has their own personality,” Jason said. “Some are mischievous. Some like to go a little bit faster than others. You’ll form a bond and most of all the horse gets to learn about you.”
Students start to discover the different characteristics of their horses as the horses learn to move with their riders. One of the riders shouted, “Nellie is being stubborn!”
Erin lectures the new riders about the safeties and rules of handling a horse.
“The relationship between a student and a horse is just a really a neat thing,” she said. “Where a student can gain lots of confidence about themselves, as they are successful from riding. It’s also good for the horses as they connect with the students. They form a unique friendship.”
The students can be seen holding on to unstrapped reigns to learn how to steer. With the help of the instructors, the class begins to rope and strap their horses with equipment and saddles before riding. Students ride their horses to an arena to practice. The students are instructed to perform patterns and tasks to help build their foundations in riding.
At the end of the day, the class returns, with heads held high, as they ride their horses to the stables. The students dismount and remove the saddles from the horses. The achievement of riding was extremely fruitful. One of the students, Kimberly Panther, sophomore animal science major from South Lake, was seen brushing and patting her horse after the class had ended.