When you drive up to the UC Davis Equestrian Center — a part of campus most students have never visited — you realize that a separate world exists within the borders of Davis. This world is focused on one thing: horses.
The horse community is made up of those who take classes at the Equestrian Center, participants in the different equestrian teams, members of the Rodeo club and people who board their horses on campus.
It’s true having a horse can be considered at times to be both pleasurable and hard work. These students use their horses as a source of relief from the stresses of regular college life, such as homework, a job, an internship and a sometimes-hectic personal life.
“I really love having him here. He’s very centering. I always joke that ‘my therapist lives in a barn’ and it’s very much the truth,” said Emily Lucic, junior environmental science and management major.
Students said they chose to board their horses at UC Davis most importantly because of the convenience and proximity of the barn to campus. They also enjoy the covered arena, great for going for a ride when it’s raining, along with the care of the staff, who muck stalls and feed the horses.
“I absolutely love being able to leave my organic chemistry class, bike through the arboretum, ride my horse, clean up and go to my linguistics class. Where else can you do that?” said Emily Seubert, junior biological sciences major.
Leanne Moore, senior animal science major, initially housed her horse on campus because she loved the connection she could forge between her everyday class life and horse life. Moore housed her horse on campus for her first two years at UC Davis.
The decision for Dina Schneider, senior animal science major, to bring her horse to campus was easy.
“It’s either my horse comes with me or he’s going to get sold,” Schneider said.
Boarding a horse in a barn stall, which includes an indoor and outdoor space, costs $415 per month. Barn employees will also feed the horse hay and clean the stall twice a day.
Boarding a horse in an outdoor pasture with five other horses costs $250 per month. This fee also includes regular feedings and pasture cleanings.
Sophomore animal biology major Kristyn Pendley chose to board her horse in a stall so she is better able to control what he eats.
“A lot of people choose based on price, but it really depends on the horse,” Pendley said. “As much as I would have loved to choose based on financial reasons, I thought he’d do better in a stall.”
Potential boarders must sign up on a waiting list in order to secure a spot at the barn. Currently, Pendley said the waiting list for a stall has seven people and the waitlist for a pasture has 14.
“If you’re currently a boarder and want to go from a stall to a pasture, you get priority. So the pasture waitlist doesn’t move as fast as the stall waitlist,” Pendley said.
Schneider said that it’s important to get on the waiting list as soon as possible.
“I put my name down on Preview Day and almost didn’t get the spot because they wrote my number down wrong. It’s always full,” Schneider said.
In addition to the monthly boarding fee, horse owners must pay additional fees for supplies, extra food and medical care.
Pendley said she pays about $100 every 8 weeks for horseshoes, $200 to $300 a year for veterinary care and $400 a year for extra supplements and food.
Many of these students are participants on the school’s riding teams, and continually train, not only for their teams, but also to simply improve their skill and be able to enjoy riding to the fullest extent. Pendley said most of the students who board their horses on campus don’t take formal lessons, but rather are members of the UC Davis equestrian team. People who take riding lessons typically do not board their horses on campus.
Thanks to riding teams and clubs, the communities of students that hold their roots in the Equestrian Center borders reach much further than the gravel and shrubbery outlining the center.
“The other girls that board their horses at the equestrian center have become some of my closest friends,” said Sonali Rathod, junior animal science major, who boards her horse on campus and runs the 3-Day Event Team.
Even during the summer, when the density of Davis residents plummets, the horse community remains strong.
“A bunch of us stayed in Davis over the summer and we had a Facebook group where we would just post, ‘Hey anyone want to go for a ride?’ We went on trail rides and swimming” Schneider said.
The gushing of these riders is not to say, however, that there aren’t difficulties associated with having their horses during school. Many mentioned the difficulty of finding enough time to visit the barn during midterms and finals.
Despite some of the difficulties associated with horse ownership, one thing rang true among all of the horse-owners: they think their horses are incredible and worth every minute of the time they devote to them.
“The time I put into my relationship with my horse is more rewarding than anything else I can think of,” Rathod said.
CHRISTINA NOVAKOV-RITCHEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.