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Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

Students bring their hooved friends to college

Students’ equine partners accompany them to college to be stabled and ridden at the UC Davis Equestrian Center

Hiding at the south edge of the Arboretum, just a short walk or bike ride from the heart of campus, sits One Equestrian Lane, where student and university-owned horses live together. Certain horse-loving students choose not to leave everything behind when they move away to college. On move-in day, along with their backpacks and books, they bring their thousand pound animals to live at the UC Davis Equestrian Center (EQC).

Many students choose UC Davis because they can continue riding and owning a horse here, according to fourth-year animal science major Kathlene Cotti, who keeps her horse Osiris at the EQC.

“I had a better chance of owning [a horse] if I went to UC Davis than somewhere else,” said Clarissa Sunderland, a first-year animal science major, who keeps her horse Madison at the EQC. Clarissa shares Madison with her twin sister Katherine Sunderland, who is also a first-year animal science major. “I read that they had a barn on campus, and you don’t really need a car.”

The EQC is located right on campus, so many students are drawn to its convenience, since it is close to student housing and classes. The demand for students to bring their horses to college is high, so if students want to bring their horses to the EQC, they must put their horse on a waitlist.

For many, the price of keeping boarding one’s horse at the EQC is less expensive than what they paid at home, or what they would pay at other places in the area. For the 2018-2019 school year, boarding a horse in a pasture is $275 a month, and boarding a horse in a stall is $450 a month.

“It is really cool that we have a facility here that you can have your horse, is easily accessible, right on campus and is cheaper than most facilities,” Cotti said.

Students want to keep riding their horses in college for a number of reasons. For Katherine Sunderland, she said it helped her not feel homesick. For her sister Clarissa, she said it was nice to have an activity to do besides her schoolwork.

“It’s nice, if you have a good ride, then you have a good day even if your classes stunk,” Clarissa Sunderland said. “It’s good for me to have a break from studying. I don’t have as much time to do other things. I can’t join any other clubs or anything at least for now, but it’s worth it.”

For first-year animal science major Kylee Rush, bringing her horse Flicka was a priority.

“She is my baby,” Rush said. “She is sort of my ride or die, so she is coming everywhere with me.”

According to Rush, she also wanted to bring her horse to be an distraction from school and studying, as well as a way to meet other people.

“She is great for getting out of the dorm, getting involved,” Rush said. “She is the reason why I joined the eventing team, which has helped me create a community in the horse world. I have made good friends on the team and has bettered my college experience.”

For Cotti, the reason she brought her horse to college was to boost her mental health.

“I don’t think I would be the same person without a horse,” Cotti said. “When things go bad in your life, your horse is always constant. [For] some people that comes from working out or a sport, and I think that for us, your horse is your sanity plug and that has really helped me.”

When Cotti first brought Osiris to the EQC her freshman year, she said it was difficult to learn how to balance taking care of him with her school work. Over the last two years, Cotti has figured out how to better manage and plan her time.

“I feel like when you come to college you get involved in other things,” Cotti said. “As time went on, I feel like I came back to [riding], as I really need this. I should go every day, see him, love him, spend time with him, and just growing as a person has helped that.”

According to Cotti, she said she has really enjoyed the overall experience of keeping her horse on campus with her and joining the UC Davis horse community.

“It is the same community as people in my animal science classes but in a different way, which is a really cool thing,” Cotti said. “Some of my best friends are people who have horses, so I always have someone to look after him. I see them on campus, and I have people I can talk about weird horse girl things with, which I think is fun.”

Written by: MARGO ROSENBAUM — features@theaggie.org


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