When you get off of Route 4 one of the most recognizable aspects of UNH is right in front of you, the UNH Organic Dairy Farm. If you can’t see it, you can definitely smell it! What is nestled between the Dairy Farm and the Macfarlane Greenhouse Facilities are the UNH Equine Facilities. The white fences that line Main Street are the stomping grounds for over 40 horses that call UNH their home.
I worked at the UNH horse barn for three out of my four years at UNH. While working there I did anything from feedings to mucking the stalls. I even learned how to drive a BIG GREEN TRACTOR! I was the only student worker who was not majoring either in some sort of animal science or equine major. If you can imagine a business student shoveling horse manure out of a horse stall all day, that was me. I was first interested in working there so I could be around horses again. I began riding horses when I was 6 years old and from then on I was competing in hunter/jumper competitions ever since. I was forced to stop riding due to financial reasons a few years later. I knew I wanted to be with horses again and what better way then being paid for it!
While there I began to have my favorites in the barn. My all favorite horse is, Bacardi (it wasn’t for his name). He was the largest cuddle buddy I have ever had. Every morning I would bring him an apple and he would push up against me and play with me until I had to begin mucking the stalls. Sometimes he would forget that I wasn’t also a 2,000 pound horse and push me into the feed bucket. Moments like those made it all worth waking up before the sun came up every morning. Luckily for everyone, Bacardi is still a part of the Wildcat family and he is up for adoption!
The equine program at UNH is very well known for its Therapeutic Riding Program. The program is directed towards riders over the age of 5 with cognitive, physical and emotional challenges. One of the most rewarding part of my job at the barn was being able to see these shy kids come out of there shell every time they stepped foot into the indoor arena. The joy that exudes from them is one of the best sights you could ever see. The kids who participate include individuals with cerebral palsy, stroke, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, cystic fibrosis, learning disabilities, developmental ‘disabilities, seizure disorders, visual impairments, hearing impairments, autism, head injuries, and emotional disabilities. The grooming and riding programs center on abilities rather than disabilities. This enhances opportunities for inclusion, and expands participants’ confidence and sense of accomplishment.
Going back to the barn after being gone for almost two years now made me miss working there and interacting with everyone, including the horses. I hope that you can stop by to the barn soon and say hello to my friend, Bacardi and all the other horses at the UNH barn. Don’t forget to bring treats!