DelVal from a British Perspective: Interview

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I met Jess Wise in 2014 when she came to DelVal as part of the exchange program with Hartpury College. We met again this January when I came to Hartpury for the exchange. I was able to ask her a few questions about her experience abroad in America and her opinion of the different programs.

Jess Wise, a third-year student at Hartpury College, is studying Equine Science. She has been riding since age 12, and competitively since age 18. She currently rides at the 1.10m show jumping level and Elementary level dressage, and is bringing along her own horse Juicy that she purchased last year for show jumping who she keeps on-site at Hartpury.

Q: What made you interested in applying for the study abroad semester at Delaware Valley University?

A: I had a lecture where we were all sat down and told about the exchange program and were shown a PowerPoint. At the time I wasn’t interested because I had a competition horse to look after. However, when he went lame after a tendon injury, putting him out of work for months, they spoke to us about the presentation again and it got me thinking! I’d never even thought of studying abroad because I’ve had horses to look after. However, I’m so glad I did.

Q: What were your first impressions of the DelVal Equine program compared to the Hartpury Equine program?

A: I immediately noticed huge differences. Although the subjects we were being taught were the same, Equine Behavior for example, there is huge differences in lecture content. DelVal looks at things within the topic heading from a practical perspective. The classes are taught much more practically, always doing thing rather than just listening. The classes involved the students a lot more and numbers within classes were smaller allowing you more “one-on-one” time with the teacher if necessary. However, I felt that although I loved every aspect I learned about, content was very straightforward.

Hartpury, on the other hand, has a much harder curriculum. What we learn in lectures goes into much more scientific depth, making classes harder and more confusing. To add to this, in lectures we very much get “talked at” rather being a part of a discussion. It’s harder to learn and grasp concepts.

Q: What is your opinion of the riding program at DelVal compared to Hartpury?

A: The riding at Delval was awesome! I had the best time riding Blaze and Brody. Although in my class (Comparative Techniques) the fences remained small throughout the semester, other than a few lessons where we did poles to a fence or a grid. For me personally, the exercises were not challenging. I was given Blaze and Brody to ride, however, and these two certainly made even simple exercises more complicated! I loved it; I learned so much from jumping these two tricky horses and I cannot say how much I love Angelo enough!

I never enrolled on a riding module at Hartpury because I brought my own horse Juicy, trialed and got selected for the Show Jumping Academy Development Squad. On the squad I got flat and jump training by some of the best trainers in the sport. Therefore, I decided to take all academic modules instead, as I already get to ride my own horse every day. Overall, Delval’s Equine Program was by far my favorite.

Also, I forgot to say, the staff at Delval are so much friendlier than at Hartpury. We almost considered them as friends, which made it much easier to learn from them! Plus, they were much better at responding to emails!

Q: Do you think that the exchange was able to impact your networks, employability, and resume?

A: Yes. 100%. The exchange shows that I can work efficiently and live in new and different situations and adapt myself to very big cultural changes! It shows you are independent, want to succeed, and will throw yourself out there in the real world.

Q: What was your favorite part of the exchange? Do you feel that it was beneficial for you?

A: I loved every part of the exchange. There isn’t one thing I didn’t enjoy. From class, to the friends I made, to campus life, to travelling, to riding. I could not pick one favorite memory out of so many amazing ones. The exchange was definitely beneficial. I grew up a lot being away from home and I learned heaps.

Q: Would you recommend the exchange program to other students? Is there any specific advice that you would give them?

A: Yes! I recommend DelVal to everyone. It was the best semester and best 4 months of my whole life to date. I just wish we could have stayed for longer! I even wanted to transfer!

Advice I would give is pretty self-explanatory: put yourself out there to make friends – everyone is very friendly compared to in the UK so it’s much easier. However, I’m so glad I actively went out and introduced myself to people and made friends, otherwise the experience wouldn’t have been as memorable. Make sure you travel; I wish I had taken more time to travel around places. However, I was busy with doing the extra Equine Massage Certification course! Which, by the way, was fantastic!

Just take every opportunity you can, join every club. If you get the option to be a part of something, then take it. I did so many new things for the first time and had great times doing them.

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Angelo Telatin and Jess Wise at the DelVal Equestrian Center

Q: What are your plans following graduation?

A: Travel back to America and visit DelVal? Haha. But seriously, I have no idea. I think I am going to base myself with a professional showjumper and work for them and get trained by them for a bit, and see where that leads me!

Somber Surroundings in Oscweicim

Oswiecim, Poland is home to one of the most infamous locations in World War II history: Auschwitz. Once the site of mass death and torture, the facilities are now used as a museum and memorial accessible through guided tours. While the atmosphere is somber, it is an educational experience that sheds light onto the inner workings of the camp, sticking with you long after you leave, and helping to ensure that similar atrocities are not allowed to happen again.

The concentration camp, split into three sections throughout the town, was in use from 1940 through 1945. Originally, Auschwitz held Polish political prisoners until their release, but as the Third Reich gained power and the Final Solution was created, its use morphed into that of a death center for Jews, Polls, Romani, Soviets, and other undesired people.

Auschwitz I was the main concentration camp, housing prisoners in old brick Polish army barracks. The main gate displays the words “Arbeit Macht Frei,” or “Work Brings Freedom.” While some were released before the Holocaust began, the majority of prisoners lasted less than four months before they were killed. The harsh conditions and long hours that they were forced to work in contributed to their suffering.

Auschwitz-Birkenau II was the main death center and concentration camp of Auschwitz. Located a short way from the first camp, it was built to ease congestion at the main camp. It could house 50,000 prisoners with plans to expand to room for 200,000. The Birkenau camp held five crematoria’s, responsible for the death of up to 1.5 million prisoners.

The third camp, Auschwitz III or Monowitz, was located just outside the town of Oswiecim. It was a labor camp, producing synthetic rubber for the war effort. Nothing remains of Monowitz today, but its reputation is not less than that of the other camps, with the average life expectancy of workers being only three months.

Although the Holocaust is one of the darkest parts of world history, it is important to preserve the history to ensure that it is not forgotten. With the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum open to the public, people from all over the world are able to travel to Poland to learn about, visualize, and memorialize those lost during the Holocaust.

Travel Woes

When I organized a short two-night trip to Poland to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Oswiecim I did not think about the possibility of travel delays or troubles. I had booked everything in advance: flights, hotel, and the guided tour. The only thing left was train tickets, which weren’t available for purchase online, and now I am glad for that!

My first flight was set to leave the London Heathrow Airport at 6:30 a.m. on April 6, landing in Warsaw, Poland at 10 a.m. with a connection to Krakow, Poland at 10:35 a.m. I had picked the earliest flights to Krakow in order to get there early in the day, before noon, so that I would be able to navigate by train to my hotel in the daylight. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.

  1. When I got to Heathrow Airport I checked the departure display only to see that my flight was cancelled and to contact the airline. Conveniently, there are no available staff for any of the airlines help desks from 6:30 p.m. until 4:30 a.m., so I found a cafe and waited until then.
  2. I was transferred onto the next flight to Krakow, set to depart at 10:15 a.m. with a connection to Krakow at 3 p.m. Unfortunately, the gate for boarding didn’t even open until 10:30 a.m., and the plane finally took off over an hour late at 11:30 a.m.
  3. The plane landed in Warsaw 30 minutes before the connection was supposed to leave. Had there been no line at border control, I could have made it, but I ended up at the end of a long line. Just as I reached the window and passed through, the gate closed.
  4. I got squeezed onto a flight to Krakow leaving at 6:40 p.m. because the next one was full. At this point, I’d spent 9 hours in Heathrow and the prospect of spending another 4 in an airport was not appealing, but surely this would be my last problem, right?
  5. When attempting to buy a water bottle, the cashier told me that she couldn’t accept the currency I handed her. I had exchanged currency at Heathrow to have 250 PLN on hand, so I was confused until I looked at the bill again and realized it was Croatian currency. I take partial credit for this mistake, but I was confident that the Travelex employee would double-check the bills, not hand me 200 PLN and 50 Croatian currency.
  6. Turns out Croatia has a poorer economy than Poland, and when exchanging the bill to PLN I ended up losing 30 PLN from my initial order.
  7. I was 2 minutes away from missing the 6:40 p.m. connection due to a mistake with my ticket where the system thought I had checked baggage. I stood at the gate for 25 minutes listening to conversations that I couldn’t understand a word of as I watched the clock tick closer and closer to departure.

Luckily, I eventually got to Krakow, and took a taxi to my hotel. That wasn’t cheap, but it was worth it after that day to be able to get to bed by 11 p.m. Despite a language barrier it wasn’t too difficult to communicate, and I am glad that I took advantage and planned the trip while I am on the continent. Thankfully the trip back to Hartpury was uneventful without a single delay! But as my first solo trip ever, and second time on a plane, this saga was more than I imagined.

Winter Championships: Evening Gala in Hartpury Arena

The 2016 Blue Chip Winter Championships was held at Hartpury College from March 30 to April 3. Classes ranged from 0.85m Pony Junior competition to a 1.40m Grand Prix. The culmination of the championships was on Evening Gala Event, when the night began with the Kingsland Equestrian Junior Challenge and ended with the Blue Chip Grand Prix.

Doors opened at 6:20 p.m. with the Junior Challenge kicking off at 7 p.m. The stands were filled to capacity with spectators excited in the fun yet competitive atmosphere. Tickets were £8 which included a £5 Blue Chip Feed Voucher to be used at the championship and a Blue Chip Feed baseball cap.

The Kingsland Equestrian Junior Challenge was unlike any class that I had seen before. It was a mix of a pony jumper course and a Pony Club or Gymkhana games class. Riders began by navigating a course of – fences as quickly as possible, egged on by the announcer and crowd when they chose tight rollback options and raced to the finish. A groom held the pony while the rider dismounted, ran back to the middle of the arena, and went through an obstacle course consisting of an egg and spoon plank walk, wheelbarrow weaving, and stacking boxes in ascending order before running across the finish line. The junior riders were good sports, keeping the crowd entertained as they fought to keep the boxes in the wheelbarrow with their chin as they weaved through cones and knocked over their own box towers. In the end, the winner was a young rider on a spirited chestnut pony who raced to the top of the standings. They completed their victory gallop in a Kingsland cooler, followed by the other entrees who were all considered winners in this fun class.

Next was a master class presented by Graham and Tina Fletcher about producing horses for competition. The Fletchers are international level show jumpers with Tina representing Great Britain in competitions such as the World Equestrian Games. Three horses were presented, beginning with a young and relatively inexperienced Warmblood gelding. Graham narrated as the rider navigated a set of four bounces designed to make the horse aware and balanced. Next they rode a bending line on a related distance of 6 strides. By changing the canter and distance to the in- element, the stride inside was ridden as five-, six-, seven-, and eight-strides. The second horse and rider were more experienced and practiced building a correct canter and looking away on approach to the jump once a stride was set. Both the Fletchers and the audience were impressed when he was able to look away seven-strides before the fence! Last was a competitor in the Grand Prix on a young horse. They rode through a combination of four fences set one-stride apart beginning with an oxer followed by three verticals. Graham noted that he liked the oxer in to bring them in on a more open stride, followed by the verticals to teach them to bring their balance over their hindquarters to clear the fences. At first the young horse jumped over his shoulder which made the Fletchers roll out the groundlines farther. As the horse progressed he jumped up and around the verticals rather than at them, and the line ended with the final fence set at the top of the standards.

Following the master class, the arena was dragged and the course set for the 1.40m Grand Prix, with 40 entries in the class after 44 qualified. It began with an oxer by the in-gate on a bending line to a vertical, around the corner to a oxer to vertical four- or five-stride line on the diagonal. Then riders jumped an oxer away from the in-gate into the corner followed by an oxer-vertical-vertical combination with three strides to another oxer. Next was an oxer, then a two-stride vertical to oxer combination, followed by a bending line to a tall plank. Riders then rolled back to a solid wall-like vertical and rode a bending line to the final oxer. There were many rounds with multiple rails down, with a few riders choosing to retire rather than complete the course. Eleven ended up in the jump-off, including the combination that won in 2015 who were going for the £1,000 bonus. The modified jump-off course offered multiple options for shorter turns and places to open up the stride to save time. A few went double-clear on slower times, but the riders who were shooting for the win attempted a very tight rollback turn to a double of verticals. This turn caught the previous winner when his horse was off to the right and refused the out element, resulting in a fall and elimination.

The 2016 Blue Chip Grand Prix was won by Jay Halim and Bart IV who mastered the tight rollback and raced the clock for an exciting win!

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This Week at Hartpury – An Evening with Paul Tapner

On March 15 at 7:30 p.m. Paul Tapner hosted a show jumping and cross country demo in Hartpury Arena. Each demo was run as an hour-long training session with two riders per session. Tapner is a professional eventing rider who has represented the Australian Eventing Team and is a previous winner of the Badminton Horse Trials.

The entry fee ranged from £15 for Hartpury students and staff to £25 for tickets at the door. Many companies and local businesses donated prizes for a raffle that was open to all spectators and participants. More than 15 prizes were given out, including a training session with Paul Tapner himself.

All proceeds from the event went to two charities:

  1. Cancer Research UK which works at increasing the survival rate of cancer patients, relying on dedicated scientists, doctors and nurses, and supporters across the UK. By 2034 they hope to achieve for 3 out of 4 people to survive cancer.
  2. The Horse Trust specializes in providing retirement and respite for working horses and ponies who have served the UK in the Police, the Army, or with other charities. Their Home of Rest for Horses also provides sanctuary to horses, ponies, and donkeys who have suffered from cruelty or neglect and who are in need of specialist treatment and care.

 

Show Jumping Demo – The show jumping demo was at the level of BE100. Warm-up began with trotting and cantering a lap around the arena, followed by a large circle, and a smaller 15m circle repeated in both directions. Tapner emphasized the importance of getting the horse forward and in front of your leg right from the start, which enables the horse to have the ability to shorten and maintain impulsion on the smaller circle without breaking.

At the canter, the riders moved on to a set of three canter poles set 9’ apart. He highlighted the importance of having a forward canter with impulsion as you come through the turn, and half-halting on approach as needed, rather than building the appropriate canter in the last few strides. By already having the optimum canter there will be minimum last-second changes that need to be made to successfully complete the exercise. This point was a theme throughout the SJ demo as the riders rode a single crossrail, vertical, and oxer in both directions to complete the warm-up.

The arena was set with a single warm-up fence on the outside centered on the long side of the arena, a one-stride double on a diagonal, and a four-stride line on a diagonal. Tapner said that single fences, doubles, and related lines are all that make up SJ courses, so those are the elements that he practices while training rather than entire courses. Putting the elements together will emulate a full SJ course without overjumping the horse.

Now that the horses and riders were thinking forward, Tapner had them think about their line to the fences. With both related distances on diagonal lines, it was important for the riders to ride into the corners and turn so that the horses were able to be straight for 3-4 strides with their eye on the fence.

To end, Tapner created a six-jump course out of the different elements. Both riders rode successful courses by putting together the main points from the session.

Eventing Demo – The eventing demo was set for the level of Novice/Intermediate Eventing. Warm-up was similar to the SJ warm-up, with both horses moving forward from the start on small and large circles. At the canter Tapner focused on different body positions while maintaining the same canter rhythm and speed. He had the riders stand in their stirrups and bring their body vertical, then into a low two-point, with their shoulders as close to the neck as possible. The riders had to maintain a correct leg position while only moving their upper body, demonstrating independent aids.

After working over a single warm-up jump that increased in height from a crossrail, to a vertical, to an oxer Tapner moved on to a three-jump combination. It was set to mimic a one-stride coffin combination with a water tray as the middle element. Both horse-and-rider combinations rode through the exercise without fault. Tapner noted the difficulty of this combination depending on the horses’ reaction to the water/ditch element which would affect the distance to the out element. It is important to introduce the different elements one at a time to acclimate the horse to the exercise.

Next the riders jumped a narrow arrowhead towards the audience, focusing on straightness on approach and landing. After successful efforts, Tapner upped the difficulty by creating a sharp bending line from an oxer to the arrowhead set at 3, 4, or 5 strides depending on the riders’ chosen line. This tripped up one rider and highlighted the importance of being dedicated to a line before approaching the combination. With a specific idea set in mind, the rider will prepare their horse prior to take-off to ride the track, rather than jumping in and then finding a track to ride.

The group moved on to a simulated corner and skinny rolltop on a turn similar to the oxer-arrowhead line which posed the same questions with different jump types. Finally, both riders rode a course that incorporated each element strung together to simulate a cross country course. As both riders came across different problems, Tapner spoke about the quality of the canter on approach and the angle of take-off which both affect the rideability on landing. Both utilized angling take-off and the all-important outside rein to change and improve their tracks to lead to successful jumping efforts.

 

Overall, the evening event with Paul Tapner was both educational and entertaining. Tapner has a great sense of humor that he incorporates into his teaching, and engaged the audience throughout both demos. His methods were basic, highlighting that breaking down competitions into their simplest elements will give you the tools to practice at home in order to be ready when they are strung together. Getting a horse forward, in front of your leg right away, and building a strong trot and canter all lead to better jumping efforts and less faults. He emphasized repetition, repetition, repetition for both horses and riders to be successful. Practice until an exercise is easy in order to be ready for competitions.

The night was very successful, with a large audience that participated in the raffle to benefit two important charities in the UK. The mood and atmosphere were upbeat and positive. Tapners teaching allowed riders of all ages and levels to take something away from the demo, from the most basic to advanced points.

Academic Style at Hartpury

I had an idea of how the academics would work at Hartpury from talking to other students who had come to DelVal from the other end of the exchange program, but becoming accustomed to the practices was a learning curve!

Assessments vs. Midterms/Finals

The ‘final exams’ are called ‘assessments’ – they are typically the only grade you will receive for the entire class. There is no homework, small assignments, or midterms before the final assessment period at the end of the semester. Depending on the class, there might be another assignment linked to the final assessment – often a paper or presentation – that will account for up to 50% of your grade.

Citations, citations, citations!

Hartpury uses the Harvard style of formatting and citations, which varies greatly from MLA. Each assignment is set up with a cover page, list of contents, figures/tables, and reference list in addition to your writing. Formatting my first assignment was a bit of a struggle, and the constant fight with Word to stop autocorrecting the use of ‘s’ to ‘z.’

And, not only are sufficient citations and references necessary for all papers, you must also cite your answers during assessments. This was a foreign concept to me – learning that I had to not only study the material but also the references and individual studies for final assessments was overwhelming at first! With each lecture linking to at least 15 references, there is a lot of information to study and remember when the time comes to take a 2-hour final assessment.

Lectures and Seminars

Modules meet twice a week, much like at DelVal. However, one is a lecture, and the second meeting is a seminar. The seminar session works off of what was taught in the lecture, and may include an additional lecture, group discussion, or journal club. The seminar sessions allow you to speak directly with the lecturer and other students regarding required reading, lecture materials, and other research.

I find the seminar sessions to be almost like a practical lab meeting – active discussion, including questions, disagreements, and comparisons that allows you to view material from different points of view and in ways that you might not have come up with originally. Oftentimes seminar sessions are split within the module, so it will be a smaller group of students meeting with multiple seminars for one module (but you only attend one). I think the smaller groups allow you to get more out of the sessions because there is more one-on-one feedback time with the lecturer where you can ask all sorts of questions or voice concerns.

Independent Study and Reflection

The vast majority of the information that I have learned so far at Hartpury has been through independent study. Each module lecturer posts recommended and required readings on their moodle page (the equivalent of BlackBoard), which normally link into the main lecture of the week and are discussed during the seminar. The readings might consist of textbook chapters, research articles, and journal articles.

You are also expected to analyze, reflect on, and compare each article that you read. I have pages of notes on the objectives, methods, results, pros, and cons of over 50 journal articles so far this semester, spread between 5 modules. At first it was challenging to really read between every line and evaluate all aspects of the articles – the process is truly critical thinking! The discussion aspect of the seminars really helped me to learn what to look for, how to compare, and to relate the research to the future assessment questions at the conclusion of the semester.

I think that the independent study makes students more responsible with efficient time management skills. It is up to you to complete the readings, and you can choose not to if you so desire. However, without the information from the journal articles, you won’t be able to take part in the seminar discussions and your assessment answers will be lacking. Being able to balance each module so that each receives equal attention and studying is important to stay on top of your studies here – and it will be the difference between a pass or fail!


 

Overall the academics at Hartpury vary greatly from those at DelVal and they are challenging – but in a good way! The more theory-based teaching style has really expanded my knowledge of specific topics – from laminitis to aqua therapy. Both systems have their pros and cons, but I am enjoying the challenges that Hartpury has posed and feel more efficient in my time management skills and organization than I ever have before.

Underground in Edinburgh, Scotland

Connecting the Edinburgh Castle and the Holyrood Palace is the Royal Mile, a downtown thoroughfare through the Old Town of Edinburgh, Scotland. Once the main thoroughfare during the 17th century, it remains a prime tourist attraction today, lined with authentic Scottish shops, restaurants, pubs, and unique visitor attractions. One such attraction, Mary King’s Close, takes you back in time to the 15- and 1600’s, breaking down myths and legends, and getting to the truth of what life was like for the residents of the closes by taking you underground, literally.

Only accessible through booked hour-long tours, the close is entered from the ground floor of one of the buildings on the modern-day Royal Mile. Stairs lead down into dimly lit, ancient cobblestone streets that remain exactly as they were left in 1635 when the close was sealed from above. Now, instead of looking up to the sky, the top floors of the housing lining the closes constitutes the ground floor of The Royal Exchange, built in 1753, now home of the Edinburgh City Chambers.

The closes consisted of tenement houses, upwards of seven stories tall, with streets no wider than six feet. Due to the closeness of the houses to one another, and their extreme height, the ground floors received no natural lighting, requiring the tenants to rely on candlelight. As a group consisting of about twenty people, we crowded close together in each room, with little extra space to move. However, each room was commonly occupied by up to sixteen different families, crowded on top of one another in deplorable conditions.
In addition to extreme crowding, the amount of waste in the environment created ideal conditions for disease to develop. Twice daily, at the toll of the Gile’s Church bell, the chamber pots filled the waste of every family and animal housed within the close were emptied out of windows and doors into the street. Despite the steep slopes of the closes to aid in drainage, waste piled shin-high in some areas.

The steep slope of the closes aided in drainage, and led to Nor Loch, an ancient lake that used to be where the Princes Street Gardens stand today. The water from Nor Loch doubled as the main source of drinking water for the citizens of Edinburgh, leading them to seek different forms of fluid for drinking to prevent dehydration. In addition to home-brewed concoctions, beer was the main drink consumed by the population of Edinburgh by people of all ages.
Both strains of the plague, Pneumonic and Bubonic, swept through Edinburgh a record 11 times throughout history, aided by the living conditions of the tenement houses throughout the area. The tour wound through the close parallel to Mary King’s Close, Pearon’s, where we entered what had been a sick bay for plague and other disease victims. Here there were two figures laying in beds, displaying the skin lesions commonly associated with the plague another victim was claimed. Standing over one figure was another, clothed in a black cloak and a bird-like mask, a doctor, Charles de Lorme. Lorme is credited with developing the plague doctor costume, consisting of an ankle-length overcoat, gloves, boots, a brim hat, and a mask with a long, curved beak that would be filled with various herbs and spices.

Originally, the plague was not thought of as a disease, but as evil spirits overtaking a body. The herbs placed in the break of the mask were thought to keep the evil spirits away, but in actuality created a respiratory system that kept diseases from spreading to the medical professionals who assisted those afflicted. In order to rid an area of the evil spirits that were believed to remain after a person succumbed to the plague, doctors had their assistants burn all of the personal belongings. Black rats, the spreaders of the plague, began a mass exodus of the area due to the smoke that was prevalent from the high volume of plague victims. As the rats left, the number of plague victims dwindled until it was eradicated, which directly connected the rats to the source of the disease.

Winding our way back through the closes, one small, confined space after another, it was difficult to imagine how life could be sustainable in such an area. However, many generations of families held businesses within the closes that persisted after they were required to vacate the area as a place of housing in 1635. The city council, realizing that they could not prevent business from continuing underground, allowed shops to remain open. For almost 300 years, various shops and markets remained open and highly popular beneath the floors of the City Chambers, with the last closing in 1931.

The conclusion of the tour brought us full circle, back to the highest point of Mary King’s Close that remains, with the floor of the City Chambers only feet above our heads. Although the attraction is advertised as haunting, it brings together myth with truths uncovered through archaeological studies that paints the portrait of a difficult, but meaningful life for the citizens of Edinburgh, Scotland up to the 17th century. Things are not all that they seem on the Royal Mile. If you dig deeper, you might find more buried historical secrets, like Mary King’s and other Closes beneath the streets, unseen by the thousands of people that walk the streets today.

Hartpury Equine: a world class facility

Being a part of the exchange program with Hartpury College in England has been an amazing experience so far. By far, the thing that has made the biggest impression on me so far is the Hartpury Equine Yard. Home to 230 horses, 50 of which are school horses, and the remainder student-owned horses on DIY livery, the facility is world class and contains much more than just barns and riding arenas. There is a virtual tour of all of Hartpury’s facilities located here, but I’m going to present a tour of the Hartpury Equine Yard and the impressive facilities enclosed within its’ gates!

The entrance to the Hartpury Equine Yard leads into the main courtyard. Signs on the side of the main office declare its’ status as a British Horse Society approved Training Facility, Riding Facility, and Livery Yard. The main office, whose entrance is around the corner, is the check-in point for all yard activities. FE students report for stable duties, similar to our practicum students, while riders check-in and are assigned a horse to ride. The area around the main office is always buzzing with activity: yard managers and technicians working and attending to students’ questions and concerns, students hosing and washing their horses, farriers trimming and shoeing a multitude of horses, lecturers conducting seminars in the yard classroom, and more!

The main office opens into the courtyard which is lined by stables that make up the Front Yard block. These stables house some of the school horses used for FE and HE riding classes. There are also storage areas that house pitchforks, wheelbarrows, brooms, and skip buckets that are used to tidy the yard during chores throughout the day.

The brown doors along the side of the main Front Yard stable lead into a classroom that is utilized for practical, hands-on seminars held on the yard. There is a large whiteboard, three open stock stalls, and even a pony-sized, moveable horse sculpture. Lecturers are able to bring school horses into the classroom and the size enables a group of twenty or more students to fit comfortably into the room.

From the main courtyard, an aisle way leads left and right. To the left is A Barn and B Barn, both of which house the remainder of the school horses used for FE and HE riding classes. To the right, beginning with C Barn, are livery stables for student-owned horses. All aisle ways are lined with rubber mats to prevent slippage, and drains are strategically placed along the walkways so reduce the amount of water throughout the yard.

To the left, across from the entrance to B Barn, is the B Barn and Front Yard tack room and the rug room, which houses the assortment of blankets available for each school horse. A Barn has a separate tack room located in the middle of the aisle way. Each tack room has a list of the horses, their stall number, and any leg equipment that they wear for flatwork and jumping, respectively. Each horse as their own bridle hook, as well as a complete set of tack and a grooming kit. The only shared equipment is front and hind boots and lunging equipment.
The rug room contains shelves for each of the school horses and all blankets that are not currently being worn by the horse and stored there. Each shelf has a card with the photo and name of the horse as well as the different types of blankets and their colors. This ensures that there are no blanket mix-up’s, and that stored blankets are kept clean and dry.

To the right, past C-E Barn and a hay and bedding storage area, is the first horse walker and indoor rings 1-3. Students use the horse walker for their own horses on an as-needed basis. Riding classes are held in indoor rings 1-2, while indoor 3 is utilized by the Equine Therapy Centre.

Beyond the horse walker are paths to Hartpury Arena, three outdoor arenas, and the hacking path that loops around campus. Hartpury Arena is a large, heated indoor arena with seating for 600. There is an attached covered warm-up arena, Hartpury Holding, connected through a short tunnel. Not only does Hartpury Arena house an indoor, but also 12 classrooms that overlook the arena, a dining area that is open for breakfast and lunch throughout the week, and a food court in the seating area of the main arena.

Outside of Hartpury Arena is a huge outdoor arena and a smaller outdoor school behind the main building. Walking down the birch tree lined path to the EQ classrooms, it is difficult to peel your eyes away from the various riders schooling their horses on the flat and over fences.
Competitions are held weekly in Hartpury Arena with free admission that allows for hours of excitement, watching countless riders tackle difficult jumping courses and various levels of dressage tests.

Beyond the main Equine Yard is the Equine Therapy Centre. This center houses up to eight horses at a time who receive multiple treatments per day for various injuries and rehabilitation programs. The therapy center is an invaluable addition to the main equine yard that allows Hartpury to be the world-class facility that it is. The therapy center boasts a high speed treadmill, an aqua treadmill, a solarium, weigh bridge, veterinary facilities including an examination room with stocks, and a trot up and trot circle for lameness examinations and jogs for competitions.
These facilities are available for use by horses in the therapy center, student-owned horses, and outside clients by appointment. Upwards of fifteen horses may frequent the therapy center in a day, including some world class athletes such as Valegro, a world champion dressage horse.
Additionally, there is a Rider Performance Clinic within the therapy center for riders struggling with physical barriers to their riding and those wanting to maximize their performance. The performance clinic consists of a strength/cardio gym and other facilities, including a riding simulator. I’ve heard that a new riding simulator is coming in April that not only walks, trots, and canters, but can also simulate jumping!

Overall, the Hartpury Equine Yard is very impressive, both in size and facilities. It is amazing to be a part of these world class facilities, things that we don’t have access to at DelVal. I can’t wait to take advantage of the wide variety of opportunities here to gain knowledge and experience by volunteering, taking part in clinics, lectures, and other activities that are offered.