It often seems that equestrians and those interested in the equine industry are steered away from majoring or minoring in some kind of equine degree. It can often be seen as ‘limiting’ or ‘too narrow’ of a focus. Those not privy to the industry might think that the only thing to do with an equine degree is to become a barn owner or ride professionally.
However, at Otterbein University (located in Westerville, Ohio), students are encouraged to pursue their equine-related dreams with several equine majors and minors, and a strong equestrian team. The Equine Department at Otterbein has graduated a multitude of students who have gone on to amazing and unique careers in the equine industry, proving the multifaceted nature of the industry, and how versatile an equine-related degree can be.
In this series, I will be catching up with a variety of Otterbein alumna and sharing the careers that they have found within the equine industry.
Sarah Choate graduated from Otterbein University in 2015 with a double major in Equine Business Management and Equine Veterinary Technician degrees.
Choate is currently working as a full-time groom for upper level eventers Lucia and Benita Strini at their farm, Plain Dealing Farm, in Scottsville, VA.
“Otterbein helped me prepare for a career in the equine industry in so many ways” said Choate, “Most schools only have animal science degrees, so Otterbein having degrees specifically for people wanting to work in the equine industry was a big plus.”
Choate gained valuable, hands-on experience through both of her majors. “I was able to make myself very marketable to employers because I had skills to work on both the business and medical side of things” she stated. On the medical side, Choate gained experience though internships with The Ohio State University’s veterinary teaching hospital, as well as Woodland Run Equine Hospital in central Ohio.
Choate also remained an active member of the equestrian team during her undergraduate career, and brought her own horse, Appy, to continue eventing with while at Otterbein. “It was very important to me to be able to continue my own riding career as well as being a student” said Choate. “The opportunities to ride and be involved with the riding teams was vast. I gained a lot of knowledge and was able to better myself as a rider by being able to ride all of the different school horses Otterbein had.”
Choate was a competitive equestrian on all 3 of Otterbein’s teams (Eventing, Dressage and Huntseat), and served as the president of the Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) team her senior year. In April 2015, Otterbein University hosted the IDA Nationals, and Choate was an integral part of the student body that helped run and plan the entire event. “Being able to add all of those skills and experiences to my resume helped me to make a professional resume” she added.
Choate also accredits a variety of other venues and opportunities at Otterbein that allowed her to branch out. She was a member of the honors society at Otterbein, as well as the Pre-Veterinary and Veterinary Technician Club, the equestrian teams, and also gained work experience as a stable hand at the Austin E. Knowlton Center for Equine Science at Otterbein, and as a tour guide on campus. “All of this helped me to land my current job” she said.
Choate is now responsible for a variety of tasks, “including caring for the horses, getting the horses ready for the two girls we work for, doing conditioning and rehab riding with the horses, general everyday barn chores, and traveling to USEA horse trials and FEI competitions” she explained. “They have 7 horses so we stay pretty busy!”
“I’ve able to put all I’ve learned through my degrees, experiences, jobs, and the riding I did while at Otterbein into play while at my job” said Choate. “The job requires us to have good horse handling skills and knowledge because we are dealing with Upper Level Eventing horses, medical knowledge to know how to take care of the horses if they get injured or need medication, and being able to ride safe and effectively. I credit a lot of my success to all I learned at Otterbein, and don’t think I could have landed such an amazing job doing what I love if it hadn’t attended Otterbein!”
Choate regularly posts social media updates of the shows she attends and grooms at, and I can attest that her schedule is crazy at times. “It’s a pretty fast paced job, but I love it and can’t picture myself doing anything else! “
Many thanks to Sarah for providing photos and sharing her story!
If you would like to learn more about Otterbein University’s Department of Equine Science and Equestrian Teams, click here!