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.
Alyssa Plewacki is a graduated in 2015 with an Equine Business Management major and a Biology minor.
Currently, she is working for the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) in Kentucky as a Customer Care Representative.
“We do everything from assisting members with renewing their memberships, processing their horse transfers or recordings, and assisting them with any questions they might have. If they call the USEF office or send us an email, I’m one of the people they will interact with” Plewacki described.
(I can attest to this and the work that she does; when getting myself and The Mare set up for the show season, Alyssa actually was the USEF representative who helped me get it all sorted out!)
One of Plewacki’s favorite things about the job is that she is able to communicate with a multitude of horse people from all different backgrounds on a daily basis. “It’s always a joy to get to interact with people excited about the new horse they just purchased, or hear about the show they are planning to go to” she said. “We always have stories to take away from it!”
With an organization like USEF, Plewacki also gets to connect with some of the bigger names in our industry. “…Beezie Madden, McLain Ward, Richard Spooner, Lauren Kieffer (well basically every equestrian Olympic competitor we had!) and others like Kaley Cuoco and Portia de Rossi” make the A-list of famous equestrians that Plewacki has been able to interact with.
Plewacki credits her equine degree as “vital” to getting her a job in the equine industry. She also held a job in the admissions officer during her time at Otterbein, where her responsibilities included calling prospective students, which she believes made her resume stand out. She also cites Otterbein as providing her with “…a vast knowledge of different disciplines, (which) opened up my experience to hunters, jumpers, dressage, and eventing”.
She still remains in touch with many of the contacts at the University in her job as well. “I was able to use the instructors and professors from my time at Otterbein as awesome references, and still use them to this day. I regularly assist our coaches and friends with any official USEF business they might have!”
During her time at Otterbein, Plewacki was an active member of all three of Otterbein’s equestrian teams-Hunt seat, Dressage and Eventing. She attributes her relatively new-found love of Eventing to Otterbein and the head coach, Kari Briggs. “I was able to lease a school horse, Paco, for my senior year and compete” she explained. “He was the best confidence builder and made everything so much fun, and my riding
improved immensely in that 6 months.” Plewacki recently purchased a green horse, and together they are now moving up to Training level. “I take lessons with 4* rider Allie Knowles, and its everything I could have ever dreamed of” she exclaimed.
So what advice does she have for those interested in breaking into the equine industry?
“Don’t be afraid to take a chance at something that isn’t exactly what you want. I knew (and still do) that I never wanted to work an office job for a long time. Even though that’s what I’m doing now, it’s the best networking position I could be in. I’m able to connect directly with equine professionals, and it just gets a name out there. Living in the horse capital of the world is awesome, and there are so many different aspects of the equine industry that I’m learning about every day!
There’s nothing quite like going to work in a professional setting every day that’s full of horse people!”
Many thanks to Alyssa for providing photos and for sharing her story!
If you’d like to learn more about Otterbein University’s equine department and teams, click here!
If you’d like to learn more about USEF, click here!