Leading Horses to Market
Raising and training young horses is not an easy task. The process requires learned skill, practiced patience and natural ability. And in the horse industry, in order to turn a profit and maintain a strong reputation as an equestrian trainer, a horse must be trained correctly. It is also important that, once a horse is placed on the market, the horse is sold at a value reflecting the time and energy spent on the horse's upbringing. Thus, the horse market functions as a dual field, necessitating strength in both equestrian training and horse marketing. Dr. Kristine Vernon, recognizing the value of such a duality, began her Creative Inquiry project to capitalize on the duality of the horse market through integrating student learning into Clemson University's equestrian program.
The duality of the horse market makes the Horse Show Team relevant to students in a variety of majors. Vernon notes that in addition to managing the horses, students in the project "try to integrate the science and the art of horse management and equitation. And the other components are sales and marketing. We are the only school in South Carolina to have a program like this because we are the only university that breeds our own horses, trains our own horses, and sells our own horses." The fortunate variety within the horse market provides many students with the chance to individualize their studies within the Creative Inquiry-marketing majors and veterinary science majors have equal participation opportunities within the team.
While the project offers Clemson students an unrivaled opportunity to work and engage with one of the strongest equestrian programs in the Southeast, the equestrian program itself also benefits from student involvement. Vernon describes the positive outcomes from working with students as she explains, "it has gained more notoriety for the equestrian program as a whole. Groups such as the South Carolina Quarter Horse Association have students at the forefront of their mind, which creates for us a partnership with those types of associations, potential job opportunities for students, and may eventually lead to donations from groups who see and believe in what our students are doing." With such incredible prospects for both Clemson's equestrian program and involved students, the CI serves as a forerunner for many students interested in equestrian careers. The project encourages student connections with large, prestigious equestrian associations, which strengthens students' career prospects and simultaneously helps to vitalize Clemson's equestrian program.
Student interest drives this Creative Inquiry. And this student interest stems from both student interest in horses and the desire to exercise individual skills. Vernon explains, "I try to recognize specific strengths in students. For me, this Creative Inquiry is about creating discovery opportunities for students rather than answering my own list of questions." This student driven opportunity allows the Creative Inquiry to work around student interests and student questions. Students are therefore able to grow and learn in areas that interest them, whether that includes marketing or veterinary sciences. And all the while, students can continue learning about and enjoying being around horses.