I am so grateful for passing lanes. My travels with Bill’s Old Blue Truck, albeit faster than horse travel, are still relatively slow. Mountains are daunting as I shift down into second gear, grateful for the passing lane that allows angry drives with shaking heads to speed past the trudging old truck pulling two horses.
After Montpelier, Idaho my next stop was Logan, Utah. It required a long, uphill climb — with snow on the ground I might add — and a fair amount of traffic before arriving at Utah State University’s Equine Center where Barbara Middleton had made arrangements for me to speak. The facility is one of the finest, from the website…
About USU Equine Programs
Utah State University’s Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences Department proudly offers a four-year Equine Science and Management Emphasis. Through lecture, laboratory, and actual on-the-farm experiences, students are exposed to exceptional management and handling techniques. The program is directed by Utah State University faculty who carry industry and show credentials. Course work covers areas such as nutrition, management, riding fundamentals, colt starting, and equine evaluation, along with a special topics course, which allows students to focus on a specific area of interest. Students are actively involved in the daily Equine Education Center activities including feeding, medical care, and facility upkeep. Students also gain industry experience by working with a professional in their area of interest through an internship program. With Utah State’s strong Extension equine program, students are encouraged to attend and assist with programs presented across the state. This provides students with the opportunity to meet and work with professionals in the industry developing their own network.
“Turn your passion for horses — and love for animals, in general — into a career with an education in equines studies. Our equine degree program will lead you in an exploration of every aspect of the equine industry, from nutrition, anatomy and physiology to the practical management practices for keeping a safe barn or stable. Our Certificate in Equine Veterinary Assistant program will train you in the skills and techniques you need to support large-animal veterinarians with the treatment and healing of horses.”
The large enrollment of mostly young women did not surprise me, as they’re becoming the leaders in this new field of equine health, developing many new programs never before heard of in the human/animal bond connection.
A very interesting class taught by Sherrie Petty finally unraveled the complications of Equine-Assisted Therapy for me. Whether or not it could truly be called “therapy”, who could teach it, what training needs to be applied, and importantly, the care of the horses used in Clinical Practice of Equine-Assisted Therapy programs. One does not have to look far to see the growing use of animals in healing/therapy, mostly horses and dogs. The need for a more comprehensive training and certification program is emerging right here at USU Equine Center. I felt they were definitely on the right path. Merging: PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship; AHA (American Hippo-therapy Association); ACA (American Counseling Association which includes Animal-Assisted Therapy in Counseling Competencies); and IAHAIO (International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations). It was needless to say very impressive facility and program. Hearing what creative ideas were floating around in these young peoples minds for their futures truly gave me hope.
The following photos are of the trip from Salt Lake City south through some of the most outrageous country we have in the United States. Utah you are something else… colorful!
St Johns, Arizona… a surprise visit to see St. Kay McDevitt who has been the fairgrounds/campground manager for ten years. An overnight stop and dinner with friends. Woke up to find my horses gone. Well now, I thought, Spirit no doubt had unlatched the gate, but knowing as I do, my girls are not run-away horses. It didn’t take long before I found them with noses to the ground. But still, it does give the heart a startle to find the horses GONE!
And my last stop, but certainly not the least of my stops, was Cliff School, Cliff, New Mexico. Home of the Cowboys and Cowgirls.
“It is not often that I speak to an entire room full of Cowboys and Cowgirls,” I said to the group of K-6th graders who sat restlessly in front of me. “How many ride horses?” I asked. ALL, I mean ALL of the hands went up. They were ready for action. “How many like dogs?” Again, ALL the hands when shooting to the gym ceiling. “Well good, because this is a dog story.” I do a “Claire Dog Speaks” slide show where my beloved Claire has written a letter to them telling of her travels as a long riding dog…. “We speak different languages, we eat different foods, we are even different colors all of us, but we travel together like friends, like a team, like a family.” They were with me!! and such a delight.
Out they filed and next came the 7th thru 12th graders for the “What I have Learned from 30,000 Miles of Equestrian Travel” talk I had prepared for them. Serious looks rode on their faces. “Um,” I thought, “Will I have anything of interest or value for them?” Well I think they were the most responsive group of high school students I’ve ever spoken for. AND, the questions that followed we could have gone on for another hour had they let us. As they filed out the senior boys lined up, shaking my hand and thanking me.
And for a grand finale, I brought my horses up outside the school and the whole assembly, about 250 students, flowed out of the school, surrounding us. I thought, “How will the girls handle this many people?” but they were perfect, steady and calm. What a way to end my speaking year of over 100 engagements.
Speaking with two of the teachers and the principal, I learned they had all attended school in Cliff, returning after many years elsewhere. I think this says something about the community and how much they care for the future of their children. It showed, truly it showed!!
Thank you so very much Maggie Slavick for making this stop happen. I met Maggie on the book tour when I spoke at the Cliff Community Center last year.