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In Wilson program, students must have horse sense

November 06, 2005|By BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Like many prospective college students, the young women and their families attending Saturday's open house at Wilson College asked lots of questions.

They inquired about the food, the size of the accommodations and medical care. They wanted to know who would be contacted in case of illness.

Ellen Schroyer, who was conducting the tour, advised the women to bring a first aid kit and their own drugs to school.

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She also told them that worming medicine was administered monthly.

The prospective students are planning to bring their horses to college with them as part of Wilson College's Equestrian Studies program.

Boarding a horse at the college's Penn Hall Equestrian Center is a big commitment for a student.

"We are not a boarding facility. We are an educational facility," said Schroyer, who is the center's stable manager, riding instructor and dressage team coach. "We will teach you to take care of your horse, but the student must take care of the horse's health issues and administer the medication."

"No one handles your horse without your permission," Schroyer added. "You have to fill out paperwork (granting permission) before you go away for a weekend."

About 70 horses live in the modern barns behind the main campus. Wooded trails and grassy areas provide space for riding and exercising the horses.

Before coming to board at Wilson, horses must have a health certificate and the appropriate vaccinations.

Two large groups toured the barns on the unseasonably warm day and saw the 12-foot-by-12-foot stalls where the horses live.

Jessica Vallianos, 18, of Crofton, Md., said she wants to bring her 21-year-old quarter horse to school with her for "my sanity." She has owned Honey, her first horse, for two years. Jessica attends community college now, but is thinking of transferring to major in equine studies.

"This is the only place that offers what I want and doesn't cost a fortune," she said.

Judy and Randy Dennis of Cooperstown, N.Y., drove five hours with their daughter Megan, 16, to attend the open house. Megan's horse is a 14-year-old thoroughbred chestnut mare. Megan said she competes in eventing, hunters and dressage and wants to keep up her training while in school.

"This looks like it's a good facility to help with the training," the high school junior said.

"This is a big decision," Judy Dennis said. "We want to make the trips now, not at the last minute, to get the feel of the college. We've seen a couple (colleges) and we'll see some more. She hasn't made her decision."

Megan said she might major in secondary education so she can teach biology.

"This is one of the few schools with a strong basis in education, science and equine studies," Judy Dennis said. "If she decides to change her major, she could stay here."

Members of several Wilson College riding teams gave demonstrations after the tour.

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