Centre students make the most of living in the heart of horse country
Centre’s location in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky makes it the perfect place for horse lovers, from the spectator to the extremely competitive equestrian and everything in between. This summer, several Centre students have been keeping horses front and center in their academic, personal and working lives.
Cristin Palmer ’15
Palmer has spent the summer riding, though not on horseback; instead, she’s been riding along with an ambulatory equine veterinary practice, Gas Light Equine. Owned by Drs. James and Kerry Beckman of Prospect, Ky., the practice services horse owners and horse farms in Louisville, Shelbyville and Oldham County, Ky., as well as parts of southern Indiana.
“Most days I rode around with Dr. Kerry Beckman,” Palmer says. “Since May and June are the American Saddlebred’s breeding season, we mostly did reproductive work at Saddlebred farms in Shelbyville.”
As an intern, Palmer soaked up much of her knowledge simply through watching Dr. Beckman work. She also helped draw blood, give injections, scrub horses for joint injections and restrain horses while Dr. Kerry worked.
The internship was a valuable learning experience for Palmer, who enjoyed the unique perspective this internship gave her on the horse industry. More importantly, the internship opened Palmer’s eyes to the numerous possibilities available to her after Centre.
“There are a lot of fields and specialties in veterinary medicine that I didn’t know much about,” she says. “I really enjoyed working with the horses. It definitely opened my eyes to a potential career path I’d never considered before.”
Kate Stewart ’13
One Centre student who is actively pursing an equine veterinary medicine path is recent graduate Kate Stewart. An equestrian since she was 12, the Lexington native’s decision to attend Centre was influenced by its proximity to the horse capital of the world. During the spring semester of her first year at Centre, her favorite lesson horse, a 22-year-old Warmblood cross named Candy, was gifted to her—an event which ended up shaping Stewart’s future career plans.
“I enjoyed being with him at the barn so much that I began to consider going into veterinary medicine,” says Stewart, who at the time was oscillating between pursuing human and animal medicine.
The following summer, Stewart shadowed several field care vets from Lexington’s prestigious Hagyard Equine Medical Institute and got bitten by the equine medicine bug.
“I loved every minute of it,” she says. “I was getting up at 4 a.m. and working until 6 p.m., but I was just so happy. That’s when I started seriously looking into a career in veterinary medicine, because it was something I could get out of bed and be excited about.”
Having applied to veterinary school, Stewart graduated after CentreTerm of her senior year and got a job as a veterinary technician at Hagyard, where she has been working ever since. She takes vital signs, gives medication, draws blood, grooms horses and cleans stalls.
“I’m basically a nurse and a stable-hand all rolled into one,” she explains.
Stewart’s favorite part of her job is working in the neonatal intensive care unit, where foals less than 1 month old are cared for; this ward is reserved for foals delivered by Caesarian procedure or those who are unable to stand or nurse properly.
In just a few weeks, Stewart will be leaving Hagyard for Alabama, where she will be attending the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in the fall. Candy will come with her so she can continue riding.
Kristen Gallo ’15
Riding has been the entire focus this summer for Kristen Gallo, who spent the first part of her summer in the employ of Dorothy Crowell, a member of the 1992 US Olympic eventing team and rider in multiple World Equestrian Games events. Currently, Crowell runs her own training facility in Frankfort, Ky., where Gallo takes lessons and works during the school year.
For Gallo, horseback riding is a strong passion; she rides in eventing competitions with her 11-year-old Thoroughbred Tiamo. Eventing tests the skills and endurance of both horse and rider, with three separate stages of competition: dressage, cross-country and show jumping. For her, the sport represents the perfect challenge.
“All three phases are unique,” she explains. “The dressage phase is good for your perfectionist side, and cross-country is a pure adrenaline rush—it’s fun galloping and jumping out in the open. Show jumping is sort of a combination of the two previous phases, because you have to be extremely accurate but also fast.”
For an eventer, Centre’s location in the heart of Kentucky horse country could not be better.
“Being so close to the Kentucky Horse Park and having hills to condition my horse on has been great,” Gallo says. “I board Tiamo at Centre View farm, which is really close to campus.
“The group of people on campus who ride is definitely growing,” she adds. “I meet more people on campus who are riding and competing all the time.”
Gallo hopes that future Centre students who are equestrians will consider bringing their horses and their riding to Centre.
“I strongly recommend, if at all possible, to bring your horse to school with you, because it’s like bringing a little piece of home with you,” she explains. “Going to the barn takes your mind off things and is a great stress reliever.”
By Mariel Smith