Alfred University Equestrian Team
Alfred University - Horse Donation Spotlight
By Eileen Cody
A small, private university located in the rural foothills of Western New York’s Finger Lakes region, Alfred University (AU) offers a broad range of academic programming to its 1,800 undergraduate students, including art and design, engineering, liberal arts and sciences, and professional studies. The university has a storied history, founded in 1836 as only the second co-educational college in the country and the first to educate men and women in the same classrooms, and over the years, AU has made a name for itself as a “hidden gem” of New York State higher education. One of its best-kept secrets, however, is the equestrian program.
Located just a few minutes up the road from the main campus, Alfred University’s Bromeley-Daggett Equestrian Center is home to thriving hunt seat and western riding programs that aim to educate and provide competitive opportunities for students at all levels, from green beginners to seasoned riders.
“The educational and competitive aspects of the program work in a way that allows a wide variety and greater number of students to be introduced to the horse industry,” says Steve Shank, director of AU’s equestrian program. “We can accommodate everything from a student who just wants to feel safe while going on a trail ride to the most accomplished riders.”
The equestrian center is a hub of activity from 6am to 8pm or later during the school year, offering classes in hunt seat and western riding, equine science and theory, business-focused courses, and even an international travel class on the equine industry in Ireland, all of which are open to any student. Two academic minors in Equestrian Studies and Equine Business Management are also offered for students planning to work in the industry after college.
Beyond the classroom, AU also fields hunt seat and western Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) teams, both of which have achieved recognition at the regional and national level. The teams are funded by the university as varsity sports, meaning that there are no out-of-pocket expenses for members’ lessons, travel, or show fees, enabling access for riders who may not have otherwise been able to continue riding in college.
Shank attributes much of the strength of the equestrian program to the extensive backing of the college, which itself is comparatively small for the size of the program. “Alfred University support is the first thing and, above all else, the most important part of our success,” he says, along with a dedicated staff of coaches and educators and, of course, a reliable herd of horses.
More than 50 university-owned horses reside at the equestrian center and are used for team practices, lessons, classes, and over 20 IHSA and Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) horse shows throughout the year.
“Great horses for our program come in many different packages,” says Shank. “We teach students that have no horse experience and students that have won national awards. A wide variety of riders use every horse, and they have to put up with us on our good days and our worst days.” The quality of the horses, has been a cornerstone of the program’s continued success, and AU horses have been represented at multiple IEA and IHSA hunt seat and western national finals.
Shank hopes to see the program continue to grow in the coming years as it has since it was established over 40 years ago. “Our objective will be to keep up with the changing horse industry and develop our program to better suit the industry so our students are sought after.”
To learn more about the Alfred University equestrian program, visit https://www.alfred.edu/academics/equestrian/.