…by Jessi / from United States / studies Veterinary Medicine / 1st Year (UG)
I knew before I came to the University of Edinburgh that I somehow wanted to be involved in horseback riding. I was one of those many young girls who dreamed of being a horse rider (well, a unicorn rider, in my case), but due to my involvement in other activities, I never strolled too far down the horsey road. That being said, horseback riding was something I’ve always enjoyed, and with a clean slate at university, it now had a place in my life. I considered joining the vet school horseback riding team or the university polo team, but after considering finances, I realised they were quite out of my price range. Luckily, the University offered a society that could provide me my weekly dose of horses at about a tenth of the price: the Exmoor Pony Trekking Society.
Exmoor ponies are a breed native to Devon, and an endangered one, at that. Reports say that there are less Exmoor ponies in world than pandas! The University has the second registered herd of Exmoors, which began its creation in 1920. Thirty-two years later, trekking with the herd had begun, and ten years after that, in 1962, the students who were running the treks bought some of the mares and created the student trekking section.
Fast-forward to today. The society, which is University-wide, is made up of 45 students, me included. The TLCs ride every other Wednesday and help lead public treks on the weekends; this helps us learn the way of the society so that we’re prepared to be full-fledged trek leaders next school year. In addition, we spend two weeks at Glendevon over the summer, bonding and helping lead daily public treks in a new and hopefully warmer environment. Finally, all members of the society are responsible for all of the pony care, from helping the saddler to purchasing new ponies and from bringing them in for dental checks to poo-picking.
Because of the society, I’ve made a whole host of new friends, both animal and human, and have gotten to develop my riding skills and passion for the ponies. Despite the cold, wind, and sometimes distasteful jobs, joining the Exmoor Pony Trekking Society has been one of the best decisions I’ve made since coming to university. Besides, who wouldn’t want to spend a day with these fluffy guys?