Geology major learns perseverance through working with horses

Grace Braver '23

When her sister recommended a wrangler position at the French Broad Outpost Ranch for a summer internship, Grace Braver ’23 knew it would be a wonderful fit because of her love of geology and horses. Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, everyday tasks at the ranch included teaching visitors about mountain formations on trail rides, caring for the ranch’s horses, and learning how to help injured wildlife. Leslie Wingard, associate professor and chair of English at The College of Wooster, served as Grace’s Fellowship mentor and assisted her throughout the process. From her experience as an APEX Fellow, Grace gained a newfound passion for animal care and insight into her future career options as a geology major.  

“I feel incredibly lucky to have such a supportive system here at The College of Wooster that was able to guide me through the trials and tribulations of my internship”

— Grace Braver ’23

What interests you most about the work you did? What were some of the things you did each day? 

“Watching the horses and guests learn about the environment around them really interested me. Seeing the horses grow in confidence day to day, along with the guest riders, also inspired me a lot. In many ways horses are like people in that, through repetition and mentorship, they learn a lot. Each day I got to feed and care for the horses. I also took guests out on the trails, and I learned about how to care for injured animals.” 

How did your fellowship mentor help you to succeed in this position?

“Dr. Wingard did an above and beyond job of supporting me through the ups and downs of this internship. I am so grateful for her guidance and support. I am quite lucky to have her as not only my fellowship mentor, but also my advocate through this process.” 

What are some skills you’ve learned that you see yourself carrying forward in your career?  

“While there were many skills I have honed over during my internship, one of the most important skills I learned was perseverance. When working with animals, you can’t always communicate efficiently with each other. I always did my best to be clear about what I wanted from the horse, and they always did their best to tell me what they were thinking. However, given the communication barrier we were not always on the same page. It can be very disheartening when you go days without seeing any improvements or worse, you find yourself in regression. Perseverance helped me take a step back and remember that the horse wanted to communicate with me just as badly as I wanted to communicate with it. Perseverance helped me establish partnerships with the horses I got to train, and it will help me a lot in future endeavors.” 

How has the internship helped you to see what’s next for you?  

“This internship helped me see that I have a passion for working with horses. While I am not exactly sure where I am going to go with that, I know that it is a passion that I cannot give up on. I would like to research further into mounted patrol for National Parks. While the mounted national park rangers must go through extensive training both on and off horseback, I would love to find a way to be involved in the process next summer. Perhaps I could assist with some of the training of the mounted patrol horses or even the generalized care of them.” 

Is there anything else you want to share about your APEX Fellowship?   

“I was able to walk away from my APEX Fellowship having learned a lot about myself. APEX is incredibly supportive of its Fellows and all that they wish to accomplish in the summer. I feel incredibly lucky to have such a supportive system here at The College of Wooster that was able to guide me through the trials and tribulations of my internship.” 

Posted in Experiential Learning on August 9, 2021.