Ever since she began riding ponies as a 10-year-old, Jessica Meagher knew she loved everything about horses. She continued to cultivate her interests at VI and graduated in 2010 with a BA in Equine Studies and a minor in Equine Assisted Growth and Learning.
While at VI, Meagher also took the test to earn a Level 2 Certification in Hunt Seat and Recreational riding through the American Riding Instructors Association (ARIA). She currently is the head equestrian coach at Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga., where she coaches two IHSA teams, both a hunt seat team and a western team.
Before heading to college, Meagher said she knew that she loved horses and helping with the riding lessons at her barn, but “honestly had no idea how I was going to find my path in life.” So how did VI help her find her voice? Here is what Meagher says:
“Thank goodness for the guidance of the amazing equine professors at VI! Every single professor and instructor in the equine program is more than willing to help you find your niche in the equine industry. The class that really hit the nail on the head for me was Lisa Moosemueller’s ‘Methods of Teaching’ class. I had always loved teaching the beginner lessons back home but this class really got me excited about the possibility of teaching as my career. The chance to shadow such amazing instructors in the ring was priceless and there are many days when I find myself using some of the exact techniques I learned from student teaching with Heather McCloud and Eddie Federwisch. I also loved having the direct feedback from peers in class, as it really made me want to become a better instructor. I remember having an advising session with Lisa about life after college and she told me that she saw me really shine when I was teaching in the ring – and after that, my heart was set on teaching.”
At Wesleyan, Meagher also teaches a riding course for health and physical education credit for students wanting to learn the basics of riding, along with teaching outside students through a community riding program.
“I absolutely love coaching and traveling with the teams! It is so wonderful to see all of the hard work at home really pay off at the shows and to see the pride in the girls’ faces when they know they’ve had a great ride,” said Meagher.
“I also really enjoy being able to shape the riders on the team into true horsewomen. I started teaching team lecture this past semester where we discuss stable management topics, equine health, and training theories in order to encourage them to be truly involved with every aspect of running an equestrian center. My experiences at VI truly shaped me into the horsewoman that I am today.”