Saddle Up: Inside MMA’s Horseback Program

IMG_8291_sheldon_huntMissouri Military Academy students enrolled in the equine program not only step into the stirrup but step into the world of veterinary science.

During the fall session, cadets watched as a farrier demonstrated how to trim for a balanced foot. According to horseback instructor Julia Hunt, students also participated in “a Q&A session on why quality hoof care is a very important aspect of equine health. No hoof, no horse!”

Cadets enrolled in the winter session visited the Mexico Animal Hospital to shadow Dr. Jessi Ross, DVM, and view microorganisms including round worms, tape worms and strongylidae.

IMG_8441“We observed live equine parasites under the microscope,” Hunt said. “The next step is for the students to de-worm our horses for these parasites.”

During the spring session, students tried their hands at colt breaking and helped vaccinate the MMA horses for flu, tetanus, and diseases such as the West Nile Virus which are caused by biting insects.

“Every horse has something to teach. Every human has something to learn,” Hunt said.


On May 21, cadets Paul Murphy ’18, William Moore ’18 and Justtin Muilenburg ’17 competed in the first Missouri Military Academy rodeo.

The program began with the recitation of the national anthem and included a “salute to the soldiers” presentation. Moore, wearing a traditional soldier’s uniform, circled the fence while Muilenburg paid homage to the many soldiers — and their horses — who died in the Civil War.

“They, just like soldiers, died fighting for this country,” Muilenburg said. “In one day, at the Battle of Burden, seven thousand horses were killed.”

Cadets next competed in two timed contests — barrel racing and pole bending.

Muilenburg took first place in the barrel racing and pole bending competitions while Murphy and Moore took home a third and second place ribbon each. The rodeo wrapped up with an egg carry competition — Moore held his the longest and was declared the winner.

CADET Q&A: junior Joshua Ryan Campbell of Memphis, Tennessee, and freshman Joseph Perry Palen of Cheyenne, Wyoming

IMG_8423_palen_BESTWhat is the best part about being in the horseback program? Why?

The best part about being in the horseback program is how patient the teachers are – because it has taken a while for the horse to get used to me and it was hard to make the horse listen to me at first. PALEN

The best part is seeing back campus and enjoying a smooth ride because it’s relaxing. CAMPBELL

Which MMA horse is your favorite? Why? What do they look like?IMG_8390_campbell

I think my favorite horse is Fancy, because she is the one I ride every day. She is brown with a black stripe going down the middle of her back and black on her belly. PALEN

Lady, because I got to have her last year as my horse and she is the lead horse. She is white with black dots all over her. CAMPBELL

How did you feel the first time you rode a horse? How do you feel now?

When I first rode the horse, I was nervous. And I could tell that is was making the horse nervous too, so I tried to calm down. Now I’m not as nervous anymore, and I can tell that the horse is getting used to me, too. JOSEPH PALEN ‘19

IMG_8266_campbellI first rode a horse when I was 6. I feel very confident about my skills in horseback. JOSHUA CAMPBELL ‘17

What is the hardest thing about horseback riding? What’s the best?

The hardest thing about riding is when you’re learning how to ride the horse. It takes a while, and even when you think you’re done with training, or your teacher tells you you’re done with training, you’re not really, in a way. There are a lot of things to learn even years after the first time you ride a horse. The best thing about riding is discovering those things – discovering the things that you never knew, or even expected. PALEN

IMG_8361_palenThe hardest thing about horseback riding is controlling them. The best thing is when you get to lope them. CAMPBELL

What do you think horseback riding teaches you? Why?

For one, it gives you more strength when you’re throwing the saddle onto the horse’s back. And you discover how [to] lead, even [if] you had never experienced leading anything before — whether it be a platoon, company, battalion. PALEN

Horseback teaches you how to focus and take control so you don’t fall off. CAMPBELL