Campus News

Kentucky youth participate in inaugural Equine is for All

Inaugural Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Equine Is For All event

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 8, 2023)  The first Equine is for All event invited Kentucky middle and high school students to learn about the equine industry and educational programs, along with grooming and basic horse handling, maneuvers and commands at the Spy Coast Farm Equine Education Center.

Organized by the University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Office of Diversity, UK Ag Equine Programs, UK Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), and Frankie's Corner Little Thoroughbred Crusade (FCLTC), students experienced in real time how to work with horses through several workshops and trainings — supervised by current UK MANRRS students in the equine science and management and animal and food sciences programs, and professional experts.

One of those professional experts was Jermo Reese, founder and clinician of FCLTC, who teaches equine to youth using an education-based curriculum and basic horsemanship. Reese also first imagined Equine is for All.

Over half of the students in attendance were novices regarding their knowledge or personal interactions with equine. For Reese, this was a big opportunity to introduce many students to the industry and horses.

“We’re giving students across Kentucky an opportunity to learn hands-on skills,” Reese said. “Equine is one of the largest sectors in Kentucky. Occupations such as law, any type of business or any type of medicine, can apply to the equine world as well.”

During the showmanship clinic, students observed Reese and the trained UK MANRRS group safely leading their horses, walking and trotting, communicating basic commands forelimbs and hindlegs, as well as simple steps to begin developing trust and bonding with the horse.

Students also learned about other facets of equine, including the equine science and management program and a showcase from UK Polo and UK Equestrian, part of the UK Ag Equine’s clubs and teams.

Additionally, members of the City of Lexington’s police department, representing the Mounted Unit, talked about the value of horses in keeping the city safe. A professional animal communicator also discussed the importance of listening, setting boundaries, and having empathy to establish a better relationship with horses.

Tyler Crutcher, a student at Leestown Middle School, shared why he was attending Equine is for All.

“I didn’t really know much about horses, so I thought it'd be good to explore and dive into new things,” Crutcher said. “I appreciate everyone using their time to teach me and everybody else about horses. Being here is opening my eyes to new things.”

Mia Farrell, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the UK Martin-Gatton College, and her team, partnered with Reese to bring Equine is for All to fruition.

“We wanted to ensure that all students knew what opportunities were available in the equine sector,” Farrell said. “Sometimes you don't know what you can be if you don't see it. Many of these students have never seen, heard or touched a horse. This event is bridging the gap. It’s truly exposing our young people to the equine sector and giving them confidence about careers in this industry. This is the first step to show them that yes, you do belong!”

At the event conclusion, students demonstrated what they learned, including proper grooming, leading, turning, setting up, and moving their horse in a fun competition before judges.

Reese is optimistic about how the kids will use this experience to elevate their leadership and launch their possibilities in the equine world.

“The horse looks to you to be the leader,” Reese said. “My hope is that this opportunity will keep our kids’ light sparked and expose them to these beautiful, amazing animals that we work with every day.”

Event sponsors included: Aleseria Farm, The Cornett Family, Ed Brown Society, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Frankie's Corner Little Thoroughbred Crusade, Horse Kicks, Keeneland, Lion’s International, One Lexington and Visit Lex.

For more information about future Equine is for All programming, visit

The Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is an Equal Opportunity Organization with respect to education and employment and authorization to provide research, education information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, physical or mental disability or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity. 

Student leading horse in arena
Student brushing horse
UK MANRRS members with students
UK MANRRS members with students

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

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