Close this search box.
Close this search box.

When First-Year Students Met Horses

An Experiential Learning Journey at St. Andrews University

The Union of Academics and Equestrian Excellence

When one imagines a traditional classroom, the image that usually comes to mind is a room filled with chairs, a board, and perhaps a screen. However, Dr. Wayne Freeman, a business professor at St. Andrews, took the concept of an immersive learning environment to a new level with his Sage 125 class of first-year students. Instead of sticking to the confines of a building, he took the entire class to the university’s equestrian facility to learn about one of the campus’s most exceptional assets: its nationally recognized equestrian programs.

Why Take Students to a Barn?

You may be wondering, why would a class visit a horse barn? Dr. Freeman believes in experiential learning and feels that students can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the university’s assets and opportunities through firsthand experience.

“The world is not confined to textbooks and lectures,” says Dr. Freeman. “The equestrian program at our university is a prime example of how specialized skills, when combined with academic rigor, can create well-rounded individuals who excel in multiple disciplines.”

The Warm Welcome by Professor Abbey

Upon their arrival at the barn, the class was greeted by Professor Abbey, the Director of the Therapeutic Horsemanship Program at St. Andrews. With enthusiasm and a genuine love for horses, Professor Abbey took the students on an historical tour of the university’s equine accomplishments, tracing back milestones, victories, and the hard work that has gone into making the equine programs what they are today. The class visited the Singletary Center, built in 2001 to house the Ride Like a Knight program, the first of its kind in the country where students can earn a degree in Therapeutic Horsemanship.

A Legacy of Excellence

Dr. Freeman said, “St. Andrews has award-winning equestrian teams. The sheer commitment to excellence, from horse care to training methods, has made the institution a name to reckon with in equestrian circles.” Undergraduates can opt for a specialized course in Therapeutic Horsemanship, which focuses on the interaction between horses and humans for therapeutic gains. Additionally, for those interested in the business side of the equestrian world, there’s an undergraduate program in Equine Business Management.

The University’s newest program is an MBA in Equine Entrepreneurship. This program begins in Spring 2024 and goes beyond learning about what careers are available and dives deep into the entrepreneurial aspects, preparing students to carve their own path in the equine industry.

The Lasting Impact

The students seemed to leave the barn with more than just mud on their boots; they left with a deeper understanding of the richness that St. Andrews has to offer. Not only did they learn about the equestrian world, but they also got to experience how passion and professionalism could co-exist in an educational setting.

“Although I am a little frightened of horses, I did enjoy seeing them being used in ways that can benefit people with physical and mental challenges” said one of the first-year students.” Since the visit, “I am a little less frightened and realize the value of the Therapeutic Horsemanship Program.”

A Milestone in Learning

By stepping out of the classroom and into the barn, Dr. Freeman and Professor Abbey have offered these first-year students an invaluable experience that has broadened their horizons. In a world that’s increasingly focused on specialized skills, this visit serves as a reminder that learning can be found in the most unexpected places—even a barn.

For more information on St. Andrews University and its various programs, visit