In the Saddle

An in-depth look at SCAD's equestrian studies program, featuring Kristin Stine, a fourth-year student and co-captain of the equestrian team.


Meet Kristin

A girl in line at Foxy Loxy Café sees two students in riding breeches and says, “I knew we had an equestrian program, but I’d never seen anyone in it. I almost thought you guys didn’t exist.” For many at SCAD, the equestrian studies program is a mystery to be mocked. For Kristin Stine, a fourth-year student in the program, it’s a way to make a career out of her lifelong passion.

“I started riding when I was seven,” Stine said. “I had asked my parents when I was younger than that, but they capped it off at seven … and when I was finally able to ride at seven, I just fell in love with it.”

During high school, Stine captained the school’s equestrian team. She was also a dancer and a gymnast while her older brother played football and soccer. With so many team commitments, her parents gave her a choice.

“It was like you kinda need to pick one that you like to do the most,” Stine said. “I think [my parents] were a little bummed when I picked the most expensive one.”

She was not the only equestrian student to come out of Suwannee, Georgia. Claire Needle, a first-year graphic design major with a minor in equestrian studies, went to the same high school and competed on the same team.

“There was the gap of big, scary senior, little freshman, but she was a great captain [in high school],” Needle said. “She helped everyone out, just like she does now. It’s kind of like déjà vu, seeing her again.”

Stine co-captains SCAD’s equestrian team with Ryan Genn, a third-year equestrian studies major with a minor in business from Lebanon, Ohio. Together, they manage more than 60 teammates. Despite her responsibilities to the team, Stine never lets it interfere with the goal she set her first year: graduating with a job.

“As much as I love being on the team -- and I’m lucky enough to be captain this year -- school always came first,” Stine said. “When it comes to when I have a commitment to the team, I take into account what I need to do for the major before that.”

As an equestrian major, Stine originally planned to be a course designer. That changed when she took an introductory service design class, learning about improving the relationship between user experience and a company brand. She said the unfamiliar territory made her nervous, but the small class size and “intimate setting” brought her closer to her classmates and what she really wanted to do with her career.

“I was fascinated,” said Stine. “People don’t really think about it, but there is a science to building a difficult course of obstacles and jumps for us to compete over. Then I took some service classes and I was like, ‘I actually feel like I would enjoy this more.’”

She wants to apply her service design minor to her equestrian studies by improving the customer experience at horse shows. The large international shows she wants to be a part of overseas have grand prizes exceeding $100,000 and draw VIPs of the competitive horse-riding world. The planning for those events requires a lot of attention to detail and knowledge of how to interact with customers.

“When we put on horse shows here at SCAD, I was doing that before,” Stine said. “I was really involved in the process. I was like, ‘This just makes sense.’”

“I just had this feeling I should be doing more and I was finally like instead of whining about it, I gotta put the work in.”

She recently got an internship with Rush Management, Inc., where she will work with social media and marketing management to get the company new customers, increase customer loyalty and improve their branding.

“I always had this feeling I was too late for things, like I didn’t have enough experience,” Stine said. “I was too old to be this far behind. I just had this feeling I should be doing more and I was finally like instead of whining about it, I gotta put the work in. ”

She said she’s excited to work for RMI and the hard work is starting to pay off as she finishes her final year at SCAD. She has come a long way from the giddy high school team captain.

“She’s a full adult now and she’s just so much more mature and has so much more experience,” said Needle. “I just feel like she’s grown a whole lot as a person, and definitely as a rider.”

Soundbites from interviews:

Coming Soon: Meet the Horses

You can't have an equestrian team without horses! In this chapter, we'll introduce some of the facilities and horses. As Sami Tessmar said, "They're part of the team, too."

Check back on Oct. 31.

Coming Soon: Meet the Team

The equestrian team is separate from the major - these are the students who compete on horseback all year long. This chapter will focus on the training and competitions they do.

Check back on Nov. 7.

Coming Soon: Meet the Professionals

Equestrian studies isn't just for fun; these students are preparing for a career. This chapter will cover the professional careers available to equestrian students.

Check back on Nov. 14.