Kayleigh Harvey, '15: Managing Horses on Mackinac Island

Kayleigh Harvey, '15July 23, 2013

A major in chemistry and geological sciences and a member of the Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program and Albion College's hunt seat team, Harvey is the daughter of Judith Harvey of Lowell, Mich., and a graduate of Forest Hills Eastern High School.

Below, she describes her summer experience.

Kayleigh Harvey, '15 (right) and a student during a jumping demonstration for Mackinac Island visitors.
Harvey (right) and a student during a jumping demonstration for visitors at the Mackinac Community Equestrian Center.

One of the best parts of my summer job is meeting with my bosses. I'm the barn manager for the Mackinac Community Equestrian Center and we do a lot of event planning while we're on rides. The trail is a great place to think, and I have been given some of the best advice I have ever received on them.

Last summer while working at Joann's Fudge Shop, I became acquainted with board members of the Mackinac Horseman's Association, which operates the nonprofit Mackinac Community Equestrian Center. I exercised horses, especially some unruly horses that the barn manager did not personally have time to work with, and I would also help with the many events the barn and the Mackinac Horseman's Association hosted. When the previous barn manager announced that she would not be returning, she suggested that I take her place.

So – I manage the horses, the barn, and one intern from Michigan State University. I oversee the care and feeding of our 10 horses, barn cleaning and lesson scheduling. I also direct barn events and ensure that everyone at the barn is acting in a safe and appropriate way.

One of Mackinac Island's many horse trails
"The trail is a great place to think," Harvey says. "I have been given some of the best advice I have ever received on them."

It can be a difficult job, especially since our intern is the same age as I am. I'm a chemistry major from a small liberal arts school while she's studying horse management at MSU, so gaining her respect is definitely challenging.

At the end of the day, though, it's worth it. The 10 horses are all wonderful to work with, and the children are always happy to see me (except when I have to be a disciplinarian). I couldn't ask for better bosses—they make sure I have everything I need. They have inspired me to do the same for them through the job they so graciously offered me.

Most importantly, I am learning to be a good leader. It is easy to "boss someone around," but most people don't take well to that. I have had to learn to think about what I am going to say, and who I am saying it to, and how he or she would be most receptive to it. It's not easy.

A couple months ago I was a simple college student, worried about my organic chemistry final. Now, I have an adult job, with adult responsibilities. I have to earn the respect of the board members, the intern, the lesson instructor, and the children and parents in our programs. I have had to learn how to manage all of that along with the horses, and not go insane in the process. But I am happy, I love my job, and I couldn't ask for more.