Weatherford College student Presley Hunt has wanted to visit Ireland since she was seven. This past semester she Googled “equine jobs in Ireland” and on a whim, applied for a job in which she felt vastly under-qualified.
In her application she explained the gaps in her equine knowledge and how the internship would be a learning opportunity. And as of Jan. 1 Hunt is living and working in Ireland while continuing her course work with WC. Her boss is a certified British Horse Society trainer, professional jumper and mother of three. When Hunt is not working with the horses, she takes on the role of nanny in exchange for room and board with the family.
“In short, it is a dream come true,” Hunt said. “Growing up I was taught that God has plans to help you prosper and give you hope for the future, and with my professors supporting me and cheering me on, I could not feel more blessed. They have helped me prepare for this part of my life, and I am so grateful for all their time and effort.”
Now in Ireland, her daily responsibilities include grooming, exercising and riding horses while also learning about equine nutrition, training, showing, transporting and the overall care required to maintain elite performance athletes. For someone who only has three years of experience with horses, this internship is a true immersion experience.
Originally from Lake Jackson, Texas, Hunt was more accustomed to the beach than to agricultural topics. Her first introduction to horses was via equine therapy to help her manage post traumatic stress.
Following her introduction to horses, Hunt took a job at the Dixie Stampede, a dinner and horse show in Branson, Missouri. Working there solidified her interest in horses and led to the realization that she wanted to make equine therapy her career.
She moved back home around the time her family moved to Parker County and her dad took a teaching position in Springtown. It was also at this time she started looking for a college with an agriculture program and ended up as a WC student.
After starting classes this past fall, Hunt’s childhood dream of traveling to Ireland was rekindled.
“I started learning about breeds of horses in Mrs. [Melinda] Mayes’ equine science class such as the Irish Cob, Irish Warmblood and other breeds from the British Isles,” Hunt said. “As the semester continued and my horse knowledge increased, I began to wonder if an equine job in Ireland was not just a dream, but also a bona fide possibility.”
While the internship doesn’t pertain to equine therapy, Mayes said the hands-on experience will help Hunt catch up on years of horse handling and she will return at the same level as her peers who were raised around horses.
“Due to the level of immersion of this internship, and by continuing to work with her instructors online, Presley will receive credit for several Weatherford College equine classes while away in Ireland,” Mayes said. “The instructors in the equine, agricultural and life science departments are proud of her for pursuing this opportunity and wish her the best and believe that this experience will set a precedent for high-quality and unique internships further distinguishing Weatherford College’s elite equine program located in the heart of horse country.”
Hunt anticipates having her degree completed by the time she returns from Ireland next year. That is, if she returns.
“The equine industry is about who you know and the contacts you make,” she said. “If I go over there and just love it and have a good job the following year, I don’t have any reason to come home. That might be my new home.”