June 29, 2023
As part of Reunion Weekend, the Asbury University Equine Department celebrated its 25th year anniversary on Saturday, June 24. This time of reflection and fellowship included a Q&A session, followed by alumni sharing their favorite memories, and a farm tour.
“Asbury is fortunate to be located in Central Kentucky, the heart of horse country,” said Asbury University President Dr. Kevin Brown. “As a Christian University that has spent well over a century in this region, we are so thankful to celebrate 25 years of having a world-class equestrian program with world-class staff and faculty on world-class Kentucky bluegrass property.”
Joining the Asbury faculty in 1974, Equine Director and Associate Professor Harold Rainwater ’69 directs and manages the Equine Program.
“The most rewarding part of this program is seeing see God, people, and horses together,” said Rainwater. “With a focus on serving people and helping horses, we have graduates who serve in nearly every area of the horse world, such as veterinarians, trainers, and therapists.”
“Currently, the Equine Studies major is the second most popular undergraduate major at the University, and the new Equine Assisted Services program is quickly growing,” said Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Sherry Powers. “The Equine programs allow students to pursue areas of study that prepare them for Christ-centered leadership in the equine industry.”
In 2007, Rainwater launched the Equine Studies major which has now grown to more than 120 students in the areas of Equine Management and Equine Facilitated Wellness. Last year, the Equine Department launched the Equine Assisted Services major for those interested in working in therapeutic settings with horses helping patients physically, mentally and emotionally.
“Equine Assisted Services is a relatively new concept,” Rainwater said. We are exploring a new frontier by uniting horses and the needs of people with God.”
“This major is for students who are interested in learning how to incorporate equines into services for humans, including healthcare services, education services, and adaptive riding services,” said Cathrin Wilbanks ’11, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Equine Studies. “This program offers growth and healing opportunities, through connecting with horses and entering their world. We are at a prime place to provide students with career routes that make sense and lead to jobs in the equine industry.”
Two students that entered the equine world after graduation were Wes ’13 and Paige Scott ’15 Metcalfe, by founding Metcalfe Equine, LLC, a company that provides training, boarding, lessons, and team-building activities to individuals.
“We believe that God has called us to remind people that they have a purpose,” Wes said. “Our company provides equine assisted learning and serves as a ministry to encourage people, including veterans, first responders, returning missionaries, and more. We offer calming and trust-building exercises with horses, painting projects and lunch fellowships.”
“As someone who grew up on the mission field in Central Asia, this ministry is dear to my heart because I have experienced the hardships of transitioning back to the ’homeland,’” said Paige. “I hope to provide a place where God can promote peace and healing in people’s lives as they transition back to their ’home country.’”
In October of 2022, the Asbury University Equine Program dedicated the 29,000-square-foot Henry and Elsie Bayless Arena, a new facility that includes 26 stalls and a Western riding arena on Asbury’s 343-acre Equine property. This arena accommodates growth in the Police Mounts and Western Riding programs. Asbury University currently has approximately 80 horses on its property, including 44 police mounts in training — 26 of which are already spoken for by police departments around the nation.
Learn more about the Asbury University Equine Department: asbury.edu/equine