Remarkable Studies


Surrounded by equestrian gear, championship ribbons, photos of some her brightest students and the beautiful landscape at Evermore Farm just outside of Statesboro, it’s easy to see why Eleanor Ellis’ love of horses is contagious — even for those who have never experienced horseback riding in any form.

“I call it ‘the gene.’ I have the horse-loving gene,” Ellis said. And for as long as she can remember, the adjunct professor has been sharing that love for all things equestrian with her students. Georgia Southern students, in particular, may visit her facility to earn course credit as part of the Physical Activity and Healthful Living (PAHL) program offered by the School of Health and Kinesiology. PAHL courses are basic curriculum requirements for all students.

“A lot of students don’t have that ‘horse-loving gene,’ as I call it. They’re not passionate about horses. They just want to take a fun class,” said Ellis. “What’s surprising to me is a lot of them have never touched a horse, and some have a pretty big fear of horses. I think it’s very bold and brave of somebody to come in and do something for a grade that they’re afraid of doing and is a challenge for them.”

Learning to ride with Ellis involves much more than just getting on a horse. The equestrian courses range from beginner to intermediate, and students learn the basics of handling equipment, riding, dismounting and working with horses among other skills. She added that students also learn leadership and communication skills, develop balance and an overall sense of their bodies.

“This isn’t like tennis or basketball or other sports. Riding horses is different,” she said. “When you’re riding a horse, you are the boss of that horse, and that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. The horse wants a leader. That’s why this is so positive for young people. They learn to communicate in such a way that another living being does what you want it to do.”

The course is offered throughout the year and is open to riders of all levels and experience. – Aubrey Trevathan

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