Cassandra “Cassie” Norris, PHS ‘07, followed her passion.
Norris has been around horses much of her life. She had her first horse at the age of eight, and showed horses through 4-H and at local shows throughout high school.
The daughter of Scott and Anna, she always viewed her involvement with horses as a hobby.
She planned to go to college for a different career.
Horses were something to be done “on the side.”
But she soon realized her true passion was horses, and decided to make a career in the horse industry.
She graduated this spring from the University of Findlay with a double major in equestrian studies and equine business management.
The variety of classes covered by the equestrian studies major is large.
All students in this field are required to take equine nutrition, equine reproduction, horse judging, equine marketing, farm and stable management, and have “clinicals” every day.
Clinicals cover the handson approach to horses.
The university has two riding farms: English and Western. Norris took specifi- cally Western classes.
All students are required to take one riding class each semester, and are assigned one or two horses to take care of as well.
“Students are required to be at the barn for three to four hours a day, five days a week, and many will be at the barn on the weekends as well,” Norris said.
Most of that time is spent working with the horses, feeding, or cleaning stalls.
The horses range from completely trained (“broke”) to completely untrained (“unbroken.”) Norris said training can be challenging, but the rewards are worth it.
“Day after day you work on improving your horse and teaching them new techniques, and then (get to) see the payoff,” she said.
“I especially enjoyed the process of taking a two-yearold (horse) that had never been worked with and training it for an entire semester, then seeing how far it came by the end of the four months.
“All horses definitely have their own personalities, often even more so than dogs.
“Most horse people will spoil their horses like they are their children, knowing their favorite treats and where they like to be brushed or scratched.
“Horses are very smart, too. I have known some who will try to reach their noses in your pocket where the treats are.
“Most horses are always looking for attention from humans and will ‘nuzzle’ against you for attention.
“While training a horse you spend so much time with them that you quickly learn their personality.”
Most people going through the equestrian program have dreams of becoming a horse trainer, but typically doublemajor as a backup plan.
Norris didn’t want to become a trainer, but doublemajored to give herself more career options.
Ideally, she would like to be a horse show manager. This would allow her to organize horse shows all over the country.
Additional career options include managing a breeding or horse-showing facility, or working for the American Quarter Horse Association.
Not everyone is able to turn their own passion into a career.
Cassandra Norris is one of the lucky ones.