In My Boots: An Instagram is worth a thousand words

Kristen Kovatch documents a week’s worth of equestrian life at Alfred University on Instagram.

From Kristen:

In the past week, something miraculous happened: I acquired a smartphone. I finally retired the old, falling-apart, cracked-screen ancient flip-phone that I had been clutching for years and years and invested some hard-earned dollars in what I’ve discovered is a remarkable little tool for doing all sorts of useful, job-related things.

You know, like Instagram.

Really, I’m not going out on a limb here. The equestrian program at Alfred University is fairly social-media-savvy (we, like Horse Nation, were finalists in the Equestrian Social Media Awards last year!) and having access to new tools to connect with alumni, parents, prospective students, and plain old fans of the equestrian center is amazing. There are so many aspects of our program other than just riding horses that it really takes photographs to capture life at the barn.

Wednesday, September 25


“One of these things is not like the others.”

We have a LOT of barn cats (I think people dump them, sadly.) This little calico showed up on the same day that Lynn Palm did last November for a clinic…so you can imagine what her name is. Lynn likes to sit with the grooming buckets in the sunlight for a nap and is about as animate as a curry comb.

Thursday, September 26


“The happiest picture you will see all day. Driving I student Brandon and Lil Jake.”

Sometimes even an iPhone camera can capture a perfect moment. All I did was yell “SMILE!” and clicked–and while the pony doesn’t necessarily look thrilled, Brandon is having the time of his life. One of my favorite aspects of teaching intro-level courses is working with students who have never before interacted with horses–Brandon is one of those students and Driving I has already become one of his favorite classes.

Friday, September 27


“Happy Saxon Friday from AU Equestrian! Sage invites everyone to the western team’s first home shows this Sunday at 10 AM.”

Saxon Friday is a new Alfred University spirit event in which students and faculty and staff submit photos via Facebook of themselves or their friends in AU gear. We’ve taken this and naturally put anything purple or gold on our horses, cats, dogs, each other, whatever and submit a photo each week. This week I put a T-shirt on my dog. Enough said.

Saturday, September 28


“Horse to Holler 2013 is getting ready to kick off at the equestrian center!”

And then there are moments that don’t seem to have much to do with us at all, yet impact us pretty significantly: every year, the school hosts a seven-mile trail hike that begins at our facility and ends at a local eco-resort. For an hour or two before the hike, the barn is completely mobbed with students, staff, faculty and community members waiting for the trail to open, bringing a lot of new faces into our facility and giving them a glimpse of what we’re all about. A number of our team riders participate in the hike, and more of them volunteer to man the aid stations and drive shuttle vans. It’s a nice way for us to connect with the campus community and give something back.

That dude in the foam suit, however–poor guy, the horses REALLY do not like him bouncing around.

Sunday, September 29


“Our western team kicked off their season with a bang […]”

Amidst all of the hiking madness, we also had an intercollegiate horse show to put on, welcoming some outside horses and four teams from the rest of western New York state. Our students rose to the challenge, cleaning the facility and working horses Saturday night and then working hard to put on the show and compete on Sunday. Everyone’s hard work paid off, with the team capturing two championships and Lexi (left) winning two high-point rider titles. We’re off to a great start this season.

Monday, September 30


“Since the horses are resting after their show day, Western I learned parts of the horse. Paulie was a great model.”

Is any description necessary? Photos can hardly do this saintly animal justice, and yet there’s not much else to say–Paulie patiently stood here while my students stuck Post-its labeled with the various points of conformation all over his body. In the end, this is really what it’s all about–the horses, the students, and those of us that love working with both.

Follow us on Instagram at alfreduniversityequestrian.

Kristen was an English major at Alfred University and was then hired on after graduation as the western teacher and trainer at the university’s Bromeley-Daggett Equestrian Center. She would joke on that irony but her students don’t find it very funny any more. Kristen coaches the varsity western team and teaches classes in western riding and draft horse driving. She has shown reined cow horse, reining, western pleasure, and draft horses, as well as dabbled in hunt seat equitation. Between her horses and her students, Kristen is never short on stories to tell. Some of these stories can be read at her blog at She has also been published in Today’s Equestrian, Take the Reins and Ranch and Reata.


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