Gift horses enhance the quality of WC’s equine program


The saying, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” has connotations of not criticizing something given to one that may not fit the recipient’s precise wants or needs. Wilmington College recently received two outstanding gift horses that perfectly fit the needs of its equine program.

And that’s straight from the horse’s mouth!

Enough with equine adages! But Daren Wright, equine program director, said these show horses — each valued well into six figures — have been outstanding additions to the Equine Center since arriving in December. They’re working as part of the equestrian team’s training and competitions and in WC’s academic programs in equine studies and equine business management.

“They are so talented and broke that our students can learn so much from them,” he added, noting “they” are Chevrolattie, whose barn name is Mocha, and Talking Sweet Impulse, whose barn name is Jack. Both show horses, who excelled at both Western and English, finished their professional careers in 2022.

Mocha is a 15-year-old former winner of the Quarterhorse Congress and other major titles. He won 15 saddles, 13 superiors and two national year-end high-point awards, accumulating an impressive 2,200 career points. Christine West of Michigan donated the horse after her daughter, Elizabeth, showed him through last year.

Jack, a 22-year-old Superior Western Pleasure Horse, was donated by Jacki Walker of Pennsylvania after she retired from showing. “You can put anybody on him and he takes care of them,” Wright said.

“They’ve still got a lot of life in them, but they needed jobs,” he added. “Most students haven’t been around these kinds of horses before. They’re good for the program and they’re a good advertisement for our program. We’re very fortunate to have them both.”

Wright stressed that the horses facilitate a great learning experience for students. “It’s really a treat for them to have the opportunity to ride horses that have been so successful in the horse competition world.” And Wright knows that world well, as he has been an internationally-recognized equine judge for many years. He convinced the owners that their horses would be well cared for by student workers and “treated with kid gloves” at Wilmington College.

“These owners could have sold them or donated them to other programs, so we’re really blessed they chose us,” he said. “Their former owners are happy. The horses get great care and they don’t have to work very hard.”

Mocha and Jack are among the dozen horses boarded at the Equine Center. Ten are student-owned as students are literally able to bring their horses to college. The equine business management major and equine science minor have 35 students enrolled while more than 40 students competed this year as equestrian team members.

New this year is the WC Junior Quakers program in which junior and senior high school riders compete as part of the Interscholastic Equestrian Assn. Capped at 20 riders, Wright noted the program prepares them for trying out for intercollegiate teams.

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