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Hiwassee College Equestrian Program


the main barn at Hiwassee

Barn manager Brittany Gregg

Assistant Professor Dara Lindner, DVM

By Nancy Brannon

By now you’ve probably read about Kelsey Hawkins, the Hiwassee College student named Miss Rodeo Tennessee 2016, in our March 2016 issue. The twenty-year-old is an equine science student at the college in Madisonville, Tennessee. But she’s not just an “isolated incident;” there’s more going on at Hiwassee.

Hiwassee College has a full Equestrian Studies program with two degree tracks of study. First, their B.S. in Equine Science is a 4-year degree program for students who wish to pursue a career in veterinary medicine or other equine-related science-based career. Classes in this program include general horsemanship, basic riding, basic training, stable management, horse evaluation, and others.

Second, their B.A. in Equine Management and Training is a 4-year degree for students wishing to pursue a career as a riding instructor, trainer, or barn manager. Classes in this curriculum include basic and advanced riding, teaching, stable management, equine law, and others. Students have the opportunity to ride and train several different types of horses and get hands-on barn management experience in the “Hay Barn.”

“Our first-rate faculty and staff along with our wonderful facilities and school horses make Hiwassee a very desirable choice for students interested in an equine degree,” said Dara Lindner, DVM, Assistant Professor of Equine Science.

“Our program focuses on hands-on learning of useful and marketable skills and knowledge.  Our barns and arenas are our classrooms, and every member of our faculty and staff is committed to our students’ education,” she added.

Dr. Lindner is very excited about the expansion of the Hiwassee equine program and the riding facilities available. They have a dressage arena, a new all purpose arena, a turf jumping field, and several new school horses. “We’re branching into hunter/jumpers and western riding,” while still including the traditional dressage focus at Hiwassee. “Our whole program is growing and we have an influx of new students,” she said. In scholastic interviews conducted over a late February weekend, about ¾ were interested in their equine program, Lindner said.

Barn manager Brittany Gregg keeps the boarding barn very neat, clean, and workmanlike. Gregg is a Hiwassee graduate and is now working on her Masters degree at UT Knoxville. Boarding, including full board and pasture board, is available for both students and community members. “Since this is primarily a teaching facility, students get to see more kinds of horses and more types of riding; it works out well for all involved,” said Lindner.

The “Hay Barn,” named because of its hay loft, is managed by students in the advanced stable management class, where they can put their knowledge into application, Dr. Lindner explained.

In addition to arena riding, there are lots of trails to ride through the managed forest land at Hiwassee. “The forestry majors maintain the trails through the woods,” Linder said. “There is tons of room to ride outside the rings!”

Starting this fall, Hiwassee will launch an IHSA team. “We already have team members, and we are offering a show-prep class over the summer to get the team ready.” There are also three students who will be taking school horses to the River Glen Spring Horse Trials in the latter part of April. “This is a unique opportunity at Hiwassee, for students to have the ability to take school horses to show events. We have a good selection of schooling shows around here and some combined tests. Students can go off campus to ride quite a bit.”

Dr. Lindner is a veterinarian specializing in equine reproductive health. She holds two Bachelors degrees from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), one in Equine Science, one in Biology. She earned her DVM at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Afterward graduation, she interned at Equine Reproduction Concepts in Virginia. For the past 8 years, before coming to Hiwassee, she practiced veterinary medicine at Advanced Equine Reproduction in New Market, TN.  “I have a passion for teaching, and the students are truly the reason behind my career change,” she said. 

Her horse experience spans eventing and fox hunting, from age 8 through her college years.  At MTSU, she competed on the equestrian team and horse judging team. Now her focus is dressage.  She has competed at the national finals and earned her USDF bronze medal.

Founded in 1849, Hiwassee College is a co-educational, residential, liberal arts college affiliated with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. Its campus has grown from the original seven acres, donated by Reverend Daniel B. Carter, to a campus comprised of eighteen buildings situated on 60 acres of a 400 acre tract of land located just one mile north of the town of Madisonville, Tennessee. For more information on Hiwassee’s equestrian studies, visit information about the facilities, visit:

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