For one Penn State student, a horse is not just a companion but also a relief from all the stresses of college life.
When Courtney Moskios returned to campus this fall, she brought more than just her apartment essentials. She also brought Lulu, her 11-year-old horse. Lulu is boarded at nearby Hope Springs Farm, located in Port Matilda.
Lulu is not the first horse Moskios (senior-animal science) has brought with her to Penn State. During part of her sophomore year, Moskios had brought a different horse with her to campus, but her class schedule made it too difficult to balance schoolwork and riding.
“Now that I’m a senior, my schedule has kind of died down, so I was able to bring Lulu up here,” she said. “I needed to have her up here with me.”
For Moskios, the decision to bring a horse with her to campus was an easy one. She admitted that boarding a horse can be expensive, and that it is difficult to balance riding with college life.
She said the reason she ultimately decided to bring Lulu with her is because riding offers her a chance to escape the pressures of college and to relax.
Tammy Perkins, owner of Hope Springs Farm, can attest to the stress-relieving benefits of riding for students. She said via an email that students have boarded horses at her barn in the past.
“Riding is a chance to put the books down, get away from the college life and just enjoy the peace and quiet with their horse for a couple hours,” she said.
She equated riding to the stress-relieving benefits others might get from jogging or going to the gym.
Normally, Moskios goes to the barn to ride three days a week. But if she is having a rough week, she will go every day.
“I won’t have time to ride every day, but I’ll just go up to the barn and brush her and give her carrots,” Moskios said of Lulu. “She definitely improved my quality of life tenfold.”
Moskios is in charge of brushing Lulu and keeping her clean, but the stable where Lulu is boarded does much of the work, she said. This gives Moskios the time and freedom to focus on school when she is not at the barn.
Often, school and riding compete for time and attention in Moskios’ life. To make sure she can fit both into her schedule, she keeps a weekly planner and decides in advance which days she will go to the barn. Planning homework time around trips to the barn makes her schedule manageable.
There have been times when Moskios has had to put school first, though she loves to ride Lulu. Finals week was one such time.
“Luckily where she is, the barn is phenomenal,” Moskios said. “She’s well taken care of. She’s pretty quiet, so she can go a week or two without being ridden and be OK.”
Moskios just purchased Lulu near the beginning of the fall semester, and while it took some time to develop a relationship between horse and rider, Moskios said she and Lulu have since bonded.
“She’s my best friend, as corny as that is,” she said.
However, Lulu has also helped Moskios make human friends as well. She said some of her closest friends are those she has met at the barn.
Moskios believes that Lulu will continue to help her make friends in the future. She knows that her job may require her to move, and says Lulu is like her “safety net.”
“No matter where I move, I’ll always have her,” Moskios said. “That’s very comforting to me.”