Sara Janik graduated from The University of Findlay with degrees in English Equestrian Studies and Equine Business Management. Sara found completing the two degrees together worked out extremely well. She recommends that all equestrian students consider dual majors.
When asked about her favorite memories while at UF, Sara stated that colt breaking during her sophomore year really stood out. Sara was partnered up with another student to break out an 18.2 hand Belgium stud colt named Max (see photo below, and keep in mind that Sara is six feet tall!) Max belonged to a police officer and had already been through crowd control training. Every time they touched him, he would try to knock them over because he was taught to push back against crowds!
These challenges made the semester very interesting. Sara loved working at the barn every day. "At least once a month, I am on the phone with someone that I went to school with. We are always comparing notes, buying or selling horses, or discussing horse shows."
"There is nothing like 5a.m. practice in the dead of winter to remind you how much you love dressage."
Internships are an important part of equestrian education at The University of Findlay. Sara completed an internship at Tempel Lipazzan Farm in Wadsworth, Illinois during the summer after her freshman year. She competed on the IDA (Intercollegiate Dressage Association) Team for all four years and was president of the team her senior year.
"There is nothing like 5 a.m. practice in the dead of winter to remind you how much you love dressage." Sara is still best friends with her teammates from IDA.
"The team was great because it really brought the dressage program together as a group. We all rooted for each other and had a lot of fun traveling together."
Sara has been working at Glen Grove Equestrian Center on the north side of Chicago. She is the head Dressage Trainer and Assistant Barn Manager. Glen Grove is a 90 stall hunter/jumper/dressage barn. Besides teaching, Sara helps manage the care of 90 horses and a very large staff. Sara states "I have had to use almost everything I learned at Findlay at one point or another!"
When asked what advice she would give to high school students that are considering a career in the equine industry, Sara said, "Be prepared for a lot of hard work! A degree from UF is an amazing foundation, but be prepared to start at the bottom of the ladder once you graduate."
"The equine industry is only impressed by riding skills and good hard work. You WILL be mucking stalls! GET USED TO IT! The people who aren't willing to work their way up will stay at the bottom. Besides, taking care of the horses is what should have gotten you interested in the first place. It is ten times more important than the riding and showing. When I interview someone for a job, I want to hear them say they are happy to pitch in with stalls and feedings. Those are the people with a real passion for horses."