Abbie Branchflower ’14 had a very specific list of things she was looking for when choosing a college. She wanted a small school, with a strong equine program and challenging general academics, a focus on hands-on learning and barns within walking distance. “I wanted a hands-on learning experience within my equine major and a school that would allow me to enjoy the liberal arts – in spite of being a science major.”

The Connecticut resident had to look no further than DelVal. “I have been able to dabble in a bit of everything that I’m interested in here,” Abbie said.

“I can be an equine science major and also be involved with the English and liberal arts departments.” In addition to being recognized with a dressage team award during her first year on the team, Abbie has also been able to enter – and win – writing competitions on campus, including first place for a story in The Gleaner. Overall, she has excelled academically and won a College Scholars Award for being named to Dean’s List each semester.

Experiential learning is a big part of a DelVal education and one of the main reasons Abbie chose the University. These experiences include out-of-classroom opportunities to work with and learn from the horses, as well as class and lab opportunities. “I was unable to participate in a blood-drawing lab in my freshman year due to an injury,” Abbie said. “My professor organized a meeting with a small group of students who had missed the lab and taught us how to draw blood and worked with us until we felt comfortable drawing blood by ourselves.”

One of Abbie’s favorite things about her DelVal experience is being able to work with the horses outside of the classroom. “I love being able to show the Standardbreds at A-Day,” she said.

In her junior year, Abbie was able to take part in the study abroad partnership the University has with Hartpury College in the United Kingdom. While at Hartpury, Abbie interned in their Equine Therapy Centre. “It was an amazing experience. I got to work with horses on the high speed treadmill and in the Aquafit treadmill, as well as observe ultrasound and interferential treatments.”

After graduation, Abbie hopes to work in equine rehabilitation. “I am most passionate about finding a niche in the equine community where I can help horses and also educate people about responsible horse ownership. Merging that with my love of writing would be the ultimate goal.”