Student turns love of horses into work study job

Video posted February 9, 2015 in News by Cherry Zhou


On a January day with snow coating the University Park campus in white, Molly Fetter is at her work-study job across from Beaver Stadium. For most students, a work-study job might be at a library or a dinning hall; her job is in the Penn State horse barn.

T3V0c2lkZSB3b3JrIGFuZCBzdHVkeSwgTW9sbHkgRmV0dGVyIGxpa2VzIHRvIGhhbmcgb3V0IHdpdGggaGVyIHJvb21tYXRlcyBpbiB0aGUgaG91c2UgdGhleSBzaGFyZSB0aGF0JiMwMzk7cyBhIHRocmVlIG1pbnV0ZSB3YWxrIGZyb20gdGhlIGJhcm4gd2hlcmUgc2hlIHdvcmtzLiA=Fetter has loved horses since she was a little girl. Outside work and study, Molly Fetter likes to hang out with her roommates in the house they share that's a three minute walk from the barn where she works. / Photo by Cherry Zhou

She started working on a farm when she was only 10 years old. She helped clean stalls in exchange for chances to ride horses.

On Christmas morning when she was 12 years old, Fetter found a big black horse with red ribbon wrapped around him in her yard, it was a gift from her parents. She named him Daniel Webster. She was Dan’s fourth owner. Fetter said his previous three owners abused him on different levels. She tried her best to take good care of Dan and they had six joyful years together.

Fetter’s experience with Dan inspired her to go to Penn State and choose animal science as her major in order to learn more about her favorite creature.

Started in 1855 as an agriculture college, Penn State still has one of the best agriculture programs in the country. She has been a live-in at the horse barn for her senior year and being a live-in at the horse barn is not easy.

"The most difficult part of being a live-in is trying to balance the schedule. You have friends who want to go out and do things and you are like,' Sorry, no I can't. I’ve got to get up early for work.'"

TW9sbHkgRmV0dGVyIHNoYXJlcyB0aGlzIGhvdXNlIHdpdGggZm91ciBvdGhlciByb29tbWF0ZXMuIFNoZSBsaXZlcyB0aGVyZSByZW50IGZyZWUgYnkgd29ya2luZyBhdCB0aGUgaG9yc2UgYmFybi4gMolly Fetter shares this house with four other roommates. She lives there rent free by working at the horse barn. / Photo by Cherry Zhou

A day at the horse barn begins at 8 o’clock in the morning with feeding, cleaning and routine checking on the horses. Each horse gets different kinds of hay and grain; the younger foals need special care and the pregnant horses need regular vaccination. Although there are professional vets at the barn, live-ins also need to know how to take care of horses of different ages and conditions.

"It's just anything you can think of at a farm. Something breaks, you have to fix it. You might think you have a normal day ahead of you, then something goes wrong, your day just gets all topsy turvy trying to figure things out."

However, hard work and tight schedules are not the biggest problems for Fetter. Every year, the barn sells the two-year-old horses at the sale, as well as donating old mares to new homes. She says, it is the separation with the horses that's the most difficult for her.

"You get really close with these horses, you know they are going to a good home and that's good that they are gonna go do a lot of great things, but it's just sad to see them go."

Regardless, Fetter says she is enjoying her experience here.

"Of course it's hard labor. In the summer, we are in the hay barn, which gets to be over 100 degrees, stacking up and in there for hours; and in the winter time it's freezing and we are bundled up and can barely move. But it's so worth it, if you have a passion for it, it doesn't feel like work." 

The Extreme Mustang Challenge

Molly Fetter entered a competion in which she was matched up with a random mustang that she trained for two months.