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Horseback riding | Wiki­media Commons

After reg­is­tering for next semester’s classes, it can feel exciting to explore the new sub­jects, but it can also feel daunting, too. A whole new semester, just as we near the end of the current one.

I suggest adding, if you can, one more course: horseback riding. As the only class offered during the spring and fall semesters that guar­antees stu­dents can interact with a living animal, horseback riding pro­vides a won­derful oppor­tunity to leave campus, destress, and get exercise.

As a senior, I signed up for the one-credit, eight-week sports studies course this semester. Although I grew up loving horses, the one-hour lessons have taught me the mental ben­efits of caring and working with animals reg­u­larly while at school.

Although there is a $280 addi­tional fee to take either of the classes, the cost is a steal. Similar lessons could cost upwards of $400.

It takes about 25 minutes to drive to Premier Eques­trian Center LLC in Hudson, Michigan, but it is a scenic rural drive and pro­vides a chance to leave the campus bubble.

There, after owner Danielle Cole fetches the horses for the lesson, stu­dents groom and tack their steeds. In the monotony of the daily grind, there is some­thing nice about caring for another living creature — to brush it until its coat shines so that when you place the saddle on its back, the horse is com­fortable.

It’s why clubs bring puppies and kittens to campus. Studies show that petting a dog can release neu­ro­trans­mitters in the brain that make people feel better. The same is true for horses, and they just might nuzzle back (though the barn has several dogs often roaming around, too).

In the lessons, beginner stu­dents have the oppor­tunity to learn how to ride their horses, starting with walking and soon moving onto trotting and posting. The key, though, is control. Riders must pay attention to their horses to keep them away from other riders in the arena and moving at the correct pace.

When so many things can feel out of our hands in college, from the next paper’s deadline to an event that needs to be planned to our futures, it is nice to be able to let that go and focus on staying in control of some­thing.

Plus, horseback riding is guar­anteed exercise for that day of the week (trust me, an hour in the saddle, and you’ll start feeling sore).

I look forward to the class every week, and it is a much needed break from the classwork and campus business. Afterward, I am more relaxed and better focused to work on studies.

So if you are feeling stressed, the answer might be to add just one more class. I would rec­ommend horseback riding.

Breana Noble is a senior studying pol­itics.