Elusive Excellence – Our Fearless Leader

Third in our series Elusive Excellence investigating the meaning behind our motto “Excellence is our Tradition”

Excellence can be obtained if you:

…care more than others think is wise;

…risk more than others think is safe;

…dream more than others think is practical;

…expect more than others think is possible.

I ran into this quote several times when researching excellence. The author appears to be unknown, if you know differently please let me know! Each time I came back to this quote I thought of Equestrian Program Director Peggy McElveen. She is the definition of this quote!

Equestrian Program Director Peggy McElveen
Our Fearless Leader Peggy McElveen

…care more than others think is wise;

Peggy cares about everyone, she is a person of action. If a student, employee or colleague has a problem Peggy is the first person to step up and help out. She somehow knows what the person needs whether it be someone to drive them somewhere, make them food, counseling, loving advice or simply space to work through things. She supports everyone, it may not be exactly what you expected but it is always what you need! Peggy cares and it shows!

…risk more than others think is safe;

Peggy is a visionary. Visionaries boldly risk making waves with superiors or employees, suggest changes and happily endure the immediate negative human reaction to change, propose plans and ideas that require a significant commitment of resources and cheerfully problem solve objections to their plans. Peggy has proposed many ideas at St. Andrews. Many have not been adopted but the ones that have continue to improve the equestrian program and St. Andrews University.

…dream more than others think is practical;

Peggy’s motto is “big dreams don’t cost any more than little dreams”. When the idea of St. Andrews hosting the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association National Championships in 2012 was first floated around 2010, Peggy quietly accepted the challenge and then started planning. Even with a world-class equestrian facility Laurinburg is not a town that can accommodate the number of competitors, vendors, spectators and horses needed for this week long horse show. Undaunted Peggy convinced the St. Andrews Administration to adjust the academic calendar so that the show did not conflict with graduation which it almost always does. She made the drive to Raleigh numerous times, contracted with the Hunt Complex at the NC State Fairgrounds, worked with area hotels and caters, and rallied her staff and the student body to support this iconic horse show. Outcome: a fabulous experience for students, staff, all of IHSA and certainly for St. Andrews.

…expect more than others think is possible.

The stories above illustrate this point. For her dedication to IHSA Peggy was awarded the Pioneer award in 2012 which is not awarded every year but only when it is truly deserved. I wrote a piece for the IHSA program as a tribute to the person we call our “Fearless Leader” and posted it on our old blog. A quote from this piece from a member of the St. Andrews faculty stands out,. “She holds herself, her staff, and students to the highest levels of excellence.”

Excellence is Our Tradition – starting with our Fearless Leader!

Click here to review the post on the Pioneer Award.

St. Andrews University New Website

St. Andrews University (a branch of Webber International University) launched its redesigned website today. The new cleaner look is easier to navigate with all pages being within two clicks of any other page – test that out if you like! The new look is the result of much effort from Daniel in Computer Services and Misty in the Communications Office. Thanks for working hard to make the new site a reality!

St. Andrews University Website

This Week at the Barn

Lorrie Renker will be spending the week mentoring students in the Therapeutic Horsemanship Program. Lorrie arrives today and will be conducting several sessions exploring the importance of horse rider matches, mounting techniques and sharing her experiences as a Master Instructor with PATH Intl. including her recent liaison with a therapeutic horsemanship center in South Korea.

Saturday is our first IHSA Hunter Seat home show. We are very excited to kick off the show season with a large horse show at the Equestrian Center. Students are working hard to prepare the horses and the facility. Matt and Jessica and several students set a jump course last Friday as part of the preparation for this weekend. The show starts at 10:00 a.m.

Will be a busy week on both sides of the farm!

Elusive Excellence – Excellence Abhors Whining!

Excellence (ex·cel·lence ˈeks(ə)ləns/)

At some point in fairly recent St. Andrews history we adopted the phrase  “Excellence is our Tradition”. As with all mottoes interpretation is up to the reader. Merriam Webster defines excellence as “something of the highest quality”. The Oxford Dictionary offers this explanation “Something in which one excels” which to me is not a true definition given that it uses the same verb in the definition! Dictionary.com defines excellence “as the condition of being superior”. That one does not appeal to me as I can see it promoting inflated egos.

The definition that I found that seemed most suitable came from Vocabulary.com.

Excellence means greatness — the very best. Achieving excellence is never easy to do.

Excellence is a quality that people really appreciate, because it’s so hard to find. Excellence is the quality of excelling, of being truly the best at something. Getting an A+ shows excellence. Michael Jordan’s basketball career was filled with excellence. We love Picasso and Shakespeare for their excellence. When you see excellence, you should appreciate the work that went into it. So much in the world falls short of excellence.

In light of the elusiveness of excellence we are starting a weekly feature on the pursuit of excellence. This week, Excellence Abhors Whining!

As part of his article “10 Things Successful People Never Do” Entrepreneur James Altucher says people that fail have a lot of accidents. I am interpreting this as, unsuccessful students have a lot of excuses. Excuses I hear regularly from my riders and students include “I don’t like this saddle”, “I am sick” and “___________ (insert Professor’s name here) gave me too much homework to do so I did not have time for your assignment”.

Altucher’s states that successful people move, eat, sleep…well. He says, they have good relationships are creative and grateful, appreciating the “now” that is so often overlooked. In short they take care of themselves. For my riders and students I suggest rethinking some common practices.

Blaming the horse or the tack does not improve your riding. Working to do the best you can within the circumstances and reflecting in a positive way will improve your riding and your attitude.

Sickness happens to everyone, take care of yourself. If you skip my 8:00 a.m. class I had better not see you later at the barn! You are either sick or not. Be tough.

Time Management. Allot time to homework, plan when to do it and get it done. If you run out of time you may have to spend less time hanging with your friends. If you struggle with it, go to the Professor who assigned it and ask them to explain it to you. Get a tutor, use the Writing Center. Be proactive, don’t whine!

Tournament of Champions Results.

Team Standings
  1.       Bridgewater – 39
  2.       SCAD 1 – 33
  3.       Mt. Holyoke 1 – 30
  4.       SCAD 2 – 29
  5.       Mt. Holyoke 2 – 27
  6.       St. Andrews – 27
  7.       Randolph – 24
  8.       Penn State – 22
  •             Open O/F – Kelsey Kocher – 3rd
  •             Open Flat – Kelsey Kocher – 4th
  •             Intermediate O/F – Sabrina Vlacich – 3rd
  •             Intermediate Flat – Sabrina Vlacich – 2nd
  •             Novice O/F – Mackenzie Parks – 4th
  •             Novice Flat – Mary Thomson – DNP
  •             WTC – Grace Wadford – 3rd
  •             WT – Paola Sierra-Danielson – 4th​

Ride-Like-A-Knight Receives Gift for Cooper Care Fund

Great article in The Laurinburg Exchange about a gift from the Scottish Pilot Club who have been active supporters of the Ride-Like-A-Knight program.

Scottish Pilots award gift to therapeutic horse program

Rooney Coffman photo Scottish Pilot Club president, Barbara Mack, presents a check to Rachel Gaardsmoe, a therapeutic horseman student, for the purchase of Cooper. From left are Dorothy Tyson, Lorna Frost, Cooper, Rachel Gaardsmoe, Barbara Mack, Diana Johnston, Treasurer, and Ida McGill.

Tournament of Champions

The Hunter Seat Equestrian Team will be participating in the Tournament of Champions at Randolph College in Lynchburg, VA on Friday afternoon, September 18 and all day on Saturday, September 19.  This is an invitational tournament of The Regional Champion Teams from 2015.  These six students will be representing St. Andrews and will depart campus at 12:00 noon on Friday and return around 9:00 PM on Saturday night.

  • Kelsey Kocher
  • Sabrina Vlacich
  • Mackenzie Parks
  • Mary Thomson
  • Grace Wadford
  • Paola Sierra-Danielsen

Have a safe trip and good luck!

Blogging 201

I enrolled in Blogging 201: Branding and Growth through WordPress. This class runs for the next two weeks. Our first assignment is to post goals for our blogs. So here goes.

The purpose of the St. Andrews Equestrian blog is to share equestrian program news, events and information relating to the program with past, current and future students and their families. The blog will serve as part of the recruiting funnel for the St. Andrews University (North Carolina campus) Admissions office.

We will do this by;

  • Posting at least once a week during the fall semester.
  • Developing a regular weekly feature by the end of September 2015.
  • Increase followers on our facebook page by 500 by the end of 2015. We currently have 8,819 followers on facebook.


What Do We Do?

The St. Andrews University Equestrian program serves the students of St. Andrews University (A branch of Webber International University). The university offers two majors in Business Administration; one with a Specialization in Equine Business and the other with a Specialization in Therapeutic Horsemanship Management. Our Biology Department offers a Biology degree with a Specialized Program of Study in Equine Science. All students no matter what they are studying are invited to participate in the equestrian program, taking lessons, riding on one of our successful intercollegiate teams, volunteering in the Ride-Like-A-Knight Therapeutic Horsemanship program, doing work study at the barn and becoming a member of Riding Council. We host Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA), Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA), American National Riding Commission (ANRC) horse shows as well as Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Int.) workshops and conferences. Veterinarian in Residence Dr. Laura Kellam runs a unique pre-veterinarian internship program which is strongly experiential.