MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Analise Ritter has never owned a horse. However, that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her interest in the equine industry.
Born in Lake Orion, Michigan, Ritter grew up in Waxhaw, North Carolina. The only animal lover in her family, she sought out her own opportunities to be near horses. Ritter took riding lessons, tended to other peoples’ horses, and worked at a miniature horse breeding farm throughout high school.
When it came time to choose a college, Ritter selected the University of Mount Olive (UMO). “A few of my high school upper classmates had attended and highly recommended it,” she said. “Coming from a very large high school, the idea of small classes and more one-on-one instruction really appealed to me.”
Ritter initially planned to pursue a degree in agricultural education, but soon switched to animal science. “Animal science is a broad major, and even though my interest is centered on other livestock, this degree has given me a broader range and understanding of many areas of agriculture,” Ritter said. “I have been given so many opportunities for educational, professional, and personal growth. I don’t think I would have achieved the success that I have, if not for UMO.”
During the spring of her sophomore year of college, Ritter was looking for a summer job. She stumbled upon a position with The Diamond P Ranch, an old fashioned western horse ranch located in West Yellowstone, Montana. This summer will be her third season working at the ranch. Six days a week, Ritter leads guests on guided tours through the Gallatin National Forest. Her days typically start at 7 AM and end around 8 PM. Ritter’s duties include grooming, tacking up roughly 30 horses a day, maintaining the tack and equipment, and feeding the horses.
On the trail rides, which can last from 2 to 8 hours, Ritter’s bubbly personality abounds. She talks about horses, her college experiences, and the Montana terrain. She gets asked all kinds of random questions. She gets tickled when young riders ask about the horses flicking flies with their tails, or when a horse stops to do “his business” in the middle of the path, and the rider stares in unbelief.
“I enjoy every minute,” Ritter said. “I am passionate about working with horses and I love getting opportunities to educate others on horses and the equine industry.”
During her junior year at UMO, Ritter participated in an internship with the Horse Protection Association of Florida. She worked six days a week helping rehabilitate abused and emaciated horses that were seized by the state of Florida. “Working with malnourished horses was a heartbreaking, but educational experience that allowed me to see another side of the horse world,” Ritter said.
Over the past year, Ritter has dabbled in another area of the equine industry by working various horse shows. In this line of work, she has utilized her planning, organization, and business skills to help coordinate and execute horse shows. “I love how diverse the equine industry is and how it is always evolving, fast paced, and gives you opportunities to work all over the world,” she said.
Ritter graduated from UMO in May with her bachelor’s degree in animal science. She also received the Outstanding Agriculture Student of the Year award and has previoulsy earned her NC FFA State Degree. Within days of graduating, Ritter loaded up her vehicle and headed back to Montana to the Diamond P Ranch, where this season, she has been promoted to Assistant Manager. When the season ends in October, she plans to continue working horse shows and further her involvement in the equine industry.
“I am excited for what the future holds,” she said. “When I am working with horses I never feel like I am working. To me, that is a sign that I am in the right field and I am choosing the right career path.”
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University is sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.
—Rhonda Jessup, University of Mount Olive