I brought my horse to uni – didn’t you?
19-year-old Jess Flack from Milton Keynes loves her horse so much she’s bringing him to uni with her
“Canter on!” you say. Oh no, this is very real.
Seven-year-old Kyann, originally a Gypsy horse, has been ridden by Jess for over five years, and she couldn’t bear the thought of only seeing him during holidays. So naturally, she decided to bring him to uni with her.
While Kyann won’t be living directly on campus, he’ll only be ten miles away at the Whiterails Livery Yard.
Jess, who has been riding since the age of five, first met Ky at the local rescue yard where she worked when she was 13.
“The owner gave him to me as a project as soon as he arrived off the lorry. He was in an appalling state – skinny with multiple cuts and sores all over his body.
“He also had mental barriers – trust issues would be another word for them – a problem which takes years to overcome and sometimes still comes up now. It’s like if a child is abused, it damages them for life.
“When I got Ky I stopped riding at riding schools and rode him instead as well as rehabilitating him.”
Their connection is so strong they simply can’t be apart, so Ky will be making the two-and-a-half hour journey from Milton Keynes to UEA as what appears to be UEA’s first fresher animal.
Jess says: “I am extremely attached to him. If I couldn’t bring him along for the ride I wouldn’t have gone to university.
“I can’t sell or rehome him as he is mentally damaged from his abuse and would not cope with a new owner.
“After all the trust he has put into me it would be cruel to let him down.”
But rather than living on campus, Ky will be living at Whiterails, and not making the most of life in university halls – much to the disappointment of freshers, we expect.
Jess explains she “will be visiting there every day in order to look after him.”
Even after nights out? After Thursdays at Mantra? Surely not.
She says: “I have to remember my priorities – if Ky needs me he needs me and in certain situations my social life could suffer but I hope the friends I make at uni will understand, and if they don’t they’re clearly not worth it.”
Isn’t this all a little bit strange though? Jess accepts bringing a horse to university is a rarity, saying: “I understand it’s not common for someone to do this, and people might think I’m just completely insane but as sad as it sounds I am bonded to Ky.
“Just because he’s an animal doesn’t make it okay to leave him behind if you can do otherwise.
“I’m quite a self-assured person. If you don’t like what I’m like or what I do, then that’s your problem.
“I’m not bringing my horse to uni to impress people. I think that’s a very pathetic reason to do so and does not represent good horsemanship in any way. If I wanted to impress people I’m pretty sure I could find a cheaper way of doing so.
“I’m bringing Ky to uni as it’s the best thing to do for the both of us, not because I feel the need to prove myself to fellow students.”
Jess admits the whole process won’t be cheap, but says Ky is worth it. “I have been on a gap year this year working,” she told us. “So I’ve saved up enough money to keep him. I will be working while at uni to help with affording everything.”
Whiterails Livery Yard, where Ky will be staying, charge between £150 – £450 a month. There goes the student loan.
But for those of you hoping to ride UEA’s first fresher horse, Jess doesn’t plan on sharing him around: “Because I compete, having inexperienced people ride him can put us back in training which isn’t fair on either of us.”
But don’t worry guys – you could still be in with a chance of meeting the famous fresher pet.
“The work I’m doing at uni will be freelance riding for other people.
“He is such a character. The thing is it’s not like it’s always been me helping him – he has helped me more times than I can count and he has been my own personal therapy.
“Some people go shopping, speak to friends or go completely off the rails. I had Ky.”
Could there be a War Horse sequel in the pipeline? You can find Jess and Ky’s Facebook page here. She even has business cards, with prices ranging from between £5 – £18.
It’s not always easy looking after Ky, though.
“I have to be careful not to push him too much too soon with his exercise as his legs are fragile. After every ride I ice gel his legs to cool them down to reduce risk of injury. If he has worked particularly hard I ice pack his joints as well.
“He also wears boots or bandages to be worked for extra support. He is also on various supplements in his feed to keep him healthy.
“As long as I manage him correctly and keep him fit he’s ok. It’s effort, of course it is, but it’s worth it.”