A Cal Poly Pomona professor has established a scholarship for students interested in studying the bond between humans and equines. Aptly, it is named after one of the university’s Arabian horses
Aubrey Fine, a clinical psychologist and education professor, said the CP Metropolitan Amber Equine-Human Animal Bond Scholarship is open to any student who is interested in relationship between humans and horses.
“I hope it will help students study this, but also recognize the contribution horses make in our daily lives, especially at Cal Poly Pomona,” Fine says. “They’re not toys or objects, but are sentient beings who offer us companionship.”
Christina Sims, a sophomore majoring in animal health science, is the first recipient of the $750 scholarship, which also will be awarded the next two years. Students who are interested in applying for the scholarship must write a short essay about the human-equine relationship, Fine says.
Fine, an animal lover who The New York Times has called one of the nation’s pioneers in using therapy animals, has named the scholarship after CP Metropolitan Amber, one of the mares at the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center on campus.
It’s the first time that Fine has offered a scholarship at Cal Poly Pomona, but he has funded other animal-related scholarships at the University of Denver’s College of Social Work and the Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona.
Fine developed a connection CP Metropolitan Amber two years ago when he did a keynote lecture for the Professional Association of Therapeutic Riding. He visited the horse, fed her treats and over time a friendship developed. Since then, Fine has made a point of seeing her at least once or twice every week.
“I know she knows who I am,” he says. “She’ll come over, even when she’s in a pasture. I love giving her treats but most of all I just enjoy being in her presence. She is such a magnificent gentle being. What I enjoy the best is when she interacts with me.”
Sometimes Fine will groom CP Metropolitan, who gave birth to a filly on April 15. Other times, he’ll have some calming, meditative time with her.
“She’s really a gentle soul,” Fine says.
Humans have an innate interest in animals because they provide companionship and a connection to our natural environment, he adds. Horses are different than other domestic animals like dogs, because they are not predators. They distance themselves from things they believe will bring them harm, and humans need to respect their uniqueness, he says.
The Arabian horses draw students to volunteer at the Arabian Horse Center, even those who have never owned a horse before, but are curious about the animals, Fine says.
Many want to be connected to something, and activities like Foal Watch – where students can participate in caring for pregnant mares and, later, their offspring – offer a remarkable opportunity to witness a new life being born, he says.
“The horses and the Arabian Horse Center are a significant part of the fabric of what makes Cal Poly Pomona a unique university,” Fine says.