September 24, 2014

A University of Illinois student finds peace in Kharma

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Hailey Anderson, a University of Illinois student, rides her horse, Kharma. Spring 2014.

Emma Weissmann

Hailey Anderson, a University of Illinois student, rides her horse, Kharma. Spring 2014.

By Emma Weissmann/For CU-CitizenAccess.org — Most students choose to spend their off hours studying, hanging out with friends or catching up on sleep. But Hailey Anderson, a senior physics student at the University of Illinois, spends her free time in a different way: caring for her pet, Kharma.

Kharma is no ordinary pet. A 21-year-old thoroughbred, she resides 13 miles off campus at Commonwealth Farm in St. Joseph, Illinois. And, unlike a cat or a dog, she requires daily riding, brushing and feeding.  Every day, Anderson must make the 30-minute drive out to the barn, where Kharma lives with 25 other horses.

Anderson, whose family purchased Kharma seven years ago, is an avid horseback rider and member of the Illini Equestrians at the University.

“Since I’ve been in college, it has been difficult to travel to competitions with Kharma, but the last time we traveled to a show we did well enough to place third in a Jumper classic, and were champions in our division,” Anderson said. “We were lucky enough that our winnings paid for our entry fee for that show. It was a huge success and really showed how hard we had been working up to that event.”

Anderson said she spends about three hours per day with Kharma, and it can sometimes be difficult balancing school and other responsibilities.

“It can be really stressful trying to find time to take care of Kharma, especially during exam weeks,” she said. “Somehow I always find a way to make it work. I have great friends who are always willing to help me out if I have a particularly busy week, but I try to use that as a last resort.”

Despite this, she said she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love my horse. She is a constant reminder that I need to stay focused and humble, the world doesn’t revolve around me,” Anderson said. “As cheesy as it is, she has taught me a lot about patience and learning to adapt to different situations. Whenever I am stressed, Kharma seems to make me relax. Just as much as I take care of her, she takes care of me.”

This project is the culmination of University of Illinois students’ work during spring 2014 as part of the multimedia reporting course taught by Professor Charles “Stretch” Ledford. The students were instructed to select a topic of interest and use audio and video to share that story. The resulting multimedia projects give an in-depth look at small segments with the Champaign-Urbana community.