Clay Stem, 31, recently moved to Columbia from Dayton, Ohio, to accept the equestrian facilities director position at Stephens College. As director, he takes care of the horse barn and equipment.
How did you get involved with horses?
My grandfather had a tobacco farm down in Kentucky, and I grew up on the farm. I enjoy living and working on the farm. I got my bachelor’s degree in backcountry horsemanship at Hocking College in southeast Ohio — otherwise known as “Red Neck Tech.” (he laughs)
What is a typical day like for you?
There really is no typical day. You never know. These are very old facilities, so there’s always things that need to be fixed and cleaned. Thankfully I have a crew of five guys helping out.
I hear country music playing in the background — what is your favorite band?
I listen to everything. My favorite would probably be Allison Krauss.
What has been your most chaotic experience at the barn so far?
We were trying to leave for a horse show in St. Louis, and I went into the horse trailer and there was a hole in the floor. I had to run and get lumber and replace the broken boards while six students were waiting with horses.
What is rewarding about your job?
I think it is to help make the stables a safe, enjoyable and positive atmosphere for all the students.
Anything very different here than your previous horse-related jobs?
Working with the students. Most of my experience has been at private barns. There is a great group of students who have welcomed me right in.
The horses seem to have interesting names. Do you have a favorite?
I use their barn names more often. As far as registered names, I like “Who Needs Mama.” It’s funny because we call him “Mama” even though he’s a boy.