Most students on Albion’s campus spend their Monday nights in meetings, catching up with friends, or finishing up some homework for the classes they have later in the week. A select group of first-years spent their Monday nights doing something entirely different this semester.
Every Monday night this semester, 10 Albion students in Dr. Ian MacInnes’ first-year seminar, ‘The Horse in Western Culture,” worked together to build an authentic horse-drawn chariot. Combining skills of carpenters, harness-makers, saddlers and equine experts, the students replicated a Trojan War era chariot. Last week it was finally ready to be put to use.
“Students needed to solve problems during the research, design and construction,” MacInnes said. “They needed to make reasoned deductions from limited information.”
Students researched both historical and background information on the chariot and specific methods for building it. MacInnes also assigned various writing assignments in order to assess each student’s individual progress.
“I was intimidated by the class at first, but it ended up not only teaching me things about horses that I didn’t already know [and] also how to use power tools,” said Melanie Fodera, Troy first-year.
The chariot underwent many safety tests before it could be deemed safe to ride.
“We tied it to the back of a car and put salt blocks on it,” said Jackson Regan, Nashville, Tenn. first-year.
On Dec. 2 at 1 p.m. in the Equestrian Center, the students and two ponies finally used the chariot.
The ponies used to pull the chariot were borrowed from Sue Osborne of Glen Willow Farm. Osborne attended the event and assisted the students in driving their chariot, keeping a slow pace for safety.
The trails with the ponies ran smoothly.
“It’s unbelievable we actually pulled it off,” MacInnes told the Battle Creek Enquirer. “Every time we see it, it’s kind of a breath out of the past.”