The role of andragogy and self-directed learning in the draft horse industry



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Texas A&M University


The purpose of this study was to determine and understand the variables affecting the revival of the draft horse industry in the United States. A qualitative study was conducted using 31 purposively (Lincoln and Guba, 1985) selected draft horse industry participants who were drawn from three case studies, conducted in East Texas, Russia (Siberia), and Northern Indiana. Structured and semi-structured interviews were utilized. Major findings emerged with this research showed that the culture of practicality, inventiveness, and risk taking has allowed communities of individuals to achieve financial success where others have been forced to abandon their businesses and seek other sources of livelihood. Some of the findings stood alone with no seeming connection to the other findings. Other findings appeared to be intertwined with one another. All of the emerging findings contributed to the renewal and engagement of individuals in the draft horse industry revival. The findings are deliberately not listed in any particular order. The scope of the study did not include a method to determine whichfinding or series of findings preceded the others. The major findings to emerge from this study are as follows. Most of the participants in the revival were or are middle aged men and women. This finding melds well with another finding that determined the draft horse business was the second, third, or fourth career of the participants in this study. Many of the participants operate their businesses in rural non-farm locations. Owners and publishers of trade magazines played a pivotal role in this industry revival. Geography and international connections played a role. The Amish communities across the U.S. played a pivotal role in keeping relic technologies alive and maintaining seed stock for the revival of the draft breeds. Specific markets for horses and equipment have been carved out by many of the participants. Self-directed learning and andragogy were exhibited by almost all of the participants. The role of university and extension personnel in this revival was essentially non-existent.