Learn what's on offer at equestrian colleges.
Equestrian colleges in the United States are especially diverse. For the most part, these schools are established and ranking universities that offer a major in equestrian (or equine) studies. Equestrian colleges prepare students for careers in the horse industry such as horse show manager, extension horse specialist, stable manager and horse development specialist. Some equestrian careers require a master's or doctorate degree.
At Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, and Virginia Intermont College in Bristol, Virginia, equestrian and equine studies ranks as one of the most popular majors. SMWC offers a general equine studies major in which students work toward a four-year degree by taking courses in show ring competition, stable management, horse show management, equine nutrition and equine anatomy, physiology and first aid. Students should be aware, however, that on-campus undergraduate programs at SMWC are for women only.
At Virginia Intermont College, students can receive a four-year degree in equine studies (general), equine training and instruction or equine business management. Depending on their major, students may gain experience in dressage, jumping, hunting and barn management and study equine nutrition, anatomy and first aid.
Other schools offering majors in equine studies include:
University of Findlay
Lake Erie College
Students can also attend schools that are equestrian-only schools, such as the Meredith Manor International Equestrian Centre. At these schools, there are no other majors besides equestrian-related majors. This absolute focus on equestrian studies is beneficial for those looking for full immersion into an equestrian education. Students can expect to study dressage, equine massage therapy, horse health, barn management, and farrier and forging work, as well as business management. These schools are usually vocational and offer students only a certificate upon completion. Meredith Manor, however, offers an associate's degree in cooperation with another school. Many other top-ranked schools also offer an associate's degree in equestrian studies. These schools include Wilson College, the University of New Hampshire, West Texas A&M University and Delaware Valley College.
Other schools offer related majors such as animal sciences, farm and ranch management, zoology and veterinary technology. For those who are only interested in schools with equestrian sports, DMOZ provides a complete listing of institutions with established equestrian teams.
Admission rates for equestrian colleges are typically high because fewer applicants apply to these programs than to the more common academic programs. However, a student must still meet certain requirements to gain admission into an equestrian program of study. A student must have completed high school in a school with a curriculum heavy in science and mathematics. Three to four years of both science and math, culminating in AP biology and AP calculus are recommended. A business course (if offered) is also recommended.
Volunteer experience (either directly involving equine studies or at a stable) is also helpful in gaining admittance into an equestrian college. Other general requirements include a strong showing in humanities courses (such as English, history and psychology) and general writing skills. Many colleges also require students to have good SAT scores and recommendations from teachers.
Students attending equestrian colleges take courses in training, grooming, housing and managing horses (mostly in stable environments). Depending on their major, they may study everything from horseback riding to horse nutrition. Students learn how to care for horses and how to manage horse-related businesses. An important component in equestrian college curriculum is a driven effort to teach students business skills so that they can start their own stables or manage someone else's stable.
When choosing an equestrian college, students should keep these questions in mind:
Students should also consider if equestrian studies is the right major for them. If a student is more interested in taking care of sick horses, a major in veterinary studies may be more on target. Students interested in other animals in addition to horses might consider a major in zoology. Many of the same courses are required for equestrian studies and zoology majors.