An equestrian studies program at the bachelor's level prepares students for a range of jobs working with horses, from horse breeder to riding instructor. Some schools allow students to engage in broad training or choose an area of focus, such as equine business management or therapeutic riding studies. These programs often entail hands-on work with horses and have internship opportunities as part of the regular curriculum. Most schools also offer equestrian riding clubs where students can ride in their off hours for practice or personal enjoyment.
Prerequisites for bachelor's degree programs in equestrian studies include a high school diploma or its equivalent. Additionally, some programs may require riding placement tests. Specific equipment may be required before starting classes. Boarding facilities for personal horses are also different from school to school, but those without ample space have horses available for lease or assign school horses to students. Additional training opportunities can be found in internship programs located at schools, stables, and other facilities in the U.S.
Bachelor's Degree in Equestrian Studies
Courses in an equestrian studies program may be focused on a student's particular area of study and are included in both classroom lectures and hands-on learning in a stable. Subjects covered may include:
- Therapeutic riding techniques
- Preventative medicine for horses
- Horsemanship teaching techniques
- Equine breeding and genetics
- Equine health and wellness
- Horse marketing and judging
Equestrian Studies Internships
For those who are looking for hands-on training, there are a variety of internship programs available for equestrian studies. Many offer live-in arrangements and small stipends or wages paid for hours worked. A few programs are available exclusively to students who are either currently enrolled or have just completed academic programs. Program duration can be as short as two months or as long as 18 months.
Some programs include management and record-keeping instruction along with the regular work routine. Students participate in practical aspects of equine training such as:
- Care of pregnant and foaling mares
- Neonatal foal care
- Broodmare sale preparation
- Equine nutrition research
- Veterinary care assistance
Popular Career Options
Equestrian studies programs prepare students for many different careers related to horses. There are many applications for equine studies in breeding, riding, medicine, communication, and government. Some occupations require further training or education. A sampling of equine-related jobs includes:
- Mounted police officer
- Equine journalist
- Breeder or foaling attendant
- Pedigree specialist
- Large animal veterinarian
- Riding instructor
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
One employment option available to those with equestrian studies education is that of a breeder. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), animal breeders earned an annual median salary of $39,380 in May 2015. The BLS also predicted that the employment of all types of animal breeders could decline by 2% from 2014 to 2024, which may be due to technological advancements in agriculture, as well as the consolidation of livestock and agricultural establishments.
Other career options for those with equine study training fall into the BLS category of animal care and service work. This includes occupations such as groomers and trainers. The BLS predicted an overall increase of 11% in employment opportunities for these workers from 2014 to 2024. The median annual salary earned by animal trainers was reported as $26,610 in May 2015; non-farm animal caretakers earned a median of $21,010 the same year, per the BLS.
Students interested in equestrian studies can pursue a bachelor's degree at a university or opt for a hands-on experience through an internship. While both options provide practical experience with horses, a bachelor's degree allows students to focus on an area of interest such as therapeutic riding or equestrian business management.