An equine breeder typically has a bachelor's degree in animal science, as well as additional coursework in subjects like accounting and entrepreneurship. Hands-on work experience is essential for success in this career, so aspiring equine breeders might consider finding work on a farm to become better acquainted with horses.
Equine breeders plan the mating or assisted reproduction of horses to improve or maintain certain characteristics of a breed over several generations, or to produce offspring with desired traits, like speed, strength, color or behavior. Equine breeders usually rely on years of experience and training, with some completing extension programs on horse breeding. Some equine breeders earn bachelor's degrees in animal science with a concentration on horses. Master's degrees in animal science are also available.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in animal science|
|Other Education Options||Master's degree or agricultural extension programs; internships|
|Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||2% decline (all types of animal breeders)|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$39,380 (all types of animal breeders)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Education for equine breeders can begin with high school electives in animal science, nutrition, anatomy and physiology. Horse breeders may pursue bachelor's degrees in animal science, with a concentration on horses that includes such courses as foaling, animal selection and breeding management. Animal science courses like breeding, genetics and reproductive science may also be part of other bachelor's degree programs. Animal breeders often have their own businesses, so they may take courses like accounting and entrepreneurship, as well as computer courses to assist in the extensive recordkeeping required to register foals.
Short programs focusing on horse breeding are offered through agricultural extension programs, and master's degrees in animal science, equine science and equine reproduction can teach prospective breeders about advanced breeding technologies. However, some breed registries - notably The Jockey Club, which keeps the thoroughbred registry - will not register foals conceived using assisted reproductive technologies. A breeder's education must also include familiarity with these professional regulations.
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Work experience is essential in developing a career as a horse breeder. During high school and college, students can work on farms or as an animal caretaker to learn tasks like exhibiting horses and examining them for injury or disease. Internships and apprenticeships during undergraduate programs can provide vital on-the-job experience.
Working with an equine breeder for a year or two after graduation can add valuable experience. Breeders are trained to monitor or manipulate a mare's estrus (period for conceiving) and select animals for breeding based on the characteristics desired in the offspring. If the breed registry allows artificial insemination or assisted reproduction, breeders also must choose between assisted reproduction or live cover, wherein the mare and stallion are brought together at a breeding farm or facility.
Equine breeders typically specialize in a single breed and plan a multi-generation breeding program to select for desired characteristics in that breed and avoid known genetic weaknesses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for an animal breeder in 2015 was $39,380 (www.bls.gov). Job growth for all types for animal breeders was expected to decline by about 2% in the years 2014-2024, the BLS indicated.
An internship or apprenticeship is a practical way for aspiring equine breeders to gain valuable work experience. Many equine breeders specialize in a specific breed of horse, developing breeding programs spanning multiple generations that are designed to eliminate genetic weaknesses. It is quite common for equine breeders to have their own business.