Equine science programs prepare people for careers in veterinary medicine and research, horse training, exhibition, breeding or recreation. While equine veterinarians need doctoral-level training in veterinary medicine and a Ph.D. is required for certain jobs, careers working with horses are available at all levels for those with formal training in equine science.
Graduates of bachelor's and master's degree programs in equine science may find opportunities in management, where they oversee the long-term health and training of horses. Prerequisites for a bachelor's program can include a 2.5 GPA and diploma from high school, letters of recommendation and some experience with horses.
Entry-level jobs at ranches, riding centers, rodeos and racetracks may require only a high school diploma and some experience with horses. In these positions, staff members attend to the daily needs of the animals and facilities.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
A bachelor's degree program in equine science teaches students how to maintain and care for horses on a daily basis and covers the recreational use of horses in shows and racing. Instructors teach students about horse breeding, infectious diseases, equine anatomy, nutrition and behavior. The horsemanship business is also a common area of discussion in bachelor's degree programs; topics may include business management, marketing and land management. Most equine science programs include practical training on ranches or farms, where students learn how to ride and feed horses, drive horses for professional or leisure use and manage a stable.
Master's Degree Programs
A master's degree program lets students explore exercise physiology, breeding, statistics and agriculture. Graduate programs include more in-depth studies in equine management and the use of the horse as a competitor and athlete. Scientific writing, rehabilitation and performance are addressed, as are horse behavior and food intake.
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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Equine Science programs typically lead to careers in research, teaching and agribusiness. These are research-based programs that cover topics in advanced nutrition, equine diseases, cellular biology and sperm preservation. Through research studies, students may also find out how to improve the performance and durability of horses. Some PhD programs offer opportunities for specialized research in microbiology, behavior, animal health and genetics.
Some equine science departments host 1-day workshops that include discussions on equine genetics, horse nutrition and breeding. The National Association of Equine Affiliated Academics (www.naeaa.com) hosts regular meetings for individuals who want to learn more about equine science. Topics of discussion have included academic relationships among equine science professionals and hot issues in the industry.
Joining a trade organization, like the American Horse Council (www.horsecouncil.org) or the Equine Science Society (www.equinescience.org), may help students at all levels learn more about the equine science industry. Graduate students can also use professional memberships to learn more about training, research and management. Memberships and attendance at events, such as horse shows, can build upon existing knowledge and skills, as well as increase opportunities for networking.
Equine science can be pursued at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree levels. As one advances in degree levels in the field, he or she can move from entry-level horse-related jobs to management to careers such as equine veterinarian, professor or researcher.