Equestrian Studies

If you're interested in learning about the business, biology, care and training of horses, then an equestrian studies program may be right for you. Read on to learn about the degree programs that can lead to a career in horse breeding, management and showing, as well as how much you can earn in the field.

Are Equestrian Studies for Me?

Career Overview

Formal training in equestrian studies can lead to a career as a horse trainer, horse show manager or veterinarian, among other occupations. Degree programs in equine studies or a closely related field of study can be found at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and include topics in breeding, training, riding and sales.

Career Options and Job Duties

Although a high school diploma or its equivalent may qualify you for a position as a horse stable hand or ranch manager, you'll most likely need an associate or bachelor's degree to breed, train and show horses in competitions. As an animal trainer, you'll teach horses how to accept a rider and saddle, as well as respond to performance commands. If you train racehorses, you'll be responsible for planning and implementing exercise sessions, as well as examining the animals on a regular basis for injuries. As a riding instructor, you may have some training responsibilities, but your main concern will be teaching people how to stay on horses when they jump, canter and gallop.

A graduate degree program can lead to additional career opportunities in equine research, academia and veterinary medicine. With an advanced degree, you could work as an animal scientist, devising better methods for breeding and caring for livestock. Another option is to become an equine veterinarian and specialize in horse care.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 19% decrease in employment nationwide for farmers and ranch managers between 2012 and 2022. Animal trainers and veterinarians can expect corresponding increases of 15% and 12% during the same 10-year period. As of May 2013, the median annual wage for a farmer or ranch manager was $70,110, while veterinarians earned $86,640. In the same month, animal breeders and animal trainers earned median annual salaries of $37,950 and $25,320 respectively (www.bls.gov).

How Do I Work in Equestrian Studies?

Associate Degree Programs

Associate degree programs in equine studies combine training in horse riding and handling with coursework in basic care, maintenance and nutrition. You may also learn advanced jumping techniques and how to ride on trails, or take courses in business and stable management. Evaluations are based upon your knowledge of equine studies, as well as how well you interact with horses and how they respond to you.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

At the bachelor's degree level, you may be able to pursue a major in equestrian science, equine management or horsemanship. Areas of concentration may include horseracing, pre-veterinary studies and riding instruction, among other specializations. In addition to advanced courses in riding, you'll study historic and contemporary methods of horse training, breeding and health diagnostics. You may also have the chance to study contemporary industry issues or participate in horse shows and riding competitions.

Graduate Degree Programs

Some master's degree programs in animal or horse science may allow for a concentration in equestrian studies. At this level of study, you might study the biological makeup of horses, examine marketing techniques for equine businesses and explore equine genetics. You may also receive training in handling and riding horses or pursue topics in general animal health care. Individual Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) programs can include a track in equine or large animal care and help you prepare for a career as a state-licensed equine veterinarian.

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