Equine studies is a specialized branch of animal science that is exclusively focused on the study and care of horses. While it does feature lectures and many of the hallmarks of other academic disciplines, equine studies programs also include an ample amount of hands-on experience and training. Students should be prepared for physical labor as well as study of advanced topics, including diet, behavior and anatomy. It's possible to exclusively pursue an equine studies degree, although many students combine it with other programs or as part of an advanced degree plan.
Core Coursework and Skills
Both two and four-year equine programs revolve around preparing students to function in a barn setting. In the classroom, courses cover a wide selection of topics ranging from managing common injuries to differentiating breeds. Students also spend some of their early mornings in active barn environments where they learn how to handle horses safely and responsibility. They are also expected to understand the fundamentals of feeding, exercising and stabling horses as they advance through their studies.
Prospective students should carefully consider their professional and career goals when planning for their degree program. While there are plenty of positions open to those with an equine studies degree, there can also be significant competition for the most desirable jobs. Students who want to boost their career potential sometimes pursue equine studies alongside a general animal science program, or as a stepping stone towards a degree in veterinary science or other advanced field. Other students who choose a degree in equine studies also get a second degree in business management or a similar field to broaden their horizons, according to Eqqus.
Working Directly With Horses
Since many students who pursue equine studies have a strong personal passion for the animals, it's understandable that many of them seek jobs working directly with animals. Horses may not serve as a primary means of transportation or productivity anymore, but there are still numerous stables and barns that need experienced employees to function. Equine studies majors who want to get outside the barn may also find themselves working as a veterinary assistant, trainer or riding coach.
Other Career Options
An equine studies degree is a great way to gain entry to the industry before moving on to a business, management or education role. Individuals with an academic background and career experience in equine studies are needed for various education positions throughout the country, including riding, coaching and professorships. Larger equine facilities also rely on qualified and experienced managers who have a firm understanding people, horses and business. Administrative positions can also be a long-term goal for trainers or other employees seeking a less demanding role in their organization.
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Equine studies may be a relatively niche topic compared to other fields, but there is also plenty of demand within that niche. It gives horse lovers a productive way to apply their passion as a profession and meet others who share their interests. As long as students are mindful of their long-term academic and career plans, then an equine studies degree can be a sound and rewarding choice overall.