Studying Equine Science: Degrees at a Glance
Horses are the focus of associate's and bachelor's degrees in equine science. Programs are hands-on, with students spending a lot of time outdoors. Students learn about different styles of riding, equine health, and business management relevant to the field. After graduating, many find jobs as horse trainers, barn managers, equine nutritionists, and riding instructors.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that for the years between 2010 and 2020, animal care workers can expect an employment outlook of 23%, which is faster than the average for all jobs. If you choose to be involved in managing equine events, such as competitions or fundraisers, the BLS projects a job outlook of 44%. However, if you are considering a career in farm or ranch management, the BLS reports that employment in this sector is projected to decline by eight percent during the same time period.
|Who is this degree for?||Those who have a desire to work with horses and in equine-related industries and events.||Individuals who want to work in an industry focused on horses and prefer an education with a broader knowledge base than an associate's degree.|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary)||- Self-enrichment education instructors ($36,000)*|
- Animal trainer ($21,000)*
|- Farm/ranch manager ($65,000)*|
- Event Planner ($46,000)*
|Time to Completion||2 years full-time||4 years full-time|
|Common Graduation Requirements||Internship or work experience||None beyond general education requirements|
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or GED||- High school diploma |
- Competitive high school GPA
- SAT or ACT scores
|Online Availability||Some required courses available online||Some required courses available online|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
Associate's Degree in Equine Science
Associate's degree programs in equine science can be found at community colleges and can prepare you for many jobs in the fields of equine health, care, reproduction, management, and instruction. You may work as a private riding instructor or act as a sales consultant for equine nutritional companies. These programs may also be designed as transfer degrees in preparation for enrollment in an animal science program at a 4-year university. Programs usually require general education requirements and a variety of courses focused on equine theory and technical topics.
Pros and Cons
- Many opportunities for hands-on experience
- Programs involve spending a lot of time around horses and in agricultural environments.
- After completion of your degree, you will be prepared to find a job in the equine industry.
- You must be physically fit and healthy for certain jobs that require a lot of physical activity.
- Your job may require you to work in environments with a lot of dirt and dust.
- Working around horses and riding them puts you at risk for injury.
Courses and Training Requirements
Programs that lead to an associate's degree in equine science may include courses in the following areas:
- Equine science
- Horse management
- Business management
You might learn about horse handling, barn care, horse training, or riding theory. These programs may include training in humane treatment of horses, equine massage, breeding, and feeding methods. Some courses are conducted in a classroom, while others take place either outside or in a stable or other horse-related facility.
Online Course Info
Equine science is a field in which the hands-on learning component makes up a large portion of the program, so there are no associate's degrees in equine science available to complete one hundred percent online. However, many general or core education requirements are available online, from math and psychology to business and speech.
Stand Out With This Degree
In this field, there is a lot of opportunity for extracurricular activities that can help you gain experience and build networks. You can look into volunteering at a local stable, ranch, or 4-H organization. Entering a competition or show might highlight your riding skills and give you credentials in certain styles, techniques, and activities. If you own a horse, you could get in some extra practice with riding styles and techniques, which could benefit you during course evaluations or at competitions and shows.
Bachelor's Degree in Equine Science
Bachelor's degree programs in equine sciences combine science courses with training in agricultural business management and marketing. In some programs, hands-on experience can be acquired through courses and labs that involve use of college facilities, such as arenas, stables, tack rooms and turnout areas. With this degree you will be able to apply for many of the same jobs as an applicant with an associate's degree, with the addition of jobs that might favor an applicant with a bachelor's degree, such as an event or ranch manager.
Pros and Cons
- You will spend a lot of time around horses during your participation in the program.
- You might have the opportunity to be involved in research in the equine industry.
- This degree requires coursework in a wider variety of subjects compared to an associate's degree in the same field, giving you more options after you graduate.
- Work with horses can be physically demanding and possibly dangerous.
- With a bachelor's degree you are qualified to apply to some of the same jobs that a person with an associate's degree can apply for, but a bachelor's degree takes more time and money to complete.
- Jobs as farm or ranch managers in general are on the decline, so it may be difficult to enter this workforce.*
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
In addition to general education and basic science courses, you'll study equine nutrition, reproductive physiology and disease management. Some common courses might include:
- Equine anatomy
- Equine physiology
- Horse behavior
- Farrier science
In many programs, you'll also take courses that focus on equine business, such as event management, agricultural marketing, range management, and horse racing business fundamentals. You may also be able to learn about therapeutic riding, horse judging, yearling training, and equine sales. At some schools, courses may take place in riding arenas or stables that include teaching areas.
Online Degree Options
If you are looking for a bachelor's degree that has every required course available online, equine science is not one of them. The very nature of the equine science program makes this impossible because students must interact with horses. However, general education courses might have an online option. Some schools even offer science courses like chemistry online, which is required in some equine science programs.
Getting Ahead With This Degree
If your program allows for a lot of electives, you might be able to choose certain course subjects that can direct your degree towards a specific job or career you have in mind. Add an internship that matches the same focus as your electives and you might develop a depth of knowledge and experience that will give you a competitive edge when entering the workforce. You could also have the opportunity to create a secondary focus in your studies by taking more writing or business classes, which could give you the option of finding jobs that are related to equine science, yet require more knowledge in these other fields.