I'm in college right now, but don't really like what I'm doing. I've been
thinking of transfering to a college that offers a major in equine
and then possibly training somewhere else for a year or two.
The usefulness of an undergraduate degree in any field is related to several
factors. These include: actual classes taken, difficulty of curriculum, work
experience while in college, quality of the institution, hands-on
experience, and *diversity* of studies. Some of those factors are often
missing in the typical "equine studies" major, which is generally only
offered at smaller, independent colleges. Larger universities will offer a
degree in animal science with the option to emphasize in equine studies.
I have a bachelor's degree in Animal Science with an equine science
emphasis from Virginia Tech. While I was an undergrad, I took physiology,
pharmacology, advanced equine reproduction (a class for vet students), SMALL
BUSINESS MANAGEMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP, economics, survey of science
fiction and fantasy, independent research, and nutrition, just to name a
few. I also was a barn manager for the university, a pony club instructor,
an apprentice for an upper level dressage rider/judge, etc.
The strength of my degree is not the piece of paper hanging on my wall,
but the experience behind it. I received a *superior* education at Virginia
Tech. I would expect most graduates of Texas A&M, or
insert-name-of-prestigious-agricultural-school here, to have received an
equally outstanding education.
I truly feel that I received a better education than most of my peers in
other disciplines not only because I worked my ass off, but also because I
was able to learn about a lot of different subjects. I got the opportunity
to have a lot of hands-on experience, and I was exposed to cutting edge
research in the fields of equine nutrition, exercise physiology,
reproduction, and hoof and leg lameness.
With this degree, I could have gone in a lot of different directions. Some
examples are: vet school, med school, industry (e.g. Farnam, etc.),
extension office, publications (e.g. Practical Horseman, etc.), racing
industry, research assistant/tech, etc.
I chose to continue on to graduate school, after some serious
consideration of being a horse trainer and instructor full time. That was
before I took the SMALL BUSINESS MANAGEMENT course. A huge part of the grade
in that course was to produce a complete business plan and present the plan.
My group (5 students) chose to work with the owner of a local
boarding/training/teaching/sale facility to develop a plan for her business.
Surprise for us and mostly for her, she was in the red big time and she
thought she'd been doing well with a full barn and a waiting list for
The most important topics for a future horse business owner to study in
school are BUSINESS and MANAGEMENT, in case you didn't notice the caps
earlier in my post. The equine experience that anyone worth their beans in
the industry will respect is hands-on hard work at barns as a trainer, a
barn manager, a working student, etc., for an extended time. Any degree in
pony science is just icing on that very very important cake.
It sounds like you understand the importance of industry experience
already. Just keep in mind how much business, management, accounting, etc.
is involved in actually owning or running any business. This is particularly
crucial in the horse industry, since equine operations are often barely
profitable. Proper bookkeeping and management can make the difference
between eating Ramen noodles for dinner and not eating at all.
Also, if you do get a degree in equine studies and later realize that you
can't support yourself working in the equine industry, or that you prefer to
keep horses as a hobby, you may find yourself backed into a corner since
that degree is so specific. Just some things to keep in mind while you make