Planning for an Equine-Related Career

Last month we identified that focus was the first step in the selection of a college program. You learned about the three focuses—broad, general and specific, and the relative merits of each. A broad focus was an interest studying an area outside equine such as law, art, psychology and journalism, with a possible option to combine career interests with some facet of the equine world. A general focus provided a broader exposure to complementary equine areas such as animal science and equine management to prepare you for a wider variety of careers and/or graduate programs that aren’t limited to hands-on equine jobs. The specific focus provides preparation for a career in a specific equine area that you are already confident you want to pursue such as training, equine rehabilitation and therapeutic riding.

Courtesy, Dr. Karin Bump

The second step in our three-step planning process is to choose the pathway. Many may associate the pathway as choosing a college and a program, filling out the application and waiting for the acceptance letter. It could be that straightforward, but to make the best selection it’s important to understand all the available options and pathway variations.

Here’s an analogy that might be helpful. What if you live in New York and want to go to Wellington for the Winter Equestrian Festival? Is there just one travel route you can take to get there? What if you want to be an equine journalist a Dressage magazine? Or perhaps work for a top horse breeder? Or maybe you want to work for an equine nutrition company? Would your path to each career goal be exactly the same? Probably not. The pathway would depend on what best fits your needs and life circumstances. Five people could have the same ultimate career destination, but each may want (or need) to choose an entirely different route to get there. They can all still get there as long as they have planned the pathway.

Before we talk about the pathway options, let’s briefly discuss how the higher education system works. For our purposes we will discuss a common semester system (some colleges use other similar systems like quarters and CA units.) College courses are based on units which are typically called credits. Those credits are based primarily on how many hours per week you are in class for that course and each course lasts the duration of a semester. As an example, a three-credit hour Stable and Farm Management course could meet for three hours a week for the fall semester (other courses could vary by credits and class time because of labs, workshops and field trips). After successful completion of that course you would have three credits toward your degree. In a semester system, undergraduate full-time enrollment is a minimum of 12 credit hours per term and most degree programs expect you to complete 15–16 credits per term.

Rosemarissa Pezzo, a Cazenovia College graduate, at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington. Dr. Karin Bump

You have probably heard many names and abbreviations of degrees—AS, BS, BPS, BT, MS, PhD and DVM—to name a few. These are some of the degree types for the various pathways often found in the equine discipline. Each of these pathways uses a mix of degree specific courses (equine, animal science, business, etc.), liberal art courses (core courses such as English, math, etc.), and electives (either in or out of equine world). The number and mix of courses depends on the degree being pursued.

Associate degree programs (historically called two-year degrees) typically require 60+ total credit hours while Bachelor degrees (four-year degrees) require credits in the 120–128 range. Graduate degrees each have their own credit requirements depending on the degree type and program. Within each degree path there are often a variety of options including concentrations, specializations, minors, diplomas and certificates.. Similar to the degree types, each of these pathways is defined with a different number of credits and the groupings of types of credits.

You may be wondering if choosing the pathway for study in other areas is as complex or confusing. Typically, it is not. If you wanted to major in accounting, English, psychology, business or chemistry, your choices are fairly straightforward. While there are college variations in academic programs in these areas, most follow relatively similar pathways. Equine programs, however, are more varied than you might imagine.

There are over 200 hundred institutions with equine academic programs and within those institutions there are over 550 variations of program pathways. Listed below are some specific examples of equine programs and the myriad of possible pathways.

Cazenovia graduate Kim Beaudoin at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida. Dr. Karin Bump

· Cazenovia College in NY has a BPS Management Degree with a specialization in Equine Business Management. The program has earned external business accreditation (IACBE) and has active articulation agreement with MBA granting institutions.

· In New Jersey, Centenary University has both an AS and a BS in Equine Studies with multiple concentration options within the BS.

· The College of Central Florida approaches their program a little differently by offering an AS degree in Equine Studies with an Equine Business Management specialization. Students who want to continue at CCF have an option to enroll in a BAS degree in Business and Organizational Management.

· Guelph University in Canada offers a Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management (B.B.R.M) program with a specialization in equine management. They also have a multitude of online equine certificate programs.

· In the west and the east, the University of Maryland and Montana State have pathways through a bachelor degree program in Animal Science, but then each takes a slightly different route…UM has an option in Equine Studies and MS has an option in Equine Science.

· Midway University in Kentucky has a BS degree in Equine Studies, a minor in Equine Studies and an online MBA with a concentration in Equine Studies.

· The University of Kentucky offers a Bachelor of Science in Equine Science and Management with emphasis in several areas including Community Leadership and Development. Additionally, students can pursue both master degree programs and doctorate degrees in specialized equine-related fields.

· One of the more unique pathways in the country is the Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) program where students combine coursework and hands-on experience at thoroughbred farms around Central Kentucky.

The examples listed are just a few of the hundreds available. While this may be overwhelming, it’s important to explore all the pathway variations so when you select the right one for you, it’s with a full understanding of the scope of possibilities. There is no doubt that if you have an interest in a career with horses you will find that there are limitless pathways available to help you achieve your dreams. Given this, don’t limit your options! Use the Equine Education Network (EEN) (the EEN is available through a partnership with the EQUUS Foundation) to easily search the offerings, visit college websites, and review the pathways they offer for studying in the equine field. As a reminder, it is easy to find the EEN through our free Equine Academics smartphone app that includes the EEN website on your mobile device. Just search “Equine Academics” in your app store or use the following address: Once you have downloaded the App, go to the Equine Academics Channel, click on the “EEN” link and you are ready to search.

Now that you have determined your focus and understand that there are a wide variety of potential pathways from which to choose, we will focus next month on the Step Three Question: What are the “fit” factors that best serve your needs?

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