In May the most famous jockeys and racehorses saddle up for one of the biggest racing events in the US, the Kentucky Derby. While the races are an exciting time of year and allow horse lovers of all ages the chance to cheer for their favorites, there’s more to equestrianism than fancy hats and race day fun. There are many facets of the horse business that require extensive education and experience.
If you’re looking to build a balanced college list that includes your equine interests, our counselors can help you choose schools that may be a great fit for your hobby, or help with the athletic recruitment process if you want to compete as a student athlete. From pre-vet programs to horse business studies, here are Dr. Kat’s best colleges for equestrians.
Alfred University, Alfred, NY
If you’re looking for an opportunity to not only learn about horses, but the ideas and practices behind competitions, the equestrian studies program at Alfred University has the perfect balance of science and theory courses.
AU offers a unique program that allows students to pair a minor in equestrian studies with any major. Classes include both English and Western riding, equine science, and even in-depth courses on judging horse shows.
The school also has more than 40 university-owned horses available to students for lessons and competition. The school’s Bromley-Daggett Equestrian Center is a 400-acre state-of-the-art facility located five minutes from campus, making it easily accessible to students who want to work with university horses, or for those who decide to board their own horses at the facility. The center also boasts five miles of horseback trails through the woods and around Foster Lake.
Students can also participate in the school’s English and Western riding teams, and can stay involved with other equestrian opportunities including volunteering for the school’s horse shows and helping run public riding events.
Located in Alfred, NY, AU is a small, private college with about 2,000 undergraduate students. AU’s 232-acre campus includes 50 academic and residential buildings, and students can choose from over 40 majors and 80 student clubs and organizations.
The athletics at AU aren’t limited to just horse riding. AU athletes compete in any one of 21 NCAA Division III sports. About 22% of all undergraduates play a varsity sport, and half of all AU students participate in either intramural or club sports.
Berry College, Mt. Berry, GA
Horses require a lot of room to roam, and few campuses have as much space for these majestic creatures as Berry College. Berry boasts one of the largest physical campuses in the world, and students studying animal science or on the pre-veterinary track have a number of course options when it comes to studying horses. Courses in equine studies at Berry include Stable Management, Equine Health, and Horse Systems and Management.
Learning doesn’t stop in the classroom, however. Experiential learning for equine studies includes work opportunities at the school’s facilities, where students assist in daily feeding and care of college-owned horses and routine veterinary care and management, among other tasks.
Students can even bring their own horses and house them in the boarding stalls at Gunby Equine Center, a 185-acre facility that includes pastures, four barns, two arenas, and is home to over 60 university-owned horses.
Berry, founded in 1902, is a small, private college located in Mt. Berry, GA. Berry has an undergraduate enrollment of just over 2,000, and offers a variety of majors, including two dual degree programs with Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University’s School of Nursing.
Berry sits on 27,000 acres. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources oversees 16,000 acres of Berry’s campus, and the school boasts 80 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails.
Lavender Mountain and Berry’s own Victory Lake campground give students a variety of outdoor adventure possibilities. Berry’s Student-Operated Enterprises program and Work Experience program also gives students hands-on work and business management skills while enrolled in classes.
University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Of course a list of schools for horse lovers wouldn’t be complete without the University of Louisville, located in the heart of Kentucky Derby country.
While many schools offer equestrian studies through their science departments, U of L’s Equine Industry Program (EIP) is actually offered through the College of Business, with students taking business administration core courses along with additional specialized courses focused on the business of the horse industry.
Students graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business with a major in equine studies. Graduates can also go on to receive a post-graduate certificate in equine business, or for those who wish to pursue another major, U of L also offers equine business as a minor.
EIP students can take a variety of horse-focused courses, including Horse Industry Overview, Equine Commercial Law, and Equine Marketing.
U of L also has a number of competition organizations, including the Riding and Racing Club, which is open to all majors, and the Equestrian Team, which is a member of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) and competes in a region with schools like Xavier University, University of Kentucky, and Marshall University, to name a few.
Located in Louisville, KY, U of L is a public research university with an enrollment of over 22,000. The school has three campuses in the Louisville area, and offers over 170 degree programs in its 12 schools and colleges. The school also offers over 250 student clubs and organizations, as well as Division I athletics.
U of L’s strong ties to the horse industry don’t end with academics. The university marching band is frequently featured at the Kentucky Derby, performing their rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home,” prior to the race.
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
At the University of Minnesota, students earning a Bachelor of Science in Equine Science have plenty of opportunities to work hands-on with live horses in state-of-the-art facilities.
Equine science students at the school’s Crookston campus work directly with the university’s 45 horses, and take classes and labs at the University Teaching and Outreach Center (UTOC). This working and learning environment includes classrooms, labs, a heated indoor area, training pens, and multiple paddocks, among other amenities, to give students all the resources necessary for a full experiential learning experience.
Students can also participate in horse riding and showing clubs, including the Rodeo Association and Horseman’s Association, along with the Pre-Veterinary Club for equine majors considering veterinary medicine. Competitive riders also have the opportunity to ride on the school’s NCAA Equestrian team in Hunt Seat or Western.
The University of Minnesota is a public research university made up of five campuses with a system-wide enrollment of over 68,000 students. The school offers over 140 degree programs and hundreds of student clubs and events, including the school’s Spring Jam, a three-day, student planned event jam-packed with live music, food, and performances for U of M students.
Known as one of the country’s most unusual mascots, the Minnesota Golden Gophers were adopted after the state was nicknamed the “Gopher State” from an 1857 cartoon satirizing state politicians. The “golden” was added in the 1930s after the football team wore gold jerseys during a game, and went on to win seven Big Ten titles and five national championships from 1932-41.
Auburn University, Auburn, AL
With one of the country’s premier veterinary programs, it’s no wonder that the Animal Science Department at Auburn University offers a stellar equine sciences program, with a course of study encompassing horse health and nutrition, as well as equine industry management.
Students participating in the equine sciences program take a variety of health and science classes, as well as numerous electives including Equestrian Coaching, Physiology of the Equine Athlete, and Equine Biomechanics & Shoeing.
Equine studies students frequently research and study at The Auburn University Horse Center, a 60-acre facility with 11 pastures, three outdoor arenas and a main barn with a veterinary treatment area, laboratory space, and two tack rooms.
For those looking with a school with a competitive riding edge, Auburn’s equestrian team also won the 2013 NCEA National Championship this April, taking home the overall and hunt-seat national titles.
Auburn University, located in Auburn, AL, is a large public university with an enrollment of over 25,000. The school offers more than 140 degree options in its 13 schools and colleges, with over 427 buildings on the 1,841-acre campus. Students also have over 300 clubs and organizations to choose from.
As a school steeped in tradition, one of the school’s most fun events is the annual “Hey Day,” where students wear nametags and say “hey” to everyone they pass on campus. Auburn is also known for its famous Toomer’s Corner rallies during the football season where fans cheer their Tigers onto victory!
So whether you’re looking to explore your equestrian interests, join a team, or learn how to manage a horse show, these schools and their programs offer unique opportunities to learn everything there is to know about the horse industry. Other schools for equestrians include Colorado State University, Skidmore College, St. Andrew’s University, and Cornell University.
For help researching schools that offer programs for equestrian studies, or any of your other interests, contact us today for more information on our counseling, tutoring, or research services. We wish you the best of luck in your college search!