If you’re a teen who’s a horse lover who wants to pursue a career in the equine industry, or if you’re the parent of one, you may be in search of colleges with strong equine programs and high-quality equestrian centers. The top colleges offer a variety of programs to prepare students for equine careers and have a broad selection of courses for any riding discipline. Here is a list of 11 top colleges (in no particular order) known for their ability to prepare young people for a career working with horses.
1. Emory & Henry College (Virginia) — Emory & Henry Equine Center
Student at Emory & Henry Equine Center - Image courtesy of Emory & Henry College
This college offers both a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies. A wide range of topics and disciplines are covered in the available courses. The 120-acre riding center has two indoor arenas and an outdoor arena, 10 one-acre paddocks, and 75 stalls. It also offers USA Equestrian-regulation jumps and a full cross-country course. The equestrian program is among the most accomplished in the country with 21 national championships since 2001.
2. Berry College (Georgia) — Gunby Equine Center
Berry College Rider - Image courtesy of Berry College
Berry College’s animal science program offers equine science and management with programs in equine management and various riding disciplines. The 185-acre Gunby Equine Center has five buildings, an outdoor arena, 64 stalls, two round pens for lunging and light training work, 180 acres of pasture, and many miles of mountain trails. It also features a state-of-the-art covered arena with seating for 400 spectators and attached classrooms.
3. University of Kentucky in Lexington (Kentucky) — UK Ag Equine Programs
The University of Kentucky Maine Chance Farm facilities - Image courtesy of University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment
The University of Kentucky boasts extensive equine offerings through its UK Ag Equine Programs in the heart of horse country, with internship opportunities that reflect the optimal location. Stand-alone equine programs are available at both the graduate and undergraduate level, including a Bachelor of Science degree in Equine Science and Management. The Maine Chance Equine Campus, a 100-acre facility located a few miles from campus, is just one of four different farms in the area connected with horse work. It's primarily used for undergraduate education and includes several state-of-the-art barns designed for aspects of equine science, more than 25 pastures and paddocks, and an equine health research center.
4. Auburn University (Alabama) — Auburn University Equestrian Center
Auburn University Equestrian Center - Image courtesy of Auburn University
The Auburn University Equestrian Center, home of the six-time NCEA national champion Auburn equestrian team, is a joint partnership with the Athletics Department and the Department of Animal Sciences in the College of Agriculture. The center showcases a state-of-the-art, 20-stall show barn that is climate controlled as well as an additional 16-stall barn. The property also features a 6 horse-covered walker, 15 wash racks, four tack rooms, 50 outdoor crosstie areas, two laboratories, 15 pastures, individual turnout areas, isolation areas, offices, and a team support building. There are three beautiful outdoor riding arenas and a large covered arena. The facility is also home to an IHSA team and is used regularly for Animal Science classes. This spacious, 80-acre facility is conveniently located on the edge of campus directly across from the College of Veterinarian Medicine making it easily accessible for students.
5. Cazenovia College (New York)— Equine Education Center
Cazenovia College Equine Education Center - Image courtesy of Cazenovia College
Cazenovia College is known to have one of the premier equestrian programs in the country. It offers a degree in equine business management designed for students interested in the management, commercial, and organizational aspects of the equine industry as well as those interested in breeding, stable management, and advanced horse care. The 240-acre Equine Education Center has a large indoor arena with multiple outdoor rings and turn-out paddocks, as well as classroom facilities. It’s home to more than 70 horses and a nationally-ranked intercollegiate equestrian team.
6. Centenary University (New Jersey) — Centenary University Equestrian Center
A Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies is available at Centenary University with concentrations in equine business management, riding instruction and training, equine science, and riding instruction and training. This is one of the best-known equestrian colleges in the U.S. The Equestrian Center is impressive with three large arenas, a show-ready indoor arena, attached classrooms, three barns including 60 stalls, and a natural-terrain hunt field. It also has a veterinary pharmacy and twelve turnout paddocks offering plenty of space.
7. Penn State University (Pennsylvania) — Penn State Equine Facilities
New Barn at Penn State - Image courtesy of Penn State University
The university’s College of Agricultural Sciences has an animal science program, offering a minor in equine studies. The Equine Facilities center features an indoor arena, two horse barns, a round pen, and multiple pastures and paddocks for the school’s herd of more than 60 registered quarter horses. The research program at the school runs a breeding program. This facility hosts the annual Penn State Equine Science Showcase and Registered Quarter Horse Sale, a premier quarter horse show in this area.
8. Colorado State University (Colorado) — B.W. Pickett Equine Center
B.W. Pickett Equine Center - Image courtesy of Colorado State University
CSU offers a Bachelor of Science in Equine Science and several animal sciences graduate programs in their extensive equine program. The B.W. Pickett Equine Center is located close to campus featuring two indoor arenas, conference rooms and classrooms, several barns, acres of pastures and trails, and an equine reproduction laboratory. Colorado State University also has opportunities for competition in polo, ranch horse versatility, rodeo, and English riding.
9. Murray State University (Kentucky) — Murray State University Equine Center
Murray State University Equine Center - Image courtesy of Murray State University
Murray State University offers an animal science/equine program with an emphasis in equine management, equine science, or food animals. The Equine Center has traditional classrooms as well as hands-on areas to support the study of exercise physiology, nutrition, reproduction, and equine management. It has extensive riding and educational facilities as well as a breeding program. Facilities available include several barns, a dressage arena, a lighted outdoor arena, several round pens, and a number of pasture spaces and turnouts. The university also has four intercollegiate horse show teams.
10. Alfred University (New York) — Bromeley-Daggett Equestrian Center
Alfred University’s equestrian studies program offers three minors: equine studies, equine-assisted psychotherapy, and equine business management. Students will love the 400-acre equestrian center located minutes from campus with state-of-the-art facilities featuring a mirrored indoor arena, two lighted outdoor arenas, 40 acres of turnout fields, and ample stalls for over 50 horses.
11. University of Findlay (Ohio) - James L. Child Jr. Equestrian Complex
Riding at University of Finday - Image courtesy of Hannah McColl
The University of Findlay offers renowned English and Western Equestrian Studies programs as well as an Equine Business Management degree. The 32 acre James L. Child Jr. Equestrian Complex offers three indoor arenas, an outdoor ring, and a grass hunt field. The barn houses more than 130 horses. Students spend at least five days a week at the barn, learning all aspects of riding, training, and barn management from the industry's top professionals. Findlay hosts 2 top nationally ranking Hunt Seat and Western IHSA teams as well as Dressage and Eventing clubs.
The Top Equestrian Colleges Offer Plenty of Opportunities
Equestrians are sure to find a school that’s a perfect match in this list of colleges that offer the top equine programs in the country. Any of these schools will fully prepare a student for a career in the equine industry, with technically advanced equestrian centers that enable students to practice their chosen discipline in an idyllic setting they are sure to love.
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* The University of Kentucky Tailgate Featured Image courtesy ofUniversity of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment