17 Best Equestrian Colleges and Universities

17 Best Equestrian Colleges and Universities

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 17 top colleges and universities (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
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

Rider at Berry College 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

University of Kentucky Maine Chance Farm facilities
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. Sweet Briar College (Virginia)

Female college student smiling next to her brown horse
Maggie Booth ’26 with Sweet Briar’s horse Harrison in the Howell Lykes Colton stables at the Harriet Howell Rogers Riding Center at Sweet Briar College – Image courtesy of Sweet Briar College

The heart of the Sweet Briar College equestrian program lies in its inclusivity. This commitment ensures that every rider, regardless of skill level, finds a place and purpose within their ranks, from novice enthusiasts to seasoned competitors. The program accommodates NCEA, IHSA, and both local and rated horse shows. Sweet Briar’s hallmark is the hunter/jumper discipline, refined through the modern forward-riding system. The equestrian program offers a structured yet flexible curriculum across more than 20 courses, emphasizing small class sizes for personalized instruction.

The college boasts a newly renovated equestrian facility on its expansive 2,840-acre campus. It features 80 spacious stalls, an array of college-owned horses, and extensive indoor and outdoor arenas (including one of the largest indoor college arenas in the nation). The facilities and 18 miles of scenic trails provide an unparalleled riding and learning environment.

5.  Otterbein University (Ohio)– Austin E. Knowlton Center for Equine Science

Three students riding horses side-by-side
Three students outside of the Austin E. Knowlton Center for Equine Science – Image Courtesy of Otterbein University

Otterbein University’s Department of Equine Science excels in offering immersive, hands-on learning experiences in the equine field, guided by a philosophy of individualized attention. With programs that cover Equine Pre-veterinary and Pre-graduate Studies, Equine Veterinary Technology, and Equine Business Management, alongside minors that delve into Equine Assisted Activities & Therapies and Equine Business Management, the curriculum is designed to propel students into successful careers in a broad spectrum of equine-related fields. 

Otterbein is home to reigning three-time national champion dressage and consistently nationally-ranked hunt seat teams. Facilities include a competition-ready indoor riding arena, stabling for 52 horses, and expansive outdoor spaces, ensuring an optimal learning environment. Otterbein’s commitment to excellence in equine education is evident in its national recognition and the success of its graduates across the equine industry.

6. Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts)

Aerial view of Mount Holyoke equestrian facilities
Mount Holyoke equine facilities – Image courtesy of Mount Holyoke College

The Mount Holyoke College equestrian program stands out for its inclusivity and excellence, welcoming students at all skill levels, from absolute beginners to advanced competitors. The college covers basic dressage and jumping skills, specialized dressage, and Western-style classes. This breadth of instruction supports the college’s title-winning teams in hunter seat, dressage, and Western disciplines, showcasing its competitive edge and high-quality coaching, underscored by numerous national and regional accolades.

Mount Holyoke’s equestrian facilities are expansive and well-equipped, featuring multiple arenas, spacious stalls, and varied training environments across 120 acres. The program also emphasizes community engagement by extending its resources to local riders. For students looking to blend their academic pursuits with a passion for equestrian sports, Mount Holyoke offers an unparalleled environment that fosters both educational and equestrian development.

7. Skidmore College (New York)

8 female equestrian competitors holding a "Skidmore College" banner with winning ribbons
The Skidmore Thoroughbreds equestrian team – Image courtesy of Skidmore College

Skidmore College, home of the Skidmore Thoroughbreds equestrian team, has established itself as a premier institution for equestrian studies, boasting an impressive nine IHSA National Championships between 1990 and 2023. At the heart of its program is the Van Lennep Riding Center, a state-of-the-art facility that caters to students of all experience levels. The center features a heated indoor riding arena, a stable with 60 stalls, and a variety of other amenities designed to provide the best possible environment for both horses and riders. 

Skidmore’s comprehensive curriculum includes courses on Hunter Seat Equitation, Hunters, and Jumpers, with opportunities to earn academic credit. The program emphasizes developing a deep understanding and appreciation for Hunter Seat Equitation, supported by regular lessons on top-quality horses under the guidance of highly qualified instructors. This inclusive and high-caliber program makes Skidmore College a top choice for students passionate about equestrian studies and seeking to excel in competitive hunt-seat riding.

8. Auburn University (Alabama) — Auburn University Equestrian Center

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. 

9. 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.

10. Penn State University (Pennsylvania) — Penn State Equine Facilities

Penn State Equine Facility
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.

11. Colorado State University (Colorado) — B.W. Pickett Equine Center

Colorado State University 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.

12. Murray State University (Kentucky) — Murray State University Equine Center

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.

13. 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.

14. University of Findlay (Ohio) – James L. Child Jr. Equestrian Complex

University of Findlay 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.

15. St. Andrews University (North Carolina)

St. Andrews University’s equestrian program propels students into successful equine careers. It offers a diverse array of majors and a minor that cater to various facets of the equine industry. Whether students aim to become professional riders, trainers, or barn managers or pursue veterinary school and therapeutic horsemanship, St. Andrews equips them with the necessary skills and knowledge.

The program blends classroom studies with hands-on experiences. Students have ample opportunities to engage directly in the equine world, including paid positions at the barn, volunteering with the Ride-Like-A-Knight Therapeutic Horsemanship Program, and competing in events across hunter seat, dressage, western horsemanship, and reining disciplines.

St. Andrews boasts an impressive competitive record, including multiple national championships and qualifications across various equestrian disciplines. Additionally, the university makes education accessible through numerous equestrian scholarships, ensuring passionate students can pursue their equine studies. This holistic and supportive environment makes St. Andrews a premier destination for aspiring equestrian professionals.

16. William Woods University (Missouri) 

William Woods University stands at the forefront of equestrian education, pioneering the nation’s first four-year Equestrian Science degree in 1924. At William Woods, students master dressage, hunter/jumper, and Western disciplines. The university enriches learning by inviting students to participate in prestigious horse shows across the country. This hones their competitive edge and opens doors to potential career opportunities.

The campus boasts state-of-the-art equestrian facilities, including an extensive collection of show-quality horses, heated barns, indoor and outdoor arenas, and a comprehensive cross-country course. Offering degrees in Equestrian Science, Equine Administration, and Equine General Studies, William Woods prepares students for a variety of equine careers, emphasizing both hands-on practice and academic excellence. 

17. Hollins University (Virginia) 

Hollins University distinguishes itself in the equestrian world with its exceptional track record, including two IHSA National Championship teams, 18 ODAC Riders of the Year, and numerous coaching accolades. The university’s commitment to equestrian sports is evident in the breadth of opportunities available to its riders, from competing in the ODAC and IHSA to participating in local and national shows, either on university-owned horses or their own. 

Offering classes for all skill levels, Hollins caters to a wide range of equestrian interests and aspirations. The Riding Center, known for its comprehensive hunter-seat instruction and private schooling options, houses 30 university-owned horses suitable for all levels, with facilities available for students to board their own horses. Hollins blends competitive achievement and educational breadth, making the University a great home for aspiring equestrians.

Find your equestrian college match

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 you are sure to love.

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11 comments

Not sure how Sweet Briar College didn’t make this list… consistently a top program

Anon

Like a previous comment said, Sweet Briar College in Virginia is another amazing option and has one of the best programs in the nation.

Paige

Sweet Briar College in Virginia has one of the country’s most well-respected Equine Studies programs and equestrian teams.

Anon

Many thanks for this excellent, informative article. May I suggest that you add Asbury University in Wilmore, KY, to your list? They offer a BS in Equine Sciences, as well as a BA in Equine Studies. Extensive facilities and currently adding more. Located in the middle of gorgeous horse country, the school is surrounded by 300 horse farms and offers connections to the KY Horse Park & many other farms/stables for their graduates.

Karen Mosteller

Yes! I agree with the above comment…So hard to find recent articles on this subject. Thank you so much! Would love an article on the best schools to bring your horse as well…. or if there are any good schools on the west coast? Thank you again! Appreciate you! :)

Anon

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