04-01-2013, 04:51 PM
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It depends on what you want to do in the long run. The good portion of people in the horse industry feel that an equine science degree is a waste of time and money, and I know personally of many barns and riders who will absolutely NOT hire anyone with an equine science degree.
I did go to college and got an equine science diploma. I LOVED the 2 years I spent there, and learned an incredible amount. I don't regret it in the least. BUT. I have had it come back to bite me in the ass, when looking for jobs. Honestly, the majority of what you learn can be gained through a good working student placement or working at a reputable barn. And that's what the person hiring thinks about when they're looking at possible employees. Do they want some cocky kid that took an equine science course and thinks they "know it all", or do they want someone who has already been working with so and so or X reputable barn and has hands on experience and excellent references?
And of course not everyone who takes the equine science course is cocky or whatever, but all it takes is one bad egg to spoil it for the rest. I know several barns and riders who will never consider equine science students again because they were so turned off by that one experience. Going to college for 2 years unfortunately doesn't make you a coach, or a trainer, or whatever you may expect, and some people really do come out thinking they know everything and can do everything. Most people don't come out any more "ahead of the game" if they have an equine science degree under their belt.
If you have your heart set on doing equine science, then by all means do it. But don't be mislead thinking once you go do this, that all the doors will open and you'll all of a sudden be "somebody" that everyone wants to ride with or train their horses. You would probably be better off doing some sort of business degree with possibly a minor in equine studies. That way you have something to fall back on if the horse thing doesn't pan out. And honestly, if you want to train/ride, the best thing you can do is find an awesome job or working student placement with a reputable rider or barn, and work your ass off and learn as much as you can there. That will be better for you in the long run.
I think the proof is in the students, what are they doing after they graduate? And don't look at stats the college puts out, get out there and do some digging, track down and talk to former students. Out of the 40 or so people who took the equine course with me, I don't even think there is five people still working in the horse industry currently. The majority still ride for pleasure, or show their own personal horse, but doing it as an actual job? Not so much. The horse industry is a difficult, thankless industry with hard work, long hours, and little pay. For me, I had to get out and get a "real" job to afford my horse, the barn manager and training jobs I had just weren't cutting it on the financial side. I have to keep horses and riding fun for myself too, by not doing it full time. I know there are many others in the same boat as me as well.
I hope this didn't come off too discouraging, I've been through it myself, and while I don't regret my decision, hindsight is 20/20 and I could have definitely done something more productive (and FAARRRR less expensive) with those 2 years. Definitely lots of consider though.