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emilykerrigan 02-05-2013 05:07 PM

Careers with an equine studies degree?
Hello all! I am new to Horse Forum and have a couple questions. I am a junior in high school and am thinking of perusing a career in the horse industry. Ever since i was a kid i have always dreamed of becoming a veterinarian for small animals. As I've grown older I have decided that maybe becoming a vet is not the best idea since vet schools are very competitive. I worry about not getting into the vet school. Then what do I do? I have good grades (As and Bs) but i do not believe they are good enough. Then i have started to look into schools with bachelor degrees equine studies being that i love horses and have been an active rider for years. I have worked at my old barn as an assisting instructor helping teach lessons. I am not sure which approach in the equine field i would like to take though. Trainer? Professional groomer? or even barn manager? I would love do any of those but the two that cought my eye the most were "Equine Nutritionist" and "Equine Chiropractor."

My question is what would I have to major in to become one of these two things? Would majoring in equine studies be useful? Or maybe something different? Also, what high school classes would be useful in taking if I were to go into either of these fields?

Thanks for reading and putting in your thoughts! :-)

GallopingGuitarist 02-05-2013 08:15 PM

I am a little older (20) but am asking the same questions. I am interested to see the replies.

cowgirlnay 03-12-2013 02:00 PM

I received a bachelor's in Animal Science through Washington State University in 2010...Like you, I grew up wanting to be a vet. After my first semester in college, taking pre-vet classes, I realized I was probably not going to have the grades to get in! (And decided I didn't really want to be married to my job...). So, I switched from Pre-vet to Animal Science - Industry Management option. This way, I took a few more business classes instead of science classes like physiology. My main ideas were to either get into Animal Pharmaceutical Sales, or somehow come to manage a large barn or equine facility. Well, after graduating, I had a reallly hard time finding any "animal" jobs that paid more than minimum wage. All of the pharmaceutical companies I looked into wanted me to have two years of sales experience, yet no one wanted to give me that experience. So, I am currently working at my family's trucking company, and showing my horse on the side to get my "horse fix". I still dream of quitting my job here, and moving to Texas on a whim to get a job at a cutting barn, but right now, this is paying the bills.
Words of advice - although my story is not very encouraging so far, I will tell you what I wish I would've done. - Get experience and plan ahead of time. If nutrition or chiropractic is what you are interested in, try and get on to job shadow or intern with someone in that field. Any experience you can gain ahead of time is extremely valuable. The people you meet (connections in the industry) are also extremely valuable. Secondly, to ensure I more secure job in the animal industry, I wish I would've done a two year vet tech program before going on to get my bachelors at WSU. This way, at least I would have a vet tech license to fall back on, and it is fairly easy to get hired as a vet tech around here. I still may go back to get mine, but have to wait until my life is a little more stable and I can afford to go back to school! Anyways, this is really long, but I hope it helps in some way!

Ray MacDonald 03-13-2013 03:37 PM

The hard part is... You can't just have one job...

You have to be able to have 3-4 jobs in the equine industry.

Right now, I am at Olds College, doing the Equine Science program and majoring in Business and Event Management.

I also will become a professional saddle fitter later in life but I will become a Barn Manager. I am trained well enough that I can charge people for clipping, braiding, breeding, give nutritional advise and most vet care for their horses.
And I still don't know if I can make a good living off of all of that.

nickers103 03-13-2013 04:01 PM

My story is very similar to that of cowgirlnay. I graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 2010 with a bachelor degree in Animal Science Business Management Option and with a minor in Equine Science. I also had been considering vet school but decided that life outside of work was more important to me. I chose the degree that I did because it gave me a broad spectrum of courses and experiences. I studied anything from dairy cattle, dog nutrition, agricultural business management, equine repro, equine nutrition, etc. I knew that regardless of what job I ended up with, I wanted it to be in the agricultural field and if at all possible, related to horses. I got lucky and was able to land a job serving as an equine specialist for a local feed company after completing an internship. I do a lot of trouble shooting, answering questions, and marketing and sales. Overall, it's a decent job. Equine Science degrees are a great resume booster but I wouldn't bank on them entirely. Experience and general knowledge in an array of different fields will probably get you a lot further.

4horses 03-15-2013 01:19 AM

Equine jobs do not pay anything unless you work for a vet. If you can afford a Masters ($20,000+) you may make decent money if you can work for a university. If you want to do feed/product sales or nutrition work you may be okay. I don't think it is worth the money spent on schooling to get a low wage job. Most equine jobs pay $10 an hour, unless you want lots of side jobs and still it isn't really enough to live off of. Equine jobs consist of Long hours, low wages, and a high risk of injury.

I finished my Bachelor's degree and will have to go back to school for something more practical.

Joe4d 03-15-2013 09:26 AM

you need to look at the job demand, what it pays, and what the work will be like. THEN look at the education requiremnts.
AN equine nutrition or pharmacy company, will hire a sales or marketing student, and give them a book on horses. Long before they would hire an Equine studies grad and try to teach sales.
Your better off with marketing or business education.

albertaeventer 04-11-2013 01:05 PM

I took an equine science degree, and after many years of working in the industry (riding, training, managing, these were supposed to be the GOOD jobs!) and barely making enough money to scrape by, I've finally gotten out of the industry and found myself a non-horsey job that is flexible and pays enough so that I can afford to have my horses and show, it's now on my own terms, and it's FUN. I don't regret taking the degree, I had a blast and learned a ton, but now I realize it's all stuff I could have learned by getting out there and finding an awesome internship or working student placement, and I would have saved myself tens of thousands of dollars:P

I just couldn't do it anymore in the horse industry, all the responsibility of managing a barn, the long hours, I couldn't afford a decent car, I definitely couldn't get financing to get a place of my own on that wage, I was sick of living in tiny barn apartments and shoddy houses, my days off were extremely few and far between, you kind of become a slave to the industry, and there comes a point where it's just not fun anymore.

Not much of what I learned in my equine science degree transferred over to other jobs, so I was kind of stuck there until I went back to school. I wish I would have planned ahead a bit better when I was younger, you HAVE to have a backup plan nowadays. It is absolutely crucial. What if you get sick/hurt and can't ride anymore? There goes your barn/training business.

If you have your heart set on doing the equine degree thing, narrow it down to a handful of schools/courses that you like the sounds of, then get out there, post on facebook/forums, research everything, get out there and actually talk to the people who have gone through these courses. Don't look at the statistics the schools put out, as they are usually extremely skewed. Ask the former students about everything, what they thought of it, what they did when they got done, what they're doing now, and if they'd recommend it to others. You might be extremely surprised by what you find! Out of 40 some odd people who took equine science with me, less than 5 are still working in the horse industry. A lot of them still have horses and ride for themselves, but most found they just couldn't afford to have a LIFE working in horses. And I'm not talking about any sort of extravagant lifestyle, just general making ends meet, affording the necessities, and saving and planning for the future (everyone wants to get a decent car and house, right?). THAT is what they were having trouble doing. And some of these people were riding at established barns, working as assistant for big name trainers, etc. It is a very difficult industry to make a living in, and it's hard to understand until you actually get out there and get your hands wet.

Ray MacDonald 04-17-2013 06:33 PM

Where did you go to school?

albertaeventer 04-18-2013 10:40 AM

Olds College, I took English Horsemanship. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED the program and learned a ton, since I had never had any formal riding lessons before going to college. But it's all stuff I could have learned by doing some working student placements or internships, and some self study, and I could have saved myself $20,000. And honestly something like that would have looked WAY better on my resume and would have been able to let me "get my foot in the door" a bit better, instead of a degree that limited me career-wise in the long run and that a decent portion of the horse industry in the area actively avoids. It really sucks that a few people have effectively "ruined it" for a lot of awesome students coming through the equine program.

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