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In need of college advice

3961 Views 14 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Ali M
Hello All! I have been giving my future some serious thought; and I need some opinions. I am graduating high school in less than a year, and I am going to attend Meredith Manor in WV. It is substantially different from a traditional college as it is certification based. I have always known from a young age that my life's work would involve horses in some form or another. The current problem I face is what to do with my life?
Unfortunately, I am fully aware that the Equine Industry is a very difficult one to make a living off of, as one is usually lucky to break even. My dream is to own and manage my own boarding/lesson facility. However, I am concerned about finances. I know that I would not be happy doing anything else and leaving horses as a "hobby". Would it be more profitable if I became certified in Equine Massage?
Any ideas and experience you can provide is welcomed and very much appreciated!
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Truthfully, a degree in some sort of Equine Science or Equine Studies might limit your future options. Take it from someone who knows first hand. I chose a college solely because it had an Equine Science program. I wanted so badly to be an Equine Veterinarian. I couldn't imagine myself doing anything else with my life other than working with horses. However, once I started college as an Equine Science major, I realized what Equine Science really was. It was a bunch of watered down science classes (the ones that the non-science majors normally take) supplemented by a few basic equine management and training classes and large animal science classes. Horses are something you can't really learn about in a semester and in a classroom setting. It's something you really need to DO and EXPERIENCE before you truly understand them. And, as someone who has owned horses and taken lessons and worked in stables for many years I knew most (if not all) of the stuff that was being taught in the class room. Things like basic anatomy, nutrition, daily care, first aid, and training techniques are things that most long-time horse owners are well-read and well-practiced in already. Halfway through my freshman year, I switched my major to biology. I ended up taking all the courses I needed to best prepare me for vet school such as microbiology, virology, comparative anatomy, physiology, genetics, molecular biology, immunology, and histology (all of which were NOT a part of the equine science major). Then I took some of the equine classes as electives.

I know you plan to start a boarding or lesson facility, not become a vet, but it's really the same situation. I think you might find that a program geared towards an equine education might limit you. You may be better off attending a school with an equine program so those courses are available to take as electives, but being a business major. I bet you probably know quite a bit about horses and have a lot of experience with horses already, if you're so determined to spend the rest of your life working with them. What you really need to know is how to start and run a business. And that way, if you change your mind about what you want to do down the road, or if you need to work somewhere else to supplement your income, it would be easy for you to use that degree in other areas.

I eventually decided that I did not want to pursue a higher degree, at least not at this point in my life, because money is a limiting factor. I cannot afford grad school and I cannot afford to get a veterinary degree. But because I have a biology degree instead of just an equine degree, my career options were wide open. I was able to get a job working in a veterinary diagnostic laboratory, and I love what I do now! If I had not switched my major to biology, I would not have been qualified for the job I have now.

However, if you are not looking for a full on college degree, then a certification in equine massage or something else along those lines would be a great idea. You will still need some other income to supplement until you establish yourself in the business, but if it's what you want to do, it could be a good thing and you could eventually support yourself on it or use it for some extra income in addition to whatever else you decide to do. I still stand by what I said before and recommend that you try to take a few business courses and learn how to start and run your own business if that's what you plan to do.
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I think that is the best advice I have received in years of searching for answers. I am a knowledgeable horse person, and it is unfortunate that it takes supplementation to make it in the horse industry. Especially with the overhead capital that is involved in running a business. But, where there's a will, there's a way. Thank you for your insight!
I think kiltsrhott has some great information. I agree that a business degree with some equine classes on the side would be a far better fit for you, and as barns are expensive, it would give you a good foundation and degree to earn some money first.

Good luck! Sounds like you have a great head on your shoulders. :)
suggestions on schools

Great posts above, I have been where you are at in the decision process....I wanted to share about the school I found to go to.

Look into the University of Louisville in Louisville KY.

They have an Equine business degree and it is awesome! I highly recommend it.

University of Louisville College of Business - What is Equine?

here is a great article about the program:
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youd be better served getting a business degree, something with some potential to earn some income, Many many businesses fail because people know lots about the product or service. But KNOW NOTHING about how to run a business. Anything that doesnt have an actual DEGREE attached you need to be very suspicious. Lots of for profit certificate programs that hand you a certificate not worth the paper it is written on when you head to the work force. Not to mention all your classes and credits are generally wporthless if you decide to transfer to another field. Look at your state board, take acredited courses that will transfer to a REAL college if you change your mind..
Now you can also waste tons of money on worthless degrees at a college. People including school guidance counselors screw up quite often by focusing on what you are interested in instead of what you can earn a living you will enjoy,

Step ONE look at the jobs you would like, look at dept of labor and online resources, What is the demand for that job and what is the future growth ?
Then look at the education requirement for that job.
Then look at whether or not that education is obtainable, face the facts, if you hate chemistry and barely scraped by basic math your not gonna be a vet. Be honest with yourself and your abilities.
Last but not least look at fall back plans,, OK X is a 4 year program , but what will 2 year program qualify me for ?
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Check out Colorado State University as well. I'm in their Equine Science program and also going for a business minor. In my opinion, as long as you have a degree no matter if it's in buttermaking or rocket science, you will still be ahead of most people. I've known some people that have gotten beaten out of jobs by someone who has a degree that had nothing to do with the job even though they had a lot more experience than the person who got it.
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I think it's great that you've chosen to do something that's off the beaten track! If your dream is to own your own equine facility, you need to be well-versed with the nuances of running a business. I recommend you take a look at the MBA program offered by Stevens-Henager College, with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. It's just what budding professionals like you need! It'll prepare you for all aspects of managing your own business – setup, developing and maintaining personal relations, advertising, finance, operations, administration, etc. The course can be pursued on-campus, as well as online, which is an added benefit. Visit the college for more details or check out their website.
I completely understand where you are coming from. Last year I graduated high school and knew I wanted to work with horses, but I didn't know what college degree to get to help me do my best in the horse world. I knew I wanted to become a therapeutic horseback riding instructor and I would love to work in that industry, but again I didn't know how to tie it altogether.

I actually ended up taking a year off of school. I didn't have the money to spend just to attend college and wing it from there and I am soooo glad I took a year off. I had time and wasn't rushing I ended up finding Texas Tech who has a Animal Science Business degree and if I ended with that a my major I can become a certified therapeutic riding instructor.

The degree may not just be horse related, but I think that helps in the long run. I know the horse world is hard to survive in, but with this degree it won't limit me to just horses, but it gives me an option to know how to deal with cattle, swine, and other things. I have talked with many people who have this degree and some people have just used it as a pre-vet corse, and some have gone into the cattle and horse world with it.

My advice it just take your time and save your money. I hated taking a year off from college, but having a year to think and work everything out I have saved both money and time with doing it. Taking time off isn't for everyone, but just know what you want to do and how it will help you in life instead of just doing what you want to do and then figuring out how it will help in life.

Best of luck!
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My trainer went back and got her Accounting (then CPA) degree - even though she was training in Europe and riding with some of the best in the world. It is VERY useful in the horse business since it is a business, and MANY trainers probably wish their partner could do their taxes and make better business decisions based on budget.

So forget a horse school - you can learn more by doing - and get an accounting degree then seek a job where you can apply the accounting to a horse business while learning more about horses. You'd be surprised at the # of horse people who would hire you based on a CPA versus someone with more "horse time". Just make certain when you interveiw that you expect to be "mentored" in parts of the horse business just like you will help mentor the current business owner on what is smart, and what is not smart, for business purposes.

Then this will eventually carry over so that you can start up your own horse business, plus you'll have a reputation that you were a business partner with BNT "X". :D

Great fallback is as the economy continues to go south you will always have a fallback position (accounting) since horses are a "nice to have" not like accounting which is a "need to have" - at least for big businesses and for doing taxes.
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Have you ever thought of something that would fit into horses that works as a second job per say? I have a herd of black angus cows and i get quite a bit of money from them in good years. Plus i am also inheiriting a chicken farm from my parents that usually make quite a bit of money
(though i have to wait for those!)
I don't know about in Texas but in Canada school teachers are well paid, get a week or 10 days off at Xmas and the same at Easter or Spring Break, plus two months in the summer. That coincides nicely with good riding weather.
Haha, the US doesn't pay teachers well.
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i dunno if anybody else has said it yet but honestly you may be better off going for something very broad like business managemetn. it would benefit you towards having your boarding facility and if all else fails it would help you to find another job in the non horsey world if need be.
I went to Colorafo State and am now a breeding manager at a small warmblood facility. I have a business minor as well, since CSU focuses a lot on making you a professional, not just teach you about anatomy. As someone who is in e equine world now, my advice is to go for something BROAD. I think equine science was a great major for me (although I did all the extra breeding and science classes possible to get more out of it) and would absolutely recommend it to someone. By broad I just mean don't limit yourself to one breed or only training young horses or only doing eventing. Learn lots of different things in the horse world so that you are flexible and well rounded. You don't want to get so specific that it's impossible to find a job. Learn how to be good at training, business management, soil and crop management, finance, accounting, equine nutrition, and get experience at many different barns and you will set yourself up for a Lot more success.
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