Equine studies

 

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The Independent Online

 

What courses? Endless. Stable management; equine performance; equine anatomy, physiology and nutritional biochemistry; equine husbandry; equine exercise physiology, fitness and training; equine health management; equine business management; equine veterinary nursing; equestrian sports coaching; equestrian performance and rehabilitation; equine nutrition; equestrian sports science; equine behaviour and welfare; equine science; equine therapeutics; horse care; horse management.

What do you come out with? Mostly BSc (Hons), but also BA (Hons), foundation degrees (FdA, FdSc), and HNDs.

Why do it? “Many people, for love of horses, want to work with them. Initially, thoughts will be of looking after horses and perhaps riding to victory. Later, investigation will show that the horse industry offers a splendid range of careers. Some of these opportunities may be in the equine allied industries where the pay may be better and the hours more sociable; they may also allow more opportunity to have your own horse and pony and have time to enjoy it.” - Jeremy Houghton-Brown, principal lecturer in equine studies at Warwickshire College and author of Horse and Stable Management- the Bible for all things horse.

What's it about? Equine studies combines the scientific study of horses along with practical aspects such as business models, breeding, training, and taking care of the animals. The course brings together the key elements of other horse-related higher education courses, such as equestrian management and development, and equine science. Students will learn an overview of the equine industry, along with horse anatomy, animal science, breeding and stud management. You will learn how to examine horse behaviour, develop your riding ability, along with gaining an understanding of the equine sports and coaching industry combined with the managerial skills to succeed in the equine business. The second year generally develops your knowledge of applied equine science and equine business management, while in the final year students will generally write dissertations, honing in on an aspect of equine studies of their interest. A student at Sparsholt College studying the BSc programme, for example, presented his dissertation focusing on the possible benefits of Pilates exercise to the horse rider. Equine studies provides a substantial practical element, with modules including equine exercise physiology, equine sports medicine, applied sports coaching, equine exercise physiology, sport and exercise psychology and management of performance horses. Crucially, by graduating in equine studies, you’re entering an industry which, with approximately two million riders in the UK, constantly needs well trained and devoted individuals to give expert care and tuition of horses.

Study options: In general you’re looking at three years for a BSc or BA, or two years for a foundation degree. Some universities and colleges offer a four year degree, which includes an optional placement year. Students can “top-up” to a degree after completing their foundation degrees in equine studies in some cases, too. Work placements are either included or actively encouraged.

A healthy mix of theoretical and practical work goes on, with a focus combining horsemanship and business management, and a physical element, where you will learn about exercise horse physiology and sport. Most courses have indoor or outdoor arenas and stables for the practical work, along with classrooms and laboratory areas for the theoretical.

What will I need to do it? Pretty darn flexible- though English and maths GCSE, along with a science A-level, are preferred. Warwickshire College asks for CCC at A-level, and Sparshot College asks for at least CC at A-level or equivalent. Many courses, such as BSc equine studies at the Royal Agricultural University, are top-up courses, requiring foundation degrees or HNDs.

What are my job prospects? The equine industry is currently exploding in popularity, with a turnover approaching £1bn a year. Graduates can find themselves entering into four main sectors: the sports sector, such as show-jumping, dressage, polo, hunting or other horse sports; the leisure sector, including riding schools, livery stables or private riding; the racing sector, offering jobs in trainers yards, administrative jobs or breeding horses; and the service sector, including equestrian marketing, equestrian healthcare, and equestrian events. Typical employers for graduates keen to enter the industry include breeding companies, training yards, promotion companies and rural leisure industries. With two million horse riders in the UK, the market is there, for sure.

Where's best to do it? WhatUni? ranked Aberystwyth University as number one in the UK for foundation degree equine studies. Neither the Complete University Guide, nor the Times Good University Guide included equine studies in their rankings.

Related degrees: Biological sciences, medicine, sport science, veterinary studies.

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