I was honestly going to try the equine world with just a working student position, but lately, I’ve been thinking that I could go to college and get an equine degree and still do a ws position. I need the business background anyways, so double majoring in teaching/training and business would be great for me. I’m thinking Findlay or Lake Erie. What is the best school to do equine? Any experience going to any of the equine schools in Ohio? What did you do? Likes? Dislikes? Recommendations in general?
All the advice I’ve read on COTH suggests that the equine studies degrees mostly are not terribly useful. They don’t carry much weight with the horse world. This has been discussed on COTH alot, maybe search the topic.
Otterbein University is good as well, and they have a brand new gorgeous equine facility.
I went to Findlay a while back. I am a hunter jumper professional and at the time the western program was far better than the hunter jumper program at the time. The western program The western program has turned out many top professionals. That said, I’ve heard the hunter jumper program has vastly improved.
I learnt very little in the hunter jumper program. It was mainly going through the motions… The western program, I still recall the many lightbulb moments I had during riding sessions that I’ve used in the hunter jumper world.
If I were to do it over again, I would get a degree in business and minor in equine studies. The working student positions are all future industry employers really care about. A different major is a good plan B, or to add on to your skill set in the horse industry itself. If you have any desire to become a professor of equine studies, they require a degree of some sort.
Findlay seems to be the top but beware that the ES degree from them won’t get or teach you any more then the WS position that you have now. It might get you an interview or make a few contacts for you but so will introducing yourself and making a good impression on other trainers on your own as a WS or paid groom at shows.
Remember barns with good reputations get at least 20 times the applicants then they ever hire and probably 30-40% of those hired don’t last 6 months. Most sucessfil applicants that are hired are found via word of mouth, not because of an ES degree. Because that degree doesn’t teach you to make up a Hunter at 3’+ or 1.4m Jumper or teach anything off the beginner level much less represent how hard and low paying the job really is.
Its a big program too, lots of competition for limited opportunities and lots of horses running through. IIWY would look at Otterbein for a more well rounded education experience plus more fun with the horses.
To be fair, my late trainer did interview and hire from Findley but only with multiple recommendations and more then half interviewed were not offered positions, half those that were washed out voluntarily within a year, a few were shown the door. And they didn’t make a penny more then a non degreed employee. A very few are still successful in the business but they went into Findley with a ton of showing experience and concentrated on the Business degree.
I spent one year at Findlay. I left the school because the instructors said, “by the time your a senior you will be able to get job offers working in Florida.” I already had that so I left to get an education at a much less expensive school. At the time the prevailing thought was as freshman you didn’t REALLY know how to ride. That was a bit frustrating too.
That being said, one friend who graduated is now the riding director of a private school, another majored in Business and Marketing so that’s what she does, and another runs a very successful barn that caters to kids. That person already had the farm and the experience. Others that I keep in touch with have careers that have nothing to do with horses.
Point being, you can find better schools with a solid equestrian program.
Speaking as a college professor: I would suggest finding the best business program that you can afford and get admitted to. Then figure out the horses on the side, whether you ride with a local trainer and do WS in the summer, or there is some equestrian activity on campus.
You do realize that after 4 years in college, you will be coming out to the same range of basically minimum wage horse jobs as you were eligible for before? That is because there are very few high paying horse jobs, and certainly none at the entry level.
Riding is a sport, and the people that can command high rates for training and coaching are people who have done very well in equestrian competition. Even the top level grooms, who don’t get to ride on the job, have generally had substantial show experience so they know how to prep the horses under their care. And the people who get to be WS or grooms at the top levels, early in life, are the ones who have been successful junior competitors.
OP, if I’m not mistaken, you are still an upper beginner/intermediate rider without your own horse, and no prospect of one while you’re a teen? Correct me if I’ve got you conflated with some other young poster.
Realistically, you are not in line to have a fast track career at the upper levels. And the lower levels really don’t pay that well. Even with an equine studies degree. You can however have a great life as an amateur if you find yourself a career that pays decently and gives you some flexible time. You can probably find some career path under the general heading of “business” that provides this. Then you can buy your own horse, pay for lessons, and ride every day.
It’s probably not what you want to hear, but I agree 100% with Scribbler. Equine science degrees are worth VERY little in the real world. You’re better off finding a WS position if you’re dead set on trying to go the pro route (you make more connections this way, too). However, without much experience in the competitive show world, I would really recommend choosing a non-riding career and getting a degree in something that will make you look valuable to an employer. If the school happens to have an equestrian team that you can ride on while pursuing your degree that’s an added bonus, but I wouldn’t make it a priority.
Listen to Scribbler and equiniphile, don’t waste your time or money on an equestrian degree. Especially if you are not already a proficient rider. Go to a good school and get a real degree, one that will allow you to make a good salary with benefits (Health insurance/pension/PTO/401K, all those things you will never have as a pro) and you can buy yourself a nice horse and riding and showing can be your hobby. So much nicer than being the slave labor at your local riding establishment.
Double major in business or accounting (accounting would be better) and MARKETING. All the skill in the world won’t matter if you can’t keep the stalls full, the lessons scheduled and the books balanced.
As far as school goes, college is not where you learn to be a trainer. If you don’t ride and train well enough to build a business on before you go to college you’re way behind the curve. Not saying you can’t catch up, but it’s uncommon and takes a boat load of money. If you are already that good then you need to be riding better horses than any college program I’ve ever seen provide.
If you’re rich and have a backup plan then by all means spend the money on an equestrian scene degree! I bet it’d be fun. But I bet if you came from that kind of money do you have a string of horses to do Young Riders on, and wouldn’t need to go to horse college.
Man, I really hate to be such a naysayer! But you can make or break it in the equine industry with a much smaller student loan debt.
OP, I’d love to hear what your career goals are. Think 30, 40, 50 years into the future and how you want to retire. I’m in Northeast Ohio, just down the road from LEC. Most of the grads from the equine science program work as stable hands in the area, making the same minimum wage as (and truly, I don’t mean for this next statement to be political/ offensive/ etc) the Mexican immigrants who work at our barn (who are the hardest working, kindest, most attentive barn staff I’ve seen). They don’t graduate and become big-name trainers or even go to work for them. The one LEC grad that I know who is a trainer, teaches little kids, holds horse camps each summer, and lives at home with her parents. She’s 32. Again, I didn’t attend either and got a finance degree from a business school, but from what I hear, the lower-level equine classes are a lot of basic things that life-long horse gals learned as 8 year olds at camp or by being barn rats through teen years. IMO, that’s not worth taking on student loan debt. If you want to be involved with horses in your career and don’t hate science, maybe try vet tech school? That field seems to be more reliable for steady work.
Something that no one has mentioned is that Findlay and Otterbein are both private schools and are very expensive. Bad enough to come out of school to get a low paying job, but a low paying job and a lot of student debt is much much worse!
Keep the rule of thumb in mind that you don’t want any more debt after 4 years of college than what the average starting salary is for your first job. No debt is even better. You can get a business degree anywhere - even 2 years at community college and then transfer in to a public 4 year.
And thumbs down on vet tech - most of them don’t seem to make much money either. Like $11 an hour or something unless you get a job at OSU.
I described the horse business as alot like the music business to someone looking at equine studies once - you can be a great musician or horseman without a degree. But you do have to have a lot of talent and luck to succeed. A piece of paper doesn’t help much.
Have to disagree about tech school being a bad idea. Techs are in high demand right now, and it’s hard to keep them long-term. Our techs make high teens to low 20s an hour, and that’s the norm for our area.
(Edited to add, my POV was coming from small animal teching. Take it for what it’s worth, I couldnt find a paid position in the area i was in at the time as an equine tech, so had to go to small animal e.r. I supplemented my income by having a tech job when times were tough teaching/training, i.e. winter with no indoor)
Tech’ing is not something I’d recommend long term though. It’s a difficult job, not particularly fun, long hours, emotionally and physically demanding. Most techs I knew who had been in the field 10-15 years were looking at a career change due to the toll it took on their body. You might get $15-20/hr if you’re an LVT in an area with a need. You’re more likely to get $12-15 starting out though. Working environment is another nightmare; although there are lots of reasons techs are hard to hold onto…compassion fatigue, physical fatigue, terrible hours, bad working environment, and more. Specialty and emergency earns more, but with other pros/cons. If you’re thinking equine tech…good luck! Most of our vets are using interns or externs as techs or going without a tech. Depends on the area though I suppose. Sorry this wasnt more positive, but good luck, OP! Finding your path is hard. At the end of the day, cant go wrong with a business degree!
I have a friend who went to Findlay within the last decade. She did one year there. As a freshman they pulled her aside along with about 10 peers into a private meeting. The meeting was essentially: you’re good enough to do this for real, would you like to? If so, I will place you in a working student situation with the right people and you should drop out. I have lots of riding friends from growing up who went to college to study equine sciences. Exactly one has made it in the industry to a high level and that was because he was relentless in his phone calls to people to get working student positions and also got a little lucky. I think most of the others changed majors. I know one girl who got a techncian type job with an equine business degree, she had a hard time finding it though.
Generally speaking, from people I know who did those programs: the people who finish the degree rarely end up using it. It is not a springboard to success in the industry. Raw talent and the right connections get you there. If you want to try the pro thing and have good working student options available to you now, do that. If it doesn’t work out, college will still be there to try something else.
I believe from former posts that OP is a lower intermediate lesson kid still working on some of the basics.
I’m glad they fixed their perceptions about freshman. I’ll never forget catch riding my friends horse in a lesson. We were riding a low jumper course. I finished my course and everyone was shocked that I actually could ride! I was never an EQ, little or otherwise, contender. At the time that was the standard at the school.
My friends I mentioned that have careers in horses and those that don’t all showed at indoors, WEF, etc. The one with her own barn grew up in Europe. With the OPs background in horses I suggest a less expensive college and a non-equine major. You don’t need a “horse degree” to be in the business.
[I]Originally posted by Equestrian.abby
I’m interested in double majoring in business and training/teaching and it would be great to have some decent colleges to think about. I’m not going to choose only one, because I know that application process may be tough, but still I need to prepare, I was a reporter and essay writer for hire as a horse-race storied journalist, but I don’t want to do these politically biased reviews and reports.[/I]
Hello, I would strongly recommend University of Findlay, because their English Equestrian Program offers practice at James L. Child Jr. Equestrian Complex (one of my colleagues works there).
Here’s the list of other decent colleges that offer equine programs in Ohio:
- Lake Erie College
- Otterbein University
- Wilmington College
I studied Equine Science course at Scottsdale Community College, now I’m an entrepreneur in stable management and a certified animal trainer.
The professors here have given you superb advice, and I agree w the posters who have said expensive, private schools w equine degrees may not be the best use of your money. I’ve had employees from both Otterbein and Findlay-to a person, they’ve said they wished they’d done things differently. The Ohio State University has a very good business school, a very good Ag school (perhaps a minor in equine science?) and riding teams. Maybe a different approach? I’m sure this isn’t easy to figure out- good luck.
The best thing you can have in your first 4 years out of HS is a reputation that BNT’s admire. School will never get you that. Depending on how good a rider you are now, your goal should be to find a job with a good trainer which will give you time in the saddle. Even if that time is staying home while the rest of the barn goes South — then your job will be to make the left-behind horses better. Even if you work your tail off to keep the barn spotless, to ride/teach 2nd tier horses. ANYTHING that impresses the BNT.
Your goal is to make yourself indispensable. It might take several years, but you need to be the “go to” employee.
NO amount of schooling can come close to the job you want. I remember when Kent Farrington did this. He was given the horses that no one thought go around clean. Well, he got there and was noticed And with in 3-4 years he was a trainer (of mediocre riders)
— but he kept proving himself, and look where he ended up).
PS: If parents insist on a college degree, go to the school which will make you stand out. However you do it, you have to be noticed by trainers to are at the level you want to be. And a ‘working student’ position will only get you to become a better working student.