As September quickly approaches, the academic year is soon to begin. For some it won’t be too long before they pack up a few boxes, get some new kitchen ware and head off to university dorms to start a new adventure! For others it’ll be much the same but with a few extra added items, such as a riding hat, a few jodhpurs and of course a horse! The equestrian career path now a days, isn’t just working on a yard. There are now plenty of different opportunities out there, one being an equine degree.
Whether you are planning to go to University or a little unsure as to whether it’s the path you want to pursue, my previous experience of an equine degree may enlighten your decision a little! Having studied Animal Management at College and now Equine at University, I have had my fair share of education. But I have not regretted it at all! It has been one of the best decisions I made. It’s provided me with many opportunities, experiences & helped with my future equine career.
There is a huge amount of colleges and universities all over the globe offering many equine courses. Or if you want to explore into the animal kingdom, zoology courses are a great option. When I started looking into universities and equestrian courses I learnt a few things. Researching into what courses you would want to study or which universities/colleges you want to go to is highly recommended. Making sure that the subject and university/college you’re interested in is right for you. Getting this right will make your learning experience much more enjoyable and keep you motivated.
Other things I considered when looking at universities included the environment, it had to be right for me. Learning with people who are a similar age and enjoy the science and hobby behind the subject – made the whole learning experience worthwhile! Because of this, many of the people I’ve met have become friends, I feel they’ll be friends for life. Having people who you can share education and hobbies inside and outside of college/university, changes the whole learning experience. We get to share ideas, knowledge and experiences between us! Plus, having besties you can help, and vise versa, with assignments and revision is a big bonus!
The biggest aid I found when deciding on going to university or not was speaking to others who’ve gone down the same path or gotten to where I wanted to be a slightly different way. Whether they were friends or professionals working within the industry, they were usually happy to share experiences, give advice and provide me with contacts to aid me further. Going to open days at universities can also give you a chance to speak to current students and lecturers that can also help guide you in the right direction.
The first day of university is something I’ll never forget. Much of it comprised of boxes & suitcases being fumbled around, lots of teary parents and the excited buzz from all the new students. There’s a lot to take in, new place, new faces, new routine! Despite all this, there was one thing that was glaringly familiar to me. That slight smell of horse. Being an equine degree, it was normal to see people striding across campus in riding boots and jodhpurs. Equally as normal for them to turn up to lectures looking like that too. This did make it easier when getting to know people on my course. Breaking the ice with a fellow student could be done by simply asking them about their horse.
The course provided me with many opportunities and I got to learn so much about horses and the equine industry. Having always had an interest in horses it meant learning about them for a university degree was massively enjoyable! I highly recommend to anyone considering a university degree, do a subject you enjoy. The course gave me the opportunity to meet people from the industry I wouldn’t get to meet normally. And learn about parts of the equine industry I never would have seen had it not been for this course. Many of the lecturers had equestrian backgrounds and were always happy to answer any question you may have had.
This extensive network of equestrians was something I wouldn’t have had access to, had I not chosen to go to university. This then led me to meet commercial business owners in the industry, and this is where I was able to make connections for me to complete my work placement (for my degree, we have to work 20 weeks in the industry, and without having knowledgeable lecturers, I would have struggled!). Having met and gained contact details for industry professionals from my lecturers, I can now have the confidence to venture into the industry and potentially find work within it.
There are huge benefits from choosing to do an equestrian degree. However, it does require hard work, a lot of research/ assignments and for many, less hands-on time with horses. I remember in my first year of university, we had a module that was partially graded on the report of a dissection we did during term time; let’s just say having a strong stomach was definitely an advantage!
There are also the financial burdens university fees can bring. Having a horse is fairly expensive as it is, and university fees on top of that isn’t something all aspiring horse riders can afford. However, there are schemes and bursaries available to help students with finances, it’s just a case of researching them. There are also other options to university such as apprenticeships, online university degrees, working pupils etc. It’s all about finding what works for you and what you want to achieve!
Katy is currently a student at the Royal Agricultural University, studying BSc Bloodstock and Performance Horse Management. Alongside this she’s an active young farmer’s member and is currently working for a Stud in Wiltshire. Despite not having her own horse currently, she often finds herself around horses, covered in horse hair and mud! She plans to work with horses following her degree, hopefully in the breeding industry, due to her love of foals!