New to SUU: Associate’s Degree in Equine Studies
January 29, 2008
Southern Utah University’s Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Science began offering the Associate of Applied Science in Equine Studies degree program this Spring semester. As the only such program in the state and the region, SUU’s equine studies degree caters to an increasing interest in the horse industry around the nation.
According to SUU’s Lee Wood, director of the equine degree program, “horses are the fourth most popular pet in the nation right now.” And while SUU’s new associate degree program has attracted many non-traditional students interested in horse ownership, it also targets those students hoping to find jobs in the equine industry.
Covering everything from horsemanship—the riding and training of horses—to horse husbandry, and with a focus on horse and animal science, SUU’s equine studies program is the only equine-dedicated degree within Utah or Nevada and is the only opportunity for students to become degree-certified to work with horses.
With the new semester’s enrollment counts settling down as the rush to drop and add classes tapers off, SUU is excited to announce the new program already has ten enrolled equine studies students, with at least five more in the pipeline. According to Wood, this degree program was two years in the making, and many anxious students were happy to see plans materialize in time to help shape their studies at SUU.
While the degree is currently only offered at the associate degree level, Wood fully anticipates this initial success will eventually be a driving force behind expanding the program to the bachelor degree level. Currently, SUU students who wish to complete the program but who are interested in a four-year degree can earn a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in agriculture with an equine studies emphasis.
Along with this new degree, SUU continues to work on improving its equine facilities. The past few years have seen major upgrades in the University’s arena, boarding facilities and the paddocks and holding facilities. According to Wood, future expansion will focus on offering additional opportunities that are not available within the current facilities.
For now, the University touts at least 20 horses with both a riding arena and round pen training. In addition, SUU’s boarding facilities are large enough to accommodate students who wish to use their own horse during their time at SUU. According to Wood, 25 percent of the current equine students bring their own horse, though Wood is quick to stress that both horses and tack supplies are readily available for all students, better facilitating students from all circumstances and of all interests.
While the equine studies is now an official program, specific horsemanship classes are still available to all SUU students interested in learning more about the equine industry. In fact, the program oftentimes works closely with SUU’s outdoor recreation center and degree program to broaden the base of recreational activities available to all SUU students.