Many important skills can be learned simply by being around horses and ranching. But there are also benefits to enrolling in a structured educational program designed to increase your knowledge of these topics. Jim Bret Campbell is the executive director at the National Ranching Heritage Center, with years of experience in equine and ranching organizations. He shared four reasons why seeking higher education in the horse industry is a good idea.
CAREER PREPARATION Campbell says many equestrian programs can well prepare students to work in the equine field.
“The big advantage to continuing your education is it allows you to improve your technical skills and knowledge in multiple areas within the horse industry,” he says.
NETWORKING The horse world is a small one, and working through a good educational program can help you form relationships that can enhance your career.
“Equine higher education programs allow you to build your network within the industry,” Campbell says. “I think that’s a huge advantage when you’re going out and looking for job opportunities.”
HEAD START Diving into an educational course or degree program allows you to experience different facets of the equine and ranching world without committing to a career right away. Conversely, if you’re locked into a job, it can be tough to choose another direction.
“There are so many facets to this industry,” Campbell says. “Do you want to work with younger horses? Train at the highest end of a particular discipline? The direction you can go isn’t the same for everyone. So education allows you to evaluate your options, see what is out there and find the path that fits you best.”
HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE Some programs offer practical experience in the field, whether you’re trimming hooves or pregnancy checking cattle, which can give you crucial experience future jobs may require.
“There’s nothing like being able to interact with horses on a daily basis, learning from a quality instructor and gaining that feel for yourself—whether you’re going into the technical side of working within the industry or dealing with horses on an everyday basis,” Campbell says. “There’s nothing that can replace hands-on experience and instruction.