The Equine program at UConn is one of the oldest and most recognized horse programs in the Northeast. It initially focused on draft horses and transitioned to light horses in 1931. The Animal Science Department currently maintains approximately 85 horses and specializes in the breeding of Morgans. We also have a very successful polo program.
Animal Science majors focusing Equine Studies in the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture (RHSA) benefit from extensive academic and extracurricular opportunities. The Equine Science program in the Ratcliffe Hicks School is offered by the Department of Animal Science
. The department undertakes comprehensive teaching, research and outreach activities.
Connecticut has approximately 60,000 horses, which exceeds any other New England state, and ranks second in the nation in horses per square mile. Three of the top ten states in horse density are located in New England, and five of the top ten are in the Northeast. This concentration of horses, especially in Connecticut, indicates a substantial interest in owning, breeding, and raising horses.
The Equine option in Animal Science is designed to prepare students for a successful career in the horse industry. Graduates should be able to:
- Integrate the knowledge and skills required to efficiently manage an equine operation
- Understand the importance of genetics, physiology, nutrition, training and other factors that contribute to horse health and performance
- Incorporate appropriate management techniques, such as feeding, exercise, mare and foal care, and disease control into equine operations
- Select and evaluate horses, and demonstrate training and riding skills
- Communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, and work well with others
- Relate principles of science and technology to the equine industry
Students selecting the Equine option in Animal Science develop a broad base of knowledge and skills to prepare for a successful career. Courses provide a balance of theoretical and practical instruction in anatomy, physiology, nutrition, breeding and reproduction, behavior, and management. Ratcliffe Hicks courses that specifically address the equine species include:
- Horse Production
- Light Horse Training and Management
- Methods of Equitation Instruction
- Management of the Horse Breeding Farm
- Management Skills and Practices
- Horse Selection and Evaluation
The Equine program provides students with a challenging and well-rounded education and combines the latest scientific knowledge with practical skills and hands-on experience.
Descriptions of all of the courses in the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture can be found in the Undergraduate Catalog. Highly qualified, experienced and dedicated faculty members provide an excellent educational environment. Students are encouraged to participate in student organizations offered within the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, as well as other student activities offered by the University (visit: getinvolved.uconn.edu). Students often become involved with clubs that complement their academic endeavors in animal science. These include the Block and Bridle Club and several Greek academic and service organizations. Additional activities include:
Students may participate in intercollegiate competition at the beginner, intermediate, or advanced level. The team competes in approximately ten events per year. Several team members have qualified for national competition.
Students may try out for the men’s or women’s polo teams. Games are held almost every weekend during the fall semester. Teams participate in the National Intercollegiate Polo Tournament.
Horse Practicum Program
This is a professional improvement, non-credit activity. In riding sessions, students improve their level of competence. The program also includes guest speakers, demonstrations, field trips, and clinics. Huntseat, Saddle Seat, Basic Dressage, and Western sections are offered.
Participants learn the rules of polo, and become familiar with the special care and management required for the polo horse as an athlete.
Horse Judging Team/Horse Judging Club
Students learn horse selection techniques and assist with related educational activities. Team members travel to various locations across the country to participate in intercollegiate horse judging contests.
Morgan Drill Team
Students learn the art of precision riding and training of horses to perform choreographed maneuvers.
Members participate in events such as the Little “I”, UConn Opening Ceremonies, Horse Science Symposium, New England Morgan Shows and various campus parades and ceremonies.
Dressage is a French term that means "to train". When executed to the highest level, both horse and rider work together in effortless harmony. Members compete against dressage riders from other colleges and participate in community service and clinics.
Students who complete the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture Animal Science program earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Animal Science. In order to earn the AAS degree, students must fulfill all requirements as outlined on the current RHSA Plan of Study and also in the RHSA section of the Undergraduate Catalog.
In order to complete 64 credits in four semesters, students need to average 16 credits per semester. Students meet with advisors regularly to discuss appropriate registration, academic concerns, and their individual interests and goals. It is the student's responsibility to ensure they complete graduation requirements. View a suggested four-semester sequence for students in the Equine Science program.
The Department of Animal Science has extensive, modern facilities to support the equine program:
- Horse Unit I – main horse barn with 55 stalls and a classroom
- Horse Unit II – stalls, laboratory area for special studies, and a classroom
- Lighted Outdoor Arena – 100’ x 220’ arena for class instruction, intercollegiate competition, riding, training, and other events
- Ratcliffe Hicks Arena – 60’ x 120’ heated indoor arena
- Horsebarn Hill Arena- 220' x 120' indoor arena used for instruction, training and competition
- Outdoor Training Areas – 40’ x 100’ arena and a training ring
- Five turnout sheds and paddocks
Students have a wide array of options after graduation. Graduates may pursue immediate employment in positions such as those listed below, or continue their education to further expand career opportunities.
- Horse Trainer
- Horse Farm Manager
- Feed Sales and Marketing Representative
- Laboratory Animal Technician
- Veterinary Assistant
- Equitation Instructor\Breed Association Representative