Undergraduate Equine Specialization
UF’s equine program is structured around biological and physiological sciences, the management of horses, and business management. The majority of our equine-related courses have a laboratory component that allows students to interact with the horses and “learn by doing.” The class size of our equine courses is relatively small, which allows greater interaction between students and instructors and enables us to provide more meaningful hands-on opportunities to supplement the lecture material.
Our department maintains a herd of approximately 120 horses, most of which are broodmares and their offspring. This resource gives our students the opportunity to interact with broodmares during breeding, gestation, and lactation, and allows students to have the opportunity to work with foals, weanlings, yearlings, and two-year-olds.
Florida has an estimated 500,000 horses, with much of that horse population surging during the winter months as trainers and competitors come to Florida for the warm weather. A large sector of Florida’s equine industry is in Ocala, which is 30 minutes south of the University of Florida. This allows frequent interaction between students and the industry on field trips and club outings. It also provides a tremendous variety of opportunities for internships, which are a requirement for our Equine Industry degree specialization.
- Undergraduate Equine Practicums
Students have the opportunity to enroll in several hands-on courses, we term “practicums”. These courses focus on topics such as grooming, foaling management, reproductive management, weanling handling, yearling sales prep, and farrier techniques. These practicum courses are all at the farm and students work directly with the horses. In addition to learning about the practicum topic, student participation in these practicums also contributes to the routine management of the animals on both horse farms. For example, in our Foaling Management practicum, students learn how to foal out mares and how to care for a neonatal foal. At the same time, the students enrolled in this foaling practicum provide a means for our department to attend to all foalings (ie, foal watch).
- Work and Housing Opportunities
We have approximately 10 student-worker positions open between our two equine farms (UF Horse Teaching Unit and UF Equine Sciences Center). These students live on the farm and must work 10 hours per week to “pay” for their living accommodations. For all hours worked beyond the first 10, the student receives payment. We sometimes hire additional students to work on the farm, but they do not live there. All of the students hired to work on the farm help in the daily feeding and care of the teaching and research horses. Inquiries about housing opportunities should go to Angela Chandler.
- Get Involved in Equine Research
The University of Florida has an active Undergraduate Honors program, where students must complete a research program if they want to qualify for magna or summa cum laude status. Many other students seek out faculty in our department and others (such as the vet school) for research exposure and can earn undergraduate research course credits. The Florida Agriculture Experiment Station also offers research internships where students are paired with a faculty member during the summer to assist with research. Students interested in undergraduate research opportunities should speak with their academic advisor to discuss options.