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Equestrian Studies Undergraduate Programs


Equestrian faculty welcoming incoming students on the first day of class.

90 years of equestrian leadership

The first university in the United States to offer a four-year degree in equestrian science, William Woods has been the name to know in equestrian studies since 1924. The William Woods University programs combine a strong theoretical foundation with the riding, teaching, training, and business skills you will need for a successful equine career as a trainer, teacher, or manager in the booming $112 billion equine industry.

Our large, modern equestrian complex will provide you with an excellent educational experience in both classroom and field. Our traditional approach to horsemanship involves the four disciplines of Dressage, Hunter/Jumper, Saddle Seat, and Western.

Extracurricular learning:


Get involved with other students who share your interests through the five equestrian organizations on campus, open to all students, regardless of major. There is a club for each seat: Dressage, Hunter/Jumper, Saddle Seat, and Western. Each of these clubs has its own personality and activities, and they all promote camaraderie and learning through horse shows, service events, and professional competitions. There is also an intercollegiate Competitive Judging Team, open to anyone who wants to learn more about horses and competitive judging. This team travels to regional judging competitions each fall and helps at regional clinics and judging contests each spring.


William Woods participates in a number of national and international horse shows each year, in which all students are invited to participate. Showing at these events teaches poise, sportsmanship and responsibility and provides opportunities to come in contact with prospective employers. Shows range from local schooling shows to “A” rated national shows such as:

  • The American Royal in Kansas City
  • The St. Louis National Charity Horse Show
  • The Morgan Grand Nationals
  • Color Breed Congress
  • Pinto World Championships
  • Sport Horse Nationals
  • The Central State Regional Dressage Finals
  • We also host a variety of shows on campus throughout the year

Clinics and seminars

In addition to instruction from our own nationally renowned faculty members, you will learn from top industry professionals in various clinics and seminars. Clinicians include Smith Lilly, Richard Shrake, Ann Judge, Jeff Cook, Melanie Smith-Taylor, Betsy Steiner, and Pierre St. Jacque.

Regional, national, and international field trips

Field trips include visits to area professional horse training facilities, the Veterinary School at the University of Missouri, horse shows, and museums. Special courses have given students the opportunity to tour show horse barns in Kentucky and Missouri, ride with professional horse trainers in Oregon and Hawaii, and tour and ride in famous horse facilities in England and France. Faculty have taken students to volunteer at horse shows including the U.S. Dressage Finals at the Kentucky Horse Park.


On-campus equestrian facilities: an optimal learning environment

  • 150 show-quality horses
  • Four heated barns with a total of 150 box stalls
  • Eight tack rooms
  • Two heated indoor arenas
  • Lighted outdoor ring
  • Outdoor round pen
  • Four turnout paddocks
  • Two fully equipped, technology-enhanced classrooms
  • 40-acre cross-country course
  • Six wash stalls
  • USEF regulation jumps
  • USEF regulation Dressage area
  • Student lockers and laundry

Few educational institutions can match William Woods University for its on-campus equine facilities that accommodate riding, care and study at all levels and seats. Our classrooms include an extensive video library and viewing equipment, and our dedicated library includes more than 1,000 books on all aspects of the field, from history and physiology to behavior, training, law, and competition. Our more than 150 horses represent the most popular breeds and are cared for by William Woods students and our full-time, on-site veterinarian.

The Center for Equine Medicine

Our large, modern equestrian complex that will provide you with an excellent educational experience in both classroom and the field.

The center includes:

  • A full-time doctor of veterinary medicine who has an extensive background in sports medicine, reproduction as well as general equine medicine and surgery
  • A 17-acre property located within blocks of the university — ideally suited for continued equine research and care
  • A facility that includes classroom space, an indoor riding area, four horse stalls, an isolation area for ill and contagious horses and a home for the veterinarian and his family, which allows him to be on-site in case of emergency
  • The unique opportunity to participate in a hands-on classroom environment that will enhance your education, including the opportunity to assist with emergency care and treatment, perform research and gain hands-on clinical experience

Equestrian Jobs: Rewarding Careers for Horse Lovers

Written By: Erin Cardea, WWU Associate Professor and Dean of the School of Equestrian Studies
Edited By: Michael Westphal, Content Marketing Specialist

Having a degree in equestrian studies gives a leg up to anyone who wants to be involved directly in the equine industry and allows for others to include their passion for horses in their chosen career fields. There's no need to “hold your horses,” so to speak. If you're champing at the bit to work with horses for a living, earning a degree in equestrian studies can help you realize your goal.

Thinking outside the box from the ‘norm’, a degree in equestrian studies could help you with a job as an equine-based tour guide, working with horses in the movies and film, curating horse-related museums or performing in horse-based shows. Horses can fit into most any profession.

There are the more classic routes in the field such as becoming a professional groom, rider, trainer, coach, or instructor, but the reality is that you can find a way to weave horses into most any career. You can become an equine photographer, an equine event manager, a website designer for equine businesses and organizations, a salesperson for horse tack, equipment, or apparel, an equine researcher, an equine insurance agent, or a farm or ranch manager.

With additional certifications or higher degrees, someone with a background in equestrian studies can go on to become an equine lawyer, work in equine-assisted therapy and services, become a mounted patrol officer in law enforcement, work as an accountant, bookkeeper, or tax professional for equine businesses, or teach equine studies as a college professor.

Finding a job after college can be as easy as making a phone call or getting an introduction from someone in the industry. Summer jobs and internships during college often lead to job offers upon graduation. At William Woods, there is an ‘EQS Jobs Book’ in which students can peruse current job opportunities. Numerous employers and alumni send emails and call the EQS faculty looking for students to come work after graduation. There are always more jobs available in the industry than people to fill them.

Our Equestrian degrees at work

Pursue an exciting career as a/an:

  • Barn manager/owner
  • Tack store manager/owner
  • Professional horse trainer
  • Breed Association employee
  • College or University professor
  • Professional riding instructor
  • Professional clinician
  • Small business owner
  • Breed association employee
  • Professional horse show judge
  • Equine supply sales representative
  • Feed company sales representative
  • Social media manager
  • Professional horse trainer
  • Recreational riding program instructor, trainer or manager
  • Boarding facility owner or employee
  • Equine journalist
  • Equine assisted therapy instructor
  • Equine assisted therapy facility owner/manager
  • Equine artist
  • Equine rescue manager/owner
  • Equine Non-Profit employee/manager
  • Graphic designer (equine publication)


Our alumni are found all over the country working with:

  • Appaloosa Horse Club
  • United States Equestrian Federation
  • Kirkwood Community College
  • Virginia Intermont
  • Sweetbriar College
  • United Sates Equestrian Federation
  • United States Dressage Federation
  • Chronicle of the Horse
  • Betsy Steiner Dressage
  • Lyndon Rife Dressage
  • Liz Austin Dressage
  • SmartPak
  • Golden Horseshoe Tack Store
  • University of WI - River Falls
  • American Quarter Horse Association
  • Pony of the Americas
  • American Saddlebred Association
  • La Cense Montana Professional School of Horsemanship
  • Howard Schatzberg Photography
  • Castle Forbes Stud, County Longford, Ireland
  • County Line Equine Practice
  • The American Saddlebred Museum
  • St. Louis Carriage Company
  • Kansas City Carriages, Kansas City, MO
  • American Royal Museum & Visitors Center
  • Miller & Associates, Equine Veterinarians, Brewster, NY
  • The Blood Horse
  • Stephens College, Equestrian Studies
  • Kirkwood Community College, Equine Science
  • Virginia Intermont College
  • Tina M. Konyot Dressage
  • Sidelines Magazine (Art Director/Assistant Production Manager - Alex Moritz-Long)
  • Bruce Davidson 1976 Olympic Gold Medal Winner Eventing
  • Jan Ebeling, The Acres Dressage
  • Peeper Ranch, Lenexa, KS
  • Saddle & Bridle Magazine
  • The National Horseman Magazine
  • Menlo Circus Club Stables, Menlo, CA
  • Arabian Horse Times
  • Robert Battaglia Arabian Horses
  • Murray State University, Equine Science, Murray, KY
  • Equine Medical Services

Alumni Perspectives

William Woods put my equine career on the fast track to success.

— Erin Ackley, Bachelor of Science in Equestrian Science Kentwood, Michigan

The sky’s the limit. This place will put you in touch with people you should know.

— Jennifer Petterson, Division Chair, Equestrian Studies

There’s no finish line. You just keep learning and getting better for the rest of your life.

— Gayle Lampe, Professor Emeritus, Equestrian Studies

Majors and Minors

bachelors in equestrian science.

A comprehensive approach to training, handling, managing and caring for horses, including anatomy, nutrition, exercise and conditioning, vet and farrier care, stabling, communication and more.