In one of their first semesters on campus, every equestrian student at William Woods University, whether working toward a bachelor in equestrian science or equestrian studies, takes EQU 111 Introduction to the Horse Industry. The course is an introduction to equestrians and horse organizations and the role of the horse in today’s society.
While most equestrian students enter William Woods having spent the better part of their lives around horses, many have never given much thought to just how intricate, complex and connected to other industries the horse world is.
So what does this look like?
The Humane Society’s Demographics of the U.S. Equine Population reports Missouri among the “horsiest” states in the country (ranked seventh), with a population of 281,255, or 4.1 horses per square mile.
According to the American Horse Council, the horse industry directly contributes around $39 billion to the U.S. economy and supports 1.4 million full-time jobs. And when you consider all of the indirect spending associated with equestrian — thirst quenchers, weather-prepared apparel, nutrition bars eaten on the go, transportation and lodging for events and more — the industry’s economic impact reaches approximately $112 billion.
Students enrolled in EQU 111 also consider various issues the industry faces, including impacts during economic downturn, disease, and aging horse populations.
The 2015 American Horse Publications Industry Survey of over 10,662 horse owners found an optimistic outlook for these various issues, including that “70.6 percent of respondents own or manage the same number of horses they did last year, suggesting a continued increase in overall industry stability.”
Also according to the survey, “93 percent of respondents plan[ned] to enter the same or more competitions than last year, and 95.1 percent expect[ed] to compete in the same or more events in 2016.”
The course also looks into various career opportunities for equestrian professionals and the routes for success in each. To explore a few equestrian careers, visit previous career spotlight posts.