Equine science major in high demand

Autumn Majszak prepping her horse, Lobo, for class. Photo by Samantha Katz.

The words “integrity,” “strength” and “selflessness” appear on the barn-wood wall that decorates a commons area in the newly built Department of Animal and Range Science building. These words give life to the mission of MSU’s animal science program, which allows students to study equine science, livestock, or a more general science option.

The equine option in particular has grown since its creation in 2002, going from six students to 81 this semester. This growth has produced several improvements to the program and its facilities.

This summer, the department received funding from the provost to add 12 credits of class work to the equine science program. A course in equine ethology was added this fall, while next year classes in equine anatomy, physiology and diseases will be offered.

“The provost recognized the growing demand and need for curriculum improvements,” said Dr. Shannon Moreaux, MSU equine science professor.

Previously, MSU did not offer intermediate classes for students in the equine option, which would fit between freshmen CORE classes and advanced equine-focused classes for juniors and seniors.

“Students need the intermediate classes to prepare for the upper level,” Moreaux said. With the new classes, Moreaux feels the department will be able to meet this need by changing some of the existing classes. Some could become more generalized equine classes, while the new courses will serve as in-depth studies of equine science.

In addition to the new course this fall, MSU offers classes on horseback riding, horse training, riding instruction, lameness, management, reproduction, confirmation and nutrition. There are also opportunities for research and independent study.

In order to get a job in the equine industry, one must have experience, explained Andi Shockley, MSU horseback riding instructor.

“That is a strong point in our program,” Shockley said, referring to the broad-based classes and hands-on experiences that students receive through equine courses at MSU.

Located west of campus, the Bozeman Area Research and Teaching Farm (BART Farm) is home to about 75 horses and the Miller Stock Pavilion, Horseshoeing School, Feed Mill, Nutrition Center and Beef Center. These facilities are where many classes and research opportunities are located.

In addition to updating classes, the equine science program is working on improving the facilities at the BART Farm, where several pens have been resurfaced and new footing has been installed at the indoor arena. The program was able to make improvements over the summer thanks to the Equestrian Boosters of MSU, a booster club that funds many of the projects at the pavilion.

There are also plans to renovate the corrals, install more shelters and repair the sprinkler system, which cuts down on dust in the indoor arena. However, the completion of these projects depends on funding, explained Shockley, who also manages the pavilion and equitation horses owned and leased by MSU.

This semester, there are six riding classes held in the indoor arena, while equestrian clubs and the rodeo team use the facilities for practice. The heavy use of both the outdoor and indoor arenas has led to some discussion of building a second indoor arena, complete with a classroom, but no action has taken place regarding this idea.

Equine-related clubs include the Equestrian Team, Polo Club, Stock Horse Team and Driving Team. These extracurricular activities offer students the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and compete in various aspects of the equine industry.