Best Equestrian Colleges in the United States

Schools for Students Who Want Horses to Be Part of Their College Experience

Students discuss with professor.
M_a_y_a / Getty Images

If horses play a big role in your college search or you're interested in pursuing a career in the equine industry, check out these top equestrian colleges. These institutions are recognized for their outstanding equine education programs, offering degrees in equine science, equine management and other specializations designed to prepare students for a career working with horses. Most of these colleges feature state-of-the-art equine facilities, and many also have competitive intercollegiate equestrian teams in various disciplines including hunter seat, Western, saddle seat, and dressage.

The colleges and universities featured are part of one of two associations:

  • The Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) format of riding encourages participation of riders at all levels of expertise, from beginners to open-level riders. Classes are organized such that riders draw at random from a pool of school horses appropriate for each division, and ride against each other in classes of up to twelve riders. The upper levels of each discipline include jumping classes for hunt seat and a reining class for western, and riders have the opportunity to point up through the divisions. Points are accumulated on both an individual and a team basis throughout regular and post-season shows.
  • The National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) provides opportunities for women to show at the highest level of competition during college. NCEA meets include equitation on the flat, equitation over fences, reining, and western horsemanship. Teams compete head-to-head, with five riders from each team facing off on the same horse one after another, each given four minutes to ride their assigned horse before showing. The rider from each discipline with the highest score receives one point for their team.

Note that because the colleges and universities below were selected for a wide range of reasons, any formal ranking doesn't make sense. The schools are simply listed alphabetically.

Alfred University: Alfred, New York

Alfred University Steinheim building

Benjamin Esham / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Alfred University's equestrian studies program offers three minors, Equine Business Management, Equine Studies, and Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy, that can be combined with any number of majors at the university. Equine theory classes in subjects such as equine science and course design as well as English and Western riding and draft horse driving are all taught out of the university's Bromeley-Daggett Equestrian Center, a 400-acre facility just a few minutes from campus. AU also fully supports its varsity hunt seat and Western equestrian teams, which compete in Zone 2, Region 1 of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA).

Auburn University: Auburn, Alabama

Auburn University
Robert S. Donovan / Flickr

The Auburn University School of Agriculture has a range of equine-related majors and minors, including Equine Science and Pre-Veterinary. Their Equestrian Center hosts a breeding program, classes, and their NCEA team. The 80-acre facility's four arenas and several round pens enable several practices and classes to be held simultaneously.

Baylor University: Waco, Texas

Campus view of Baylor University in Early Spring
aimintang / Getty Images

Baylor University has a Pre-Veterinary major for students interested in equine health. Baylor also hosts a competitive NCEA team, which rides at the Willis Family Equestrian Center located near campus.

Berry College: Rome, Georgia

Berry College
Stephen Rahn / Flickr / Public Domain

The animal science program at Berry College allows students to pursue their studies with an equine emphasis that includes various courses in equine science and management as well as opportunities for experiential learning at the college's 185-acre Gunby Equine Center. The Berry College hunt seat and western equestrian teams compete successfully in IHSA Zone 5, Region 2, regularly advancing to the national finals.

Centenary University: Hackettstown, New Jersey

Centenary College
Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Possibly one of the most well-known equestrian colleges in the nation, Centenary University offers a Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies with concentrations in riding instruction and training, equine business management, communication for the equine industry and equine science. Centenary also supports several equestrian teams, including an Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) dressage team, a hunter/jumper team and hunt seat and Western IHSA teams competing in Zone 3, Region 3. The Centenary University Equestrian Center is a sizable facility featuring three barns, three riding arenas, and a hunt field.

Colorado State University: Fort Collins, Colorado

Colorado State University
Spilly816 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Colorado State University has an extensive equine program, including a Bachelor of Science in Equine Science and several related graduate programs in animal sciences. CSU also offers opportunities for competition in several disciplines, with club teams in English riding, polo, ranch horse versatility, and rodeo. The program is based out of the university’s B.W. Pickett Equine Center. Located just west of the main campus, the center features an equine reproduction laboratory, two indoor arenas, classrooms and conference rooms, several barns and acres of pasture and trails.

Emory & Henry College: Emory, Virginia

Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College

Emory & Henry College/Flickr

Acquired from Virginia Intermont College after the college's closing in 2014, Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College offers students the opportunity to pursue either a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in equine studies as well as a minor in equine-assisted learning. The course selection encompasses a broad range of topics and disciplines. Emory & Henry also supports several top-rated equestrian teams including an IHSA hunt seat team and an IDA dressage team that have together earned over 20 national championships since 2001. The equine studies program and team are both housed in the college's 120-acre riding center.

Lake Erie College: Painesville, Ohio

Lake Erie College

Dkocan / Wikimedia Commons

Lake Erie College's School of Equine Studies offers a liberal-arts based program with majors in equestrian facility management, equestrian teacher/trainer and equine entrepreneurship with options for concentrations in therapeutic horsemanship and stud farm management. Lake Erie supports several competitive equestrian teams as well, including an IDA dressage team, an Intercollegiate Combined Training Association team, and IHSA hunt seat and Western teams competing in Zone 6, Region 1. LEC's 86-acre George H. Humphrey Equestrian Center is located five miles from campus.

Murray State University: Murray, Kentucky

Murray State University
Murray State / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Murray State University offers an Animal Science/Equine program, which allows students to choose an emphasis in food animals, equine management, or equine science. Murray State’s equestrian teams include IHSA hunt seat and Western teams competing in Zone 5, Region 1, and dressage and ranch horse teams. The Murray State Equine Center is home to the university’s program and equestrian teams and features extensive riding and educational facilities as well as an in-house breeding program.

Oklahoma State University: Stillwater, Oklahoma

Oklahoma State University
Wesley Hitt / Getty Images

Housed within the Ferguson College of Agriculture, OSU's equine curriculum is part of the university's animal science major, which students can customize to focus on production, business, pre-veterinarian, and ranch operations. Opportunities for extracurricular equestrian pursuits include a horse judging team, the OSU Horseman’s Association, and an NCEA team. Classes and practices are held at the Charles and Linda Cline Equine Teaching Facility, set on sixty acres in the town of Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Penn State University: University Park, Pennsylvania

Penn State Old main
truffshuff / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Penn State University's College of Agricultural Sciences offers a minor in equine studies within the dairy and animal science program. The minor includes core courses in basic equine science as well as additional electives emphasizing topics such as management, genetics, and breeding. The program also maintains a herd of Quarter Horses at the university's equine facility that is used in classes and for breeding. Penn State's IHSA hunt seat equestrian team competes in Zone 3, Region 1 and trains off campus at a privately owned farm.

Savannah College of Art and Design: Savannah, Georgia

Ebyabe / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Savannah College of Art and Design is the only art school in the country to also offer a degree in equestrian studies. SCAD's equestrian program includes a Bachelor of Arts in equestrian studies as well as a minor, with theory and practical courses in equine science, management, and riding. The program operates out of the college's 80-acre Ronald C. Waranch Equestrian Center. SCAD also offers a highly competitive hunt seat equestrian team that competes in IHSA Zone 5, Region 3 and has brought home several IHSA and American National Riding Commission individual and team championships.

Skidmore College: Saratoga Springs, New York

Skidmore College
Peter Flass / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Skidmore College does not offer an equine studies major or minor, but the college maintains an active equestrian program. Students take classes in several levels of hunt seat riding and dressage as part of the physical education program, and non-credit riding instruction is also available. The college also has a successful IHSA hunt seat equestrian team competing in Zone 2, Region 3 and an IDA dressage team. Skidmore's Van Lennep Riding Center houses the education and competition programs.

South Dakota State University: Brookings, South Dakota

Old Main at the University of South Dakota
Library of Congress

South Dakota State offers an Equine Studies minor, an NCEA equestrian team, Horse Club, the annual Little International agricultural exposition, and Rodeo Club. The SDSU Equine Facility, built in 1925, hosts a variety of agricultural-, livestock-, and equine-related activities each year.

Southern Methodist University: Dallas, Texas

Southern Methodist University
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

SMU’s NCEA team rides out of the Dallas Equestrian Center, set on ten acres three and a half miles away from campus. The facility has three indoor arenas, two outdoor arenas, and twenty new paddocks.

St. Andrews University: Laurinburg, North Carolina

St. Andrews University

Sir Mildred Pierce / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

At St. Andrews University, equestrian students can pursue a bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in equine business management, equine science, pre-veterinary, therapeutic horsemanship, and therapeutic horsemanship business management. St. Andrews also offers several options for competition, including IHSA hunt seat and Western teams competing in Zone 4, Region 3, an IDA dressage team, and a hunter/jumper show team. The program operates out of the St. Andrews Equestrian Center, a 300-acre complex two miles from campus.

St. Lawrence University: Canton, New York

Saint Lawrence University
John Marino / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

St. Lawrence University does not offer any equine-related degrees; however, the university's IHSA hunt seat equestrian team is among the top programs in the country. Competing in Zone 2, Region 2 of the IHSA, the Saints have won several national titles. The team rides out of SLU's Elsa Gunnison Appleton Riding Hall, an extensive equestrian facility on the edge of campus that has hosted a number of prestigious horse shows. The university's riding program also offers riding instruction for non-competitive students.

Stephens College: Columbia, Missouri

Stephens College
HornColumbia / Wikimedia Commons

The equestrian department at Stephens College offers a bachelor of science degrees in equestrian studies, a business-oriented equestrian degree, and equestrian science, which prepares students for veterinary studies. The college also offers minors in equestrian studies and animal science. Students ride and study hunt seat, saddle seat, Western riding, reining and driving and have opportunities to compete at schooling and rated horse shows through the college. The Stephens Equestrian Center is just a few minutes from the college's residence halls.

Sweet Briar College: Sweet Briar, Virginia

Sweet Briar College
Charles Ommanney/Getty Images

The equestrian program at Sweet Briar College consists of several levels of education in hunter/jumper/equitation, training and schooling young horses, and hunter-oriented cross country. Students have the option to pursue an Equine Studies Certificate with a concentration in teaching and schooling or management in addition to their major. Riders can compete on Sweet Briar's IHSA hunt seat team, which shows in Zone 4, Region 2, and the field, hunter or jumper show teams. Sweet Briar's Harriet Howell Rogers Riding Center is located on campus and features one of the largest indoor college arenas in the country.

Texas A&M University: College Station, Texas

Texas A&M Academic Building at the heart of the main campus in College Station

Denise Mattox / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Texas A&M’s Department of Animal Sciences provides undergraduate and graduate programs that emphasize hands-on learning experience and encourage participation in extracurriculars such as collegiate judging teams, internships, the Horseman’s Association, and undergraduate research. Their eleven-time national champion NCEA team operates out of the Hildebrand Equine Complex, located near campus.

Texas Christian University: Fort Worth, Texas

Robert Carr Chapel at Texas Christian University

Moment Editorial/Getty Images

Texas Christian University offers a Ranch Management Program, which focuses on improving and preserving land resources. There is also the option to minor in Human-Animal Relationships. TCU’s NCEA team was ranked in the top ten for the 2017-2018 season. The riding team operates out of Turning Point Ranch in Springtown, Texas.

University of Findlay: Findlay, Ohio

University of Findlay

Vicki Timman / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

University of Findlay's equestrian studies program offers associate's degrees in both English and Western riding and training as well as a bachelor of science programs in equine business management and English or Western equestrian studies. Students have several options for competitive riding, including IHSA hunt seat and Western equestrian teams competing in Zone 6, Region 1 and an IDA dressage team. Findlay's campus includes two equestrian facilities: the 32-acre East Campus James L. Child Jr. Equestrian Complex, home of the English equestrian program, and the 150-acre South Campus, which houses the Western equestrian and pre-veterinary studies programs.

University of Georgia: Athens, Georgia

University of Georgia Consumer Sciences Building
David Torcivia / Flickr

The University of Georgia offers twenty-two majors and eighteen minors that fall under the category of Agriculture as well as several related graduate programs. Their NCEA team is ranked in the top ten for the 2017-2018 season and has won six national championships since its first season of competition in 2002. Georgia’s equestrian program operates out of the 109-acre UGA Equestrian Complex in Bishop, Georgia, located twelve miles from the main campus.

University of Kentucky: Lexington, Kentucky

University of Kentucky Library
Tom Ipri / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Located right in the heart of horse country, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture features an extensive equine studies program with a bachelor's degree in equine science and management, an equine internship program and several research opportunities. The program also offers a horse racing club and competitive opportunities in saddle seat, IDA dressage, eventing, polo, and IHSA hunt seat and Western teams competing in Zone 6, Region 3. UK's Maine Chance Equine Campus includes a 100-acre equine education complex and an equine health research center.

University of Louisville: Louisville, Kentucky

University of Louisville
Ken Lund / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

The University of Louisville's Equine Business Program within the College of Business offers a bachelor of science and certificate degrees in equine business. The university's Riding and Racing Club also encompasses IHSA hunt seat and Western teams competing in Zone 6, Region 3 and an Intercollegiate Saddle Seat Riding Association (ISSRA) team based out of the nearby Zubrod Stables.

University of Montana Western: Dillon, Montana

University of Montana Western
RB2013 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Equine Studies Department at the University of Montana Western offers the nation's only bachelor of science degree in natural horsemanship. The university also offers a bachelor of science degree in equine management and associate's degrees in equine studies and natural horsemanship. Students wishing to compete can participate in the rodeo club or the university's hunt seat and Western equestrian teams, which show in IHSA Zone 8, Region 3. The equine studies program is based out of the university's Montana Center for Horsemanship, a natural horsemanship-based facility located less than two miles from campus.

University of New Hampshire: Durham, New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire
Kylejtod / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

The University of New Hampshire equine program offers three bachelor of science degrees in equine industry management, therapeutic riding, and equine science and an associate's degree in equine management. The riding program is primarily focused in dressage and eventing, and students can show on the IDA dressage team or IHSA hunt seat team competing in Zone 1, Region 2. The Lon & Lutza Smith Equine Center is located within a 10-minute walk from the campus center and features a USEA-recognized combined training course and a limited amount of equine student housing.

University of South Carolina: Columbia, South Carolina

Lieber College, originally constructed in 1837

Wikimedia Commons/Dfscgt21

The University of South Carolina NCEA team operates out of the nearby Onewood Farm riding facility with state-of-the-art amenities for horses and riders, located approximately twenty minutes away from campus.

University of Tennessee Martin: Martin, Tennessee

UT Martin Skyhawk Marching Band
stephenyeargin / Flickr

Options within UT Martin’s school of Agriculture include Farm and Ranch, Agribusiness, Veterinary Technology and Management, Veterinary and Animal Science, and Production, Business, and Management. Horse and Livestock shows are held in the Ned McWherter Agricultural Complex, which also hosts their NCEA team.

West Texas A&M University: Canyon, Texas

West Texas A&M
J. Nguyen~commonswiki / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

West Texas A&M University's Agribusiness program offers a bachelor of science option in equine industry and business, a course of study integrating business with equine science and practical applications in the equine industry. Equestrian students can compete in intercollegiate horse judging, rodeo, and IHSA hunt seat and Western teams showing in Zone 7, Region 2. All are based at the West Texas A&M University Horse Center, an 80-acre equestrian facility just north of the university's main campus.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Ruffner, Eileen Cody and Haley. "Best Equestrian Colleges in the United States." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Ruffner, Eileen Cody and Haley. (2021, February 16). Best Equestrian Colleges in the United States. Retrieved from Ruffner, Eileen Cody and Haley. "Best Equestrian Colleges in the United States." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 30, 2023).