Whether you want to pursue a college degree in equine studies or ride competitively at the collegiate level, Emory & Henry College is the perfect place for students to graduate with a top-notch, private, liberal arts education while also pursuing their passion for horses. Emory & Henry prepares you for the world of work and enables you to become a valuable part of the equestrian industry both during your college training and for many years after you graduate.
With individualized attention, strong core academics, and such a stellar riding program, Emory & Henry makes a superb choice for the serious collegiate equestrian. Its consistent history of winning championships as well as guiding well-rounded equestrians to careers in the industry makes it an excellent choice for the next generation looking to stay an integral part of our sport. “We are committed to a liberal arts education and fostering each student to meet their own academic goals.” Dr. Patty Graham-Thiers said. “It feels like a ‘home away from home’ here.”
Emory & Henry offers a bachelor of arts (B.A.), a bachelor of science (B.S.), a minor in Equine Studies, and a pre-professional program for pre-veterinary along with more than 80 academic majors and tracks of undergraduate study. Equine Studies degrees begin with an emphasis on the mechanism of the horse, along with a commitment to traditional horsemanship and the workings of rider position. A small class size allows Emory & Henry faculty to focus on the individual. Academic class size averages at roughly 13, and the overall student to faculty ratio is 10:1. Education is hands-on and project-based, and students maintain close relationships to their professors. Every class, including labs, is taught by faculty, and the Equine Studies department offers distinguished professors. Dr. Graham-Thiers is the head of the department. Her research has been published and presented at the national and international level, and she serves as a committee member for the 6th Ed. Of the Nutrient Requirements of the Horse, a National Academy of Sciences publication.
Students participate in hands-on learning through research and work opportunities, including equine health-related research studies to assisting at A-rated Horse Shows. The curriculum offers a broad range of courses in teaching, schooling, horse show management, judging, stable management, anatomy, first aid and equine nutrition that prepare students for successful careers in a variety of different positions within the equine industry. Emory & Henry is one of the few colleges to offer undergraduate research putting E&H students at the top of the job market. Students may choose to combine their Equine Studies degree with Business or another major or minor to further their handcrafted education. A new animal science minor offers an additional area of academic specialization.
Graduates from the E&H equestrian program succeed in careers ranging from instructors, trainers and barn managers to professional riders at the national and international levels. They also enter veterinary medicine or achieve positions of industry leadership, including management positions at the U.S. Equestrian Federation where they help shape the future of America’s horse industry.
Equestrian Director, Lisa Moosmueller-Terry, elaborated, “The program is all encompassing; we do not offer specialization in training, riding or management as some programs do. Our reason for this is that we have found that most employers are looking for someone that has all of these skills and that the equine industry is already specialized enough. This makes our graduates more versatile and employable.” Students who study at Emory & Henry also learn from internships, which most complete over summer break. Additionally, there are workshops that give opportunity for students to work for trainers at horse shows and make connections with potential future employers.
With a focus on setting students up for future success, Emory & Henry knows that employment in the industry is about practical knowledge. When asked what kind of hands-on learning students can expect, Dr. Graham-Thiers provided a comprehensive list including first aid, grooming and braiding, breeding, barn and show management, judging, correct shoeing techniques, hay selection, conformation analysis, balancing rations and much more. There are also plans to add a class on foaling and foaling care, which will allow students first-hand experience doing foal watch, foaling and after care.
Utilizing all of these skills learned at Emory & Henry, graduates go on to be successful in the workplace. Possibilities include facility and event management, instruction and training, professional riding, industry leadership and advisory board position, or working for media or peripheral equine industries such as animal pharmaceuticals. “Overall, we often have more job offers for our graduates than we have graduates to fill those positions,” Dr. Graham-Thiers said. “We have many employers who always contact us when they have a position open.” This kind of career coaching and placement is hard to find in any industry, and certainly often lacking in larger institutions.
“My job as a trainer, rider and professional groom at Woodridge Farm in Boston allows me to travel to find horses for clients on the East Coast and most recently in Europe,” said 2016 graduate Megan Wilson-Bost. “Starting from humble beginnings, I owe the majority of my successful employment to the program and connections that I made at Emory & Henry. Riding this level of professional horses wouldn’t have been possible without the coaching of Lisa Moosmueller-Terry and Heather Richardson. I learned how to be a well-rounded, hardworking and knowledgeable horsewoman due to their endless dedication and professionalism. When you say you graduated from Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry people take notice in this industry. There is a standard of excellence they hold to and I’m proud to continue that legacy.”
The nationally-acclaimed Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College boasts 21 national championships in competitive riding since 2001 – most recently as 2019 IHSA and 2018 IDA national champions. Emory & Henry’s IHSA, IDA and ANRC teams offer opportunities for students to gain competitive experience in hunters, jumpers, equitation and dressage. Riding is open to all students, regardless of their major or level of riding.
Best Value Schools has named Emory & Henry College’s Intermont Equestrian Center one of the “20 Most Amazing College Equestrian Centers” in the nation. Amanda Ginder, online relations officer for Best Value Schools, says that “Best Value Schools knows that for horse lovers and dedicated horse owners the search for the perfect college often necessitates a search for the most amazing college equestrian centers.”
The E&H Equestrian Center is home to competitions and hands-on training on 120 acres (off I-81, exit 10) surrounded by rolling hills and stunning landscapes in Southwest Virginia. The college provides 50-quality school horses for student use both in and out of class, and students are welcome to bring their own horses for boarding. Features of the equine center include both 250 x 150-foot and 200 x 100-foot indoor arenas, a 350 x 200-foot outdoor arena, the A.J. Coyle Memorial Cross-Country Course, a 28-stall boarder barn for student horses, a six-horse gooseneck Sundowner van, a two-horse trailer for transportation to shows, nine large grass paddocks, four tack rooms, USA Equestrian regulation jumps, more than 80 box stalls, three wash stalls with hot and cold water, laundry facilities, and a classroom/viewing room.
From the facility to the horses, Emory & Henry provides the best for its students. With more than 50 college owned horses on the property, students have a large variety to learn from. “Most of our horses are not what you would think of as ‘school horses’ director Lisa Moosmueller-Terry said. “They come to us after careers on the circuit as jumpers, junior hunters, equitation horses and FEI dressage horses. We have several of the best horses in the country, and even a few that were past Olympians.” Keeping such quality in the barn allows students to learn in a safe, productive manner on horses comparable to ones they’d find at the top institutions they hope to work for one day. With such diversity available, it isn’t necessary for them to bring their horse to college although we do offer boarding for student horses as available.
Intermont Equestrian also offers three week-long, overnight sessions of the Collegiate Bound Summer Riding Camp open to students ages 14-18. The camp prepares students for riding at the collegiate level. Participants receive mounted lessons and facilitate a mock horse show at the culmination of the camps for parents and friends to demonstrate their horsemanship. See more information at www.ehc.edu/equine-camp.
At this time, we are accepting scholarship auditions by video submission. Please send a video showcasing your riding skills to Odessa Thacker. Contact Odessa Thacker at (276) 944-6533 or [email protected] for more information on your riding scholarship audition and campus tour. Prospective students should visit www.ehc.edu/equine to learn more about Emory & Henry and to learn about the program and Equine scholarships.
Originally from the December 2020 issue.