Equine FAQ

Q. What degrees are available in Equine Studies?
A. There are currently two degree options: an Associate in Science with two different specializations, an Associate in Science in Equine Studies – Business Management Specialization or Associate in Science in Equine Studies - Equine Exercise Physiology Specialization. The A.S. specializations are 60-credit, two-year programs.

CF also offers Bachelor of Applied Science in Business and Organizational Management – Equine Studies Specialization. Students who earn the A.S. in Equine Studies can move directly into this bachelors program.

Another option is our College Credit Certificate program in Equine Manager, ideal for students already holding college degrees or just needing the equine specific classes. This option is a 24-credit, one-year program.

A new option is the 15-credit Equine Technician Certificate program. All five courses in this certificate program are available online in alternating semesters.

Q. What are the admission requirements?
A. A high school diploma or GED certificate. Prospective students must also take a college entrance examination (SAT, ACT or PERT) and pay a $30 application fee.

Q. How much does the program cost?
A. The current cost is about $107/ credit hour. Most classes are 3 credits.

Q. Is financial aid available?
A. Yes, CF offers aid, either through FASFA or internal scholarships. Also CF accepts Florida Prepaid program and Bright Futures scholarships.

Q. Are classes available online?
A. Several courses are available in hybrid format or web-assisted, meaning a portion of the lectures and coursework is conducted online. See our Equine Course Descriptions page for information on when courses are offered online.

We are now offering an online Equine Technician Certificate program. Five core courses are offered 100 percent online, for students who prefer distance learning or cannot come to Ocala for class. These classes are also ideal for someone new to horse ownership and cover topics such as safe handling, health care, nutrition and behavior. All courses can be applied to the Associate in Science in Equine Studies, however, those additional classes are not offered in online format at this point.

Q. My entrance exam scores were low, and the college recommends I take college preparatory classes. Do I have to take them before taking any equine classes?
A. We have analyzed student data since 2004 and see a high incidence of academic failure in the first semester; therefore we recommend completing the college preparatory classes as soon as possible and limiting equine classes in the beginning. By doing this, students will be more prepared for college-level courses.

Q. What courses are recommended for the first semester?
A. We recommend Introduction to Equine Science, Equine Anatomy and Physiology, Horse Handling and Safety, Equine Behavior and Psychology and Equine Health Care.

Q. Do credits from other schools transfer in?
A. Once an official transcript is sent to the Office of Admissions and Records, it will be evaluated and accepted transfer courses will be posted to the student’s permanent academic record.

Q. Are there options to further my education after receiving my AS in Equine Studies?
A. Yes! CF has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Business and Organizational Management: Equine Specialization. This is a two year extension of the AS Equine Studies degree. After completing the AS degree, it is a very smooth transition into the BAS Equine Studies program. 

Q. Upon completion of the AS program, can my credits transfer to a four-year college?
A. Many, if not all, CF Equine Studies credits will transfer to almost any four-year equine program, such as University of Kentucky, Midway College (KY), Morrisville State College (NY), William Woods College (MO), Savannah College of Art and Design (GA), and other colleges offering a B.S. in Equine Studies. Each college evaluates students on a case-by-case basis. Students considering such a transfer are encouraged to take higher level general education courses, such as those intended for an A.A. student. Meet with an advisor for specific recommendations.

Q. Is housing available?
A. College Square Apartments, owned by the CF Foundation. Apartments are adjacent to campus, fully furnished with water and electric charges included in the affordable rent.

Q. Is there a massage therapy program?
A. No, but the Equine Manual Therapies course covers massage and other modalities.

Q. Does CF offer a veterinary technician program?
A. While we do not offer an official veterinary technician program, our exercise physiology curriculum delivers vital education relating to working in the veterinary or rehabilitation field. Traditional veterinary technician programs have limited exposure to large animals such as horses, and focus on small animals. Completion of the CF Equine Studies program does not prepare students to pass the veterinary technician certification exam, but some of our graduates are employed by prominent veterinarians and vet clinics.

Q. Is there a riding program?
A. CF does not offer instruction in riding or training horses. However, we offer a course called Equine Practicum (3 credits) where students perform 120 hours of experiential learning with a professional farm in our community. Duties are similar to those performed in a typical working student position. Students are assigned to a competition or basic skills stable where they will learn skills and possibly gain competition experience while earning college credit.

In addition, Ocala is home to national and internationally renowned trainers of nearly every discipline of horse sport, many of whom accept students for lessons or working student positions outside of the curriculum offered at CF. Some local professionals also offer discounts to CF students.

Q. Can I bring my horse?
A. We do not have stables at the college, but there are many local farms that offer boarding. Contact us at downerj@cf.edu for a list of available boarding stables.

Q. What types of jobs are available to associate program graduates?
A. With the business management specialization, typical jobs include farm management, equine related retail management, or owning your own business in equine service. Equine Exercise Physiology graduates can find employment at a rehabilitation center, veterinary hospital or even as a show groom or assistant trainer for high performance equine athletes. 

Q. What types of jobs are available to bachelor program graduates?
A. A bachelor degree opens the door to higher paying jobs within the equine industry. Typical jobs include field sales representative, technical service, publishing, marketing and advertising in areas such as pharmaceutical supplies, nutritional products, and equine tack and equipment. 

Q. Are there industry certifications?
A. There are none currently. If a student is interested in working with Thoroughbreds on the racetrack, they need to be licensed by the state racing commission. Trainers must also pass a written and hands-on test given by stewards.

Q. Who are the professors?
A. Dr. Judy Downer is the program manager. She holds a B.S. in Animal Science as well as a Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition, shows and judges in dressage. Dr. Marsha Pidherney is an equine veterinarian as well as full-time faculty. Ms. Marie Davidson serves as adjunct faculty and brings a background in International advanced level eventing to our mix. Ms. Katie Bigge also serves as an adjunct professor bringing her experience as a world champion in showing all around Pinto world champions.

Q. What is the ratio of general education to equine classes?
A. For an A.S. in Equine Studies a student is required to take 15 credit hours in general education and 49 credit hours encompass equine coursework.

Q. How long has the program been in existence?
A. The first classes were offered in 2003, and the program has steadily grown since. In a typical semester, more than 100 students are enrolled in equine programs.

Q. What is the graduation rate for students?
A. Our completion rate is 39 percent, which is typical of community colleges with open enrollment. Some students begin the program, but leave after one or two semesters. Student persistence is an important factor to us and we are working hard to increase it. An equine tutoring program is available to facilitate retention and persistence.

Q. Is the program accredited?
A. CF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission
on Colleges.

Q. Are there hands on learning opportunities?
A. Yes! The College of Central Florida has a beautiful farm located less than five miles away from the main CF campus in Ocala. Most of the equine courses offered are accompanied by hands-on labs. Students get the opportunity to handle and learn from our resident horses that live on the farm. In addition, Ocala is home to over 700 farms. We take advantage of this and utilize local farms to give students even further opportunity to experience hands on learning. 

Q. How many hours of hands-on experience do students get per semester?

A. Most equine courses offered are accompanied by hands-on labs, demonstrations or field trips. All students are required to complete a work experience co-op. Students are also able to work in the community, take lessons, volunteer, and complete internships in the community.

Q. What is Equine Co-op?
A. Equine Co-op is a capstone project that encompasses all knowledge the student has gained from the Equine Studies program. Therefore it is recommended for students in their last semester. Students independently obtain and work a job relating to the equine industry. Students need to seek a job in which they learn a new equine field or a new skill in an already familiar discipline. The job may be paying or non-paying, and must consist of at least 120 hours employment.

Q. What is Equine Practicum?

A. Equine Practicum provides an experiential opportunity for equine students seeking exposure to hands-on horse care and equestrian skills. Students will be assigned to an equestrian farm specializing in one of three area (basic/beginner/trail; western competition; dressage/eventing/hunter/jumper competition). Students will perform duties typical of a working student (feeding,stall cleaning, grooming, tacking up horses, cleaning tack,etc.) Students assigned to a competition barn will attend at least one competition, to include specialized grooming for the show, packing the trailer, and care of horse(s) at the competition. Students will spend a minimum of 120 hours in the working student role as a requirement of this course. Assessment will include achievement of three goals as set by the student and their mentor.

Q. Can nontraditional students enroll in Equine Studies programs? 
A. Absolutely. Students of all ages and experience can pursue a career in equine studies. There are many jobs that support the horse industry that do not require physical labor or expert horse handling skills, such as insurance sales, retail, bloodstock agents, marketing, or office staff for an equine facility.

Q. Who do I contact for more information?

For program information or to schedule an appointment: Contact Dr. Judith Downer at 352-854-2322, Ext. 1220 or email downerj@cf.edu 

For advising assistance: Contact: Karen Tolson at 352-854-2322, Ext. 1593 or email tolsonk@cf.edu

Equine Studies

Samantha Cooper found her home at the College of Central Florida and became a national champion. Cooper moved from the state of Washington to Ocala to study Equine Business Management. In April, she won the national championship in upper training. CF was the only non-University school in the competition. Samantha graduated in December, but is continuing her studies in the Bachelor of Science in Business and Organizational Management program. Read more about Samantha Cooper's story. 
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