Writer: Darrell J. Pehr, (575) 646-3223, email@example.com
SUNLAND PARK - A century ago, the automobile lurched into the world of transportation, edging the horse to the side of the road. But courses at New Mexico State University are showing students modern-day career opportunities in the horse industry.
Million-dollar race horses highlighted the agenda for a fall semester field trip of horse-related professions by one NMSU class.
Ten students from assistant professor Jason Turner's equine operations management class at NMSU spent an afternoon in Sunland Park at the Frontera Training Center, a complex of race horse trainers' barns and practice facilities; Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery, a veterinary clinic at the training center; and Sunland Park Racetrack. They met with people whose careers are directly connected to horses, from Frontera facilities manager Ted Gregory to Sunland Park racing secretary Norm Amundson.
"For students who want to work, who want to make a career for themselves and are committed to it, I think there's a lot of opportunity," Turner said. "The biggest thing I hear is the work ethic. I think there are always going to be jobs for students with a good work ethic."
The equine curriculum in NMSU's animal and range sciences department covers a wide range of topics related to horses through 16 courses. Turner teaches at least four equine classes each semester, while another four courses per semester are offered in equestrian studies. That adds up to an enrollment of 100 to 150 students each semester. Turner said about a third of the students are focused on making a career in the equine industry, while two-thirds are taking the classes out of personal interest or to supplement other majors.
New Mexico State offers an unusually deep education when it comes to horses.
"We've got such a broad curriculum, students have an opportunity to learn about all aspects of the horse industry," Turner said. The coursework helps students become aware of the specialties, and learn ways to make themselves more marketable to employers.
Earlier in the fall semester, guest speakers in the equine operations class outlined careers in horse shows, rodeo productions and horse-related events for youth. But the trip to Sunland Park was a highlight of the semester.
"I think they really enjoyed it," Turner said of his students. "It was an opportunity to get off campus and just learn what people are looking for in terms of employees. That served a good purpose."
NMSU offers the NMSU Horse Center, a mile south of the main campus, with 50 acres of irrigated pastures, four round pens, polo arena, sale ring and yearling barn. The main barn houses offices and a reproduction laboratory.
The Equine Education Center, built in 2002 on the main campus, houses classrooms, offices, tack room, dressing rooms and lockers. Next to the center are two riding arenas and several pens for riding horses, where the NCAA equestrian team works out.
The NMSU program keeps 30 to 40 horses for use in the equitation teaching program. The horse center has about 25 brood mares and three stallions in its quarter horse breeding program.
For more information on the horse program at NMSU, contact Turner at (505) 646-1242.
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