USC Aiken Working to Offer New Equine Management Minor

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

The University of South Carolina Aiken is getting closer to offering a minor in equine management.

Jeff Priest, USC Aiken's executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, said he has been working about two years with business professors and local veterinarians to create the new program, which would combine business management courses with equine care classes.

The minor, the first of its kind in the state to his knowledge, Priest said, could begin as early as the fall but more likely might start in January 2019 after final approval by USC Aiken's Faculty Assembly and by the Board of Trustees at USC Columbia.

"We have such an equestrian community here in Aiken and on campus," he said. "We have students and faculty who are interested in horses and the equine industry."

The proposed minor would require six, three-hour courses, Priest said.

In addition to principles of management and leadership, students would take a class in entrepreneurship, learning how to plan, finance and launch a new business.

The proposed courses specifically related to horses are Fundamentals of Equine Care, including learning the fundamental skills of handling and assessing the behavior of horses; Equine Nutrition and Feeding Management, focusing on feeding programs for all types and classes of horses; and Horse Enterprise Management, relating to horses and horse-related business ventures and including planning and assisting with one or more equine event.

The minor also would include a hands-on internship in equine management with a local equine business.

Veterinarian Lisa H. Handy called the equine minor and the partnership between USCA and Aiken's horse community a "good fit."

"We have a university that attracts students to the Aiken area who are involved with horses and who potentially might pursue a career associated with them," Handy said. "Aiken has a tremendous number of businesses involved with horses, making it a perfect place to offer such a minor. It will hopefully attract additional students to our university and fulfill a void that exists in the career experience sector.

"Optimally, students who perform an internship with a particular business may gain experience that will enhance their resume for potential future jobs, some of which will be local. The local businesses that sign on students will hopefully get great help while training and educating them, and potentially gain a new employee."

USC Aiken attracts students from all over the country - one from as far away as Washington state - to its two equestrian teams: eventing and showing through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association.

Amanda Kornacki, a junior nursing major from Florida on the eventing team, said the equine minor "would encourage students to not only continue their higher education but also pursue their passion in the equine industry."

"Many students enroll at USCA to continue their professional goal in equine training or management," she said. "Offering this as a minor would help students continue to strive for these goals as well as offer more extensive knowledge on horses and horse management."

Priest said students have voiced their interest in the proposed equine minor.

"I think we have an audience already on campus, and once the minor is officially approved, we will have an opportunity to actually attract some students to USC Aiken," he said. "I think it's going to be good for the community and a win-win for everybody."