Equestrian Studies Major

Prepare for a career as a professional coach, trainer, equine studies professor, riding program director, equine entrepreneur, and so much more.

The recreation major with equestrian concentration at Houghton College will prepare you to ride, teach and train using the principles of classical dressage. Known for academic excellence, professionalism and experiential learning, Houghton’s equestrian program draws students from all across the country who want a high-quality equine program in a Christian college setting.

Experienced riders as well as beginners will grow as equine caretakers and riders under the guidance of our experienced, talented professors.

Equestrian studies students have the opportunity to be involved in five disciplines:

  • Dressage
  • Hunter/jumper
  • Eventing
  • Western
  • Trail riding

The program offers two options: equine performance or equine management. These majors give a solid foundation for students preparing to enter the equestrian venue as professionals in teaching, training, facility management and related careers.

Through academically rigorous courses and expert instruction on top-class school master horses, students are equipped with a broad base of knowledge in classical horsemanship. Classes encompass theory and philosophy, riding, the teaching of riding and care of the horse. In-depth studies, opportunities to study with world-class clinicians and riding in competitions cultivate Christ-like character in students, enabling them to become effective scholar-servants.

Equestrian students often add a major or minor in one of the following areas: business, biology, pre-veterinary and/or psychology.

Why Major in Equestrian Studies?

  • Learn and train under CHA-certified professors and FEI level clinicians.
  • Enjoy first-class facilities on 386 acres of farmland, trails and cross-country.
  • Work with 27 school horses trained in multiple disciplines, or board your own horse.
  • Belong to a thriving community of Christians who are living, learning and experiencing life together.
  • Earn your CHA certification.
  • Teach lessons to children and adults in the community.
  • Compete in open and USEF/USDF-recognized competitions.

Major Requirements

Experienced Christian Faculty

Houghton’s professors bring years of experience and achievement to the equestrian studies program. Professors are certified though CHA and teach based on the classical principles of dressage. Students also have the opportunity to train under FEI level clinicians and compete in open and USEF/USDF-recognized competitions.

Hands-on Learning through Leadership

Equestrian students who dedicate themselves to the program have opportunities to practice what they are learning in the classroom by stepping into positions of leadership including

  • Managing shows, clinics and other events
  • Becoming a teaching assistant for riding classes
  • Teaching riding lessons to community (after receiving CHA certification)
  • Instructing at Houghton’s summer riding camp
  • Serving as a club officer with the Equestrian Society
  • Supervising the chore crew

First Class Facilities — Idyllic Rural Setting

The Houghton College Equestrian Center was recently listed as one of the 20 Most Amazing College Equestrian Centers in the country by Best Value Schools this past year alongside major universities such as Michigan State, Penn State, Stanford and Kentucky. The Equestrian Center includes

  • Event Center with geothermal heating and cooling which includes:
    • 100’x 220’ indoor arena, bleacher seating for 200, classroom, concession stand, restrooms, changing rooms, two wash racks and 12 box stalls
  • Five barns with 51 box stalls
  • A full cross-country course and a variety of riding trails
  • Multiple pastures ranging from three to seven acres
  • 60’ × 145’ indoor arena with heated viewing/classroom attached
  • 100’ × 240’ outdoor stadium jumping ring
  • 20 m × 60 m dressage arena with a permanent judge’s stand

Equestrian Center Events

Houghton Equestrian Center hosts public events including multiple schooling and USEF/USDF recognized competitions, clinics, conferences, and educational workshops and during the summer, a regularly sold-out, multi-week equestrian summer camp. For more information, check out our events page.


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Joanna Sudlow

Featured Testimonial

Houghton provided the soil for me to grow in my love of learning. I learned to dig for answers, continuously “sharpen the saw” in my area of study, and not be afraid to explore new areas of knowledge.

Joanna Sudlow ’15 Animal trainer at Sight & Sound Theatre in Strasburg, PA


Percent of equestrian studies majors employed or in graduate school within nine months of graduation


Number of acres at Houghton’s nationally recognized equestrian center


Houghton opened a brand new $2.4 million indoor arena in Fall 2018


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