Agricultural education has always been a valued component of the school experience, particularly in the Midwest and West. Today, even with the unprecedented reliance on technology and the growth of service-oriented business, farming and ranching remain a vital part of the economy. In states like Colorado, the fields of equine management and horse breeding and training are stronger than ever,

A person doesn’t necessarily have to be born in a saddle or grow up on a ranch to be interested in pursuing a career in horsemanship or equine management. A love of animals and wide open spaces can bring rewards that go far beyond the satisfaction of living free and natural.

Numerous opportunities exist for anyone interested in becoming part of the growing equine industry. Despite advances in the field, or maybe because of it, advanced knowledge of animals and their behavior is vital. There is a growing need for individuals to break and train riding horses, work in related animal health occupations, or enter the wider world of business management, finance and breeding.

Preparing for such careers often begins in high school, where agricultural education is built on “three legs of a stool.” Classroom instruction, experiential learning and leadership development are equally important, according to the National Association of Agricultural Educators. Students are well-equipped to go on to higher education in agriscience or agribusiness. Career choices are wide open.

Equine management for Colorado residents is one career path that allows interested young people to apply and hone previously-gained skills. They will find many options to expand their knowledge, finding career satisfaction and a secure financial future. The “Old West” may be gone, but the modern world has a need for properly trained horsemen and women.

If the end goal is a degree in veterinary medicine, business or finance, early hands-on training with animals is invaluable. Learning how to relate to and work with animals also improves physical and interpersonal skills.

Horsemanship and equine management curriculum provides a balance between theory and practical experience, with adequate training in business practices to offer a basic understanding of modern ranching, breeding and training operations.

The world of Agricultural Education is expanding into new territory, but one thing is certain. Just like old cowboy stories, horses and horse training will continue to be needed components of Colorado life, even in the digital age.

Lamar Community College in Lamar, CO offers Equine Management courses