Business (Managing Higher Ed)

The Winner's Circle

equestrian higher ed studies

PHOTOS COURTESY OF LONG ISLAND UNIVERSITY

A new program at Long Island University (LIU) in Brookville, NY, is grooming students for success in the flourishing equine industry, while capitalizing on the campus’s distinctive facilities and rich equestrian history.

The LIU Post campus is situated on the 307-acre Gold Coast estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post Cereal fortune. In its glittering heyday, guests enjoyed horseback riding and other leisure pursuits while visiting the idyllic estate.

There is a renowned equestrian center on the campus, whose property includes three beautifully appointed barns — an indoor arena barn, a school barn with a tack room and school and boarder barn — and one of the largest indoor arenas in the region. LIU Post riders compete at club level and an NCAA team will be established in fall of 2015. The university also hosts a full calendar of equestrian events throughout the year.

LIU is integrating this campus resource and its legacy with a growing field of study to institute its new Equine Studies program, which will include classes in riding, horse and facilities management, equine business law and equine health. It is designed to prepare students for a wide range of entrepreneurial ventures and management careers in the equine industry, as well provide valuable courses for those who are pursuing LIU’s preveterinary studies.

Dr. Kimberly R. Cline, president of LIU, has played a transformative role in empowering students with opportunities that give them an advantage in their careers of choice. Equine Studies is a prime example of a career-ready program she has created that leverages LIU’s location, faculty, resources and facilities.

“The new Equine Studies program enables LIU to maximize utilization of its highly distinguished equestrian center and history — while preparing students for successful careers within this multi-faceted industry,” says Dr. Cline. “This is experiential learning at its best — a unique campus learning environment leading to a world of opportunity.”

equestrian higher ed studies

PHOTOS COURTESY OF LONG ISLAND UNIVERSITY

HORSE SENSE. The new Equine Studies program at Long Island University caters to students with a variety of interests, as well as preparing them to enter the equine industry in areas that include stable or racetrack management, as riding (including therapeutic riding) instructors or as horse healthcare professionals, including veterinarians. The course of study will also appeal to horse riders and owners who wish to expand their equestrian avocation.

A Glamorous Past

The property was home (1921-1951) to one of the most famous socialites of the era, Marjorie Merriweather Post, who was married to financier E.F. Hutton. The estate served as a country retreat for a glittering stream of prominent guests who were entertained in grand style, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Gloria Vanderbilt, Harry Guggenheim, Flo Ziegfield and many other luminaries. Horseback riding, along with golf and swimming, were favorite pastimes — while some of the world’s most accomplished polo players would gallop across the Post fields to nearby matches.

Marjorie Post’s daughter, Dina Merrill, who became a star of stage and screen, as well as a leading philanthropist, grew up riding her horse on the estate. Merrill appeared in 25 feature films with such stars as Elizabeth Taylor and Cary Grant — and hundreds of TV and theatre productions. In later years she purchased RKO Studios and devoted much time to philanthropic work, particularly for the New York Mission Society.

An Equestrian Center Spurs a New Program

Long Island University (founded in 1926) purchased the Post property in 1951. The barn where young Dina Merrill stabled her horse was later converted into the North Shore Equestrian Center, a private business situated on the LIU campus. Gerry Chasin, a champion equestrian and the owner of the Center, developed the facility into one of the premier riding centers on Long Island, offering boarding, private lessons and a venue for prestigious competitions.

The university’s connection to its equine heritage and the Equestrian Center on the campus is well established, with horseback riding courses as popular offerings on the LIU campus for several decades. Some students even brought their own horses to college — boarding them at the barn on campus. Yet there was a vision to do even more to meet the dynamic interests of students in the equestrian field.

Joan Digby, director of the Honors Program at LIU, is a devoted equestrian who has been riding for 15 years. Digby explains, “A number of my students in the honors program were on the equestrian team. There were numerous students riding here who were very interested in pursuing professional work in the equine industry.”

According to Gerry Chasin, “Equine is a $300-billion industry. It offers an unlimited number of jobs. The student who takes advantage of the new LIU program has a jump-start in many industries that have a presence in the equestrian world — advertising, marketing, pharmaceuticals, accounting, legal, fashion and many others fields. There are also great opportunities for horse trainers, racetrack or stable managers, riding instructors and veterinarians.”

Equine Studies offers four tracks:

  • Equine Management focuses on the business side of the industry and includes courses on business management, facilities management, activities management and business law and ethics.
  • Equine Education includes courses on the fundamental theories of riding, teaching riding methods, therapeutic riding and judging.
  • Equine Health includes courses on equine anatomy, basic equine health, disease and first aid; equine symptoms, lameness, metabolic disorders, and reproduction; and equine nutrition.
  • Interdisciplinary Track allows students to tailor their focus with a combination of courses from the Management, Education and Health tracks.

Michelle Arenella, an LIU student and equine enthusiast, says, “This program combines academics with hands-on experience, allowing students to apply their knowledge while learning from the best. It will qualify students to work with children with special needs, and to judge competitions — in addition to learning how to ride so that they will know what to look for when judging.”

Dr. Jeffrey Kane, vice president of academic affairs, expressed the benefits that come with LIU’s equine offerings. “LIU Post’s new equine program offers students new experiences and careers options they may not have been aware of —while giving seasoned riders a way to cultivate their passion into a wide range of equine-related enterprises.”

This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of College Planning & Management.

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