Sul Ross Equine Program Expands to Serve Student Needs

Courtesy of the Sul Ross State University Department of Animal Science

ALPINE – To meet the rising demand for equine professionals and industry leaders, Sul Ross State University has set its sights on offering a top-notch equine program. Expansion of the graduate and undergraduate curriculum has already begun with new courses in horsemanship, nutrition, management, exercise physiology, and equine evaluation.

Dr. Rebecca Splan, Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Science, and director of the equine program, is excited about the University’s commitment to expanding opportunities for its equine students. “Sul Ross has a strong tradition of excellence with its equine programs, and we can take it to the next level as a signature program for the University,” she said. “Our students are very passionate about their career goals in the horse industry, and we are doing all we can to prepare them to excel in those professions.”

Courtney Lorenz, an Animal Science senior from Seguin, agrees.

“I’ve always wanted to work with horses. My goal is to someday manage a breeding facility, and I came to Sul Ross specifically with that goal in mind,” she said.

Brittany Perron, a graduate student from Los Alamos, California, also shared the sentiment. Her current research explores the nutrient availability of hays and native grass pastures common to the Big Bend region.

“My interests are in equine nutrition. I want to contribute to improving the performance of ranch and rodeo horses, and Sul Ross was a natural choice to help me prepare for a career in equine science and the horse industry.”

In addition to research and coursework centered on the working western horse, a staple of the rugged landscape and ranching heritage of the region, Sul Ross students can participate in a range of equine-related extracurricular opportunities. Examples include field trips to prominent ranches, businesses, and equine events in the region.

By becoming a member of the recently formed Sul Ross Collegiate Horsemen’s Association, students can participate in educational clinics, seminars, and youth events like those held in the spring at Turner Range Animal Science Center. And this fall, the newly established horse judging team will compete at the National Reining Horse Association Collegiate Judging Contest in Oklahoma City.

While the pending donation of breeding stock from Wagon Wheel Ranch announced last year has since been reduced significantly, facility improvements are already underway to allow an increase in teaching and breeding herd numbers.

Sul Ross’ commitment to high quality, experiential learning is preparing students to become successful professionals in the booming equine industry. Across the country, employment opportunities for equine science graduates abound, ranging from traditional occupations such as farrier, veterinarian, or horse trainer, to careers in law, biotechnology, education, and more. Contributing $122 billion annually to the US economy, the nation’s horse industry showed significant growth of almost 20 percent in the last decade and expanded to 1.7 million jobs in 2017.

For more information on the Sul Ross equine program, please contact Dr. Rebecca Splan at [email protected] or (432) 837-8205.T