Equine Studies Major: Equine-Assisted Activities & Therapies Option (B.S.)

Equine Studies Major: Equine-Assisted Activities & Therapies Option (B.S.)

student brushing horse

Beginning in Fall of 2023, a new option within the animal science major will be offered for students to pursue a course of study that includes equine-specific classes with strong hands-on components.  

Current UNH students in our equine programs admitted prior to Fall of 2023 will continue to have access to the same high-quality education and resources until they graduate. 

The equine-assisted activities & therapies option is no longer accepting new students.

For more information, please contact anfs.dept@unh.edu.

What is the equine-assisted activities and therapies option?

Equine-assisted activities and therapies are dynamic treatments that focus on the frequent, rhythmic, low-amplitude movement of the horse to help individuals achieve specific physical, cognitive, social and emotional goals. At UNH, this course of study is tailored for students interested in careers in therapeutic riding and related activities, including classes in equine studies, nonprofit organizations, and human development and special needs. Students test for PATH International instructor certification. Some students in the program continue their studies in human-service-related fields, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and psychology.


UNH is one of only five PATH Level III Higher Education Centers. Through the PATH Premier Accredited UNH Therapeutic Riding Program, undergraduates have the opportunity to work with individuals who have physical, emotional and cognitive disabilities and learn how to create an environment that integrates members of the disabled and able-bodied communities. Students in the program earn their Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International instructor certification, which enables them to teach at any PATH International operating center in the world. Students have daily opportunities to work with horses at our equine facilities, which are located within a 10-minute walk from campus. 

Potential careers

  • Counselor
  • Fundraiser
  • Nonprofit manager
  • Physical therapist
  • Therapeutic riding instructor
  • Therapeutic riding center manager 
  • Volunteer coordinator


Cindy Burke

Director of Therapeutic Riding Program
Phone: (603) 862-0131
Office: Therapeutic Riding Program, Equine Center, Durham, NH 03824
Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems
University of New Hampshire
Kendall Hall
129 Main Street
Durham, NH 03824
(603) 862-2130
  • Create Your Own Story (CYOS) Award Recipient
    Amber McElhinney '19 was a UNH Create Your Own Story (CYOS) award recipient for the 2018-2019 academic year. In this video produced by the CYOS team, the equine studies major talks about what she loved most about her UNH experience. 
    Create Your Own Story (CYOS) Award Recipient
    Amber McElhinney '19 was a UNH Create Your Own Story (CYOS) award recipient for the 2018-2019 academic year. In this video produced by the CYOS team, the equine studies major talks about what she loved most about her UNH experience. 
  • UNH Equine helps state in rescue efforts
    The UNH Equine program is helping to rehabilite two rescued ponies, as part of a coordinated effort that included the New Hampshire State Police, Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food and  the State Veterinarian. 
    UNH Equine helps state in rescue efforts
    The UNH Equine program is helping to rehabilite two rescued ponies, as part of a coordinated effort that included the New Hampshire State Police, Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food and  the State Veterinarian. 
  • Students work together to prepare for the big event
    UNH hosted the USEA/USEF-recognized horse trials on Saturday, September 29, and Sunday, September 30. This is UNH's 47th year hosting the trials.
    Students work together to prepare for the big event
    UNH hosted the USEA/USEF-recognized horse trials on Saturday, September 29, and Sunday, September 30. This is UNH's 47th year hosting the trials.
  • Students volunteer at NEDA for team fundraiser
    A group of riders from the UNH equestrian team recently volunteered at the New England Dressage Association (NEDA) Fall Festival of Dressage at HITS Saugerties in New York as part of a team fundraiser.
    Students volunteer at NEDA for team fundraiser
    A group of riders from the UNH equestrian team recently volunteered at the New England Dressage Association (NEDA) Fall Festival of Dressage at HITS Saugerties in New York as part of a team fundraiser.

Curriculum & Requirements

Beginning in the 2022/23 academic year (Spring 2023), the Equine Studies Major: Equine Assisted Activities & Therapies option will no longer be accepting new students. Current students will continue to have access to the same high-quality education and resources until they graduate.

This option is designed for:

  • Students interested in a teaching therapeutic riding or other equine-assisted activities and therapies.
  • Students interested in an administrative career at a center conducting equine-assisted activities and therapies, such as fundraising, volunteer coordination, or management for a therapeutic riding center.

This option includes classes in equine studies, equine-assisted activities and therapies, non-profit organizations, and topics related to human development and special needs. Students also prepare and test for PATH International instructor certification, which allows them to teach therapeutic riding at any PATH International operating center.

In addition to the standard core courses for all Equine Studies majors, students in Equine Management take courses in human anatomy and physiology, agricultural business management and non-profit management, equine-assisted activities, therapeutic riding instruction, equine management, and equine conformation.  Students then select 20 approved credits to allow them to focus in the areas most relevant to their desired career.  Those courses may include classes in equine training, riding instruction, sign language, human development, and education.

Sample Student Schedule by Semester - Therapeutic Riding

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
ANSC 402 Horsemanship Lab 1
ANSC 411 Freshman Seminar in Equine Science 1
ANSC 422 Introduction to Horsemanship Theory 3
ANSC 437 Equine Husbandry Techniques 4
BIOL 411 Introductory Biology: Molecular and Cellular 4
ENGL 401 First-Year Writing 4
ANSC 426 Equine Conformation and Lameness 4
BIOL 412 Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology 4
Discovery Course 4
Discovery Course 4
Second Year
ANSC 546 Animal Business Applications 4
ANSC 500 Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies 4
BMS 507 Human Anatomy and Physiology I 4
Choice of Major Elective 4
ANSC 402 Horsemanship Lab 1
ANSC 522 Intermediate Horsemanship Theory 3
ANSC 643 Principles of Therapeutic Riding Instruction 4
BMS 508 Human Anatomy and Physiology II 4
ENGL 501 Introduction to Creative Nonfiction 4
EREC 411 Environmental and Resource Economics Perspectives 4
Third Year
ANSC 504 Equine Physiology 4
ANSC 547 Equine Stable Management 3
ZOOL 613
or ANSC 640
or ANSC 795W
Animal Behavior
or Principles of Riding Instruction
or Investigations
Discovery Course 4
ANSC 635 Nonprofit Management for Agriculture Business 4
ANSC 643 Principles of Therapeutic Riding Instruction 4
ANSC 665 Principles of Horse Trials Management 2
Discovery Course 4
ANSC 600 Field Experience 1-4
Fourth Year
ANSC 612
or GEN 604
Genetics of Animals
or Principles of Genetics
ANSC 725 Equine Sports Medicine 4
ANSC 744 Advanced Concepts in Therapeutic Riding Instruction 4
ANSC 796 Equine Senior Seminar 2
ANSC 797 Equine Capstone Experience 4
Discovery Course 4
Major Elecitve 4
Major Elective 4
 Total Credits130-133

2+ cr above/Horsemanship Theory

A minimum grade of C-minus or better must be earned in all Equine Studies courses required by the major.

Core Equine Studies Requirements
ANSC 411Freshman Seminar in Equine Science1
ANSC 437Equine Husbandry Techniques4
ANSC 504Equine Physiology4
ANSC 522Intermediate Horsemanship Theory3
or ANSC 405 Theory of Horsemanship
ANSC 547Equine Stable Management3
ANSC 600Field Experience 11-4
ANSC 612Genetics of Animals4
or GEN 604 Principles of Genetics
ANSC 665Principles of Horse Trials Management 12
ANSC 725Equine Sports Medicine4
ANSC 796Equine Senior Seminar2
ANSC 797Equine Capstone Experience4
BIOL 411Introductory Biology: Molecular and Cellular4
BIOL 412Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology4
ENGL 501Introduction to Creative Nonfiction4
or ENGL 419 How to Read Anything
or ENGL 502 Professional and Technical Writing
or ENGL 503 Persuasive Writing
or ANSC 543 Technical Writing in Animal Sciences
EREC 411Environmental and Resource Economics Perspectives4
or ECON 402 Principles of Economics (Micro)
Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies Requirements
ANSC 426Equine Conformation and Lameness4
ANSC 500Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies4
ANSC 546Animal Business Applications4
ANSC 635Nonprofit Management for Agriculture Business4
ANSC 643Principles of Therapeutic Riding Instruction4
BMS 507Human Anatomy and Physiology I4
BMS 508Human Anatomy and Physiology II4
Therapeutic Riding Electives: Choose 20 credits from the following:
ANSC 507Survey of Equine Training Techniques3
ANSC 536Preparation and Competition Techniques for the Modern Sport Horse4
ANSC 538Equine Handling/Longeing1
ANSC 602Animal Rights and Societal Issues4
ANSC 640Principles of Riding Instruction4
ANSC 641Principles of Dressage Instruction2
ANSC 642Principles of Jumping Instruction2
ANSC 695Supervised Teaching Experience1-2
ANSC 744Advanced Concepts in Therapeutic Riding Instruction4
COMM 401American Sign Language I4
COMM 420Survey of Communication Disorders4
COMM 502American Sign Language II4
EDUC 500Exploring Teaching4
EDUC 650Introduction to Disability in Inclusive Schools and Communities4
EDUC 701Human Development & Learning: Cultural Perspectives4
EDUC 751AInclusive Elementary Education: Literacies and Learning for Diverse Learners4
EDUC 751BMethods of Inclusive Secondary Education: Literacies, Learning, and Transitions4
EDUC 760Introduction to Young Children with Special Needs4
MGT 535Organizational Behavior4
OT 500Behavior and Development of Children4
or HDFS 525 Human Development
OT 510Exploring Occupational Therapy and Occupation4
PSYC 561Abnormal Behavior4
PSYC 581Child Development4
RMP 501Recreation Services for Individuals with Disabilities4
SW 424Introduction to Social Work4
SW 797Special Topics in Social Welfare4
ZOOL 613Animal Behavior5

Waived for TSAS equine management graduates

All students who graduate from the B.S. in Equine Studies program will be able to:

  • Identify, explain, and demonstrate safe, effective, and humane equine handling and stable management skills.
  • Identify, explain, and demonstrate equine health management practices and basic equine first aid.
  • Explain guidelines for equine nutrition, feeding, and parasite management.
  • Demonstrate technical proficiency with English tack, boots, bandages, and blankets.
  • Demonstrate safe, competent longeing technique using a trained horse.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of riding practices in equestrian sport.
  • Communicate effectively, in written and verbal form, about professional topics in the equine industry.

Therapeutic Riding option:

  • Demonstrate an applied understanding of equine assisted activities & therapies (EAAT) teaching techniques for a broad spectrum of disorders and disabilities.
  • Provide documentation of successful completion of the PATH Intl. registered instructor certification program.
  • Identify ideal conformation and movement faults as they relates to equine form and function and the therapeutic needs of clients with disabilities.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with adaptive equipment, tack, and procedures used in an equine assisted activities & therapies (EAAT) setting.
  • Demonstrate working knowledge of key elements of business planning, management, and development, as they relate to an equine assisted activities & therapies (EAAT) setting.

Explore Program Details

I want to major in Equine Studies, but my parents say I'll never get a job with that major. Is that true?

The majority of equine studies majors at UNH obtain jobs in the equine industry after graduation. The equine industry has a $122 BILLION impact on the United States’ economy every year. There are many, many career opportunities for motivated and skilled individuals.

Do I really need a degree to work in the equine industry?

Whether you want to go on to veterinary school, become a riding instructor, run horse shows, or manage a stable, an undergraduate degree will give you a significant advantage by providing specialized training, business skills, and a body of theoretical and practical knowledge. These are invaluable tools for seeking employment or running a business.

How do I know which option in Equine Studies is right for me?

Equine Industry & Management combines hands-on, equine-specific classes, such as teaching, training, and stable management, with business-related classes. This course of study is best suited for students who see themselves going into a traditional, hands-on job in the equine industry, such as stable management or riding instruction, or for students who are interested in the ever-expanding field of equine business. The latter includes competitions and event management, marketing, and farm business management.

Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) is for students interested in the therapeutic horsemanship field. It combines equine classes with courses about non-profit management and disability services and classes specific to therapeutic riding, including classes where students prepare and test for their PATH Instructor Certification.

Equine Science combines equine-specific classes with more rigorous science courses, which prepare students for graduate school, including vet school, or a career in one of the equine industry's more technical sides, such as nutrition or research.

I want to have a career in veterinary technology. Do I need to get a degree?

It depends on the state in which you intend to work. Some states require a vet tech degree, while others require that you pass a licensing examination. Still, others have no specific requirements. Note that a B.S. in Equine Studies is not a vet tech degree. UNH does offer a two-year degree in veterinary technology. However, graduates in the Equine Science program also work in equine veterinary practices as techs and assistants.

If I want to be a Pre-Vet student, what should my major be?

You can major in any field of study at UNH but will want to complete a program of study that encompasses several specific requisite courses. Visit our Pre-Veterinary Program page for more information. The Equine Science program was specifically designed to allow students to fulfill the required classes for admission to veterinary school while also completing a degree in equine studies.

Where can I receive pre-veterinary medicine advising?

Upon informing the Equine Program or the Department of Biological Sciences of your interests in veterinary
You are assigned to an advisor who is experienced in advising pre-veterinary medicine students and knows current veterinary school admission requirements and procedures.

Do I need to send a video of my riding?

No, a riding video is not required for admissions or to try out for the riding teams.

Are there scholarships for riders?

No. However, several academic scholarships are available to equine studies students through COLSA, the Department of Biological Sciences, and outside organizations such as the AQHA and IHSA.

Are there any online classes in the equine program?

ANSC419: Horse Power is offered online during the Summer session. This class, which satisfies the Humanities requirement of the discovery program, explores the horse's role in history, art and culture. For information on Summer Session, go to https://www.unh.edu/summersession/. Also, ANSC 405 – Horsemanship Theory is a 2-credit online course which is offered every spring. UNH also offers a growing variety of online classes, some of which equine students can use to fulfill general requirements. Go to www.unh.edu/eunh/online-courses/ for more info.

Do I have to be an Equine Studies major to take classes in the equine program?

No, students of all majors may take classes in the equine program.

Do I have to be a full-time student to take classes in the equine program?

No, classes are open to non-degree candidates.

What if I only want to get my Path Instructor Certification, and I'm not interested in a 4-year degree?

Non-degree students can take ANSC 643 with instructor permission. Contact Cindy.Burke@unh.edu for more information.

Can I ride at UNH?

Yes. Riding classes at UNH consist of two credit-bearing co-requisite courses, which must be taken simultaneously: ANSC 402 – Horsemanship Lab is a 1 credit, credit/fail class, which is the actual riding time. All students enrolled in ANSC 402 must be simultaneously enrolled in either ANSC 422, ANSC 522, or ANSC 622, which are graded 2- or 3-credit courses covering horsemanship theory. Horsemanship classes are taught every semester. Students receive 3 hours of mounted instruction each week, in addition to lectures and academic assignments.

Is it possible to ride without taking a class? Or to take private lessons on the school horses?

No, the only riding opportunity on UNH horses that the equine program offers is through ANSC 402.

How do I sign-up for riding classes?

Priority is given to equine studies majors, but classes are open to students of all majors and, during a typical semester, most students can be accommodated. First-year equine majors will receive a survey to sign up for ANSC 402 in early May. First-year students who are not equine studies majors should email Sarah Rigg as soon as they have committed to UNH. A two-part preregistration and signup is held for continuing students each semester. Typically, this is held in April for the fall semester and November for the spring semester. Visit the equine website for dates.

How do I try out for the riding team?

UNH’s award-winning equestrian teams compete in both the IHSA (hunt seat) and the IDA (dressage). To try out for either of the riding team, students must be enrolled in ANSC 402 or have previously taken ANSC 402 for two semesters. Tryouts are held each fall. Each team will hold a mandatory informational meeting for interested students before tryouts take place. Dates for meetings and tryouts are announced and posted in the stables at the beginning of the fall semester.

Can I board my horse at UNH?

The UNH Equine Facility has space for a limited number of student boarders. Board is $650 per month. Priority is given to equine majors. Contact the stable manager, Brenda.Hess-McAskill, after being accepted to UNH to be put on the list. Brenda also has a list of other area boarding facilities.

If my horse is boarded at UNH, will it be ridden in the riding classes?

No, horses boarded at UNH are not used in riding classes.

Can I get a job at the Horse Barns?

The UNH Horse Barns does hire work-study students. Contact Brenda Hess-McAskill.

Can I work at the horse barns in exchange for board or lessons?

No, work-study is for pay only. We cannot barter work time for board or lab fees.

Why do I have to take Biology?

The equine industry is based mainly on the horse as an athlete. Understanding the horse’s body and how it works, as well as the horse’s health, is the foundation of managing and caring for that athlete and coaxing the best performance from him. Biology forms the building blocks of Anatomy and Physiology and all of the more specialized equine classes.

I'm a student in another major. Can I transfer to the Equine program, and will it affect my ability to graduate on time?

Students in good academic standing can transfer into the equine studies major. It is possible that transferring to any new major will affect a student’s graduation date. This will depend upon how long a student has been in another major, the type of degree they were pursuing, and the classes they have already taken.

I've heard that if you go abroad or on exchange for one semester, you can't graduate on time. Is this true?

Going abroad is an outstanding experience, but students do need to plan if this is something that they would like to do. Students interested in studying abroad should identify themselves to their academic advisors early in their college careers. Many of the equine-specific classes at UNH are offered only in the fall or spring semester, and there are more of them offered in the fall than in the spring, so many students find that it is easier to go abroad for a spring semester.

The spring semester of Junior year is the most popular time for equine students to study abroad. Students who choose to study abroad at a university with an equine major will take equine-specific courses to fulfill major requirements and/or major electives. However, all students need to plan out their schedules to take required courses on campus and then complete other courses – major courses, electives, discovery courses, etc. – while they are abroad. Some students who go abroad or on exchange take fewer credits than a normal UNH course load (16 credits).

To graduate on time, those students must make up for such a credit deficit, unless they had a credit excess before they left. If credits are a concern, it may be possible to take a 16-credit course load, even if the college has a three-credit system.

Wishlists & Donations

We are always grateful for donations of horse and stable tack and equipment.

Our highest priority needs include:

  • Turnout sheets (lightweight and rain sheets)
  • Dressage saddles
  • Stall mats for our stalls- gently used OK.

If you have a horse that you would like to donate to our program, please submit a video or video link along with this form to Rebecca Nelson. Donations cannot be considered without video.

Please contact Rebecca Nelson for more information at (603) 862-0343 or Rebecca.Nelson@unh.edu

Therapeutic Riding is a mode of therapy utilizing functional riding skills, equine movement and a variety of therapy activities to achieve specific cognitive, physical and emotional goals. The UNH Therapeutic Riding Program adapts equine activities to allow for participation of riders over the age of 5 with cognitive, physical and emotional challenges.

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