Rowan College at Gloucester County (RCGC) Assistant Professor of Biology Emily Allen likes to give her Equine Science class an up close and personal look at the anatomy of horses and how they move so where better to hold class than at the Dream Park in Logan Township.
During the spring semester, 13 students participated in the equine science lab applying an artistic flair by using washable, non-toxic paints to draw muscles and bones on a four-legged canvas — a unique approach to observing a horse's gait and movement.
"This class is a perfect fit for our equine science and veterinary students, but we also get a lot of students who take the class as a science elective because they have always really loved horses or they ride actively and just want to increase their knowledge about horses," said Allen, who also breeds and raises horses on her 10-acre farm in Woodstown. "In the Equine Science program, students get a lot of hands-on experience working with horses. We have students who have never handled horses before who are coming to this class to learn the basics. We also have students who own multiple horses, ride competitively on a regular basis and have quite a bit of experience. There's really something for everyone."
Joanne Bradley, a volunteer at Oasis Animal Sanctuary in Franklinville, already has a bachelor's degree in biology but took the class to expand her knowledge of horses. "I'm a big believer in RCGC. I've taken other classes here and enjoyed them, but my experience in the Equine Science class has been phenomenal. Emily is excellent in her field — I've learned so much, especially when it comes to animal nutrition."
Bradley has worked in the healthcare field off and on for 25 years and agrees that the Equine Science program appeals to a variety of individuals. While many students plan to transfer and attend veterinary school, others seek to earn an associate degree and work in the field immediately, and some, like Bradley, are interested in the health, welfare and social aspect of horses.
"When most people hear two-year school with transfer opportunity, they think that they might learn a few things. We did a lab on dissecting a leg and I was absolutely amazed to see the level of what we were expected to understand," said Bradley. "The class was way above my expectations."
The College's Equine Science program provides instruction and practical experience in the management, nutrition, physiology and care of horses with a strong foundation in biology, chemistry and business principles. After graduating from RCGC with an associate degree, students are prepared for immediate employment in the equine industry or for transfer into an animal science or equine science major at a four-year institution. The College currently has program partnerships with Rutgers University, Ross University, Cornell University and Delaware Valley University.
Danielle Hassinger plans to graduate with an equine science degree, then work as a vet tech while attending RCGC's nursing program. A rider since 10-years old, she now owns two quarter horses and works on a farm with 35 horses, some of them the top-ranked barrel horses in the nation.
"I do like taking labs off campus because this is really hands on. I think you learn better that way," said Hassinger. "If you own a horse or take lessons, I recommend taking this class. You will learn so much more."
"Equine Science is an overall great program. It's so interactive," added student Taylor Davis. Currently apprenticing under several famous horse trainers, she has been working on a ranch since her teens. With her main goal to become a trainer and run her own business, Davis applies her new equine knowledge at work where she manages a boarding facility part-time, in addition to breaking and training horses for other riders.
"It's different than other programs, not boring bookwork," said Davis. "There's always a lot to do, but it's fun, hands-on work."
For more information about RCGC's Equine Science program, visit
RCGC.edu/STEM or view a video on the July 2017 episode of
RCGC Today at
Rowan College at Gloucester County is located on a 250-acre campus on Tanyard Road, Deptford, just off Exit 56 of Route 55.