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Young equine entrepreneurs need more than just a love of horses — they need real-world business skills to piece together the elements necessary to make a successful living.

Enter the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program, where the business of horses is taught through strategic course offerings designed to prepare students for all aspects of the industry. This specialized business-accredited focus combined with a minor in entrepreneurship from the University of Louisville’s College of Business creates a solid foundation for those seeking to launch horse-related enterprises. Graduates end up leaving with the full breadth of knowledge and networking necessary to prime them for success.

“The two programs coordinate,” says Robert Garrett Jr., Interim Entrepreneurship Department Chair at Louisville’s business school. “Many equine students minor in entrepreneurship, helping them develop their business ideas into commercial launches.”

Amanda Conti, a former student who now runs Tuscany Hollow Stables in Goshen, loved horses as “soon as I could walk,” she says. She grew up riding all types of horses, but three-day eventing is now her passion. While enrolled she started a business in a barn giving riding lessons and boarding horses. She used it as a hands-on learning tool for both herself and her fellow students. The marketing and advanced equine science she studied at the University of Louisville has served her well after graduation.

“The capstone class I took as a senior made us present a business plan and a pretty long marketing plan. That has helped me,” Conti says.

While in school, Conti met Erin Murphy, now a close friend and business associate. Murphy grew up around racehorses and remembers being so excited to get paid $2 to hot-walk a horse at age 11. She, too, has come to eventing as a sport, and has her horse boarded at Tuscany Hollow Stables.

Murphy credits the Equine Industry Program with helping her develop and market her own horse skin care line. The all-natural, plant-based ingredients that make up Whole Horse Equine are a hot trend in today’s horse care. What began as product giveaways to friends at the track has grown into customers in 32 states — a feat she believes would not have been possible without her University of Louisville Equine Industry Program education.

“It’s a small program with great mentors who spent a lot of one-on-one time with us,” Murphy says.

Both women acknowledge the mentoring they received as pivotal aspects of their success. While the program is predominately aimed at the huge horse racing community — the school is a little over mile from Churchill Downs — the confidence and friendships they forged bolstered them as entrepreneurs in other arenas.

“The Equine Industry Program has tremendous contacts in the community who put our students in touch with real experiences in the equine industry,” Garrett explains. “So our students are closely networked into real opportunities.”

Conti and Murphy exemplify the value of the program and how it yields individualized results. Billed as an intense four year program, new students can expect to touch on marketing, economics, taxation and law, financial management and operations, all within the scope of the equine industry as a whole.   

Interested in learning more about the Equine Industry Program at the University of Louisville? Call the College of Business at (502) 852-6440, or find more information online at https://business.louisville.edu/equine/.