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OUS changing equine studies program: Horse park to close next summer, horses to be adopted

FRANKLIN FURNACE — Twenty years ago, Ohio University Southern started its equine studies program, but now, with rising costs and fewer students in the program, drastic changes are being made to the program and the eventual closing of the Ohio Horse Park.

“The equine studies program will be shifting to an online option, focused on equine management,” said Nicole Pennington, Dean of Ohio Southern and Interim Executive Dean of Regional Higher Education.

She said the decision was made based on several factors, including low enrollment, with an average of 25 enrolled students per year over the past seven years, an average graduation rate of less than 25 percent since 2013 and increasing costs to maintain the program.

Students currently enrolled in the program will be able to complete the face-to-face option over the 2019-2020 academic year, or they may transition to the online option. Newly-enrolled students will have the option to enroll in the online track to complete an associate’s degree in equine studies.

“The change to the online degree option allows us to continue to provide programming with the least disruption for our students,” Pennington said.

OUS’s equine studies program was one of four in the nation to be recognized to certify students to be riding instructors.

In addition to the associate degree in equine studies, the program has offered therapeutic riding as an internationally-accredited program. With its therapeutic riding program, the horse park works with children and teens with a variety of disabilities since 1999.

Operation of the Ohio Horse Park will continue until June 30, 2020. A standardized procedure will be developed and implemented to manage adopting out of horses from the park.