The Equine Centre plays an important role in the education of equine studies students. Not only is it a main location for practical classes, but students are also rostered on for stable duties, teasing, breeding and foal watch to further their practical skills. In all aspects of student involvement, the Centre prioritises the safe and professional handling of horses.
Introductory Horse Management allows students to participate in a range of basic horse skills, including identification of both horses and tack. Students also spend time working with foals. This involves teaching them to lead, weaning and general handling. Students are also rostered on for morning stable duties, such as cleaning out stables and yards and feeding.
Second semester classes include Equine Locomotion, which uses horses from the Centre to enhance the student's knowledge of anatomy, as well as demonstrate techniques for diagnosing lameness.
Breeding from both practical and scientific perspectives are a main focus in second year studies. Horse breeding in semester one and Equine Reproduction in semester two provide ample practical sessions in which students are taught to recognise signs of oestrus, prepare and restrain mares for breeding and aid in the service process. During the breeding season, students are expected to participate in morning and afternoon teasing and service duties. They are also expected to perform foal watching duties for the Centre's broodmares.
Horse Training Management in first semester gives many students their first exposure to training horses. Students participate in riding lessons to build on their own skills, and also become responsible for the breaking in and welfare of yearlings at the centre.
During third year, students spend a larger proportion of their time learning at the Centre. Equine Exercise Physiology exposes students to working horses on the treadmill, using it for a range of activities including standard exercise, blood lactate accumulation and thermoregulation tests.
Students are also required to fitness train a horse on the treadmill six days a week as part of their assessment. In Equine Health horses are used to build practical first aid skills, including injection techniques, bandaging and general examinations. Students also spend a great deal of time at the centre for Farriery in second semester, where they are able to try their hand at a number of techniques.
Graduates will be qualified to work in a range of positions servicing the equine industry. These include the areas of management of breeding, agistment and pre-training; research institutions servicing the horse industry; public and independent authorities controlling the racing and breeding industries; management of racing and other performance enterprises; and service industries such as bloodstock agencies and pharmaceutical companies.
A few years ago, two young women graduates were appointed to top jobs in the racing industry. Deborah Winter, from Sydney was appointed the first female trainee handicapper with the AJC while Joanne Hardy, daughter of prominent north coast trainer Trevor Hardy became Secretary Manager of the Casino Jockey Club and Assistant Manager of the Coffs Harbour Jockey Club.