It often seems that equestrians and those interested in the equine industry are steered away from majoring or minoring in some kind of equine degree. It can often be seen as ‘limiting’ or ‘too narrow’ of a focus. Those not privy to the industry might think that the only thing to do with an equine degree is to become a barn owner or ride 

professionally.

However, at Otterbein University (located in Westerville, Ohio), students are encouraged to pursue their equine-related dreams with several equine majors and minors, as well as a strong equestrian team. The Equine Department at Otterbein has graduated a multitude of students who have gone on to amazing and unique careers in the equine industry, proving the multifaceted nature of the industry, and how versatile an equine-related degree can be.

In this series, I will be catching up with a variety of Otterbein alumna and sharing the careers that they have found within the equine industry.

Tenley Struhs’ current position is the Assistant Executive Director at the Florida Horse Park, but how she ended up here requires a little bit of a history.

Tenley started riding at Cavallo Farms in Tallahassee, Florida when she was nine years old.  Like many young girls, she immediately fell in love with horses and wanted to spend every minute she could at the barn.  She said, “Once I found horses, there was no turning back.  I knew from a very early age that I would be involved with horses for the rest of my life.”

When it came time to apply for college, Tenley knew she did not want to pursue veterinary medicine, but she still wanted to be involved in the equine industry somehow, and so she turned to the business side of the industry.  She looked at a variety of schools that offered Equine Science degrees, but was particularly taken with the Equine Business and Facility Management Degree at Otterbein University. Otterbein’s Equine Business program is academically rigorous and provides students with a solid foundation in business courses as well as equine specific courses.

Tenley scheduled a tour during spring break and made the drive up from Germantown, Tennessee to Westerville, Ohio with her parents. There, she met with Dr. Maria Calderone, DVM.  “[I] am still grateful to this day for all of the time she dedicated to me on that visit.  I soon met the rest of the incredible equine professors and staff when I started in the Fall”, Tenley said.

Tenley had a variety of equine opportunities and experiences while at Otterbein, including competing on the equestrian team to interning at the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games.

Upon graduation, Tenley accepted a full-time position at Otterbein University as the coach of the equestrian team.  She worked at Otterbein for nearly five years, during which she co-coached the IHSA hunt seat team to the national stage multiple times, she prepared and coached teams at the American National Riding Commission (ANRC), Tournament of Champions, as well as helping students at local and rated shows. She also taught several equine practicums, including Horsemastership and a course preparing teams to compete at ANRC, among others. Additionally, she was an integral part of community outreach, serving as the head counselor for the equine summer camps that Otterbein hosts every summer.

During her time at Otterbein, Tenley also completed her Masters in Business Administration.

Last December, Tenley was offered a job as the Assistant Director of the Florida Horse Park, an opportunity she described as “too good to pass up.”

Tenley after a lesson with Clark Montgomery at the Florida Horse Park; photo courtesy of the FHP Facebook page

“So I loaded the horse trailer up in the snow and made the long journey South, to the sunshine state where my love of horses began”, she said.

The Florida Horse Park hosts a variety of events (both equine and non-equine), so Tenley’s job never looks quite the same from day-to-day.  While visiting Ocala recently, I was able to see one of the schooling shows that they host.  They are completing a massive amount of renovations to include state-of-the-art footing, arenas; cross-country, Grand Prix and polo fields, and so much more.  I remember talking to Tenley shortly after she started, and they were hosting a civil war re-enactment.  From combined driving, to polo, to AQHA shows, to hunter/jumpers, eventing, and more, she gets to have a first-hand look at a wide variety of disciplines in the Horse Capital of the World itself.

When I asked her what advice she had for anyone interested in getting into the equine industry, she thought carefully, but simply said, “Keep an open mind.”

If you would like to learn more about Otterbein University and their Equine Program, click here.

If you would like to learn more about the Florida Horse Park, click here, and while you’re at it – follow them on social media for all the events and updates to the park! Facebook: , Instagram: @floridahorsepark)