The new Kansas State University Equine Education Center is about to become a reality. K-State will host a formal groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 27 at 9 a.m. for the first phase of the center.
To be built with private funds, the equine center will be located on the northeast side of K-State's Manhattan campus.
"We are thrilled that this is coming together," said Fred Cholick, dean of K-State's College of Agriculture. "We've had growing demand to expand the equine program, and with the state-of-the art facility that we have planned, we will be able to accommodate that demand."
Ken Odde, head of K-State's Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, says 540 students enrolled in horse-related classes in 2006.
With the help of alumni and horse enthusiast donors, K-State plans to build the equine education center in two phases, Odde says.
Phase I will include two buildings. One will house a large indoor arena named for R.D. and Joan Dale Hubbard. The other will include a smaller indoor arena, horse stalls, classrooms and a space for K-State's National Collegiate Athletic Association Equestrian Team.
The second phase will include a building with more stalls, a facility to serve as home for the KSU Rodeo Team, and space for a potential equine therapy program. Talks are underway with horse industry officials in the region about a collaborative effort for the second phase that would benefit the state, the community and the university.
A 2005 study, conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP for the American Horse Council, found that more than 9.2 million horses were in the United States, with the equine industry contributing $38.8 billion directly in goods and services to the U.S. economy.
According to Kansas Horse Council data from 1996, Kansas had an equine population of 103,000 with an estimated value of $183 million.
"Preparing our students to work in this industry is a key reason for this new endeavor," Odde said.
The university currently offers an Equine Science Certification Program, designed to give students with horse experience a chance to further enhance their knowledge in equine science. K-State plans also to develop a certification program in equine-assisted human development and rehabilitation.
In addition to serving students studying various aspects of equine science, the new center will be a practice and competition site for K-State's Equestrian Team, Horse Judging Team, KSU Rodeo Club, K-State Rodeo Team and Horseman's Association.
The KSU Rodeo alone draws 10,000 people to Manhattan every year, Odde said.
Information about the Oct. 27 groundbreaking ceremony or about donating to the K-State Equine Education Center is available by contacting Ken Odde at 785-532-1227 ([email protected]) or Aaron Hund of the KSU Foundation at 785-532-7528 ([email protected]).