Posted: September 10, 2019

Students with an interest in horses will have an opportunity to learn about the Irish equine industry and travel there during spring break to visit horse farms and facilities.

Image: Penn State

Image: Penn State

By Kelly Jedrzejewski

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Students who have always dreamed of traveling to the Emerald Isle and have an interest in horses, now may have the chance through an embedded course, Animal Science ANSC 499.

"Ireland's Equine Industry: A Global Perspective into the Horse World" will be offered for the first time at Penn State in the spring 2020 semester.

The three-credit class is being co-taught by Danielle Smarsh, equine extension specialist and assistant professor of equine science, and Andrea Kocher, instructor of equine science and equine extension specialist, both in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

As the horse industry becomes increasingly more global, it is important for today's agricultural students to understand the U.S. horse market and how it intersects with the global economy, Smarsh explained.

Ireland is well-known for its horses and is a good example of a country heavily involved in the international equine trade. During the embedded portion of the class, students will be able to visit several horse farms and facilities to gain an understanding of how horses are managed in Ireland.

In the first half of the semester, students will be prepared for the topics they will learn about in Ireland. Some of the class topics include an overview of the horse industry in Pennsylvania and the U.S.; an overview of the Irish horse industry; information about changes in the international equine industry; Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture speakers on international and domestic travel for horses; and considerations for large equine events.

While in Ireland during spring break, students will develop a first-hand understanding of the Irish horse market and how it compares to that in the United States. Smarsh said this comparison will allow students to further their understanding of the global importance of the equine industry. Upon returning to Penn State, students will deliver presentations about their experiences in Ireland and submit a travel journal.

This class has no prerequisites and is open to equine enthusiasts in any major at the University. It will meet Thursdays from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in 16 Agricultural Sciences and Industries Building. Travel will take place over spring break, March 5-14, 2020. The total cost is dependent upon the number of students who take the class, but is estimated at $3,000, which includes airfare, transportation, lodging and all meals.

"As agriculture continues to increase globally, the study-abroad experience is an excellent way for students to broaden their world view and enhance opportunities for a meaningful future," said Kocher.

For more information or to apply, contact Smarsh at or Kocher at