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A College of Equine Knowledge

February 16, 1986|MARY BARBER | Times Staff Writer

Ann Clausen is the quintessence of the horsy set at Cal Poly Pomona--rosy cheeked, unaffected and a fervent scholar who is open to all things equine, but who doesn't know what to do next.

"I keep changing and changing," she said, cheerfully clicking off careers she has considered and dismissed: veterinarian, horse trainer, ranch manager, breeder.

Still among her options are horse photography, which Clausen likes, and office work, which she doesn't.

Clausen may yet be assured of the job of her dreams once she decides what it is.

New Course Option

She is one of many students who are expected to enroll in a new course option called equine industry that was approved by the chancellor's office of the California State University System in November. The specialty will fall within the department of animal science and is designed to channel students like Clausen directly into horse-related careers--breeding, training, ranch management, health care and numerous jobs in the registration and exhibition of horses.

Of the 17,000 students enrolled at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, this quarter, about 450 are animal science majors, said Norman Dunn, director of equine operations and professor of animal science at the school. About

one-third of those, Dunn estimates, enrolled at Cal Poly because of its horse-related program.

Until now, Cal Poly has offered only a general animal science degree, and most students took an unstructured variety of horse-related courses. Now, students who enroll in the equine option will follow a more specific course of study, taking required courses and electives geared to specific career interests. Called a curriculum minor, the equine industry program has the same broad and stiff requirements of any major field, such as pre-veterinary studies, and is expected to produce more and better-trained graduates who will go on to careers in horse-related occupations. Even without the new program, Cal Poly had been turning out students who found it easy to get jobs in the horse industry.

"We have people all over the country asking for our students," said Dunn. He could not say how many Cal Poly graduates got horse-related jobs each year, because many who get jobs are enrolled in other majors. But the demand generally exceeds the supply, he said.

"There are more farms that want breeding managers than we can supply. We're unique. There isn't another college that can do what we do."

Cal Poly's extensive horse training program grew out of the 1949 gift of cornflakes king W.K. Kellogg, who gave the state of California his 816-acre ranch in Pomona with the proviso that it be used for an agricultural college. With the gift went Kellogg's line of Arabian horses and a stipulation that they be exhibited by students at shows every Sunday during the school year.

85 Arabians

Today, the animal science department has 85 Arabians that are used for breeding, showing, riding and training.

And it has students like Clausen, who is typical of the many students who enter Cal Poly Pomona because of the Arabians and its horse program.

Female students outnumber males more than five to one, Dunn said, yet more men than women actually end up with careers in horse training and breeding. Dunn said city girls (Clausen is from Hawthorne) find daily work with horses more difficult than those raised on farms, and often take indoor jobs, such as with horse registries. The difficult science courses for pre-veterinary study also change a lot of students' minds ("too strenuous for me," Clausen said).

"One requirement is that students just have to have a lot of skill and feeling for horses," Dunn said.

'Horse Crazy'

"That's why I'm here," Clausen, 26, said. "I was a horse crazy kid who never grew out of it and never grew up. I'm real emotionally attached to horses."

As if to prove her point, she went last week to serve as "personal valet" to Reign On, one of the four horses that Cal Poly Pomona exhibited over the weekend at the 31st Annual All Arabian Horse Show in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"That means grooming, feeding and cleaning the stable," Clausen said.

Dunn said students from Cal Poly, as part of its training program, show horses in about a dozen competitive events a year in California and Arizona, and once a year may go as far away as Louisville, Ky., or Canada for Arabian national championships.

Hires 16 Students

To prepare them for this kind of experience, Cal Poly hires 16 students such as Clausen to work on campus with the horses every day and provides housing for four live-in caretakers.

Among those living in dorms above the stables are Elisabeth Friszer, who left her home and her horse in Paris to become a Cal Poly student, and Catherine Ongaro of Anaheim, a pre-veterinary major. Both freshmen, they say they are delighted to spend most of their time in and around stables.

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