BCTC Equine | BCTC

BCTC Equine

The Equine program at Bluegrass Community and Technical College has a rich history in the horse industry, not just in Kentucky but internationally!


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How do I enroll in Racehorse Riding Skills?

Founded in 2006 by Hall of Fame jockey, Chris McCarron, the North American Racing Academy (NARA), now offered through BCTC Equine, is the first and only community college-based racehorse riding certificate in the United States. The mission of the certificate is to provide students with the education, training and experience needed to become skilled in the art of riding a racehorse, proficient in the care and management of racehorses and knowledgeable about the workings of the racing industry as a whole. 

"I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to have been part of the creation of the first racing academy in the United States. Although the United States conducts some of the finest racing in the world, its racing industry has never had a formal training program for professional race riders."

-Chris McCarron, Hall of Fame jockey and Founder of NARA

Students will learn and apply racehorse riding techniques on the BCTC Equine's roster of retired racehorses in foundational courses during the summer semester at the Thoroughbred Training Center. Upon successful completion of the summer courses, students will be placed with a licensed trainer in a cooperative educational work experience to expand upon their experience and skill set to obtain their exercise rider license with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Prospective Students must complete the following courses with BCTC Equine in the fall or spring semester prior to enrollment in the summer racehorse riding courses:

  • EQS 104 - Equine Care Lab
  • EQS 130 - Introduction to the Racing Industry
  • EQS 223 - Training Principles & Practices

In addition, students will be required to successfully pass a physical fitness and basic riding assessment on a scheduled date in March to earn department consent for enrollment in the summer racehorse riding courses. For more information, contact BCTC Equine Program Coordinator, Dixie Kendall, at dixie.kendall@kctcs.edu

"A school for training exercise riders and jockeys is desperately needed in the U.S. We see so many riders and horsemen come here from other countries where they are required to attend and graduate from a training program only to compete very successfully here in the States. I am firmly convinced their success can be directly attributed to their education and training. The U.S. racing industry will benefit tremendously from the establishment of NARA."

-Steve Cauthen, Hall of Fame and Triple Crown-winning jockey

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Industry Partners

Employment and Internships Opportunities

Since 2006 BCTC Equine has placed students into full-time employment and internships with the following equine industry employers. Among them are nationally known breeding farms and racehorse trainers - including five members of the Racing Hall of Fame and winners of 12 Kentucky Derbies.

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History and Economics

In the fall of 2006, BCTC Equine - then known as the North American Racing Academy (NARA) - was officially launched by Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Designed as a jockey school and modelled after existing jockey schools overseas, NARA was uniquely focused on the training and preparation of professional jockeys.    

In 2011, a process was begun to diversify NARA from being a jockey school into a full-scale equine industry career and technical training program and was renamed in 2021 to BCTC Equine to reflect the program’s wider scope. 

Today, BCTC Equine remains as the first and only accredited community college-based equine program of its type in the U.S.  BCTC Equine is focused on working with equine industry employers on addressing their workforce needs by preparing students for the widest variety of career pathways across all equine industry breeds and disciplines.

Economic Impact of the Horse Industry 

As a large, economically diverse industry, the United States horse industry contributes significantly to the American economy. The following statistics are from the American Horse Council Foundation’s 2017 National Economic Impact Study.

The horse industry contributes approximately $50 billion in direct economic impact to the U.S. economy, and has a direct employment impact of 988,394 jobs. Additionally, the industry itself contributes $38 billion in direct wages, salaries, and benefits.

From those direct effects, the horse industry’s contribution ripples out into other sectors of the economy. Adding these ripple effects results in an estimate of the total contribution of the horse industry to the U.S. economy of $122 billion, and a total employment impact of 1.7 million jobs.


The equine industry is a vital contributor to the economy of the Bluegrass region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  In 2012, a survey was conducted for the state of Kentucky that provided statistics verifying the impact of the equine industry on the state. There are approximately 242,400 horses in Kentucky, residing on approximately 35,000 equine operations. The total value of Kentucky’s equine and equine-related assets in 2012 was $23.4 billion. The total of all sales and income for equine operations in 2011 was approximately $1.1 billion, and total equine-related expenditures by equine operations was approximately $1.2 billion.

Estimated Number of Horses in the U.S.: 7.2 million

Estimated Number of Horses by Activity
Activity Number of Horses
Recreation 3,141,449
Showing 1,227,986
Racing 1,224,482
Working 537,261

Land Use by the Equine Industry:

  • 32 million acres of land owned.
  • 49 million acres of land leased for horse-related uses.

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BCTC Equine in the News

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