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Scottsdale Equine Students gain World-Class Experience at one of the World’s Largest Horse Shows

equine science students equine science student explains horse anatomy using horse model

The Arabian Horse Association of Arizona (AHAA) hosted the 65th Annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show at WestWorld in a ten-day event during the month of February.

Scottsdale Community College’s (SCC) Equine Science Department partnered with the AHAA to provide students with experiential learning in equestrian showing, equine-related business, and event management.

The students in the Equine Science program gained immersive educational training by volunteering at the largest horse show in the world. It is estimated that the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show attracts nearly 500,000 visitors each year. Scottsdale is known as the “World’s Most Western Town,” and it may also be the most valuable place to study in the $122 billion equine industry.

Taryl O’Shea, executive director of the AHAA said, “The SCC students have been vital to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show through many intern and volunteer positions throughout the years. Their training and knowledge of the equine industry make them perfect ambassadors for the show. We very much value our SCC students and put them in key roles.”

SCC has the only comprehensive Equine Science degree program in the state of Arizona and is the only college in the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) with an equine program in the animal sciences.

Students in the program are required to volunteer at least 10 hours at the international show. Each year one student in the college’s Special Events Internship course completes an internship with the association, serving as an event coordinator.

O’Shea said, “The SCC students learn all aspects of being involved in a large event, everything from helping schedule and managing over 400 volunteers, to running the show arena gates, which keeps the show running smoothly. We have had many of them work in our office leading up to the show helping to do administrative tasks, to public relations duties.”  

Equine program graduate Shannon Leckie interned at the event in the previous year and worked as a paid employee at this year's show. “I helped with volunteer coordination and I assisted the executive director of the show. I worked a lot in the office last year but this year I worked only at the show. I hope to work my way up in the company. It was an amazing experience, every day I would get there around 6 a.m. to set up the whole volunteer area and make sure they had everything they needed for their shift. I worked in retail and different parts of the show too” said Leckie.

Another component of the student experience involves managing the program’s information booth for five hours sharing information about the profession, horses and the equine program with thousands of visitors. SCC Director of Equine Sciences Jay Clements said, “One student has been selected to manage the booth each year and will train another student to take over the role the next year. It's such an amazing opportunity for them all to talk to the public and share their knowledge. Even students not in the internship class volunteer because everyone wants to be a part of it.”

SCC also offers certification in Meeting and Event Management. Students from various disciplines attend and are able to gain experience from the community-wide event.

“I absolutely loved the program, what I loved most were the professors. They helped me not only get through school but with getting through personal things that were hard for me at the time. Jay was always there supporting me and helping me, everyone is very supportive. I got a lot of experience I don’t think you would get other places,” said Leckie. 

The AHAA also provides $5,000 in scholarships to SCC students in the Equine Science program. “It’s such an amazing educational opportunity for the students and partnering with the Arabian Horse Show helps the industry and helps the community as well,” said Clements.

The SCC campus is located in close proximity to a variety of equine disciplines, providing the opportunity to work with some of the most renowned horse professionals in the world. For more information about the Equine Science program at SCC please contact Jay Clements at (480) 423-6231 or email at

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