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Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 - 9:52 am

No horsing around, he is serious about learning the horse business

Crown Point student counts on equine management certificate to prepare him for new career

Ray SchroederRay Schroeder works in the utilities industry, but has been a lover of horse racing for 35 years. He even bought a racehorse with friends and grew even fonder of the sport-and the animal.

While the Crown Point resident has wanted to own or manage his own stable as long as he can remember, he felt he could never be more than a small time business owner. Furthermore, he has been deflated by the harsh reality that owning a racehorse doesn’t qualify one to work in horse racing.

“I kept running into a dead end,” he says. “Although I was an owner of racehorses, I didn’t have the management experience in the horse business.”

That, however, is about to change.

When a co-worker noticed that Purdue University Calumet was introducing an academic program geared specifically to business people in the equine industry, Schroeder enrolled almost immediately. He is in his second semester of the 18-credit hour, online certificate program.

Even though Purdue Calumet also offers an equine management major within its Bachelor of Arts in Business program, a certificate that can be earned online fits better for Schroeder, a family man with a full time job.

With hopes of becoming a 48-year-old career changer, Schroeder appears well on his way.

Not only is he taking advantage of those business classes that held him back before, but he also is learning how to apply that business sense in scenarios that are specific to the industry, such as dealing with legal and ethical issues.

“I absolutely love it,” he says, “and it’s opened a few doors already for me as far as changing careers and getting into the equine industry.”

When he contacted Arlington Park race course in nearby Arlington Heights, Ill., before enrolling in the equine certificate program, for example, he did not receive a response. When he resubmitted his resume to announce he had enrolled in the program, had been awarded the program’s outstanding student award and is vice president of an equine student organization, Arlington officials called his resume “beautiful,” encouraging Schroeder to believe he is in the pipeline of consideration for prospective positions.

Schroeder is eyeing a possible career as a racing official or race track judge. Ultimately, he would like to run one of the premiere racing stables.

He says he hopes to take advantage of the current economic slowdown to prepare for equine industry opportunities that would position him ahead of the curve.

“When everything picks back up,” he says, “I feel I will be very qualified.”