The property brings the university’s equestrian academic and competitive programs to the doorstep of the Winter Equestrian Capital.
Just a few minutes outside Wellington is an incubator poised to grow equestrian talent.
West Palm Beach-based Keiser University earlier this year announced its purchase of a 9-acre property at 2650 A Road in Loxahatchee Groves, with a 20-stall barn, nine paddocks and two riding arenas. The move extends the university’s reach into the western communities while providing an incredible opportunity for students in Keiser’s equestrian academic and competitive programs.
The addition to Keiser’s portfolio of facilities also makes the school the only college or university in Florida to own its own competitive equestrian center.
“We’ve seen a thousand benefits so far,” said Keiser Equestrian Director Julie Snyder.
Keiser University offers two equestrian-related degree programs: a bachelor of arts degree in business with a focus on equine studies, and a bachelor of science degree with a focus on biomedical science for those students heading into veterinary medicine. The Seahawks also have an equestrian club team that competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA), and a club for those who want to work with and learn about horses but not compete.
According to county records, the university bought the property from Jaybird Leasing Corp. for $1.995 million, marking another major investment for Keiser. The school also is working on a huge capital campaign to build a state-of-the-art Aquatic Center at the flagship campus on Military Trail in West Palm Beach.
The students immediately embraced the facility, jumping at the chance to work with the horses hands-on, Snyder said. Before purchasing the property at 2650 A Road, Keiser rented space at Wall Street Farm south of Wellington.
Synder called the purchase “a great vote of confidence” from Keiser’s administration in the equestrian program, noting the high ongoing cost of maintaining horses.
“Our location is just a natural, really good fit for an equine program and an equestrian team,” she said.
“We have the autonomy to have our practice times and our class times when it works best for our schedule,” Snyder said. “Our students have been able to have more lessons during the week because we’re not restricted.”
The new facility also has helped the university create tighter bonds with community organizations and the equestrian industry, including Tackeria in Wellington and Red Barn in Loxahatchee Groves. “It’s granted a lot of credibility to our program,” Snyder said. That also means more relationships with potential places for students to intern, she said.
Much of the tack and even many of the horses in Keiser’s barn have been donated, a testament to the community’s embrace of the university’s relatively young equestrian program, Snyder said.
Recruitment to Keiser’s equestrian program has improved as a result of the new facility, Snyder said. “They (prospective students) can see we’ve made a big investment into the program for the long run,” she said.
Keiser’s new equestrian facility provides the perfect opportunity for students coming from the equestrian pre-veterinary program at Wellington Community High School to continue their education without traveling far from home to get continued hands-on experience.
On a recent Wednesday morning, a handful of students were hard at work cleaning stalls and grooming horses.
Violeta Simonovic of Chicago, a sophomore in Keiser’s equine biomedical science program, said she was impressed with the university’s decision to buy its own equestrian facility. “It will benefit the people in the horse world that want to get a degree and be somewhere nice to ride,” she said.
Simonovic always knew she wanted to work with animals, and described going to school so close to Wellington as “a gold nugget.”
“There are so many people who come from the north to work and learn here,” she said. “With school being next to this mine of possibilities, I knew that after I graduate it would be easier for me to branch out and find work.”