Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) Program?

The Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) program is a 22 week internship that was established to improve the opportunities for college students wishing to pursue a career in the field of equine management and to improve the educational opportunities for personnel involved in the care and management, ownership and support structure of the equine industry.

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What are the benefits of the Kentucky Equine Management Internship?

The KEMI program opens the door to the Thoroughbred industry for highly motivated students with a strong work ethic and sincere interest in horses. Students develop broad-based skills through on-farm experience, whereas the technical focus of the lectures and laboratories enhance the integration of material learned in college courses with management techniques. Together, the employment and classroom components increase the potential for successful employment following completion of the course.

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What are the Kentucky Equine Management Internship admission requirements?

KEMI seeks to admit only students whose ability and preparation indicate that they have a good chance of succeeding in a physically and mentally challenging 22 week internship course. All of the interns are required to work full-time and attend classes at least one evening per week. In addition, other laboratory activities and special events are scheduled during the internship. Therefore, students must be able to dedicate themselves to this program as their only source of employment during the internship period.

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What are the selection criteria for becoming a KEMI intern?

Interns are selected by application to the program and are chosen by a Selection Committee. The Committee evaluates each applicant on the basis of previous experiences in the equine industry, academic accomplishments (a collegiate Grade Point Average of 2.0 or better) and personal character references.

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What are some of the characteristics of a successful KEMI intern?

Observations regarding the interns who have completed the KEMI program indicate that the most successful interns demonstrated these characteristics:

  • Commitment to obtaining a position in the horse industry or related field following completion of the program
  • A solid work ethic and good time management skills
  • Strong horsemanship skills
  • Good study habits and a solid foundation in upper division collegiate courses
  • Prior involvement with group or community activities
  • A strong employment history

Preference is given to candidates who have successfully completed the first three years of a preparatory collegiate curriculum, including courses in equine science, biology, animal health and nutrition, microbiology and farm management. Students should be able to document substantial experiences in the field of equine management through employment and extracurricular activities such as intercollegiate equestrian teams, horse judging teams, 4-H, FFA, Pony Club or other breed-related organizations.

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What does the KEMI program entail exactly?

The internship is a twenty-two week commitment that is physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. During the first week, interns participate in orientation activities as a group. The orientation is designed to acquaint students with the expectations of the KEMI program, job opportunities for graduates and to provide a general overview of the components of the Kentucky thoroughbred industry. Participation in the orientation short course is required for all KEMI participants. The short course includes lectures from industry professionals on current topics affecting the management and breeding or thoroughbreds as well as field trips to farms to observe stallion, broodmare, yearling and training operations.

On the weekend prior to the orientation short course, there is an opportunity for students and families to meet the KEMI Board of Directors, Coordinator and previously enrolled students to better acquaint new interns with the conditions of the program and farm employment.

After the first week, interns are employed by participating farms as full-time employees where they become familiar with the day-to-day operations of commercial thoroughbred farms. On area farms, a full-time work week is 48 hours per week with one day off. The participating farm will determine individual responsibilities for each intern based on farm needs and the qualifications of the intern. In most cases, students work hands-on with horses, however some farms may also assign responsibilities associated with record keeping, veterinary care or farm maintenance.

Students are required to work for their farm or host-site at least full-time (> 40 hours each week) during the entire course of the internship. However, most students work approximately 48 hours per week. On most farms the regular work days start early, usually at 7:00 AM. Most students will work 8 hours/day, 6 days a week. However, some farms may have slightly different work hours or requirements. All interns should expect to devote a large portion of their daily workday to routine barn chores and horse care.

The spring KEMI session (which begins in January) provides students with an overview of the intensive management practices used on commercial thoroughbred breeding operations. On a day-to-day basis, most students will be involved in the care of pregnant and foaling mares. Some farms may require students to participate in “foal watch” rotations and/or to help with neonatal care during evenings and nights. As students become more experienced they may be expected to take mares to breeding sheds, assist with veterinary care or perform some record keeping. There are some farms that provide opportunities for students to gain experience with stallions.

During the fall session (which begins in July), most students will be placed with farms that prepare horses for commercial auctions. There are major thoroughbred sales almost monthly beginning in July. Students gain experience in the techniques for preparing yearlings, weanlings and broodmares for sale and have the opportunity to learn about the factors that affect the value of an individual horse including pedigree, conformation and soundness. Students working for farms with sales horses should expect to work extended hours during the sale. A few host sites offer opportunities to work with horses under saddle; however, these opportunities are limited and students must meet strict criteria for riding ability and height/weight restrictions.

To gain the most experience from the internship, students are encouraged to spend additional hours shadowing a professional in their field of interest (veterinarian, accountant, farrier, bloodstock agent). Occasionally farms may allow KEMI students to spend part of a regular work day shadowing a horse industry professional. However in most cases, the intern must arrange for these activities on their day off. The KEMI coordinator can help students arrange additional learning experiences on their day off.

The Classroom Component: Farm employment gives students an understanding of what is done and when it’s done on a commercial thoroughbred farm. The classroom component provides an understanding of why various management practices are used. Students meet at least one evening a week for an educational lecture, demonstration or field trip. Attendance at these weekly activities is required. The lectures, demonstrations and field trips seek a balance between veterinary/health related topics and current industry issues. These learning experiences are provided by successful veterinarians, bloodstock agents, farm managers, communications experts, university researchers and other industry professionals. In the Spring session topics focus on breeding and foaling. Example lectures include: managing dystocia in the mare, corrective trimming for conformation defects in foals, use of surgical procedures to correct angular limb defects in foals, controlling disease outbreaks on farms, feeding broodmares for optimal reproductive efficiency, infertility in mares and stallions, etc. In the Fall Session, topics focus on preparation of young horses for sales and racing. Example topics include: pedigree considerations in selecting racing prospects, use of acupuncture in the thoroughbred industry, promoting racing in the US, relationship of conformation to soundness in thoroughbreds, buying and selling young horses for profit, breeding horses for commercial sale, etc. One evening a month students attend a meeting of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club where they listen to an invited speaker and have the opportunity to interact with active farm managers and others in the related industries. Other activities may be scheduled during each session at the discretion of the coordinator.

In addition to attending the regular weekly evening meetings, students are required to complete homework and other assignments and to compile a portfolio that details their internship. All work is graded by the KEMI coordinator and used, in conjunction with the employer’s evaluation to determine whether an intern receives a certificate of completion for the KEMI course.

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What is the age of most KEMI interns?

The average age of a KEMI intern is 22 years old. The range has been 18-47 years of age.

Any person with an interest in the KEMI program is welcome to apply, including non-traditional students and international students. Non-traditional students include individuals who are not currently affiliated with a collegiate program. International students include all non-U.S. residents.

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When does the KEMI internship take place?

The Kentucky Equine Management Internship is offered two times each year, once during the spring breeding and foaling season and once during the fall sales and yearling breaking and training season.

Spring Session
January – June (Spring Breeding and Foaling Season)

Fall Session
July – December (Yearling Sales Preparation and Breaking Season)

Each session is twenty-two weeks in duration and coincides with the labor demands on our area horse farms. Students are expected to be present for the duration of the internship program to successfully complete the requirements for graduation. After successfully completing one session, students may reapply for the other session. There are currently no summer internships available.

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What is the cost of the KEMI program?

Schedule of Fees (effective Spring 2011):
(All fees are subject to change)

Application Fee $35.00
Tuition Deposit $465.00 (includes payment for orientation-short course)
Tuition $2000.00 (due at the end of the 1st week of the session)
PROGRAM TOTAL $2500.00

The $465.00 non-refundable tuition deposit is required within 30 days of notification of admission to the Kentucky Equine Management Internship program. Upon receipt of the deposit by the KEMI program, the student is guaranteed a seat for the session indicated. If the deposit is not received by KEMI within the 30-day period after notification, KEMI reserves the right to fill the seat in that session with another applicant. The remainder of the tuition is due at the end of the 1st week of each session. The first week of each session is an orientation period. Students begin full time employment at a farm during week 2.

Currently, there are no grants or loans available through the KEMI program. However, you may be eligible for financial assistance through your college or university if you are enrolled for academic credit while participating in the KEMI program.

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Are there any Scholarships available to KEMI interns?

There are two scholarships available to currently enrolled KEMI interns:

  • The Michelle Fuerniss Scholarship is awarded biannually to students currently enrolled in the KEMI program. Friends of the Fuerniss family have established this perpetual scholarship fund to recognize outstanding KEMI interns. The scholarship will be awarded in the form of a tuition waiver for a future session of the KEMI program or a cash award, at the conclusion of each session of the KEMI program.
  • The Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers’ Club (KTFMC) Management Award is awarded to a deserving KEMI intern in each internship session (Spring & Fall) and consists of a cash prize and a week-long opportunity for the intern to explore/shadow professionals in their chosen career path (subject to availability) in order to interview, network and explore jobs available. This week-long opportunity will be completed at the conclusion of the KEMI internship period.
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Where do interns live during the KEMI program?

Housing on or near the farm is intended to contribute to the internship experience by providing an environment conductive to participation in all farm activities. Many of the farms have a dormitory, house or apartment for student occupancy. Whenever a vacancy exists, housing is provided to the intern as a provision of full-time employment. Some units are fully furnished and others will require students to bring some of their own household furnishings.

Housing is for interns only. Students who will be accompanied by family members, companions or pets are responsible for obtaining their own housing and are strongly encouraged to evaluate their ability to subsist on wages earned strictly through an internship program.

Acceptance into the program does not guarantee that housing will be available and students who apply after the deadline are not eligible for housing unless a vacancy exists.

Some farms may require the students to pay a housing deposit in the amount of $250.00. This may be collected as a lump sum or may be paid through a weekly payroll deduction in the amount of $25.00 per week for the first ten weeks of the internship. The deposit will be returned upon successful completion of the internship, provided the housing is not damaged in any way and that all personal belongings are removed or disposed of properly.

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How does KEMI select the Host Farm sites?

Farms submit an application and must be approved to serve as a host site.

KEMI then reviews the intern applications and makes the host site placement based on the farm opportunities that best correlate with the abilities of the interns. The interns are notified of their host farm assignment following acceptance into the program and upon receipt of the tuition deposit.

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How many hours per week do interns work?

Interns are required to work six days per week with one day off. A typical week is approximately 48 working hours.

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Are the KEMI interns paid?

Currently, KEMI interns earn $7.25 per working hour.

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Are there any Summer or Part-Time Internships available?

Because of the seasonal demands of farm employment, we do NOT offer Summer or Part-Time Internships. All interns work full-time and we offer two internship sessions each year. Spring interns are employed from mid-January through mid-June and Fall interns are employed from mid-July through mid-December.

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Will I get to ride horses as a KEMI Intern?

It is not likely. There are a few select farms that allow interns to assist in the breaking of young horses during the Fall internship, and these internship positions require the student to demonstrate superior horsemanship skills to be considered for participation. In addition, there are also height and weight restrictions for these positions.

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Besides the tuition, are there any other costs associated with being a KEMI Intern?

Housing is provided to the interns at no cost; however, most interns are required to pay for utilities and the cost is approximately $50 per month.

Meals and personal expenses (including transportation to the farm) are not provided for the intern.

Students are responsible for obtaining their own medical insurance while participating in the KEMI program. It is strongly recommended that each student procure medical insurance coverage before beginning the internship program. The farms are not responsible for providing health insurance and students should be aware that the host farm for which they will be working does not have the duty to eliminate all risks of injury of participation in farm animal activities. Participants should further understand that there are inherent risks of injury that they voluntarily accept if they choose to participate in farm animal activities.

Reliable transportation is absolutely essential for the successful completion of this course. It is necessary for students to travel to work, campus and to various KEMI sponsored events in the Lexington area. Under Kentucky State law, you are required to maintain liability insurance on any operational vehicle.

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What are the chances for finding a job in this field following completion of the internship?

Beyond the tremendous learning opportunities associated with the day-to-day farm activities, there are countless other opportunities. During the weekly meetings students are introduced to, and are able to interact with, successful professionals in the horse industry. Through the KEMI program many students will arrange additional learning activities by shadowing veterinarians, farm managers or bloodstock agents on their days off. By successfully completing the KEMI program and seeking additional opportunities in the areas of greatest interest, students are better prepared to step into a career level position after graduation.

Many farms or industry organizations contact KEMI when they are seeking qualified employees. KEMI currently maintains a list of available positions, a roommate referral service and a list of former interns who are seeking employment. Those students who complete the course are eligible to utilize the KEMI resources in order to obtain positions in the industry. Providing this service to our graduates is the most obvious method for ensuring accountability for our program and the mission of the Kentucky Equine Management Internship.

Depending on your geographic location, opportunities in the horse industry vary greatly. In Central Kentucky, the chances of finding a job in the horse industry are quite good. However, as in any occupation, your success in finding a employment and your salary depends largely on your qualifications as an individual. The KEMI program provides hands-on experience and networking opportunities for career exploration in the horse industry and cannot guarantee future employment.

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How do I apply to the KEMI program?

The application process requires:

  • A completed application form which includes an application fee of $35.
  • Copies of all college transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation from collegiate advisors, instructors, coaches or employers. References should be able to document your academic competence, horse experience and employment history.

The application form is available on this website. Applications are also available through many equine science or animal science advisors or by contacting our office toll-free: 1-877 644-KEMI.

Completed applications should be returned to:

The Kentucky Equine Management Internship
P.O. Box 910628
Lexington, Kentucky 40591-0628

Students may apply anytime prior to the application deadline; however, we strongly encourage students to apply at least four months prior to the beginning of the term for which they are seeking admission. The KEMI program does have limited enrollment and only applications received by the deadline will be considered for housing. After the deadline, candidates will be considered on a space-available basis only.

Application deadlines for the Spring session are due October 31st and applications for the Fall session are due April 30th.

The program coordinator and education chairperson evaluate each applicant to determine student qualifications. Students meeting the criteria are then recommended to the Board of Directors for final approval. Our Board of Directors reviews the applications in mid May and mid-November. Students are notified approximately two weeks after acceptance decisions are made and are notified of placement sites approximately one month prior to their arrival in Kentucky.

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How does the KEMI program correlate with my collegiate goals?

The KEMI program serves as an off campus internship for students enrolled for credit through at their college or university and most interns are eligible for academic credit awarded through their college or university.

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Is there anything else I should know about the KEMI program?

The use of alcoholic beverages is absolutely not permitted during any KEMI sponsored educational event. Students who fail to comply with this policy are subject to disciplinary action that could result in dismissal from the program pending authority from the Board of Directors. The Kentucky Equine Management Internship is committed to providing a safe working environment on our area farms and equine facilities. Working with horses and farm equipment while under the influence of drugs or alcohol poses significant risks to your health and a blatant disregard for the safety and welfare of others.

All students should be aware that some farms perform random drug tests as part of their pre-employment screening, and/or may require a drug/alcohol screening whenever there is a reasonable suspicion of drug/alcohol use while on the job or when there has been involvement in a workplace or vehicular accident.

In addition, Kentucky State law prohibits the purchase, possession, or consumption of alcoholic beverages or beer by persons under the age of 21 years. The KEMI board has determined that the unlawful possession, use or distribution of alcohol or illicit drugs will result in immediate dismissal from the program.

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