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April 1-7 Horse Appreciation Days

Governor Jack Markell declared April 1-7 Horse Appreciation Daystwo horses waiting at a gate, and the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and Cooperative Extension are no strangers when it comes to displaying their commitment to the Delaware equine industry.

Since arriving at UD in 2009, Carissa Wickens, assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS) and Equine Extension Specialist, has conducted various activities to help support the educational needs of those involved in the equine industry in Delaware including the development of the UD Equine Seminar Series for the Delaware Horse Expo, conducting equine pasture walks at farms throughout Delaware, launching an educational equine blog and delivering additional adult and youth equine focused programs.

This past fall, Wickens and UD Extension Animal Science Agent Susan Garey held a 3-evening Equine Behavior Short Course and were assisted in the development, delivery and assessment of the course by 5 UD ANFS undergraduate honors students.  The students and instructors incorporated the use of distance technology (Adobe Connect) into the short course to engage their fellow Equine Management capstone course students in the experience.

Topics of the short course included anatomy and physiology of the equine brain, handling common equine behavior issues, and learning in horses, including information on positive versus negative reinforcement.

The students who helped with the course were Kelsey Johnson, Rebecca Aiello, Elizabeth Goodland, Erica Goldenberg and Sarah Thorne, all students in CANR and ANFS. “This was a wonderful opportunity to involve students in service and experiential learning and to introduce them to the work of Cooperative Extension,” says Wickens.

Together with Michelle Rodgers, associate dean for Extension and outreach in CANR and director of UD Cooperative Extension, and Susan Garey, Wickens and Johnson have co-authored an abstract titled “Engaging Undergraduate Students in the Development and Delivery of Equine Extension Programming” which Johnson will be presenting in the Undergraduate Student Competition at the 2013 Equine Science Society Symposium May 28-June 1 in Mescalero, New Mexico.

Aiello completed  a summer 2012 internship experience at the Camden Training Center, a beautiful 360-acre training center for thoroughbred horses located in Camden, South Carolina, and she has continued to gain hands-on experience with regional equine operations and veterinarians throughout her final year at UD. Thorne is currently assisting Garey and Wickens with equine extension programming and resource development.

In addition to these undergraduate students, Meredith Bonnell, a junior in CANR, and Elsje Marneweck, a senior in CANR, were recently awarded Delaware Equine Council Scholarships. In order to receive the scholarships, both students had to submit essays describing how they planned to use an equine or veterinary course to further the equine or agriculture industry. They were honored at the 2013 Delaware Equine Council Scholarship banquet in March.

Equine Studies Minor

Earlier this year, it was announced that Stuart M. and Suzanne B. Grant of Greenville, Del., donated $1 million to develop and support an Equine Studies Program in CANR at UD. With this generous gift, the University will create an equine studies minor in ANFS that will be available to UD students.

“The Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS) has recognized for some time that our undergraduate programs could be significantly enhanced by the addition of a minor in equine studies,” said Jack Gelb Jr., chairperson of ANFS. “However, we have not had the resources to make an equine minor a reality.” That was, of course, before Stuart and Suzanne Grant generously stepped in.

Equine Seminar Series

In addition to the creation of a new equine studies program, UD has developed an Equine Seminar Series at the Delaware Horse Expo held at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington, Delaware. The seminar series features equine experts from UD and neighboring Universities including Rutgers and University of Pennsylvania, as well as equine industry professionals and includes topics in equine nutrition, spring horse health, care and management of retired racehorses and more. The UD Equine Seminar Series is a collaborative effort between UD, the Delaware Equine Council, and Chick’s Saddlery and Western Wear.

This year’s Delaware Horse Expo will be held this coming weekend, April 6-7 and will serve as the culminating event for Delaware Horse Appreciation Days.

Equine Donations

In honor of Horse/Equine Appreciation Week, UD will have a donation bin set up in the Townsend Hall Commons all week. Acceptable donations include halters, blankets, lead ropes, horse treats, grooming supplies and medical supplies – such as vet wrap, digital thermometers, deworming medication, and gauze. Donations must be new and unused for safety reasons. All donations will be given to equine rescues within the state of Delaware.

International Conference

UD and the University of Pennsylvania will co-host the 9th annual conference of the International Society for Equitation Sciences (ISES) July 18-20, 2013.  This premier event will gather together over 200 equine scientists, veterinarians, applied ethologists, advanced practitioners (horse-trainers, instructors & riders), advanced students pursuing equine science degrees and influential stakeholders in the equine industry to present and discuss research related to the field of equitation science. It will focus on ways of improving horse training as well as encouraging the development of science-based criteria to measure the welfare of the horse in its interactions with humans.


For more information about other animal science offerings of UD Cooperative Extension please visit the Agriculture and Natural Resources portion of our website

Article by Adam Thomas