Dr. Amy Burk
There has been a lot of chatter about the possible closing of our Equine Research Unit in Ellicott City after people learned of our decision to find homes for our 16 gelding research herd. For clarification purposes, the Unit is still open for business and our equine nutrition research program is going strong. We’re currently in the process of putting the finishing touches on 7 manuscripts that summarize our research findings, which will be submitted to scientific journals shortly. Our decision to find homes for the geldings was based on the fact that we don’t have any studies planned that involve them for at least 6 months. It didn’t make much financial sense to spend more than $20,000 to maintain a herd that didn’t have a job for half a year. All but one of the geldings was sold or transferred to a non-profit adoption farm. The one horse who was sold at auction was dangerous when being handled and couldn’t be ridden.
We will accept donations of other horses when we initiate new studies that require us to maintain our own herd. We are still conducting exciting research. In fact, we just collaborated with Rutgers University on a study looking at the effects of exercise on inflammation in horses competing in the Jersey Fresh 2- and 3-star three day event. We are also waiting to hear whether or not we were awarded a grant that will help us develop a 5-acre rotational grazing demonstration site at our Equine Research Unit. The site will be used to teach horse farm owners about rotational grazing layout, pasture management, and safe fencing options. You can check out our website, www.equinestudies.umd.edu for more information on our research program.