Creating a sustainable equine teaching program on a suburban university’s campus requires considerable ingenuity since keeping a horse on campus is very expensive. Maintaining a herd dedicated for teaching and outreach can easily cause a budget to go in “the red.” However, the Department of Animal Sciences on the Rutgers Cook Campus came up with a creative solution, which involves “fostering” horses from equine rescue/placement programs and seeking sponsors to help pay for their per-diem costs. Some of the fostered horses will be available for adoption after the Ag Field Day Horse Show on Rutgers Day in late April, leaving a core herd of four horses for teaching and outreach throughout the year.
This new and exciting addition to the department’s Equine Teaching program is called the Rutgers University Teaching Herd (RUTH): Fostering Horses for Teaching and Extension. The eight horses in RUTH will allow faculty to expand students’ hands-on learning experiences and service in outreach. The horses will be dedicated solely to outreach endeavors, such as clinics and treadmill demonstrations, and teaching activities in didactic (classroom-based) courses like Horse Management and Comparative Anatomy and experience-based classes including Horse Practicum and Animal Handling, Fitting and Exhibition. In the latter course, students learn how to groom and train horses for in-hand exhibition on Ag Field Day.
Of the eight horses in this herd during the Spring 2015 semester, five are “fosters” from equine rescue/placement programs in New Jersey, namely the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, Arabian Rescue Mission, and Second Call for Thoroughbreds. The other three horses, two aged Standardbred mares and a Mustang gelding, will be part of a permanent herd of four that will stay here year round. The fourth member of the permanent herd will be identified from the five fosters or a new horse from a rescue/placement program, if all five fosters find homes on Ag Field Day.
Would you like to sponsor a horse’s board while at the George H. Cook Campus Farm? Thanks to the generous donation of Square Meal Happy Horse total mixed ration (TMR) by Dr. Harlan Anderson of Cokato, MN, owner of Square Meal Feeds, sponsorship of a foster horse is only $750 for the Spring semester. Sponsorships of those in the permanent herd are also welcome but will be $2,000/horse to cover their costs year round. Sponsors will receive updates on their horse from the students throughout the semester as well as be invited to attend a “Meet RUTH” event in early April.
Would you like to adopt a foster horse? The rescue/placement organizations will have representatives at the red horse barn after the Ag Field Day Horse Show on Rutgers Day (April 25, 2015) to screen and process adoptions of their horses. Foster horses that are not adopted or kept in the permanent herd will be returned to their parent organization. Sponsors and potential adopters are welcome to visit RUTH if they contact the Rutgers Department of Animal Sciences in advance so they can have students or faculty available to show them off.
The Rutgers Equine Science faculty are truly excited about this new “win-win-win” program, where their students’ learning experience will be greatly enhanced, the rescues/placement organizations will get greater exposure and the horses will hopefully find new, forever homes.