There are currently over 130,000 horses categorized as recreation animals in New York State (New York State Equine Industry 2012 Economic Impact Study), with over 14,000 horses in commercial horse enterprises and nearly 100,000 horses owned by private farm owners. Because most of the owners of these horses classified as recreation animals own small farms and stables rather than commercial horse enterprises, they often do not have access to many resources that larger organizations enjoy.
In 2002, Dr. Lyda Denney (NYS Dept. of Ag and Markets State Veterinarian) created the first ever NYS Horse Health Assurance Program (NYSHHAP) to address this need. The program received national attention when launched and resulted in approximately 75 NYSHHAP-accredited facilities. However, upon Dr. Denney’s retirement, the program was eliminated and has not, as of yet, been reinstated.
Our CCE intern would take one of the first steps towards creating a uniform evaluation program for these small farms that could provide NYS horse owners and equine facility managers with feedback and resources for improvement. The intern would integrate information gained from literature review, comparable state programs for other species, and NYS horse facility owners to begin to formulate a comprehensive and holistic equine facility and horse management evaluation program. Ultimately the program could be formalized and offered as a tool to small horse farm operators in NYS to improve, and potentially certify, their farm through CCE.
Roles and Responsibilities
The student intern will begin to build the evaluation program in three phases:
1) Background information collection. Using a combination of literature review, evaluation of comparable state programs for horses and other species, and interviews and visits with NYS horse farm operations, the intern will collect and organize information that will provide the basis and direction for subsequent steps
2) Build an initial evaluation program. Based on their findings in step one, the student will compile this information to build an initial version of the evaluation program. The program will assess horse facility design, manure management, pasture management, equine health and disease, farm employee management, barn safety protocols, and any other factors that we determine play an important role in horse farm success
3) Perform trial evaluations using the initial program. The student intern will utilize the initial evaluation program they’ve formulated to perform “field trials” by evaluating several local horse farms in order to provide the equine business owners with valuable feedback. These initial field trials will serve as the final project for the student and will form the basis for future iterations of the equine facility and horse management evaluation program.