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2010-2011 Horse News

Click here to see the students from Spring 2011!

May 26, 2011
I am pleased to announce that RU ShyAnne And her filly, RU Skylark will be going to SunnySide Recreation Area (Monmouth County Park System in Middletown) as part of their equestrian program. In addition to the Therapeutic Riding program (SPUR - I was on their board of directors a long time ago), they have a wide variety of horse programs and hope to now develop some programs explaining the mustangs to the public.

The trainers, Cindy Ross and Liz are trained both in Parelli techniques and Cindy is now doing natural hoof trimming. Melissa Reese has volunteered there - I bet she will find a way to get there even more often now!

Thank you to Susan Liu, the director of the programs, for thinking "outside the box" and coming up with this perfect plan for them.

May 9, 2011
RU ShyAnne and her filly RU SkyLark still need a new home! Shy has tremendous potential as a dressage horse but would be suitable for any discipline. She is smart, responsive and has gorgeous gaits. Sky is probably going to be taller than her dam and is bold, friendly and extremely athletic! Their students are still working with them regularly but once exams are over the students will have to leave for the summer. We will keep Shy and Sky here until we find a buyer but they will not be getting the regular handling they need to reinforce their current excellent manners. They would be a great oppotunity for a 4-H project...

Contact Dr. Ralston for details or to come see them!

May 3, 2011
RU Sierra has been sold! The trainer of RU Firedance ('09) in Colts Neck, NJ came to see her this morning, worked her briefly in the round pen, made a phone call and wrote the check for the minimum bid! Now we only have to find a new home for ShyAnne and Skylark.

May 2, 2011
Ag Field Day and Auction Report

The Annual Rutgers Ag Field Day horse show was a "Wild" success. The weather was almost perfect, cool with a light breeze. The Mustangs all looked fabulous-dappled, and gleaming in the bright sunlight. This was the best behaved group of young horses we have had in twelve years! They stood like statues (well, there were a few spooks as the judge, Art Stafford-Taylor approached - he is VERY tall and a few of the more timid young horses did move a little) but for the most part the horses were totally unfazed by the crowds and commotion, performing well for their handlers. No drama this year! Though RU ShyAnne and her 17-day-old filly Skylark were not in the grooming or handling classes, they were brought out by their students, Pam Brzezynski and Lauren Wheeler, to put on quite a show during the intermission between the grooming and handling class. The student coordinators and supervisors had done a great job in getting the students (and horses!) ready for the big day. It was hard to believe that none of the mustangs (except the foster, Annie Oakley) had been even halter trained in September 2010, when we got them!

Results of the Ag field Day Horse Show:

Fillies Grooming Class
PlaceHorseStudent Handler
1stRU SassafrasAlex Broomell
2ndRU SierraLaura Sherry
3rdRU Annie OakleySamm Wehman
Geldings Grooming Class
PlaceHorseStudent Handler
1stRU KodaCassandra Messina
2ndRU SantanaKelly Mannin
3rdRU LeviNataliya Esperson
4thRU Sundance KidMegan Termyna
Grand Champion GroomingRU SassafrasAlex Broomell
Reserve Champion GroomingRU SantanaKelly Mannion

Handling Class - Novice
PlaceHorseStudent Handler
1stRU SantanaKelly Mannion
2ndRU Annie OakleySamm Wehman
3rdRU Sundance KidMegan Termyna
Handling Class - Advanced
PlaceHorseStudent Handler
1stRU SassafrasAlex Broomell
2ndRU Sundance KidRachel McGovern
3rdRU SierraLaura Sherry
I unfortunately did not get the other placings in this class - there were a total of 9 exhibitors!

The first and second place exhibitors in the novice and advanced handling classes were given a new horse to show for the championship.

Handling Class - Championship
PlaceHorseStudent Handler
Grand ChampionRU Sundance KidKelly Mannion
Reserve ChampionRU SassafrasSamm Wehman
3rdRU Annie OakleyAlex Broomell
4thRU SantanaRachel McGovern

The horses were turned out after meeting and greeting parents and friends of the students after the show in their stalls. They continued to entertain the crowds with their antics all afternoon in the front paddock, led by the exhuberant RU Levi and RU Sundance Kid. RU ShyAnne and Skylark were in their double sized stall and enchanted hundreds of vistors with their calm acceptance of the crowds and Sky's boldness, licking everyone's hands in between naps. Unfortunately, no one stepped forward to adopt the two foster horses, RU Annie Oakley or RU Sundance Kid, who were officially available for adoption, but everyone I spoke to expressed surprise at how well behaved and how beautiful the mustangs were. Many thanks to the students who stayed after the show to help explain about the program and the mustangs to the seemingly endless crowds. We kept the barn open until 5PM and even then had to shoo people out so the horses (and we) could get some rest.

Sunday dawned with perfect weather-pleasantly cool with bright sunshine, which was a double blessing since the Roud House was still under renovation and we were planning to hold the auction outside the barn in the round pen. The students were at the barn at 8AM to get the horses and barn ready for the auction. As the morning before,  all of the horses except Levi and Shy/Sky were put into the Equiciser to get some exercise while their stalls were being cleaned. It was really fun to watch their personnalities being expressed, with Santana and Sassafras being pushed by the panels, exerting minimal effort, Koda and Annie trying to push the panels faster and Sierra and Sunny carefully keeping in the middle of their sections! After 11AM, a crowd of about 100 people showed up, many of whom were owners of RU graduates: Elsie Nelson, Katie Stevens, Carla Prentiss, Lyn Halsey, Chelsea Bullock, Sheryl Senczakiewicz, Chuck Rosen, Mike Warren, Veronica Sullivan, Josh Alster, current student Brianna Stafford and my husband Bill Kaminski, representing at least 17 of the 131 RU graduates from the program (I may have missed some too). However, even after a thrilling preview with trainer Jose Romero-Bosch putting the auction horses through round pen rountines, a special showing of Shy and Sky by Pam Brzezinski, assisted by my student assistant, Erin Koci, and a ground driving demonstration with Santana and exhortations from us all to please register to bid, only 4 people registered (each expressing interest in a different horse) and one family decided to adopt RU Annie Oakley instead of going for an auction horse. So there was really no point in having the official auction, though auctioneer Dennis Cassidy had volunteered his time to do so, as had the on-line RealTime Bid company represented by Art Stafford. So the party continued until about 2PM...

The horses going to new homes, all for the minimum $500, were:

  • RU Koda was purchased by his ecstatic student, Samantha Rodgers, who is graduating from SEBS in two weeks and starting an internshipin horse training with Jose.
  • RU Santana was purchased by a friend of our long time benefactor and supporter, Margrit McCrane, as a dressage/trail prospect. Thank you, again, Margrit, for bringing her along!
  • RU Sassafras was purchased by the owner of a farm in Colts Neck, who is not entirely sure what she will do with the 2-year-old filly - it was one of her "bucket wishes" to own a mustang. She will be working with the one of the students and Art Stafford to keep Sassy's ground training manners intact.
I just heard that RU Sundance Kid is being adopted by one of our long term and very generous sponsors, Joanna Barnish and her husband Louis Sorrentino. Sunny will remain in training with Robin Rivello for at least the next few months.

The two 3-year-old fillies, RU Sierra and RU ShyAnne (accompanied by her baby RU Skylark) are still available, first come/first serve to experienced horse handlers only, for their minimum bid of $500. Sierra will be going to Jose's training facility next week if she is not purchased by the end of this week to continue her training and her price will go up accordingly. ShyAnne and Skylark will remain here at Rutgers until Sky is old enough to be weaned if they are not purchased together (hey folks - it is a "two fer one" deal!). At that time we will determine how to proceed with them, since there will not be new young horses brought in for the 2011-2012 school year. Both of these 3-year-old fillies have tremendous potential as dressage/trail/competitive horses and their value will only go up as they mature and are trained to the next steps in their careers. Sky is a spitfire and shows promise as a gaming horse, the way she runs around!

As announced earlier, RU Levi, "the Professor," will be going to New Bolton Center as a neurology teaching horse, generously sponsored there for the rest of his life by our benefactor, Liz Durkin.

The goal this year was not to raise money but to promote the mustangs, which I think we have done quite successfully. Hundreds of people now recognize that the gathered mustangs, even the sales horses, can be groomed and trained like any other horse to be gorgeous, athletic candidates for just about any equine discipline that accepts all breeds as competitors. The proceeds from this year's auction did not cover the expenses, but the Young Horse Research and Teaching funds, thanks to the generosity of our many benefactors in the past, were more than sufficient to cover what I consider well spent expenses. Next year we will be utilizing portions of the Young Horse funds to promote responsible horse ownership (details to follow), leaving enough for "start up" if the economy (and I!) recovers sufficiently to resume getting in young horses in 2012. It has been a wild ride this year and I want to thank again the students too numerous to list here, Robin Rivello and the USWHBA, Jose Romero-Bosch, Joanne Powell, and Anthony Sacchetti for their endless hours and efforts that made the end results such a success. Anthony was there for us all day on Saturday, Joanne took over Sunday. Special thanks to Sean Conway, a student working on farm crew over the weekend, who performed several miracles for us in getting the bedding/manure removed despite the spreader breaking down and several other near disasters averted!

As I said repeatedly over the weekend, this was the best group of young horses we have ever had with respect to looks and behavior at the shows! GO WILD! BUY A MUSTANG! They are well worth the effort!

April 28, 2011
Ag Field Day show is Saturday, April 30 at 10AM. Come see the mustangs put through their paces by the Ag Field Day students! The Horse Show should be over by 11:30 AM, at which point the horses will be turned out in the paddocks for everyone to see. At that point, RU Sundance Kid and RU Annie Oakley will be available for adoption BUT ADOPTERS MUST BE PRE-APPROVED. So far we have only two applications. Adoptions are on a first come, first serve basis for $125. US Wild Horse and Burro Association president and approved BLM inspector, Robin Rivello, will be at the Red Barn to approve the adoptions and provide information on the other 40,000 mustangs in need of finding homes, including several well trained fosters in the area!

  Hopefully, trainer Jose Romero-Bosch will be able to get there to give some round pen demonstrations in the afternoon. Dr. Ralston and her students will be available to show/discuss the horses all afternoon in the red barn, where you will also get to see ShyAnne and her foal Skylark!

The auction will be Sunday, May 1 rain or shine. The preview and bidder registration will start at 11:00AM with individual showings of each horse in hand and in the round pen. The auction will start at 1PM with auctioneer Dennis Cassidy. Due to construction in the Round House, the auction will be held at the Red Barn . On-line bidding is possible (See Auction page) but YOU MUST BE REGISTERED TO BID! Since Dr. Ralston will be at the barn, not her office, most of the time the next three days, please call the barn: 732-932-1992 or her cell phone: 732-330-9130 for information or e-mail her at but be aware that she can not check her e-mails unless she is in her office or at home!

April 24, 2011
Our VIP Preview of the mustangs was on Saturday, April 23, 2011
at 5PM. We were fortunate to have excellent weather and were able to show off all of the mustangs outside. All of the horses looked fantastic and behaved just as well - we could not have been more proud of them.

RU Annie Oakley posing with her sponsors, the
Colts Neck Trail Riders.

(Photo by J. Teson)

April 18, 2011
Professor RU Levi with Student Jackie Teson
(Photo by L. Sun)

Our official Public Preview of the Mustangs was on Saturday, April 16, 2011
at 5PM. Despite the horrible weather, it was a success and there were about 40 visitors admiring the gleaming, dappled, well-behaved young mustangs. The horses were shown in hand  in the barn but, due to the torrential rain, were unable to be shown in the round pen as planned. Therefore, people who are seriously interested in adopting Sundance or Annie Oakley or bidding on one of the others are welcome to attend our VIP preview this Saturday (April 23, 2011) at 5PM, where hopefully the weather will cooperate and we will be able to put the horses through their paces for all to see. RU Skylark will be halter-trained by then too and she and her mother, RU ShyAnne will be shown outside too. 
 Bidder and adoption registration forms will be available. Contact Dr. Ralston for details:
Private viewings are also possible!

What we hope you will see:
Nadja Fishlechner ground driving RU Santana
(Photo by L. Sun)
In view of the recent EHV-1 outbreak in Monmouth County, we do ask that visitors observe common precautionary hygiene before entering the red barn/premises, such as disinfecting footware, changing clothes, washing hands if coming from other horse properties. The horses will be vaccinated against common diseases but unfortunately the vaccines are not 100% protective against the EHV-1 virus.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
RU ShyAnne was noted yesterday at 5PM for the first time to have a small amount of clear fluid
expressable from her teats. At 9PM she was eating hay happily. At 7AM this morning her student came in to check her and the foal was up, dry and nursing! Mother and filly appear to be doing very well - the students are having fun having a naming contest.


March 20, 2011
The mustangs are now at the Red Horse Barn. The move from the Ryders Lane farm to the Red Horse Barn went very smoothly, with all of the horses loading and unloading from the trailer with minimal issues. We were fortunate to have perfect weather for the move. The mustangs certainly enjoyed the beautiful day - they had a great time galloping and playing in their new fields at the Red Barn.

Sunny leading the antics during the first turnout
 at the Red Barn!

March 9, 2011
Spring break starts this weekend. The mustangs will be moved to the Red Horse Barn at the corner of College Farm Road and  Sheepfold Lane on March 17 to get ready to meet their Ag Field Day Students the following Monday!

Our official Public Preview of the Mustangs will be on Saturday, April 16, 2011
at 5PM. The horses will be shown in hand and at liberty and available for inspection. It is open to the public-come watch the fun! Bidder and adoption registration forms will be available.

February 22, 2011
Shy Anne is starting to develop her udder! Looks as if we will know what she is carrying well before the auction!

Shy only 10 days ago

February 18, 2011
Thanks to the incredible generosity of Liz Durkin, a long time supporter of the Young Horse Program and the Equine Science Center (She owns 6 RU horses, has sponsored many more, and is a member of the ESC's Circle of 50) RU Levi will go to University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in May to teach veterinary students to recognize neurologic signs associated with neck injuries for as long as he lives!  He'll also be a good ambassador for mustangs with his sweet personnality and cuteness.  If, for any reason in the future, New Bolton does not want to keep him while he is still healthy and happy, Ms. Durkin will take him to her farm, where he will live out his natural life.  And trust me, Ms. Durkin will not let him go elsewhere.  She is the perfect role model for responsible horse ownership!

"Professor" RU Levi practicing for class at the Equine Science Seminar!
(Photo by R. Verdieck)

February 8, 2011
We have survived the snow storms and the horses are doing well.  We hope to see you Sunday, February 13 at the Equine Science Center Horseman's Seminar. The focus this year is on the old horse. For details and registration information go to  We will be showing off the Mustangs at the Ryders Lane Barn (Access from Ryders Lane) at about 4PM after the seminars!

January 18, 2011
The spring semester has officially begun, and the horses have been brought in from their 24/7 outdoor vacation! They all did well during the break, despite blizzards and lots of snow. They had adequate shelter and feed and visitors every day but are now hungry for attention.  This semester we will be looking at the effects of meal feeding grain (corn or oats) on excitability and trainability versus using just a balanced total mixed ration. We are also excited to welcome back Jose Romero-Bosch and Robin Rivello as our associate trainers (thanks to funding from our sponsors!) to help us get the mustangs ready for the Ag Field Day show on Saturday, April 30. RU Sundance Kid and RU Annie Oakley will be available for BLM adoption after the show to pre-approved adopters (first come-first serve). Contact Dr. Ralston for details.

The 12th Annual Young Horse Auction will be the next day, Sunday, May 1st, and there will be 5 mustangs to bid on. The Auctioneer will once again be Col. Dennis Cassidy, who is generously donating his services this year. 

RU Levi has been taken out of the auction and Ag Field Day due to a neurological problem caused by a cervical (neck bone) defect. He is not suffering and is safe at this time to handle (he is a real sweet heart!) but will not be able to be considered safe as an athletic horse in the future based on the current radiographic defects seen in his vertebrae. In keeping with our Responsible Horse Ownership principles, he will be donated as a teaching horse to a veterinary school in March unless a miracle happens and his cervical lesions improve.

December 29, 2010
The mustangs survived the blizzard of 2010 quite happily. Thank you to Robin Rivello, Clint Burgher, Farm Crew and Research students who managed to dig out Monday and Tuesday to care for them when Dr. Ralston was thoroughly stuck in Howell. Though the mustangs had plenty of shelter in the sheds with free access to feed and water (more than they would have had in the wild!) they were brought into their nice, dry stalls Monday and Tuesday. Santana and Koda were somewhat reluctant to lead their groups back out into the strange white stuff today (Wednesday), but the rest were more than happy to go out to cavort in the snow. Levi and Sierra were especially cute, high stepping through the drifts. Photos will soon be posted in the Group Photo section of the 2010-2011 link.

December 21, 2010
Happy Holidays!
It has been a busy couple of weeks!

Photos from the ESC Update and other recent events are up. Go to the new "Events" section and the individual mustang's pages at the 2010-2011 link.

Dr. Kathy Lackey adjusted Koda, Shy Anne, Sundance Kid and Sassafras last Friday. None had serious issues and were well behaved. THANK YOU, Dr. Lackey!

 RU Levi's neck was radiographed by Dr. Lindsay Makreel because he was exhibiting some neurologic deficits noted by Dr. Kenney the week before. Unfortunately there are some lesions, the severity of which are yet to be determined. He is happy, active, and, other than rather exaggerated gaits and mild proprioceptive deficits, is sound and does not pose any danger to himself or the students.  He loves to play with the others and adores attention and training, so we will just monitor him for the next few months and re-evaluate him in February.

The last behavior tests for this semester's research will be conducted on Dec 21 and 22. The horses will then be turned out 24/7 (with nice deep sheds for shelter and plenty of feed!) for the winter break. Dr. Ralston, Robin Rivello and the students will be checking on them every day and will bring them into their stalls to be groomed, handled and weighed at least twice a week to remind them that they are now tame!

December 10, 2010
Dr. Jim Kenney generously donated over an hour to explain and demonstrate chiropractic adjustments on four of the mustangs (the other four will be done next week by Dr. Lackey). All four were much more relaxed and happy after his manipulations!
Adjusting Annie OakleyExplaining to Jenny what to feel for

December 9, 2010
The horses and students are busy getting into the holiday spirit!

Annie OakleyKoda, nicely braided by KrissyShyAnne and foal stockings hung with care!
December 1, 2010
All of the mustangs had their hooves trimmed by the farrier for the first time on November 28. It got a bit exciting at times, but overall went well. There were no differences between +corn versus no corn ration groups. There were equally bad and good actors on both sides of the aisle - see their individual pages for their performances. Next week we will switch the diets and repeat the behavior tests just before the semester ends. We have collected fecal samples from each of the horses, and will be comparing the starch content of the samples from the horses on each diet.

Photo by J. Teson
RU Annie Oakley and student Rebecca Diaz during a behavior test.
(Photo by J. Teson)

November 23, 2010
The horses are all filling out nicely and getting thick winter coats! All are leading well and responding to basic cues. The next step will be their first visit from the farrier after Thanksgiving break!

The preliminary behavior tests are completed, which were a standardized series of commands given to each horse, once by one of their students and once by Dr. Ralston and evaluated/scored by our trainers, Jose Romero-Bosch and Robin Rivello for performance and willingness. They were then exposed to a novel object (open umbrella in the round pen and scored on their reactivity to the new object and reaction to being separated fron the herd (the others were in the barn). The horses all did very well and we are very pleased with their progress.

Following the tests we started the horses on their research diet. Four horses are receiving the total mixed ration with 10% corn and four are being fed the ration without corn added. The hypothesis is that the added corn will alter their reactivity to novel stimuli and training cues. The first behavior test on the new diet was completed today and the scores will be compared to the preliminary tests for each horse.

The students are finally learning how to update the website, so please check back periodically to see what they’ve added to the individual horses’ pages - we promise lots of photos!

November 6, 2010
The preliminary behavior tests will be completed next week and we will finally be able to start the experimental diets. The tests consist of a standardized sequence of responsiveness to cues (walk forward, stop, stand still, lift leg, etc on command) and reactivity to novel stimuli (ie: an umbrella opened while the the horse is loose in the round pen). The hypothesis is that the addition of corn to the total mixed ration cubes (The bags are color coded but we do not know which color bag=corn added) will result in an alteration of the horse's reactivity to novel stimuli and responsiveness to cues.

October 28, 2010
We have living proof of the fecundity of mustangs: Shy Anne is pregnant!
She is probably due in April. She looks fabulous, just rather round.
All of the horses are now leading and able to be turned out, at least in the round pen. We hope to do our baseline behavior tests next week and start the diet research the week after!

October 18, 2010
The 2 year-old chestnut filly we called Amber remained, after over 4 weeks of training and attempts to gain her trust, too explosively fearful of sudden noises or movements to be safe in our environment. Our busy, noisy barn was just too much for her. Trainer Robin Rivello has taken her to her more secluded barn where she will continue to try to gain the filly's trust and desensitize her to stimuli.

Meanwhile, we obtained a replacement 2 year-old filly to use in our program from the BLM, who we are calling RU Annie Oakley, per her sponsors' wishes. We will be fostering her through April, 2011 and then trying to find her an adoptive home. She is a lovely little girl who already knows how to lead and loves people. She's a bit thin and scraggly (She was a "repossession" from a former failed adoptive home) but never fear-you'll see her shine up quickly in the weeks to come! She is so sweet, willing and smart she will be a star in the program!

RU Annie Oakley on her first day at Rutgers

October 5, 2010
All the mustangs have been haltered and all but 3 are being led around the barn and into the round pen by their students. Sierra and Shy Anne are coming around nicely, just now learning to lead around their stalls, but RU Annie Oakley (Aka: Amber) is still unwilling/unable to trust us. Our two trainers, Robin Rivello and Jose Romero-Bosch, have worked long hours with the students and mustangs to make great progress in getting the horses' trust and respect.  It has taken longer than usual to get everyone on the same training level this year for a variety of reasons but we are slowly getting there!

ShyAnne sporting her new halter with her proud student, Pam, looking on.Sundance Kid tolerating a blanket - even on his head!

October 3, 2010
All mustangs are haltered and most are being led around the barn and into the round pen by their students. Our two trainers, Robin Rivello and Jose Romero-Bosch, have worked long hours with the students and mustangs to make great progress in getting the horses' trust and respect.  It has taken longer than usual this year primarily because all but two of the horses are 2 years old-they have had a longer time to develop a distrust of humans!

RobinLevisniffKoda LeapJoseSantana
Robin Rivello bonding with RU LeviRU Koda leaping for joy at being out for the first timeJose Romero-Bosch working with RU Santana

September 25, 2010
We have a new "Highest Honors" sponsor, Lenore Carasia, who has donated to support the teaching/training efforts. This year, due to the generosity of our General Program Support donors, we have two experienced trainers, Jose Romero-Bosch, from Stonehedge Farm in Suffern, NY and Robin Rivello of the Wild Horse and Burro Association who will be coming help the students on a regular basis. Robin very generously donated her time and expertise last year and this year we felt it only fair that we give back to the USWHBA for their incredible help (and to help support their efforts on hehalf of the mustangs). Jose is a Rutgers Cook College graduate who has had training from both BLM trainers and classical European riding since his graduation from our program. We welcome him back!
Updates are going up on the Students page.

September 12, 2010
We selected 8 mustangs (six 2 year olds and 2 yearlings, 4 are geldings, 4 are fillies) from the BLM adoption held September 10 & 11 at the Sussex Fairgrounds in Augusta, NJ. Seven are "sales horses," which means they had been to 3 adoptions already and passed over, so we were able to purchase them out right instead of going through the adoption process (the BLM was very kind to bring them up to Sussex for us instead of making us go to Tennessee to pick them up!). One, RU Sundance Kid (3996, not 3986 as originally thought), is a yearling gelding we will be fostering for the year and who will be available for adoption next May. They arrived at Rutgers Saturday afternoon and quickly settled into their new stalls. Only 4 had halters that were put on by the BLM people in their squeeze chute at the fairgrounds, due to a miscommunication on our part. Go to 2010-2011 Horses to see them!

The research in the upcoming year will be focussed on the effects of diet on behavior and trainability. We are extremely pleased that we already have support from the generous friends of the program who continue to support the switch to BLM mustangs.


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