RU Rosie, RU Pardner with RU Glinda, RU Casanova, RU Brisa and RU Genesis
2009-2010 PROGRAM SUMMARY
For the past ten
years, the Rutgers Young Horse Teaching and Research Program promoted
draft-cross yearlings registered with The North American Ranching Information
Council (NAERIC). This organization is charged
with overseeing and registering horses of the Pregnant Mare Urine (PMU)
addition to producing a
menopausal-relief drug for women, this industry simultaneously produces
draft-cross foals; horses once—erroneously—thought to be useless
pharmaceutical manufacturing. Contrary to this opinion, these foals are
results of quality breeding between draft mares and high-end stallions.
Due in part to Dr. Ralston’s involvement, these animals are no longer
“unwanted,” and have proven themselves in a variety of disciplines,
dressage to western pleasure. Prices for NAERIC horses have soared in
years—so much, in fact, that they now outweigh the program’s budget.
Overpopulation on the western ranges is a significant problem that
can only be realistically solved by removing excess horses from the
public lands. However, The American
mustang, though revered as a national heritahe, still evokes a
major public misconception. They are thought to be
high-spirited and difficult—if not impossible—to train, making them
harder to place after capture. Collectively, they are considered a federal
charity case; feral animals in need of “rescue” after being gathered from the range. Having already successfully influenced
public opinion regarding the PMU horses, Dr. Ralston found a new misconception
to correct this year. With the help and extraordinary support of the Bureau
of Land Management, she purchased four “3 strike” mustangs for
the program in August. As defined by
the BLM, these are the horses who had not been adopted at previous events and
who, otherwise, would have been transferred to long-term holding facilities.
these horses—RU Ramblin’ Rose, RU Casanova, RU Marley, and RU Canella—Dr.
Ralston hopes to show the public that these feral equines are just as valuable
and desirable as the PMU yearlings of previous years.
With the help of Robin Rivello, President of the US Wild Horse and Burro
Association and her husband, Mike Yodice, Dr. Ralston’s research students will be training the mustangs to
lead, free-lunge, tie, and undergo routine procedures (e.g. grooming, bathing,
and clipping). In addition, Dr. Ralston will be conducting various behavioral
and nutritional studies, comparing the mustangs to the program’s current draft
crosses. The horses will be auctioned off this spring to good homes—as bellwethers
for the thousands of wild mustangs that still are waiting to find homes and purpose after being gathered from the range.
For information on the Bureau of Land Management Mustangs go to:
US Wild Horse and Burro Association website
Why and how the Young Horse Research and Teaching Program was started originally-by Sarah Ralston.
In the mid-1990’s, associate
professor, Dr. Sarah Ralston was a member of a consultants’ group advising
Wyeth on better management practices for the controversial pregnant mare urine
(PMU) industry. Through this association Dr. Ralston got an idea for a program
in which she could combine her research interests in transportation stress and
young horse nutrition, with her Equine Science teaching program at Rutgers
University. The program also had the added benefit of being able to debunk some
of the common myths and erroneous information about the PMU industry that was
being disseminated and to provide valuable information on the nutrition and
management of draft cross horses, which we have found to be significantly
different from the well studied hot blooded breeds such as Thoroughbreds and
For 10 years Dr.
Ralston, with the help of students participating in the program, selected
12 foals from PMU farms in North Dakota, and, since 2004, Canada, After
weaning in September of each year, the young horses were transported to Rutgers University.
While the previously unhandled weanlings were halter trained and gentled by the
students for the first 10 to 14 days after arrival, their recovery from the
stress of the 36+ hour drive to New Jersey was the subject of at least 4 student
honor’s theses. The young horses then were used in nutrition and growth studies, and the Rutgers teaching
program from September to April. In April they were shown “in hand” in the
Annual Ag Field Day Horse Show then sold the next day at a private auction in the Round House on the Cook Campus. The
proceeds from the auction went back into the program to support the costs
for the following year.
Equine Science Center
For questions about the program or the website, please contact Dr. Sarah Ralson at firstname.lastname@example.org
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