Articles

Inside OSU – Equine Program

October 17, 2019


Who says I’m not a real cowboy? Here I am at the equine center astride Larry with my cowboy boots from OSU on and all the rest. Today on Inside OSU, we’re going to talk about one of the oldest programs at Oklahoma State University, our equine program. It’s really very interesting and we’re very proud of it. Let’s go in. I’m here with a Dr.Stevenen Cooper, who’s an associate professor of animal science here at OSU and runs the equine program. Thanks for having us out. Glad to have you sir. Well tell us about the equine program. Dating back to the early 1900s, if you look back at the horse program, originally we were using draft horses. To haul wagons and plowing? Right. Back then, the primary use was still for work. So the horses used in this program to give kids a better understanding of how to manage those horses, how to care for those horses. Now you’re teaching horse judging and stuff. Tell us all the things our students are learning about the equine industry. We have a stock horse program now and we switched from draft horse breeds to stock horse breeds. Is that a quarter horse? Specifically yeah quarter horse is the predominant breed here not only in the state, but across the United States. So we’ve developed our herd around that specific breed. We use those horses to fulfill all three missions of OSU: teaching, research and extension. What we see out here behind me are students that are involved in a training class where they’re learning how to take horses from an early stage up through the initial stages of breaking and training and initial handling. You’ll see kids in here from your traditional cowboys to your nontraditional, non ag students. You also teach horse judging. What makes that animal good or not? If you look at that horse, it has very good confirmation and then that subsequently relates to how that animal’s going to perform. And so the other part of this program that’s relative to the judging is teaching those kids how form relates to function and then when they get on those horses then they’ll really get to see what we’ve taught them from a judging aspect. How large is our herd? We maintain a herd here of about 20 mares and we have two stallions, so we produce horses here. So they learn how to deliver them? Yes sir. These kids will actually the night out here in the barn and camp out and they’re required to watch those horses all night, just like they would in the industry. And that’s really what we’re try to do is get them prepared to go out and be able to do anything and everything that you might see on a commercial farm. Let’s talk to a couple of these students. Well hi guys, how are you all? Good. You’re Justin McGee from Ardmore, OK? Yes sir. Senior, animal science. And Mathew Hall from Sperry. That’s right. And you’re a senior. What’s your horses name? This is Dot. I understand you couldn’t put a halter on her when you first got her. That’s correct. When was that? That was the beginning of August. Wow and now you can ride her and everything. She’s doing great. How about you, what’s your horses name? Bay. Now did you grow up on a ranch Justin? Yes. So you’ve ridden horses all your life? Yes sir. So why are you involved in the equine program? I’ve always wanted to improve my horsemanship skills. I’ve never really worked much with young horses so I thought I’d take the class to improve my skills so if I ever bought a young horse I’d know how to train him and get him going where I’d want him to go. Matt, what’s your major? Electrical engineering technology. And you’re out here working with a horse. Why are you doing that? I got into horses about four years ago and I just fell in love with it. You wanted to learn more about horses, what have you learned that you didn’t know coming here from the ranch? Takes a lot more time to work with a young horse than it does an older, broke horse. You got to teach them and keep doing repetitive things to make them understand what you’re asking them to do. What have you learned about a horse you didn’t know? I know you didn’t know a lot about them. A lot of the same things, just takes more time than you think at first. So a lot of patience? Right. Have you delivered a foal yet? No sir. Well you know that’s the final. Hope you can do it. Bring it. Well good deal. I’m here with three of Oklahoma State University’s finest who are involved in our equine program. On my right here is Margaux Tucker, who’s head of the Horsemen’s Association. On my left I have Travis Timmons and Tiffany Gonzalez. Tiffany, Travis, Margaux welcome. Head of the horsemen’s associate? Yes sir. Sure it’s not the horsewomen’s association? No we’re very mixed. Tell us about the horsemen’s association. The horsemen’s association here has been in establishment since the 1980s. We have many members. How many? Upwards of 40 and 50. We participate in anything and everything related to horses around Oklahoma and in the tri-state region of Kansas and Texas. Currently we’re participating in helping out at the American Quarter Horse world championship show in Oklahoma City. That’s a big show. Yes sir. Now you’re from an unusual spot for a person involved in the equine industry aren’t you? Yes sir. Where are you from? I’m from South Bend, Indiana. What are you majoring in? I’m a double major in animal science and agricultural communications. How did a girl from South Bend, Indiana, end up at Oklahoma State? I was recruited to be on the equestrian team and through that I just found other entities in the horse industry and opportunities that I could have at Oklahoma State. So Tiffany, where are you from? I’m from Rogersville, Missouri. What year are you? I’m a junior. In animal science? Animal science production. How’d you end up at OSU? The ag program. I was interested in agriculture, mainly horses and I was going to be a vet student but decided against that. Do you want a career with horses? Yeah eventually that’s what I want to do. I’d like to work for a breed association, like the American Quarter Horse or the National Reining Horse Association. To join the horse judging team, what do you have to do? Do you have to try out? In the spring there’s a class that Dr. Cooper offers that is a horse evaluation and you go through the class and you have the option of whether you want to join the judging team and you can take it just for fun or you can take it and judge in the fall. Well we’ve got an animal over here, Molly I think is this mare right over here. Looking at that horse, tell me how do you judge that horse? When we analyze a horse and put a horse together, we want it basically to break up into three parts: the shoulder, back and hip. You want all those lengths to be equal, and it allows them to blend a lot smoother. Well good deal. Congratulations on being involved. You’re our finest and we really appreciate you coming out today and telling us about your experience in the program. As you can see, our equine program is about a lot more than just saddling up. It’s part of our land grant mission of instruction, research and outreach, extension to our state and to the nation. So for Dr.Steven Cooper, and for all our students here and for all our animals, that’s another edition of Inside OSU. See you next time. Let’s go.

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