MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center Walking Tour
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MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center Walking Tour

August 23, 2019

Welcome to the MSU Horse Teaching and Research
Center walking tour. Your tour guide today will be Dr. Karen Waite,
the facilities faculty coordinator. Our first tour stop at the MSU Horse Teaching
and Research center is our main building and arena And this building includes our managers office
the restrooms, and a classroom area. And if you have the opportunity to look at
our classroom you can see a variety of awards around the top of the room and a trophy case
that was donated in memory of one of our former students, Amanda Awalt who was
unfortunately killed in an accident. And her family donated this trophy case. One thing to know is that most of the horses
at this farm are purebred Arabians and they were bred here, foaled here, raised here,
and trained by students. And so one of the most distinguishing features
of our programs are that our animals are used for teaching primarily and that our students
are exposed to working with a variety of age groups of horses and that each Spring our
students prepare roughly twenty of these horses for our annual sale. If we move past the classroom and into our
indoor arena we’ll take a look at that building which is 80×180 and it’s where our
horsemanship and training classes are held. So if you come into our arena especially from
8-5 during the week, during the school year you’ll often see our students working with
the young horses or in horsemanship classes. Sometimes, in the Spring especially, we have
a round pen set up in the corner of the arena where some of our young horses experience
their first rides. It’s always safer to get on a horse for the
first time in a smaller confined space as opposed to an entire arena. So that’s why we have the round pen set up. We also are fortunate enough to have a heating
system in this particular building so if you look at the ceiling we have some boxes that
are actually furnaces. And then some long tubes that blow the warmer
air throughout the arena. Which makes it very comfortable to teach in
and ride in. But its only heated to about 40 degrees both
from an expense perspective and we don’t want the horses or the humans getting too warm. But it definitely makes it more comfortable. So now we’re going to move into our second
tour stop, which is our upper barn or our main barn. So now we’re on our second tour stop. Which is the upper barn. And this barn has twenty four stalls to house
our show horses, our breeding stallions, our horses in training, or injured horses that
might require particular special care. The stalls themselves are 10×12 and if you
look above the stalls you won’t see any ceiling and that design is intentional to optimize
ventilation. We typically bed on wood shavings and then
those shavings are over rubber mats and concrete floors. We also have a tack room and a grooming area. In our tack room we store saddles, bridles, and halters. Often if you come in through this area in
the middle of the day there will be a variety of students working with horses as well and
we do caution that you move through areas with horses quietly without running or yelling. Horses are actually prey animals and so if
they see quick movement or loud movement they may get scared and they may react so we do
ask that you be cautious when moving around horses. Now we’re going to move to our third tour
stop which is our exercise areas. Just to the north of our main barn. Alright we are here at tour stop number three. This is our exercise area and you’ll see both
a wheel walker and a large turn out area for our stallions. Our stable horses may be provided with exercise
in either the turnout paddock or the exercise wheel walker. In addition to the typical training routine
of riding or lunging. The wheel walker is also used for exercise physiology related research. We also do some behavior and welfare research
and occasionally nutrition projects here. So both of these areas are used again both
for research or possibly just for daily turnout. Horses are very athletic animals so its very
important that they get out and get some exercise every day. Next we’re going to move on to tour stop number
four which is our draft horse barn which is the low, smaller shed with the hitching rails
in between our older barn and the main barn we just left. Now we’re at tour stop number four which is
our draft horse barn and this barn if you were here on a Tuesday or Thursday mornings
during the fall semester, you’d find students who have horses tied to the hitching rail
who were harnessing horses and learning how to drive them in our very popular draft horse
basics class. At this point we have two Clydesdale that
MSU owns and you may be familiar with Clydesdales because they are also the horses used in the
Budweiser hitch which most people are pretty familiar with. But draft horses are much much larger than
our Arabians and our Clydesdales have feathering around their legs which is pretty distinctive
of that breed. MSU has a long history with draft horses. And early in the century we were one of the
primary breeders of both Belgians and Percheron horses. But now again we focus mainly on the Arabians
but do have a very popular draft horse class that’s offered every year. Next we’ll be leaving the draft horse barn
to head to tour stop number five which is our reproduction facility. It’s the long larger, white barn just to the
east of the old barn. We are now at tour stop number five which
is our reproduction facility. And this particular barn hosts the breeding
facility where we have breeding stocks which are these large green stall type things. And if you are here on a Monday, Wednesday,
or Friday morning in the summer, you would find a veterinarian here working with students
to check our mares to see if they are ready to be bred. So they might be doing artificial insemination,
pregnancy checks, biopsies or cultures. We also have a laboratory to collect semen
quality and prepare semen for artificial insemination. We also have a large area where natural cover
breeding is conducted and for collecting stallions for collecting stallions for artificial insemination. Also in our collection area we have a scale
for horses that allows us to weigh the horses for our research projects. Our next stop will be tour stop number six. Which is our lower barn. Okay now we’re in our tour stop number six
which is our lower barn. If you walk into this barn and look up you’ll
see that it’s much much different than our upper newer barn that was designed with horse
health and comfort in mind. This particular barn was built in the 1800s
and it was designed with human health and comfort in mind. So you will see ceilings dropped over the
stalls, and if you look up again the beams, some of the beams were actually build using
trees that were cut down on campus. So this barn was originally located on the
main MSU campus and was moved to this location in sections. The barn contains 24 stalls and in the Spring
it becomes almost completely full with mares close to foaling or who have recently foaled
or given birth to their offspring. So this barn is very typical of older Michigan
barns that were again built with horse or animal comfort less. And human comfort as more primary simply because
people worked all day every day in the barn. So this barn again is very warm in the winter
time. There is also a heated bedroom in this particular
barn where our students stay over night with mares who are close to foaling to help them
out if that becomes necessary. And we have roughly fifteen to seventeen foals
born on the farm every year. So you can come between 8 and 4 o’clock every
day of the week and see those new Spartans after they have been born. We are outside and looking at the pastures
around the farm. And if you happen to be here sometime on the
walking tour one thing I’d like to point out is that horses actually have the ability to
sleep standing up and they often do sleep standing up more so than our other animals,
but they occasionally especially our young horses will lie down to sleep. And so you may see horses that are lying down
it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re sick or that there’s anything wrong, because horses
do sleep either standing up or lying down. We hope you enjoyed your walking tour with
MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center. If you have more questions or would like more
information please go to our website at

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