January 31, 2007 | By: Holly Wiemers

Amid a crowd gathered in one of the University of Kentucky’s equine research barns, UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. and College of Agriculture Dean Scott Smith today announced a new equine undergraduate program and significant improvements to UK’s Maine Chance Farm on Newtown Pike north of Lexington. The new equine undergraduate major will undergo the approval process by the University Senate and the UK Board of Trustees.

The expansion of its equine programs was orchestrated through the university’s Equine Initiative. The mission of the initiative, launched in May 2005, is to discover, share and apply new knowledge to enhance the health, performance and management of horses commensurate with the signature status of Kentucky’s equine industry. 

“The Equine Initiative is a prime example of how UK’s Top 20 pursuit serves to better the entire Commonwealth,” said UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. “The Initiative’s bold plans to enhance our teaching, research and outreach capabilities will help to create better opportunities for Kentucky’s horse industry, cementing Kentucky’s status as ‘horse capital of the world.’”

“This new program perfectly illustrates the important relationship between education and the economy. It also demonstrates why it is so important for us to support the University of Kentucky in its quest for Top 20 status,” said Mayor Jim Newberry. “We need to build on the ‘horses, health care and high tech’ cornerstones of our economy. This program in equine science and management will support our signature industry in important new ways, generating good jobs through teaching, research and entrepreneurial initiatives.”

Strong input from College of Agriculture faculty and key Kentucky equine industry stakeholders was a central component of the Equine Initiative’s planning efforts. As part of the Equine Initiative, UK has subsequently created a new equine-based undergraduate curriculum, enhanced existing and is establishing new equine research and outreach programs and has established new partnerships with other equine organizations and universities.

“The college endeavors to become the world’s leading institution in equine education and research and these program enhancements are a positive first step in that direction.” said College of Agriculture Dean Scott Smith. “Beginning with our new undergraduate program this fall, we will be providing an exceptional educational experience for students while continuing to conduct high quality research for the benefit of the state and equine industry.”

When the new undergraduate curriculum launches this fall, it will be first time UK has offered an undergraduate degree in equine studies rather than the handful of horse-related courses students have been able to take in the past. This step was determined to be a critical need in a state whose number one agricultural commodity is horses. 

The new Equine Science and Management undergraduate degree program is comprised of two tracks – an equine management option that focuses on management of the horse and farm enterprise and an equine business option that focuses on business and organiza¬tional management within the industry.

Educating the students who will contribute to the horse industry in the long term is something that is important to Dan Rosenberg, president and chief operating officer of Three Chimneys Farm and the College of Agriculture’s executive-in-residence. As executive-in-residence, Rosenberg has had a contributing role in the new curriculum.

"The equine industry is a major economic engine, not only for Kentucky, but worldwide,” Rosenberg said. “Like many other businesses, ours is becoming increasingly competitive and sophisticated. It is imperative that we educate and properly prepare those who will lead the industry in the coming decades."

UK hasn’t stopped at enhancing its undergraduate offerings. The future of equine programs at UK is inherently tied to the facilities available for superior teaching, research and outreach offerings. UK’s vision is one of unparalleled excellence and a push is under way to build the facilities to match this vision. 

The university has announced three distinct areas of enhancement on its Maine Chance Equine Campus: an equine education and research cluster, an equine health research cluster and infrastructure and aesthetic improvements aligning with horse farm best management practices.

The equine education and research cluster will be the home of UK’s new Equine Science and Management undergraduate degree program as well as the continued location for the Department of Animal and Food Science’s research in equine nutrition and feeding management. Some of the buildings planned for the near term include a teaching pavilion and the renovation of a foaling barn. Future enhancements include a learning center and the construction of additional animal science research barns. 

The equine health research cluster, current location for the Department of Veterinary Sciences and prestigious Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, will continue to be the site for leading equine health research. Some of the immediate building plans include a strangles research facility and the completion of a 24-stall animal containment facility. Future plans include the construction of an additional 24-stall animal containment facility.

Enhancements on UK’s Maine Chance Equine Campus won’t be limited to the construction and renovation of facilities but also include significant upgrades to the farm’s infrastructure. 

Infrastructure and aesthetic improvements are part of an endeavor to become a recognized asset for Fayette County and part of the visually appealing landscape of horse farms surrounding the Kentucky Horse Park, especially important as the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games approach, and with them, national and international attention. In addition, UK is planning the implementation of multiple water quality protection practices at Maine Chance Farm and nearby areas in the Cane Run watershed.


Nancy Cox, 859-257-3333, Holly Wiemers, 859-257-4883