February 2, 2007 | By: Aimee Nielson

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture is set to launch an undergraduate equine education program this fall and officials have tapped a trusted, familiar face with a wealth of experience to take the reins.

Bob Coleman, formerly the college’s Extension horse specialist, has assumed the role of associate director for undergraduate education in equine science and management.

“Dr. Coleman brings a wealth of experience in the horse industry to this position,” said Mike Mullen, associate dean for academic programs at the UK College of Agriculture. “And, he brings a passion for educating young people about equine sciences to this position that will make him an effective ambassador for our emerging undergraduate programs in equine science and management. I look forward to working with him during this exciting time.”

Coleman said his goal is to have a strong academic program for students interested in the equine industry.

“We will be looking at basic concepts in science, management and economics and then we will show the students how to apply them in the equine industry,” he said. “Just like all the other programs in the college, we are going to prepare them for life after graduation.” 

UK College of Agriculture Associate Dean for Research Nancy Cox said Coleman will oversee a multidepartmental teaching program, coordinate internships and recruit lecturers from within Kentucky’s horse community.

“We are particularly pleased with the opportunity for interaction with the experts in our area in our teaching program,” she said. “We are grateful to Dan Rosenberg of Three Chimney Farms, who, as our executive-in-residence for the undergraduate program, has shaped an undergraduate curriculum that is relevant to the industry.”

Coleman believes partnerships with equine industry leaders in Kentucky and beyond is vital to students gaining a real-world perspective of the industry – locally and globally.

“It’s always important to make students understand the concepts, but it’s also exciting that we have the opportunity to use the resources of the state to attract and train students,” he said. “These students will have the potential to be leaders in the industry, and not just in Kentucky, but worldwide.
This program is necessary; the industry is telling us that, and I think we are being very proactive in responding to that need.” 

The curriculum committee is diverse,” he added. “They aren’t all animal scientists and they aren’t all horse people. We are really trying to envision a picture of what the graduates of this program are going to look like, in terms of what they will contribute to the industry and I think that has sparked some interest in the equine community partnering with us.” 

Students in the program will be required to have at least three credit hours devoted to an industry internship. Coleman said the internships will not just be close to home and they won’t all be in the racing part of the equine industry. 

Prior to 2007, UK only had horse-related courses, not a degree program – a strongly identified need in a state that derives a big part of its identity from its horses. Interest in this program is high, with potential students from as far as Washington state requesting information. 

Coleman has been involved in the horse industry as long as he can remember. He grew up around horses in Canada. He received his doctorate degree from the University of Alberta and worked in Alberta as the Provincial Horse Specialist. Coleman is also a past-president for the Equine Nutrition and Physiology Society.

Coleman leaves his post as coordinator the Cooperative Extension’s 4-H horse program, but Bob Harmon, chair of UK’s animal and food sciences department said he is actively seeking a new leader to continue Coleman’s work.

“We are excited to have Bob in this new role,” Harmon said. “The Equine Initiative is very important to the college. Bob will build on the strengths we already have and just make it stronger.”

Coleman will still do some adult education in Extension and continue to be a resource for the new hire. Harmon hopes to have the Extension position filled as soon as possible, and in the meantime Kristin Janicki, Extension associate for equine activities, is doing double duty and managing the majority of the equine Extension programming.


Nancy Cox, 859-257-3333, Mike Mullen, 859-257-3430, Bob Coleman, 859-257-9451, Holly Wiemers, 859-257-4883