March 8, 2006 | By: Terri McLean

After years of breeding, training, showing and selling American saddlebreds, the Carver family of 100 Acre Wood Farm in Boyd County knows a thing or two about horses.

Yet, whenever the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service offers its five-week Horse College, a basic horse care course, Karen Carver and daughter Laurin Noe are among the first to sign up.

“Even now, it doesn’t matter how much I hear over and over, you’ll pick up something new along the way,” said Carver, the farm’s matriarch and longtime horse enthusiast.

Perhaps that explains the popularity of Horse College, especially in Boyd County where this year’s course had the largest attendance of any such program across the state. Even host Lyndall Harned, Boyd County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, said he’s learned something new every time Horse College is offered.

“Basically, the core content is the same, but it’s always updated,” said Harned, who continues to be amazed at the level of interest Horse College garners. “This year we’re averaging between 65 and 80 (participants) per session, which I was surprised being our third time around with it.”

With sessions on feeding and nutrition, care of the hoof, foot and leg, and horse health issues, Horse College provides attendees an ideal opportunity to learn the fundamentals of horse care as well as to stay abreast of new trends, products and techniques, said Bob Coleman, Extension equine specialist at UK and coordinator of Horse College.

“Probably the biggest thing I’ve noticed at all the Horse Colleges … they’re really concerned about doing the right thing and caring for their horses the best they can. That makes it pretty exciting,” Coleman said.
Horse College also attracts would-be horse owners who want to make sure they’re “doing the right thing,” he said.

“They are actually thinking about maybe buying a horse for the first time and want to understand what they’re getting themselves into before they go and make a purchase,” Coleman said.

“Sometimes not getting into it is as big a decision as getting into it,” Harned added.

Faculty from the UK College of Agriculture as well as Extension and industry professionals lend their expertise to Horse College. A local veterinarian often addresses vaccinations, general health issues, deworming and similar concerns. Mitch Taylor, owner and operator of the Kentucky Horseshoeing School in Mount Eden, is also a frequent guest, presenting information on the anatomy of the leg and good hoof care.

“The topics they talk about are not breed specific,” said Laurin Noe, who found Horse College so interesting that, this year, she began taking along her daughter, 8-year-old Anabel Noe. “Every session, there’s something beneficial.”

In addition to the information shared, the exchange of ideas and networking among horse owners and prospective owners is a valuable component of Horse College.

“It’s been really positive to see the networking happening, people getting to find out who knows who. They’ll talk about which veterinarian they use or which feed company they go to. They may say, ‘I’m having trouble finding a farrier locally, can you help me with that?’ ” Coleman said.

“There is a lot of interaction,” said Harned, who noted that the Boyd County program draws participants from three other counties and two other states.

No matter whether they’re gleaning information from equine experts or picking up tips from fellow horse enthusiasts, Carver and Noe welcome any knowledge gained at Horse College.

“In the beginning, (attending Horse College) was to learn,” Carver said. “And it’s still to learn. No matter how many times you go, you’ll always pick up something you didn’t know or that you’d forgotten.”



Bob Coleman, (859) 257-9451, Lyndall Harned, (606) 739-5184