Master Equine Managers

Denise Schwab, Beef Field Specialist, Southeast Area

Problem Statement:

A recent study by Dr. Peggy Miller-Auwerda, showed that the Iowa equine industry annually produces over $862 million in goods and services, and contributes $474 million to the gross domestic product.  Iowa has over 47,000 equine owners and 145,000 Iowans are involved in the industry as owners, service providers, employees and volunteers.  Yet we have very few Extension programs for equine owners.

Programmatic Response:

The Master Equine Manager (MEM) program was designed to provide in-depth training to increase the knowledge and skill in equine science, care and training.  The program includes six sessions on nutrition, health, facilities, conformation, behavior, and hoof care.  A second session in eastern Iowa was held in 2008, and utilized the expertise of several previous participants, as well as partnering with industry and veterinarians.  Local presenters included Abby Keegan, Nutrena Feeds; Dr. Jessica Young, Abraham Equine Clinic; Dr. Christine Woodford, Abraham Equine Clinic; Kevin Woodford, professional horse judge; Karla Sibert, Iowa Equine Rescue and Awareness League; Hal Hellental, professional farrier; Dick Meade, horse trainer; and Leah Horrigan, trainer and stable manager.


Each session consisted of some classroom presentation and some hands-on demonstrations, which appealed to most of the participants.  An end-of-meeting evaluation was given after five of the six sessions.

The health care session received an overall rating of 3.68 on a 4.0 scale.  Eighty-four percent of participants said they increased their practical knowledge about common diseases a lot, and 83% said they became more familiar with the control of parasites and insects.  Seventy-five percent said it increased their understanding of the importance of a Vet-Client-Patient relationship, and 67% said it enhanced their ability to handle emergency injuries.   One participant said the information learned will be used for more efficient removal of paddock wastes to reduce parasite load.   Another said they now can check vital signs and with guidance administer our own vaccines.

The facilities session was rated 3.5 on a 4-point scale.  Sixty percent of the participants said the MEM program increased their understanding of equine facility design a lot, and the other 40% said it helped some.  Fifty percent said participation enhanced their ability to identify problem areas in their own facilities a lot, and also to see ways to improve them.  Ninety percent said they learned to evaluate the safety hazards around their facilities.

The selection and conformation session was rated 3.55.  Eighty-three percent said they increased their knowledge of leg soundness, upper body soundness and structural unsoundnesses.  Forty-two percent said they have a lot better understanding of how conformation affects a horses use and another 42% said they have a somewhat better understanding.  Sixty-seven percent said they have a lot better understanding of equine rescue.

The session on hoof care was ranked 3.44.  Sixty-two percent said the program improved their ability to identify hoof problems a lot, increased their knowledge of the impact of hoof care on soundness, and of hoof anatomy and care, and another 25% said it helped some.  One participant said they will use the information learned to improve assessment ability of horses overall health and soundness, and in teaching lessons.  Another said they learned how a hoof can be trimmed to stop cracks and correct balance.

The Behavior session was ranked 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.  Sixty-four percent said the program increased their understanding of how to use natural instincts in handling and training horses a lot, and they gained a better understanding of the hunter/jumper discipline.  Fifty-five percent said they improved their understanding of beginning ground training a lot, and 36% said they improved some.  One participant said they have a better understanding of why my horse does what she does.  Another said they will take smaller steps during training to achieve greater successes.

The nutrition session was not evaluated due to the lack of time.  One common comment was that the programs were too rushed and needed more time for the topics to be covered in more detail.  One participant also commented on several evaluations that the materials covered were not advanced enough.  It is clear that a more advanced level of the program is needed by the industry.

After two sessions of MEM, partnerships have been developed with Abby Keegan from Nutrena Feeds, Carol Eihlers from Apples NOats, Abrahams Equine Clinic, Karla Sibert from Iowa Equine Rescue and Awareness League, and several stables, managers and trainers.

Plans are underway for a pasture walk to focus strictly on horse pastures, and another MEM session will be offered next year probably in the Quad Cities area. 

April 14, 2008

140 - Iowa Beef Center

Page last updated: April 16, 2008
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,