Equestrian Science

Equine Science

The Missouri Department of Agriculture reports that Missouri ranks third nationally in horse population. With an estimated horse population of 200,000 horses, the total value of all breeds exceeds $400 million and operating expenses are more than $200 million annually. Equine science is important to a growing number of students in Animal Science at MU, with approximately 20% of our current students having a primary interest in horses.  Due to these numbers, the MU Equine Program is a popular and growing component of the Division of Animal Science.  Currently, five equine specific courses are taught within the Animal Science Division. 

Equine Program Overview

The MU Equine Teaching Facility at South Farm currently houses a quarter horse breeding program with care and management of these horses being the cornerstone of these courses.   Some of these horses have been raised at our facility, but most of them were received through generous donations from program supporters.  Overall, the horses MU Equine Teaching Facility assist in teaching approximately 100 undergraduates interested in equine science each semester!  The MU Equine Program is committed to raising athletic horses with great dispositions and marketable bloodlines.  Each November the MU Equine Program offers a select group of horses for sale in their Annual MU Online Horse Auction.

MU Horse Farm Volunteers

In the spring the equine breeding management class, as part of their coursework, is responsible for breeding and foaling of all mares at the farm.  The resulting foals, as well as some donated horses, are then trained by students in an equine behavior and training class during the fall semester.  Additionally, a barn management & marketing class prepares sale information for the MU Online Horse Auction and hosts the sale preview.  Each horse is sold with complete health records and daily training journals. The ultimate goal of this sale is to place horses in long term homes while providing income directly to the equine program. 

Established in the spring of 2008, the Horse Farm Volunteer program allows for students to gain experience in horse care and general maintenance while caring for the breeding herd.  Students from all backgrounds are eligible; with 87% of those volunteering have no prior equine experience.    Volunteers are responsible for daily feeding, turnout, stall cleaning, and grooming of horses.  In addition, volunteers are notified of all veterinary or farrier appointments in an effort to engage students in the entire management of the farm.  Other volunteer learning opportunities include performing foal watch, handling weanlings and yearlings, practicing routine health care and disease prevention, and assisting with the sale horse preview.

As the equine program strives to become financial independent it must rely on support from the community and alumni.  Donations of any useful tack, equipment, and supplies to further our ability to teach students are greatly appreciated.  The equine program is also in the process of renovating facilities to better accommodate our educational activities.  If you would be interested in making a donation to the MU Equine Teaching Facility please contact Marci J. Crosby at (573) 884-7836.
Horses in a field

MU Online Horse Auction & Fundraiser

Each November the MU Equine Program offers a select group of horses for sale. Many of our sale horses have been produced in our program. These horses are of various ages and have been trained by undergraduate students in coordination with courses taught at the MU Equine Teaching Facility. We sell both riding horses and youngstock, with most youngstock bred and raised by students in our program. Our sale provides tremendous hands on opportunities for our students to learn about careers in the equine industry, but also professionalism and thinking on their feet. It is our goal to place these horses in quality, life-long homes. To achieve this mission, all horses are sold with complete medical records and detailed daily journals of each horse’s training program since birth. This information is available by request to prospective buyers. We jokingly say each horse is sold with their own personal “owner’s manual”! Our primary goal is to teach our students about responsible horsemanship by providing complete histories on each horse and doing our best to place horses in long-term homes by being honest and forthcoming with each horse’s history. Our University of Missouri equine program has been successful in providing our Equine Behavior & Training students (many of which handled horses for the first time this fall) with experience handling and training a wide variety of horses. This class focuses on natural equine behavior and strategies for modifying their response to stimuli through training. Students also gain patience and improvement in their own communication with peers by fine-tuning their non-verbal communication and timing of reinforcements with their assigned horses. Students in our Equine Facility Management & Marketing class learn professional skills such as taking photographs for equine marketing, writing descriptions on individual sale animals, creating sale portfolios for each horse (including a large amount of proofreading), interfacing with clients at our sale preview event, and producing videos highlighting each individual animal’s training. Throughout the semester, this class also practices critical thinking and problem solving by actively managing and caring for the MU Animal Science equine teaching herd. After the sale is over, this class switches gears and focuses on examining the economics of running an equine facility and will focus on ways to generate income through various aspects of the equine industry. All proceeds from our sale benefit the MU Equine Program and support our students! Funds are directly used to care for our teaching herd and purchase classroom supplies. Additionally, this auction provides our students with valuable real-world experiences both training horses and professionally communicating with potential buyers. It is with your help that we are able to continue to educate the future faces of the equine industry. Our 2014 auction will run from October 13th until Thursday, November 13th. Bidding ends on Thursday, November 13th, 2014 at 7:00pm. To access our sale website go to http://animalsciences.missouri.edu/horses/premier/.

Our 2014 Sale Horse Preview will be held on Saturday, November 8th from 10:00am until 2:00pm with lunch provided! During the preview, the student trainers will be working with the horses throughout the day, and our marketing students will be present to visit with prospective buyers. This event is a huge part of providing real-world business experience to our students. Even if you are not in the horse market this year, consider stopping by to visit our program and encourage our students for all their hard work!

Questions about sale horses can be directed to Marci J. Crosby at (573) 884-7836 or crosbym@missouri.edu