In 2013, the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences at the University of Maryland brought live equine births back to campus for the first time since the 1980's. This unique and often life-changing experience for students helps to train them in the care and management of broodmares and foals and also helps to make them more competitive when securing jobs in the industry. The foals have become so popular that faculty, staff, students, and visitors line up along the paddock fences at the Campus Farm to watch the foals frolic and nurse.
Caring for horses in general is expensive but this year in particular, the university’s equine studies program encountered some unexpected costs during the process of welcoming new lives in the horse barn.
At 7 am on March 30, the broodmare Amazin' gave birth to a dark brown filly named "Maryland's Miracle". Shortly after the birth, it became apparent something wasn't quite right. After the foal began to have seizures, a group of students held her legs still so that she wouldn't injure herself. Quick thinking led to a call to Dr. Douglas Powell, the university's on-campus veterinarian. He brought oxygen down to the horse barn and aided the students in rigging up an oxygen mask to hold over the newborn's face. With the help of an equine veterinarian who quickly arrived on the scene, students and faculty were able to stabilize the filly so she could be transported to the intensive care unit at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, VA. Fortunately, the filly has made a full recovery.
Almost exactly 24 hours later, another broodmare named Daylight Lassie gave birth to a baby colt named "Blazing Terp" in the very next stall. Because he was so tall and couldn’t quite figure out how to stand and nurse, another visit by an equine veterinarian was required so that the foal could be tube-fed his mother’s first milk to get the necessary antibodies he needed to fight disease. Later that day, the colt figured out how his legs worked and how to nurse and is now developing extremely well.
All told, the cost of veterinary care added to the daily care and management of the foals totaled more than $10,000 this year – well above what the equine studies program had budgeted. A generous donor agreed to give $5,000 to help cover the costs IF the department can raise at least another $5,000 to support the program.
Without further financial support, the equine studies program at the University of Maryland will struggle to bring foaling back to campus each spring. Donations will help secure the future of this popular program that provides invaluable, hands-on experience annually to more than 50 students who would not be able to gain these skills elsewhere. Program leaders would also like to use funding to expand the breeding program to include additional horses so more students can participate in coming years.
Gifts in support of the University of Maryland are accepted and managed by the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, Inc., an affiliated 501(c)(3) organization authorized by the Board of Regents. Contributions to the University of Maryland are tax deductible as allowed by law. Please see your tax advisor for details.