Equine Studies Highlighted Faculty

Dr. Pam Hess instructs a student.

Dr. Pam Hess
Research at the Equestrian Center

In the fall of 2011, Dr. Pam Hess, working in collaboration with Delia Nash of Kentucky Performance Products (KPP) in Versailles, KY, conducted a research feeding trial involving 20 horses at the Lake Erie College George M. Humphrey Equestrian Center. The object of the study developed by KPP was to compare several characteristics of 20 equine athletes receiving their routine diet or their routine diet plus a dietary supplement developed by KPP designed to improve equine health.

Five Equine Studies students worked on the project in various capacities. Students retrieved leftover, uneaten feed after each meal, which was then weighed and recorded. Students also performed observations on all of the horses in the study, monitoring each horse's behavior during riding classes and recording physical characteristics of the horses in the stall such as weight, body condition and fecal consistency. The feeding trial ran for 60 days, from September 29 through November 22, 2011.

The study began with 22 horses on the project, equating the total number of feed tubs for the project at over 2,520! At the conclusion of the study, the research students assisted Nash and Dr. Hess in fecal collection for an immediate ph analysis. The students took dozens of "fecal grab" samples directly from the horses every two hours throughout the day, starting at 5:30 a.m.

This study has been a great introduction to clinical research for our Equine Studies students. They learned first-hand about research data collection, blinded research protocols and the value of great teamwork on such a large project. The students worked very hard collecting data for the study and their involvement has greatly stimulated their interest in the process of research and the methods of scientific inquiry and data collection. Dr. Hess is excited about the relationship we have established with Kentucky Performance Products, and their interest in conducting research utilizing our stable of equine athletes and our undergraduate students as research associates.