U plans Equine Center in St. Paul

University officials plan to start building a new equine center this summer.

by Jerret Raffety

Life might soon get more luxurious for horses living on the University’s St. Paul campus.

University officials have plans to break ground this summer on a $12 million new center on the northeast side of the campus to improve horse-related research.

According to planners, the money would endow a sports medicine position, build a $7.3 million facility and purchase new equipment.

The facility is estimated to be 50,000 square feet.

Rob Nordin, College of Veterinary Medicine development director, said approximately $3.4 million has been raised so far in cash donations and pledges for the project.

“Once the facility is up, it will be much easier to raise the rest of the $12 million, because people will see it as less of an abstract,” Nordin said.

He said University President Bob Bruininks and several other officials have led fund-raising efforts.

The center will be a multipurpose facility that will mostly be used by the College of Veterinary Medicine, the University Extension Service and the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences.

“These areas of the University would use the new Equine Center for the focal point for their teaching, research and continuing education activities,” said Trevor Ames, a professor in the veterinary population medicine department.

The center would include facilities for research and clinical studies for horses such as respiratory, cardiac and reproductive health studies. One particular area of study would be in lameness, a condition that causes horses to have problems with their hooves and legs.

Ames said the center will help study this condition because it provides specific surfaces for the animals to walk on. They currently only have an asphalt parking lot to study lameness.

The center would allow the St. Paul campus to accommodate up to 25 more horses than the current facility at the University’s Veterinary Medical Center, he said.

The center will also allow community outreach, such as We Can Ride, a therapeutic riding program that allows disabled people to ride horses.

“Horse riding strengthens a disabled person’s muscles and teaches the brain the complicated movement patterns involved in walking,” said Judi French, We Can Ride executive director.

The center would give more space to the department of animal science, which began offering classes in equine studies for the first time in September, said Christie Malazdrewich, an equine option coordinator for the department.

“The College of Veterinary Medicine were kind enough to let us use their large animal teaching barn,” Malazdrewich said.