How do you top an amazing year like we had in 2013? That's the question I keep asking myself in this New Year.
We had two healthy Thoroughbred foals born on campus, the first in over 30 years. We trained 20 students in pregnant mare and foal care, one of which wrote "THE BEST CLASS EVER" on their class evaluation form. The foals generated 11 news articles and videos describing the excitement of their arrival and the impact it had on the students. We had hundreds of people visit the foals on Maryland Day. And lastly, the proceeds from their sale this past December went back into the program to ensure its success. Sure, we had our highs and lows like every horse breeder, but man, what a year that was.
As we move into 2014, our current focus is on the late gestation nutrition and health program of our first mare to foal, The Best Sister. She was donated by Jim and Christine Steele of Shamrock Farm and is in foal to Rock Slide. Her early due date of February 11 means the students in the Equine Reproduction class will have only about two weeks to prepare. It means we'll start the semester with a bang and end it with our second mare to foal, Daylight Lassie. She was bred back to Friesan Fire and has an early April foaling date. We're also focusing on our open mare, Amazin, who unfortunately had an early pregnancy loss last year. We're getting her under lights so that she can be bred in March or early April of this year.
I know that our 2014 foaling season may not come with as much fanfare as the previous year, but I'm sure that our next two foals will generate just as much excitement and hope that new life brings.
/Amy O. Burk, PhD
Associate Professor and Extension Horse Specialist, University of Maryland