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Hands on Horses Program: MS State Univ.

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January 1, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about the Hands on Horses program through Mississippi State University Extension. Hello, I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Dr. Clay Cavinder, Mississippi State University Extension Equine Specialist. 

Clay, what kind of fun activities, competitively or recreationally, can we do that are horse related?

Clay Cavinder: Amy, there's so many different things. The mass majority of horse owners, 70, 80% are owning horses for recreational or showing purposes. So probably the biggest thing, opportunities that I see are people that can go through the breed associations, whether it's the American Quarter Horse Association or the breed that they're interested in, or even at the state and local level through their county extension office, through 4-H programs and whatnot. 

But if I can mention competitive part of it is a big aspect, but not for everybody. If you want to do a competitive event, it's available, whether it's cowboy mounted shooting, showing horses in halter and showmanship, and western pleasure, or you want to do over fences, there's just a plethora, a never ending list. But some people aren't competitive in that regard and they might just want to get involved with a local trail riding program, and so that's even available. And even some of the associations are giving a frequent flyer type program, if you will, to people that log the amount of time they spend in the saddle and hours, just competing against themselves, I guess. So lots of different opportunities in a number of different events.

Amy Myers: Great. So no matter what kind of equine event or activity you choose, it's important to know how to treat the horse, and properly care for them, and keep them healthy. What does Hands on Horses teach about that?

Clay Cavinder: That's a big concern with all horse owners, should be, about how to manage and care for an animal that essentially is a thousand pound animal. It's a big animal, so the management concerns and practices with horses is always changing and evolving, but people need to be aware of just some of the basic stuff. And that's where Hands on Horses came from. Hands on Horses is a program that is to get people out of the classroom. It's not a book class. It's an actual in the barn with horses learning how to care for and manage horses with people that are professionals in that area, whether it's nutrition, exercise, or lameness, or whatever it may be, so lots of different avenues.

Amy Myers: So they can learn about maybe the types of feed that are available, types of hay that are available, maybe how to give a horse a shot?

Clay Cavinder: For sure.

Amy Myers: How to trim their feet, things like that?

Clay Cavinder: That's it, and so the premise might be how to properly care for in terms of feeding and nutrition, variations in hay qualities and feed types. There's so many things out there for supplementation and different products, but even the simplistic things of: What concerns do I have and when do I need to call the vet? Or is this something I can handle at home if the horse gets sick? Because let's be honest, if you own a horse, at some point you're going to need to care for in terms of a veterinarian or basic first aid type stuff. So numbers of different things like that, and we give the participants really simplistic tools to how to use them in the barn to care for their horses and hopefully care for them in the best welfare standard as possible.

Amy Myers: And this is for any age range, right?

Clay Cavinder: Sure is. For people that are interested, as young as we had the last time we did it was ... 10 years of age was the youngest kid we had, and then there's people in their 60s and maybe even older that are involved. And we teach at a level that all people can grasp.

Amy Myers: And even people that have owned horses for a long time, a lot of times it's important for them to learn about new resources that make their lives easier as horse owners, and also make lives better for their horse.

Clay Cavinder: No doubt. No matter what the age level, no matter what the experience level, no matter the age of the person, it doesn't matter. We should all be learning. I'm learning constantly. What we try to do with our research here at Mississippi State is very applied type research. How can I make you a dollar, save you a dollar? And so even if you've fed horses your entire life, you may learn something from these programs that can cut your feed bill by $10.00, $12.00, $15.00, $20.00 a month, or even if it's a year the value there is certain for sure. It's for anybody and everybody, no matter the experience or age level.

Amy Myers: And how can we get involved? I understand that you mainly teach this on campus at Mississippi State, but local communities can host a program in their own community anywhere in the state.

Clay Cavinder: For sure. If someone was interested and had a group of people that wanted to learn something like this, this is a traveling road show, so to speak. We can move it and adjust to go anywhere we need to go in order to meet the clientele where they're at.

Amy Myers: What's your contact information?

Clay Cavinder: It's pretty easy. If they'll email me, my email is clay, C-L-A-Y .cavinder, C-A-V-I-N-D-E-R I'll give them all the information they need. 

Amy Myers: Today we've been speaking with Dr. Clay Cavinder, Mississippi State University Extension Equine Specialist. I'm Amy Myers and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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