New Jersey Is Horse Country

Perhaps your only contact with New Jersey’s state animal is the occasional horse trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike. Don’t be fooled. New Jersey is indeed horse country—more than 42,000 equine animals reside in the state. They represent a major racing, breeding, and recreational riding industry and help to maintain open space, keeping the Garden State green.

These would be reasons enough for The State University of New Jersey to offer equine research and public service support. But it turns out that horses also make great teachers. In fact, at Rutgers’ Equine Science Center, the university’s three core missions—teaching, research, and public service—are so intertwined and mutually supportive, the center represents the ideal of what a state university can offer.

A case in point was the recent visit to the center from urban 4-H teenagers. The high school students were participants in the first annual Rutgers 4-H Summer Science Program for urban youths at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. The presentation for the 4-H’ers is one that the Equine Science Center does annually for high school students exploring science, including a session for the Douglass Science Institute, sponsored by the Douglass Project for Rutgers Women in Math, Science, and Engineering. This photo gallery includes images from both these events.

  • Teenagers greet Snowdrift, the willing subject of their upcoming experiment in e
    Horses Teach Science to High School Students

    Teenagers greet Snowdrift, the willing subject of their experiment in equine exercise physiology. Horses are extraordinary athletes, and they share a surprising number of physical attributes with humans, making them excellent research subjects for human as well as equine health issues. They are also beautiful, imposing, and powerful, and many of the kids whip out their cell phones to take pictures.

  • Center director Karyn Malinowski explains how the center’s equine treadmill works
    Horses Teach Science to High School Students

    Center director Karyn Malinowski explains how the center’s equine treadmill works—just like the human version at your local gym—and how the horse can be monitored for physical changes as its exertion increases. She also reassures the kids that the process is not dangerous for horses. In fact, Snowdrift is eager to get started.

  • Rutgers graduate students prepare Snowdrift for her exercise routine
    Horses Teach Science to High School Students

    Rutgers graduate students prepare Snowdrift for her exercise routine, including attaching a breathing tube to record her oxygen consumption and taking a preexperiment blood sample. Horses are extremely efficient exercise machines. Snowdrift will demonstrate how effectively the oxygen content of her blood increases to support her gallop.

  • Snowdrift starts off at a walk and then a trot
    Horses Teach Science to High School Students

    Snowdrift starts off at a walk and then a trot, as Professor Carey Williams (far left) describes the changes her body is undergoing.

  • Before long, Snowdrift is galloping full tilt for just a short time
    Horses Teach Science to High School Students

    Before long, Snowdrift is galloping full tilt for just a short time. Then another blood sample is taken, and she is cooled down.

  • After the treadmill demo, graduate student Nettie Liburt prepares and compares the blood samples for her young audience
    Horses Teach Science to High School Students

    After the treadmill demo, graduate student Nettie Liburt prepares and compares the blood samples for her young audience to illustrate the effects of the exercise—a noticeable increase in the oxygen-carrying red blood cells in the bloodstream.

  • Professor Kenneth McKeever discusses the center’s research into performance-enhancing substances and their detection
    Horses Teach Science to High School Students

    The teens are also filled in on a controversial issue in sports today by Professor Kenneth McKeever, who discusses the center’s research into performance altering substances and their detection, a critical subject for the integrity of the horse industry.

  • The 4-H students are introduced the Equine Science Center Young Horse Teaching and Research Program
    Horses Teach Science to High School Students

    After the treadmill experiment, the 4-H students are introduced to another unusual Equine Science Center program: the Young Horse Teaching and Research Program, now in its 10th year. Each year, Rutgers professor Sarah Ralston finds approximately 10 foals in the western United States that are at risk of not finding homes and transports them to campus.

  • The 4-H’ers watch as Professor Ralston demonstrates some of the techniques for handling this year’s group of young horses
    Horses Teach Science to High School Students

    The 4-H’ers watch as Professor Ralston demonstrates some of the techniques for handling this year’s group of young horses.

  • Approximately 30 lucky undergrads take responsibility for the care and training of the weanlings from September to April
    Horses Teach Science to High School Students

    Approximately 30 lucky undergrads take responsibility for the care and training of the weanlings from September to April on the George H. Cook Campus. It’s a great opportunity for the students, many of whom have had no prior experience with large animal care.

  • The students also gain experience in behavior and nutrition research, collecting data from their young charges
    Horses Teach Science to High School Students

    The students also gain experience in behavior and nutrition research, collecting data from their young charges.

  • The results of the students’ training efforts are evident at the Ag Field Day horse show, part of Rutgers Day
    Horses Teach Science to High School Students

    The results of the students’ training efforts are evident at the Ag Field Day horse show, part of Rutgers Day in late April each year. The horses are auctioned the following day to good homes where they will develop into competitive sport or pleasure horses.

  • The 4-H’ers say goodbye to their new-found friends
    Horses Teach Science to High School Students

    The 4-H’ers say goodbye to their new-found friends who have also introduced them to some fascinating science!

  • Teenagers greet Snowdrift, the willing subject of their upcoming experiment in e
    1/13
  • Center director Karyn Malinowski explains how the center’s equine treadmill works
    2/13
  • Rutgers graduate students prepare Snowdrift for her exercise routine
    3/13
  • Snowdrift starts off at a walk and then a trot
    4/13
  • Before long, Snowdrift is galloping full tilt for just a short time
    5/13
  • After the treadmill demo, graduate student Nettie Liburt prepares and compares the blood samples for her young audience
    6/13
  • Professor Kenneth McKeever discusses the center’s research into performance-enhancing substances and their detection
    7/13
  • The 4-H students are introduced the Equine Science Center Young Horse Teaching and Research Program
    8/13
  • The 4-H’ers watch as Professor Ralston demonstrates some of the techniques for handling this year’s group of young horses
    9/13
  • Approximately 30 lucky undergrads take responsibility for the care and training of the weanlings from September to April
    10/13
  • The students also gain experience in behavior and nutrition research, collecting data from their young charges
    11/13
  • The results of the students’ training efforts are evident at the Ag Field Day horse show, part of Rutgers Day
    12/13
  • The 4-H’ers say goodbye to their new-found friends
    13/13