McLean rebuilds equine program in Laramie
Laramie – As interest in equine science at UW increased, Amy McLean, a Michigan State graduate, moved to Laramie to develop the equine science program and has seen great success in the last two years.
“Before I came, there was no horse judging team and the equine management course had not been taught in several years,” explains McLean. “The only equine course being taught was Brenda Alexander’s course on equine nutrition and physiology.”
McLean says she has been working on developing an equine science option for animal science majors by adding new classes and competition teams since she arrived at UW in August 2009.
Equine science option
Along with equine management and equine nutrition and physiology, there are four additional courses available for students, and McLean mentions that they are always full.
“The equine behavior and welfare course is a new course that we added this year,” explains McLean, noting equine health and disease, equine evaluation, advanced equine evaluation and equine behavior and welfare are also available.
UW approved the equine science option on March 26, and two new courses, equine reproductive management and advanced equine management, were approved April 23.
She adds that she hopes the program will build on the knowledge that students have coming to the university, particularly those who have transferred from a community college.
“I’m hoping our program will not take away from the junior colleges, but will promote what they are doing and be the next step to complement their efforts,” McLean explains. “The last thing I want for this program is for it to be competition for Wyoming community colleges.”
She also hopes to build a partnership with Wyoming community colleges to make more courses available to university students, noting, “Laramie County Community College (LCCC) already has two riding courses at the Hansen Arena, so we are hoping to utilize some of their man power to give credit to our students.”
McLean works to ensure students have hands-on opportunities to continue learning about horses. Within the first two weeks of being at UW, McLean started a horse judging team to do just that.
“The first year, I took students on a spring trip to the American Paint Horse Association contest in Fort Worth, Texas,” she says. “Our team was seventh overall. We attended another contest that trip and were fourth and fifth high overall.”
McLean says their success was exciting, since they were competing against well-established schools with large programs.
“The next year, fall of 2010, I competed students in the limited division, which is for students who haven’t judged before, and we had great success at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress,” says McLean, listing both individual and team accomplishments.
The team posted scores high enough to earn them reserve champion status at the Arabian Nationals, with all four team members placing in the top individually.
In just their second year competing, Fall 2011, UW’s judging team proved their ability once again with Stephanie Schroeder of Douglas, Ruth Uptain of Casper, Lacey Teigan of Laramie, Lisa Eckhardt of Watkinsville, Ga. and Corinna Slingerland of Lander competing.
McLean says, “At the Congress, we won halter, Stephanie was high individual, Ruth was second high, Lisa was fourth and Cori and Lacey were in the top 15. As a team, we were reserve at the Congress.”
UW’s impressive performance prompted a long-time coach from West Texas A&M to call the scores into question.
“Actually, the scores were not right – they had left out the reasons,” says McLean. “When they added reasons scores in, all of our students moved up. Everyone was really shocked.”
The following month, the team grabbed reserve champion honors at the American Quarter Horse Association World Show, losing to West Texas A&M by only one point.
“As a team, they were so consistent and solid,” says McLean. “We were the only team that placed in every team event.”
With their successes over the past two years, McLean says she is in the rebuilding phase now, because students are only allowed to compete one year in the senior judging division.
Aside from judging wins, McLean says her students participate in events around the state as well.
“Our students ring-stewarded and scribed at the youth horse shows at the Wyoming State Fair and Colorado State Fair,” says McLean, noting that the opportunity is a learning experience as well. “It’s a really nice way to them to work with people who have judged a lot.”
UW’s horse judging team also applied for a grant to teach horse judging and ranch horse versatility in Europe.
“We were one of the few schools, aside from the big programs like Colorado State and Texas A&M, that were selected,” says McLean. “The American Quarter Horse Association is sending four of our students to Europe this summer.”
To facilitate the program, McLean notes that community support has been helpful.
“UW has two donated horses that came from Jackson Land and Cattle, and they have been used and are well-bred, well-trained horses,” says McLean. “We will use these horses to promote the university and allow students who don’t have access to a horse to ride and compete. I am so grateful for the donation.”
UW also has two burros adopted from the Wyoming BLM and two mammoth donkeys that have been donated to further equine knowledge.
To learn more about UW horse programs, visit uwyo.edu/anisci or contact Amy McLean at firstname.lastname@example.org. Saige Albert is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.