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Tennessee plans roundtables for casual equine enthusiasts
By ANN HINCH
Tennessee Correspondent

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Whether master of one horse or many, casual equine owners are invited to attend one of three equine roundtables in eastern Tennessee during the next two weeks.

The University of Tennessee Department of Animal Science and extension, as well as participating counties, are sponsoring the informative discussions in a continuing outreach to horse owners in Tennessee and nearby portions of Virginia, Alabama and Georgia. The first roundtable was held at the UT-Knoxville campus in 2002 and from there, expanded northeast to Blountville and, this year, southwest to Chattanooga. Dr. Frederick Harper, extension horse specialist, said the idea is reach more people and spread the information over more, shorter sessions.

“After a while, you start getting off into other areas,” he said of single roundtables of past years that would last for hours.

He added these sessions are designed to especially help inexperienced horse owners who keep one or more equines as companion animals.

The first roundtable is scheduled for Jan. 30 in Room 212 of the Brehm Animal Science Building on the Knoxville ag campus. Registration begins at 6:15 p.m. for the free program, which will consist of four experts speaking on different topics for 15-20 minutes each, followed by refreshments and an audience question-and-answer session.

Scheduled for Jan. 30 are Harper, Knox County Extension Director Neal Denton, Blount Count Extension Agent Mitch Ingram and a representative from Alltech, Inc. Alltech, a Kentucky-based biotech company, is UT’s corporate partner in sponsoring the three roundtables, and its expert will speak at each about biotechnology’s impact on performance horses.

Other topics for the Knoxville roundtable will include pasture forages for horses, water and its quality and feeding pleasure horses. For example, Harper pointed out an inexperienced owner might not understand adjusting their animal’s feeding according to the time of year – when exercising less in winter, a horse requires less food so as to maintain its warm-weather weight.

The second roundtable, set for Jan. 31 in Blountville, will be in the Northeast State Technical Community College auditorium. The third is scheduled for Feb. 2 in Chattanooga at the East Ridge Community Center. Again, registration is free and will begin at 6:15 p.m. daily. Harper anticipates 65-120 people attending each.

Program topics in Blountville and Chattanooga will be similar to those presented in Knoxville. One notable subject on the Jan. 31 agenda is about being a good neighbor when keeping horses. A former 14-year resident of New Jersey, Harper is all too aware of the challenges facing those with horse pastures near populated areas – or, as is often the case, when the populated area moves up against one’s existing pasture.

“I know places you go through a subdivision and in the back of it is a farm,” he explained.

Its related issues are important even if a horse owner is now surrounded by friendly property owners.

“That might be your sister or mom or dad who overlooks your property,” he said, “but 20 years from now, that might be somebody who thinks horses are bad.”

Besides providing refreshments, Alltech will sponsor two scholarships at each roundtable for horse owners to attend one of three Horse Management courses scheduled for later in the spring. The courses – which teach basic information and care of horses – will be held in Knoxville, Dandridge and Blountville, and each is one night per week for five weeks.

Each course is $40 per person; the scholarships will cover this registration cost for six people, two per course. To learn more about these courses or to enroll, visit animalscience.ag.utk.edu/horses/horse_courses_hoc.htm online or call 865-458-5612 or 865-457-6246 near Knoxville; 865-397-2969 near Dandridge; and 423-743-9584 near Blountville.

For more about the three roundtables in Knoxville, Blountville and Chattanooga, or to obtain directions, visit animalscience.ag.utk.edu/horses/horse_courses.htm online or call Harper at 865-974-7295.

Published in the January 25, 2006 issue of Farm World.

1/25/2006