Michigan's Performance Center

The first step toward construction of a Michigan State University facility devoted to the care of the nation's performance horse population was taken Friday, Dec. 11, when the University's Board of Trustees hired an architect/engineer for the project. The Board approved the appointment of Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc. of Ada, Mich., to begin designing the Equine Performance Center, an 18,000-square-foot building that will house much of the College of Veterinary Medicine's equine care and research.

"This building will have dual functions," said Hilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PhD, a professor of large animal clinical sciences who is coordinating the project. "It will be used for clinical purposes as well as for research and will allow these two functions to be fully integrated. Basically, it will let us serve our clientele better."

Among the building's many features will be an indoor riding arena. This will allow veterinarians to diagnose problems in performance horses better.

"A lot of problems of athletic horses can be seen only while they are performing," said Clayton, who also holds the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine. "With racehorses, we can simulate what they do during a race by having them trot, pace, or gallop on a high speed tread mill. However, we can't simulate jumping a fence or performing a pirouette."

Other features of the building will include a data collection area for Clayton's gait analysis studies, stalls, treatment areas, offices and laboratories, and a blacksmith shop. The facility will be located south of the Veterinary Medical Center on the MSU campus.

Total cost of the building will be approximately $1.3 million, which will be paid for with private donations. A fund-raising campaign is under way. College officials are hopeful the building will be in use within a year.

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