Mississippi State University (MSU) was one of 26 horse breeders from across the United States and Canada recently honored by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) for 50 years of breeding to produce the best Quarter Horse traits.

This year, the AQHA's honorees included 14 cumulative breeders, such as MSU, which are those who have registered at least one foal for 50 years combined. Twelve other recipients were recognized with legacy awards, which are given to those who have registered at least one foal for 50 consecutive years. Pennsylvania State University, a legacy recipient, was the only other educational program recognized this year.

Peter Ryan, MS, PhD, associate provost for academic affairs and associate professor of animal and dairy sciences, said university programs rarely earn this recognition.

"This distinction would not be possible without the collaboration and cooperation between the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences," Ryan said. "For the past 12 years, my colleagues in Ambulatory Service in the CVM's Department of Pathology and Population Medicine have not only provided the health care of the Quarter Horses at the Equine Research Unit, they also have been involved with the breeding program, teaching and research activity at this unit."

Kevin Walters, DVM, a clinical instructor at the veterinary college, received the award during ceremonies at the AQHA Hall of Fame in Amarillo, Texas.

"Mississippi State works hard to preserve the characteristics that have made the American Quarter Horse so valued in this country," Walters said. "Some of those qualities are quarter horses' calm dispositions, intelligence, reliability, speed and agility, and structural soundness. These are great looking horses."

Walters said MSU's program considers pedigrees and genetic strengths and weaknesses of each horse when breeding. Many of the horses at MSU's Equine Unit are descendants of cutting-horse champions and other speed event or western performance champions.

"In addition to university-owned stallions, we benefit from stud services that are donated by supporters of the university," he said.

Stallion services are available to the public wanting to breed mares to proven studs. Contact the Morgan Freeman Equine Reproduction Research Unit for stud fees and stallion information by calling 662/325-0038.

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