Endurance Ride For Research

On April 1, the 100+ volunteers, staff, and students at the Virginia Tech Middleburg Agriculture Research and Extension Center (MAREC) held their first ever 50-mile endurance ride dedicated to research primarily intended to improve the performance and welfare of the horse. Forty-six horse and rider pairs traveled from as far away as Maine and North Carolina, and as close as 5 miles down the road to have the privilege of riding through some of Virginia’s most glorious countryside.

The usually calm MARE C became electric when riders presented their horses for the first pre-ride veterinary and research examination on March 31, which consisted of pulse, respiration, temperature, weight of horse and rider, and a blood sample. In the early morning hours of April 1, the horses and riders found their way to the last pre-ride examination where they obtained final approval to join the other competitors at the starting line. The trail was opened at 7:00 am and cheers rang out as the horse and riders left the start. Thirty-four of them crossed the 50-mile finish line. The top 10 rider and horse pairs include: 1) Samantha Sandler, Redhaven’s Ezekial; 2) Adrienne Hewitt, Pearly Shells; 3) Lynne Gilbert, G.M. Chagall; 4) Debi Gordon, USA Maverick; 5) Kathy Brunjes, Ali Darkness; 6) Julie Bullock, Tashi Ashara; 7) Jeannie Waldron, T.F. Red Rainbow; 8) Mary Kornwolf, Shiloh; 9) Stagg Newman, Jayel Super; and 10) John Proudman, CR Silver Dancer.

All of the riders who were invited to participate were pleased to help be a part of the MARE Center’s ongoing research to improve equine nutrition and exercise. The main research goals of the ride were to examine fluid and electrolyte balance in order to replace what was lost in sweat during exercise, and moderate the negative effects of oxidative stress by supplementing vitamin E and vitamin C, all to benefit the welfare of the performance horse. Data gathered from the 50-mile research ride will be summarized in student dissertations, scientific journal articles and extension publications for the benefit of the equine industry. The Virginia Tech MARE C gratefully acknowledges the participation of all of the horses, riders, volunteers, landowners and donors who helped make this event possible. The research was sponsored by generous support from the Bernice Barbour Foundation Inc., Virginia Horse Industry Board, and WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition.

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