Officials Break Ground for Minnesota Equine Center

A pair of bay Percherons turned the soil at a construction site in St. Paul, Minn., on Aug. 9 and ushered in a new era of equine diagnostics and treatment at the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). University officials and friends grabbed shovels to break ground for the $14-million Equine Center that is set to be completed by fall 2007.

Stephanie Valberg, DVM, PhD, director of the Equine Center, said, "We will have the ability to examine horses for complex lameness with the addition of a 100-by-200-foot arena, an asphalt runway in the arena, and a round pen. We will have an ultrasound suite with state-of-the-art equipment and digital radiography. Our imaging center with CT and MRI will help pinpoint the cause of lameness. A high-speed treadmill will help diagnose performance problems, and an Aquapacer treadmill will be used in rehabilitation.

"This will increase the number of cases and quality of our work," Valberg predicted. Regular clients of the university are looking forward to a more spacious and convenient parking area.

A surgery suite will also be constructed that is dedicated solely to arthroscopic surgery in order to maintain a sterile environment.

Horses are not the only patients who will benefit from the center. "Rehabilitation therapy is a focus of the center both for horses and disabled people," explained Valberg, describing the We Can Ride program for handicapped children that will have its headquarters at the center. "We hope the synergy of both programs will strengthen our patients and help strengthen the people in the We Can Ride program. Their horses will also be used in our teaching program (at the veterinary school)."

Additionally, the University Police Department's mounted patrol will keep its horses on the premises, where the animals will be more readily accessible.

The Equine Center will cost $14 million. The university has pledged $6.7 million toward the price tag. Valberg and her colleagues must raise the remaining $7.3 million. At the time of the groundbreaking, they had raised about $5 million of this amount.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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