MSU Vet to Offer Young Horse Training Health Lecture

Training the young horse is a step-by-step process, one that takes time, patience, knowledge, and experience. An important aspect of training the young horse is for the trainer to be able to identify the fine line between the proper amount of training and over-training to the point of stress and injury.

Rob van Wessum, DVM, MS, equine lameness and sports medicine clinician at the MSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, will give a lecture, "How to Build a Training Program for a Young(er) Horse," at the Veterinary Medical Center on Saturday, May 2, 2009. Following the lecture, van Wessum will give a riding demonstration at the College of Veterinary Medicine's McPhail Equine Performance Center.

Dr. van Wessum

Dr. Rob van Wessum will present a lecture and demonstration on health concerns of young horses in training.

"Initially, the training of the young horse is more mental education than physical training," stated van Wessum, "yet it's important to find a balance between the two. It takes time for the young horse to adapt mentally to the workload, and putting physical stress on a young horse can not only adversely affect the horse's level of performance but also its health--such as its immune system or digestive process.

"It is also important to realize that the young horse's skeleton and muscles are not mature or completely developed, so it is really important to develop a training program that will build and strengthen all parts of the young horse without over stressing the horse--in order to avoid joint, tendon, and ligament injuries," explained van Wessum.

During the lecture, van Wessum will explain how to assess your horse's situation--how to figure out where your horse is at, physically and mentally, and how to strengthen the horse physically so that injuries do not occur. He will also present information on the physiological responses of the horse while in training, such as heart rate, lung capacity, stamina, joint health, etc.

Van Wessum will also discuss how different riding disciplines have different requirements for the horse's body.

"A specific discipline requires a tailor-made training program," van Wessum said. "A racehorse needs a lot of speed but not a lot of flexibility, while a cutting horse needs explosive power and an extreme amount of agility and flexibility, so the training programs for each of these disciplines are completely different."

Van Wessum's lecture will provide theoretical information on how to build a training program for a young horse. During the riding demonstration, he will ride a young horse to show how to put the theoretical information from the lecture into practical use.

The seminar will be held in E-100 Veterinary Medical Center, East Lansing, MI 48824, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free admission. Please RSVP to Judy Lessard: 517/355-0001. Refreshments will be served.

The Veterinary Medical Center is located at the intersection of Wilson Road and Bogue Street on the MSU campus. Maps and directions can be found at msu.edu/maps/index.html. Guests should park in the north section of the Wharton Center parking ramp, accessible from East Shaw Lane. Walk south out of the ramp to Wilson Road, and cross the street. The entrance to E-100 is to the right of the Small Animal Clinic (do not use the Small Animal Clinic entrance).

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