Horse Mania: UK Equine Initiative's "Big Blue" Comes Home

Shortly after the gavel fell and "sold" was uttered Dec. 3 in the Keeneland sales ring, Hip No. 20 began his journey home. The equestrian- and agricultural-themed member of the 2010 class Horse Mania horses had now been twice purchased by a syndicate on behalf of the UK Equine Initiative.

Affectionately named "Big Blue," UK's horse was brought to life by Winchester, Ky., artist Jennifer Conrad-Barber. Proceeds from the fiberglass horse's purchase will support Lexington's developing public arts program and student equine programs at UK.

For the sale, UK's Equine Advisory Committee and a smattering of supporters of UK's equine programs stepped up, chipped in, and purchased Big Blue for $5,000 on behalf of the Equine Initiative. The deal might not have happened at all without committee member and long-time supporter Mike Owens, who rallied the troops late on the day of the sale and formed a group of buyers. Owens chipped in and got 15 others to do so as well.

Big Blue

After being purchased at Keeneland for $5,000, Big Blue is on the way home to the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.

Big Blue's purchasing syndicate included NAERIC (North American Equine Ranching Information Council) and Norm Luba; Cobra Farm; Mike Owens; Kimberly Brown; Craig and Ronda Carter; Edith Conyers; Nancy Cox; Mary Ann Cronan; Dick Lockhart; James and Kathleen MacLeod; Marilyn Owens; Tom Riddle; Shawhan Place under Matt Koch and Ted Kuster; Reese Koffler-Stanfield; David Switzer; Kim Turlington; Holly and Bryan Wiemers; and Walter Zent.

Big Blue will reside in the soon-to-be-completed UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, or UKVDL (formerly called the LDDC), and will make guest appearances at special events on behalf of the College of Agriculture.

"Big Blue will soon be the official greeter at the main door to the glass-front foyer of our beautiful new administration wing, where everyone from veterinarian clients, farmers, UK faculty, delivery persons, seminar attendees, job applicants, and more will enter," said Craig Carter, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVPM, director of the UKVDL. "We also know that he will be a cheery and colorful presence for some animal owners that may have just lost their beloved horse, dog, cat, or other precious animal companion. Everyone at UKVDL is so thankful that Mike Owens of Cobra Farm, the folks of the Equine Initiative advisory committee, and many others thought that our lab would make an appropriate, comfortable home for him. He will bring life to a place that never sees a living animal and at the same time give us hope that the work we do to obtain an accurate diagnoses will help keep animals healthy around Kentucky."

The original syndicate of 20 who made it possible for UK Equine Initiative to participate in Horse Mania included Marci Hicks, Craig and Ronda Carter; Nancy Cox; Lowell & Joan Bush; Fernanda Camargo; Equine Initiative Agents Working Group; Dan Fick; Lori Garkovich; Gloria Gellin; Rhonda and Kevin Hagan; Robert and Susan Harmon; Laurie Lawrence; James and Kathleen MacLeod; Lesley Oliver; Michael and Jeanne Owens; Bob Perry; Scott Smith; Keith and Jill Stowe; Holly and Bryan Wiemers; and Bill and Mary Witt.

"Horse Mania was positive for the College of Agriculture on many levels," said Nancy Cox, PhD, associate dean for research, director of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station, and administrative leader for UK's Equine Initiative. "One aspect is that it showed our commitment to the community by placing a horse on campus. Another is that the original purchase was underwritten by many generous faculty and staff as well as our valued stakeholders. Still another is that our Equine Advisory Committee, led by syndicator Mike Owens, bought the horse at the auction. We appreciate their placing value in our equine student programs, which will benefit from their investment."

Holly Wiemers, MS, is communications director of the University of Kentucky Equine Initiative.


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