UK's Equine Initiative Renamed UK Ag Equine Programs

The University of Kentucky’s (UK) Equine Initiative has changed its name to UK Ag Equine Programs. The name change was undertaken by the College of Agriculture in consultation with its internal and external stakeholders to better reflect the breadth of equine offerings at UK and the college’s long-term commitment to serving the state’s signature equine industry.

The Equine Initiative was launched in 2005 when the College of Agriculture set out to radically change how it served Kentucky’s equine industry and provide a suite of services appropriate for a land-grant university. In a nod acknowledging the success of those efforts and a continued commitment to the state’s equine industry, the college has adopted a new name to better position its equine programs for continued success.

“In short, we have indeed transformed the ‘initiative’ into established, world-class, service-oriented programs across the board,” said Nancy Cox, PhD, UK College of Agriculture associate dean for research, Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station director, and administrative leader for the UK Ag Equine Programs.

That was a sentiment echoed by Norm Luba, executive director of the North American Equine Ranching Information Council and chair of the College of Agriculture’s equine advisory committee.

“With remarkable efficiency, the University of Kentucky has delivered on its promise of initiating a diverse portfolio of equine research, teaching, and service programs,” he said. “The UK Ag Equine program is now a permanent resource to the Kentucky horse industry, as well as poised to benefit an international horse industry that looks to Kentucky as the horse capital of the world.”

“The name change reflects the broad nature and many areas of expertise, across many departments, of our equine programs at UK,” said Ed Squires, PhD, Dipl. ACT (hon.), director of UK Ag Equine Programs and executive director of the UK Gluck Equine Research Foundation. “We continue our commitment to be a world leader and premier resource for the equine industry.”

Before the formation of the Equine Initiative, a long and storied legacy of world-class equine health and nutrition research was already in place, as well as a handful of successful outreach programs targeted to horse owners. But, despite being located in the “horse capital of the world,” there wasn’t a dedicated undergraduate degree in equine studies. There was also no focal point that would allow the public to access all of the top-notch equine work produced in the college.

Thus, the university launched a four-year, stand-alone undergraduate degree in equine science and management, created an internship program, hired several new equine-focused faculty and staff, and created new outreach programs, such as the successful Horse Pasture Evaluation Program. New partnerships were formed with other equine organizations and state institutions of higher education.

Seven years later, the undergraduate program has more than 220 equine students enrolled, with half of them coming to Kentucky from out-of-state to pursue their interests in equine undergraduate education and subsequent career opportunities. Thirty-nine graduates and 94 students completed required internships during that time. New research has been undertaken in areas ranging from equine health to economics.

The college has held several events, including a series of equine-specific field days, an equine research showcase, a series of short courses, equine career fairs, and a distinguished lecture series featuring equine industry leaders. Additionally, the program launched an online monthly newsletter about UK equine research that now reaches more than 45,000 monthly subscribers.

The college has begun to transition to the new name and expects this transition to take several months.

More about UK Ag Equine Programs can be found online at

Holly Wiemers, MA, is communications director for UK Ag Equine Programs.

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More information on Gluck Equine Research Center and UK Ag Equine Programs.

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