Hokie takes experience by the reins

Kathryn Lacy, of Richmond, Va., on the farm with her favorite young horse, Percival VT.

For Kathryn Lacy, there was no horsing around.

Lacy, a senior in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences recently completed the Sporthorse Breeding Internship at the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center. She integrated practical learning with the added benefits of working in an environment filled with 60 horses.

Lacy’s experience incorporated coursework, research, horse and facility management, handling and training horses, marketing
and sales, event organizing, and field trips.

Combining a strong scientific program with practical, hands-on training, the MARE Center internship prepares students to be future leaders in the horse industry, academia, and the veterinary sciences.

As part of MARE’s research, Lacy assisted with animal health issues. She collected fecal samples, ran tests to diagnose parasites in animals, administered drugs to kill parasitic worms, assisted with placing and removing catheters, and helped with blood collection.
Lacy, who rides horses, broadened her horizons at the MARE Center by learning about the breeding industry.

“I got a peek into the industry of equine breeding and genetics,” she said. “I also got off campus and started something new.” She especially appreciated a fellow intern and friend who loved to cook. The interns were responsible for preparing their meals.

“We developed a camaraderie,” she said.

Lacy gained invaluable research and industry experience that complement her undergraduate studies. Her coursework taught her about equine exercise and physiology. For example, she was involved in multiple mini-exercise studies, using the horse treadmill and multi-horse sweep exerciser.

Field trips gave her the opportunity to listen to guest lecture presentations from veterinarians and specialists in the horse industry.
The interns worked as a team to care for the farm’s 60 horses and to keep the MARE Center facilities and equipment in working order.

The internship also incorporated a herd management assignment into the curriculum. Each intern was responsible for the day-to-day care of a small herd of horses, including a routine assessment of the horses’ health and overall condition; the management of hoof care; vaccinations; deworming schedules; and the administration of medication and medical treatment.

“We made all decisions with supervisors,” Lacy said, “but we got the chance to hone our horse-related, problem-solving, leadership, and communication skills.”

She was also involved in the basic training of foals and young horses, as well as presenting sale horses to potential clients.
“As interns, we got great experience with marketing and sales within the industry,” she said.

Starting this fall, Lacy will attend the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.