CANR pre-veterinary medicine major conducts equine research at UPenn

November 5, 2013 under CANR News

UD student Meredith Bonnell interns at UPENN's New Bolton CenterMeredith Bonnell, a junior pre-veterinary medicine and animal biosciences major in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at the University of Delaware, spent her summer conducting a research-based internship at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center at the Havemeyer Barn.

Bonnell’s research project, which she designed with Sue McDonnell, focused on the genetic effects on the learning abilities of ponies. McDonnell received her doctorate in reproductive physiology and behavior from UD and now heads the Equine Behavior Program at UPenn.

The center, located in Kennett Square, Pa., includes 700 acres of pastureland and exposure to experts in equine-based medical and surgical techniques. “The ponies that occupy some of that land are a part of a semi-feral herd used for equine research,” Bonnell said. “They undergo annual vaccinations and de-worming, in addition to blood work and basic handling when they are foals.”

The New Bolton Center is a large facility that specializes in many different types of veterinary care practices for horses and other large animals. The facility serves to generate data for medical specialists including cardiologists and orthopedists as well as for trainers seeking performance evaluations.

Bonnell’s research at the Havemeyer Barn utilized target training on a 100-count semi-feral Shetland-type pony herd to test learning ability, using performance scores generated to examine correlations between them and genetics, or known family lineage.

“Target training is relatively new to the equine industry and is connected with clicker training,” Bonnell said. “We’re typically familiar with its use on marine animals, like those we might see at SeaWorld.”

Bonnell said in order to test how she would collect data and gather equipment lists, she did extensive research and conducted preliminary tests on ponies removed from the semi-feral herd to be used on rotation for studies by the veterinary students at UPenn.

All of her sessions, she said, were videotaped and used as a reference in order to collect sufficient and accurate data.

Bonnell said she was excited to find this internship with McDonnell through a friend working in the neonatal intensive care unit at the center. She is currently working toward publication of her work and will continue research as independent study.

Bonnell said she hopes to pursue a career in equine veterinary field and plans to apply to veterinary school after graduating from UD.

Article by Angela Carcione

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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UD, Penn to co-host annual equitation science conference July 18-20

June 17, 2013 under CANR News

The University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania will co-host the ninth annual conference of the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) July 18-20.

ISES is a nonprofit organization that facilitates research into the training of horses so as to enhance horse welfare and improve the horse-rider relationship.

With the theme of “Embracing Science to Enhance Equine Welfare and Horse-Human Interactions,” the conference will bring together more than 200 equine scientists, veterinarians, students, horse trainers, instructors and riders to discuss equitation science research.

Presentation days will be held at UD’s Clayton Hall Conference Center in Newark July 18-19 and the practical day program, with live demonstrations, will take place at Penn’s New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., July 20.

“This conference has much to offer equine professionals, and other members of the equine community actively engaged in the industry,” said Carissa Wickens, a UD assistant professor of animal and food sciences and co-chair of the conference organizing committee. “It will focus on ways of improving horse training as well as encouraging the development of science-based criteria to measure the welfare of the horse in its interactions with humans.”

Keynote speakers for the conference include Natalie Waran from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh; Hayley Randle from Duchy College in Great Britain; Jan Ladewig from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark; Hilary Clayton from Michigan State University; and Paul McGreevy from the University of Sydney in Australia.

To register for the conference, or more information, see this website.

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Lutz credits UD for setting her on path to livestock career

April 1, 2013 under CANR News
Kaitlyn Lutz talks to UD students

Lutz, pictured to the right, talks to UD students

Before coming to the University of Delaware, Kaitlyn Lutz had never worked on a dairy farm. Now, as she finishes up her work as a veterinary resident at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, she is considering a clinical and consulting career, helping farmers with animal health needs and nutrient management planning.

Lutz has been in the residency program at the New Bolton Center in nearby Kennett Square, Pa., since 2012. She has worked in the field service section, mostly with livestock, a passion that originated when she was a UD undergraduate in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) studying in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS).

Lutz explained that as an undergraduate, she traveled with Robert Dyer, associate professor of animals and food sciences to dairy farms to conduct research on lameness and realized that she wanted to work with livestock. “Prior to that trip I was planning to work with horses, but then Dr. Dyer basically started my interest in livestock,” said Lutz.

As a field service resident at New Bolton Center, Lutz explained that her days consist of taking students on rounds, covering various veterinary topics in the morning, then traveling to dairy farms. At the farms, she treats sick livestock and does general herd work, such as performing pregnancy checks.

“We also do small ruminant work, so often times we go and inspect sheep and goats in the afternoon or do small beef herds,” said Lutz. “So we kind of have a variety of things other than our weekly routine where we go to dairies, and all the time we have students with us who we’re teaching along the way.”

As for her favorite part of the residency, Lutz said that she relishes the opportunity to meet and talk with farmers. “Interacting with farmers, I learn a ton every day because they’re incredibly smart people. They have their hands in business and agriculture and economics, all at the same time, so you can learn a wealth of information from them.”

When it comes to doling out advice to current students at UD interested in veterinary medicine, Lutz said that it is imperative to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by CANR.

“There are so many clubs at Delaware and so many professors who are veterinarians or who have access to veterinarians that they can go shadow. They can go and get experience out on the farms or in small animal clinics and see what they’re really interested in, and make sure that veterinary medicine is indeed what they want to do.”

She isn’t shy about her affinity for UD either. “UD is by far the best institution in the United States. Whenever students are in the truck I tell them that. I loved it there and I think the program is great, and the kids should take advantage of every aspect of it that they can.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Christy Mannering

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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Nov: Equine Behavior Short Course

October 9, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension is excited to offer a three-night educational series this fall on topics related to equine behavior. All three sessions will be held at the Paradee Center, Kent County Extension Office in Dover, Delaware from 6:30-8:30 pm. A registration fee and advanced registration will be required. Light refreshments and take-home materials will be included as part of the registration fee.

Night 1 on Monday, November 5 will focus around the theme of “Foundations of Equine Behavior” and will cover topics such as anatomy and physiology, the workings of the equine brain, normal or natural equine behavior and learning terminology and how horses learn.

Night 2 on Wednesday, November 7 will focus around the theme of “Handling Behavior Problems” and will cover topics such as stereotypies and dealing with common equine behavior issues. This evening will feature a special guest lecturer, Dr. Sue McDonnell from the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, a nationally known researcher and speaker on equine behaviors.

Night 3 on Wednesday, November 14 will focus around the theme of “Working Effectively with Equine Behavior” and will cover topics such as positive versus negative reinforcement, a review of current training approaches and common equine welfare concerns.

Interested individuals may attend just one or all three of the sessions. For more information please contact Susan Garey at (302) 730-4000 truehart@udel.edu or Dr. Carissa Wickens at cwickens@udel.edu.

For additional information and to register for this program, please visit the UD Cooperative Extension Equine Blog at http://extension.udel.edu/equine/.

If you have special needs that need to be accommodated, please contact the office two weeks prior to the event.

Cooperative Extension Education in Agriculture and Home Economics, University of Delaware, Delaware State University and the United States Department of Agriculture cooperating. Distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, Delaware Cooperative Extension, University of Delaware. It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age or national origin.

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