Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Virginia Cooperative Extension bring the resources of Virginia’s land-grant universities to the people of the Commonwealth and beyond through Virginia Agricultural Experiment Stations. The Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension (MARE) Center is one of 11 centers located in Virginia. 

The MARE Center has a number of projects, programs, and regular events to connect equine land managers and horse owners with the latest science-based information promoting equine and environmental wellbeing.

Equine Health & Disease

Educational seminars and events at the MARE Center provide the equine community with the latest information and results of cutting-edge research related to the health and well-being of horses. Topics are selected to address common industry questions or problems that are faced by horse owners and professionals. Program focus often includes updates on various medical conditions including medical and therapeutic treatments.

What is going on in that little head of yours?

Horse behavior often appears illogical if you do not understand what motivates your horse. Sometimes horses display unwanted behaviors, other times, they fail to learn desired behaviors. Developing a more in-depth understanding of what motivates your horse can help deal with these behavioral challenges. Researchers at the MARE center are working to better characterize motivation for horse behavior. 

Extension programming in this area is forthcoming. 

Finding the Right Feed for Your Horse

Feeding horses can be a major challenge, in part because horses are individuals and "one-size-fits-all" feeding regimens are often ineffective. Researchers at the MARE center are working to gain a better understanding of why horses have such different responses to feeds in an attempt to generate better feeding recommendations for sporthorses. For more information and for help formulating a ration for your horse, look for Virginia Tech RationRight events at Middleburg in conjunction with local sporting events.

Maintenance and Rehab for Sporthorses

The normal processes that control the growth and development of soft tissues often participate in the reparative period following tissue damage.  One critical aspect of both growth and repair of soft tissues involves adult stem cells.  Researchers at the MARE center are trying to gain understanding of how stem cells are involved in tendon and muscle growth and repair to aid in recommendations about feeding and exercise strategies to maintain and rehabilitate sporthorses. 

Extension programming in this area is forthcoming.

The stone dust heavy use area in the BMP model farm.

Best Management Practices Model Farm

Best Management Practices Model Farm

The MARE Center has a model farm demonstration project aimed at providing a showcase for different equine grazing management and facilities design systems. The Best Management Practices (BMP) model farm features two grazing systems: one continuous grazing system where horses are in one paddock year-round, and one rotational grazing system where horses are rotated between four paddocks periodically and have access to both stone and vegetative heavy-use areas. Visitors learn about the effects of these grazing systems on forage quality, productivity, weed management, and the different ways the fencing types may be adapted to fit their situation.

For more information, click HERE.

Spotlight on Stewardship: Equine Land Management Symposium

The health of our horses and the health of our land are inextricably tied, and despite a downward trend in the overall number of farms in the Old Dominion, the number of horse farms is greater now than it was two decades ago. As the costs of feed, land, and infrastructure rise, horse owners need innovative, cost-effective solutions to maximize the well-being of their horses and preserve their land. To address these needs, the MARE Center and the National Sporting Library & Museum partner each year to present the Spotlight on Stewardship: Equine Land Management Symposium.

The symposium—held on-site at both the MARE Center and National Sporting—combines cutting-edge science with hands-on learning experiences and the inimitable rich-ness of Middleburg’s equestrian culture.