Sara Gavin 301-405-9235
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland's Campus Farm has welcomed the newest member of the Terrapin family frolicking outside the horse barn: a thoroughbred colt. This marks the first time in three decades a foal has been born on the university’s Campus Farm.
“It was the most exhausting but rewarding experience,” says junior animal science major Steven Moirano. “It was just incredible.”
Students like Moirano, enrolled in an equine reproduction course, were on “foal watch” for several days and nights prior to the colt’s arrival, sleeping inside the barn or the farm’s small office building. “All of a sudden it was happening and within 15 minutes the foal was out on the ground,” says senior animal science major Kristen Brady, who witnessed the foal stand and take his first steps within 30 minutes of his birth. “People don’t realize how much more productive a foal is than a baby being born. You can literally watch him learn everything within the first couple of hours.”
Having foals born on campus was somewhat common before roughly the mid-80s, when the Campus Farm had more acreage. However, Dr. Amy Burk, coordinator of the equine studies program in the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences (ANSC), has been working for the past several years to bring foals back to campus.
“Not only is this going to make our equine studies program better but it’s going to make people more aware of the horse-breeding industry – in particular Thoroughbreds – which to me is the most rewarding part of working with horses,” says Burk.
Animal science students have been involved with the entire process of preparing the horses to foal and bringing them to campus. In order to overcome space constraints on the Campus Farm, two pregnant mares were kept on a demonstration farm in Clarksville, Md., where research is being conducted on the effects of rotational grazing on pasture management. The mares were transported to campus about a month before the first – named Cassie – was due to give birth.
The yet-to-be-named Thoroughbred colt will remain on campus throughout the fall semester so that students can continue to work with him. Faculty, staff and students within ANSC are compiling a list of suggested names for him and will eventually invite the campus community to vote for their favorite. He’ll soon have a friend to frolic with too as another mare, named Amazin’, is due to give birth April 7 on campus, setting up round two of “foal watch.”
“The horse barn is just filled with so many people with joy and excitement so it’s really lightened everybody’s spirits and put a smile on people’s faces,” says Burk.
Watch the colt in action: