June is my favorite month of the year! Not only because it marks the official start of summer, or because the school year is finally over, but it is also the Month of the Horse! New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher and the Equine Science Center’s own Dr. Malinowski, kicked off the month of the horse on June 10th at the Standardbred Retirement Foundation Farm (the same folks who brought my research horse pals to Rutgers!) by announcing the various events planned to celebrate New Jersey’s state animal! It’s like a party that lasts all month long!
Summer is just around the corner and I’m sure you’ve probably started planning some adventures over break. But just because school’s out it doesn’t mean that you should put your brain on a shelf! Summer camps are a great way to have fun while learning new things at the same time…especially when they involve horses!
Have you ever been to the Meadowlands Racetrack or Freehold Raceway and wondered what goes on behind the scenes of harness racing? Although it’s not necessarily my forte, some of my best buddies, including Hugme Christi, are harness racehorses and I know that there’s a lot of hard work and dedication behind every race held.
I’ve mentioned before that the horse is the state animal of New Jersey. We even have more horses per square mile than Kentucky! Speaking of which, did you see the Kentucky Derby last Saturday? What a great race!
This weekend there is a great competition being held at the Horse Park of New Jersey that showcases the equestrian sport of eventing and is sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s “Jersey Fresh” initiative. The event, which runs from today through Sunday (5/15), attracts some of the nation’s best riders and is fantastic fun for the entire family!
We all know that spring brings warmer weather, greener grass, and sunny days…but the best gift of spring is the foals! Here at the Rutgers Equine Science Center, we have one of our very own! Foals are so cute with their fluffy tails and wobbly legs, and are much more developed than newborn humans. The horse is a precocial species, meaning that newborn foals are neurologically mature after birth. This is because horses are prey animals in the wild and are most vulnerable immediately after birth, so they must be able to identify danger and flee if necessary. In fact, a foal will usually stand within an hour of being born (after a few failed attempts of course!). Can you imagine a human baby being able to stand an hour after being born?!
You’ve heard the phrase “April showers bring May flowers”, but rain also brings lush green pastures that horses love! And now is the time for a delicious salad made from dandelions. As the spring season goes on, it makes me happy to see new sprouts of grass grow out of the dirt that dominated the pasture in the winter months. Don’t get me wrong; I love hay, but there’s nothing like grabbing a huge mouthful of fresh grass from the ground as the sun shines down and a warm breeze makes my tail float in the wind…it’s almost enough to make me forget that the rider on my back is trying to get my head up!
Remember in my last blog post I promised to share with you the location of a horse’s third eye? Well, it’s right in front of the ears, hidden underneath the forelock, but you can’t see it! Just kidding! Horses don’t actually have a REAL third eye – that would be bizarre! They do however have something called a pineal gland in their brain that processes information about the environment, like exposure to daylight, similarly to the actual eye. The pineal is a small reddish brown egg-shaped gland located in the center of the brain tucked between the two hemispheres.
I know with this warmer weather we’ve been having, most of you have been trading in your heavy winter coats for your lighter spring jackets…I know I have! Much like your pet dogs and cats, horses shed their thicker winter coats for their sleeker summer coats as the seasons change. But unlike humans, it is not a direct result of warmer temperatures. So what causes horses to begin shedding their coats in the spring and growing them in the fall? Read on to find out!
You all know about my “affection for confections”, my love for cupcakes and ice cream, but have you ever wondered what other strange things horses eat? Well, it turns out there are lots of strange foods that you would be surprised horse’s enjoy…but only in moderation!
How about this crazy weather we’ve been having? I’ve been busy climbing the mountains of snow that have formed in my paddock…the other day my owner couldn’t find me because I was behind a snow pile that towered over my head! Check out some of my snow filled pictures in my photo gallery below! I just can’t wait for spring to come!
Did you ever see a horse that looks like its belly is pulling its spine toward the ground, causing its back to slope downward just behind its withers? If you aren’t sure what I mean, just look at some of the pictures of myself that I’ve posted here! The condition is commonly known as “sway back” but its scientific name applies more to yours truly…”LORDosis!”
I’m Lord Nelson, a American Quarter Horse.
My first job at Rutgers University was on mounted patrol. I also carried the Scarlet Knight mascot at football games. One day I became famous when I got excited, stepped onto the field and became the only horse in history to receive a penalty in a football game! And I’m curious and mischievous! I love to be outside, so don’t ever leave my stall door open. I love all kinds of food – just about nothing at a picnic is safe. I also don’t like cheese puffs. That cheetah on the bag scares me to death! After 22 years on mounted patrol, I’m proud to be back, working for the Rutgers Equine Science Center and telling everyone what I know.