Revised:  03/14/2011

Young Horse Teaching and Research Program












Young Horse Teaching and Research Program video



A New Era for the Young Horse Research and Teaching Program

Dr. Sarah Ralston, VMD, Ph.D., dACVN


     For the first ten years, the Young Horse Teaching and Research program focused upon the unique nutritional and behavioral needs of draft cross weanlings and yearlings from ranches collecting pregnant mare urine in North Dakota and Canada. Students in the Program worked with foals registered by the North American Equine Ranching Information Council (NAERIC) to better understand this increasingly popular type of horse on which there was little scientific information. These horses are now well-recognized as valuable equine animals, commanding high prices even as weanlings, and a great deal has been learned about their nutritional needs and behavior. Because NAERIC horses now have well-established markets in a variety of disciplines, they are no longer "at risk" for finding good homes and athletic careers.


     However, thousands of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) mustangs are removed from public ranges annually to prevent overgrazing. These horses are in need of help and good homes. While obviously not the same as the larger, heavier draft-crosses, they too can be wonderful equine athletes, excelling in a wide variety of disciplines. Unfortunately, the general public’s perception is that mustangs are "wild," difficult to handle and not very useful. We hope to help change that perception.


      Last year (2009-2010) we started "re-inventing" the Young Horse Teaching and Research program. We selected four yearling BLM mustangs to incorporate into our research. These four horses were compared in both training and growth performance to 4 unhandled weanlings we purchased from our known bloodlines in North Dakota (sadly the last trip out there) and the 4 draft cross yearlings left over from the 2008- 2009 program. Go to the Archives to follow the progress of the experiments. Bottom line, the behavior/training tests revealed that the yearling mustangs were not really any more difficult to train than the draft crosses. Their higher level of attentiveness to their environment and training cues made them actually easier to train in some ways, but the students quickly found that the formerly wild horses also needed more consistency and attentiveness on the part of their handlers than the more mellow draft crosses.


 The yearling and then two year old mustangs gained weight and height as predicted for light horse breeds in the National Research Council (2007) Nutrient requirements for horses, whereas the draft crosses, as in the past, grew faster and taller than predicted on less feed. All were fed the same forage based total mixed ration that we had been using for the past 6 years. They were sleek, shiny and had no feed related health disorders.


 The horses were all very well behaved during the annual Ag Field Day Horse show on April 24, despite huge crowds and one week less training time than in previous years. The auction on April 25 was a success and there was a lot of interest in the mustangs, which all were purchased for or above their minimum bid of $500. All horses went to very good homes and are reportedly doing very well!


     On September 11, 2010 we acquired 8 mustangs that had been brought to the Sussex County Fairgrounds BLM Wild Horse Adoption event for us. Six of the horses were not in the regular adoption program because they had already been to three adoption events without success, and as such were direct "sales" ("three strikes") horses, as was the case with the 4 we had last year. The yearling gelding, RU Sundance Kid and two year old filly, RU Annie Oakley, are being fostered and will be up for adoption (First come first serve) after Ag Field day, April 30, 2011. The others will be sold at our Annual Young Horse Auction on May 1, 2011. See our website for details on the horses and auction:



Please click here to view a RU-tv segment featuring the Young Horse Teaching and Research Program


Please view the video using the most recent version of Microsoft Windows Media Player.




     We want to thank our sponsors for the 2010-2011 year:


2010-2011 Mustang Sponsorships - Thank you!

Mustang 5502: RU Santana: Carla Prentiss

Mustang 5123: RU Koda: Peter and Joanna Barnish-Sorrentino

Mustang 5185: RU Levi: Liz Durkin

Mustang 5137: RU Shy Anne: Dr. and Mrs. Bill Meyer, Carol O'Scanlon and Julie Richards

Mustang 6296: RU Sierra: Katie Vogel, Barbara Earnest, Ann David

Mustang 3996: RU Sundance Kid: Peter and Julie Richards

Mustang 6181: RU Sassafras: Dr. and Mrs. Bauer

Mustang 5575: RU Annie Oakley : Colts Neck Trail Riders Club, Eileen Petruch, President


General Program Support (through donations of money or goods and services) - Thank you!

Dr. and Mrs. Bill Bauer

Sandra Denarski and Johnson & Johnson Matching Funds

Lenore Carasia and Wells Fargo Matching Funds

Sandra and Meredith Thomson

Collette Franov

Square Meal Feeds, Idleacres, Cokato, Minnesota

Bureau of Land Management

US Wild Horse and Burro Association


New Jersey Trail Ride Association

Clients of Melody Adler's Aurora Farm

Mr. Richard Gjertsen







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