New program aims to help Ohio’s equine industry

Buckeye Farm News

OFBF is helping to get the word out about a new Ohio State University Extension program that will provide helpful and up-to-date information  to horse owners and enthusiasts.

REINS (Regional Equine Information Network System) is modeled after a successful program that has been in place in North Carolina since 1995, said Kim Cole, Ohio’s Extension equine specialist.

“The (North Carolina) program is still going strong there. It’s an excellent way for horse owners to work together to provide information to each other,” said Cole.

Under REINS, volunteers receive training on several horse management and science topics, teaching techniques and program development from Extension personnel, faculty members from the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and agribusinesses. After they are certified, the volunteers work with county Extension personnel to provide horse owners helpful information such as nutrition, breeding and foaling, healthcare and pasture management. They also may develop educational horse materials and help coordinate programs such as farm tours and disaster preparedness, Cole said.

“This is an information network for the equine industry,” she said. “Unlike the livestock industry which is very involved with Extension, most horse owners don’t contact Extension with their questions.”

The first training session will take place Feb. 20-21 during the REINS annual conference at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine in Columbus. Registration is $35 for REINS volunteers and $70 for all others. As part of their training, volunteers will receive publications and resource materials.

Those interested in becoming a REINS volunteer need to submit an application and three recommendations to Cole. They should have some knowledge or interest in horse management, be willing to stay current with the most recent information and technology relevant to the horse industry and be able to devote volunteer time monthly. The first year requires 16 hours of training and eight hours each year after that.

Cole said her goal is to have one to two volunteers for each county. She already has recommendations in about 75 percent of the counties.

“We have a strong youth program for horses but no structured adult program in place,” Cole said. “This should be a great networking tool for Ohio’s equine industry.”

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