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Centenary College Equestrian Center Teams up with University of Guelph Professor to Conduct Comprehensive Footing Study

06/04/2014, 12:05 PM

Hackettstown, N.J.– Centenary College’s Equestrian Center is teaming up with Jeff Thomason, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, from the University of Guelph of Ontario, Canada to conduct a study on the relationship between the individual conformation of a sample of horses in relation to their interaction with different surfaces. The study is being done at the Centenary College Equestrian Center in Long Valley, New Jersey.

Thomason, along with FootingFirst LLC and scientists from the University of Maine, and the Swedish University of Agricultural Science worked together on an initial study of different types of surfaces in Wellington, Florida. The study was done to evaluate impact deceleration, slide, and maximum weight-bearing force on the horse on different surfaces. The conclusion made from this study showed that horses can, in fact, tell the difference between surfaces and also have a preference. This study led Thomason to further conduct his own research on footing, but now with focus on how the individual horses react to each surface.

The current study being conducted at the Equestrian Center involves roughly 20 horses that will be analyzed over the course of five days. The horses are connected to sensors that will calculate how hard the hoof hits the ground, the amount of slide, and any strain on the hoof. The sensors are focused specifically on the front feet which take most of the impact. The horses, along with a rider complete a standard set of exercises on four different surfaces which include grass, stone dust, European Geo Textile mixed with silica sand and TravelRight, which is a synthetic footing introduced by FootingFirst LLC. 

Karen Leeming, Co-Owner of FootingsFirst LLC recommended that Thomason reach out to Kelly Munz, Professor of Equine Studies at Centenary College, to determine if a portion of the study could be conducted at Centenary College’s Equestrian Center.

“Centenary has great students and competitive horses, as well as just the sheer support and interest for this study,” says Leeming. “This experience can also affect the development of future footing products.”

Munz, as well as Dr. Lynn Taylor, Professor of Equine Science and Sarah Simms, Assistant Professor of Equine Studies, facilitated the project during the five day period.  The riders who participated in the study were Megan Lapp, a Centenary student and Veterinary Assistant at Centenary College and Natasha Klingenstein, Centenary alumna and Equine Center Administrator.

Thomason plans to use the findings at Centenary College to help formulate a more comprehensive study that he will be completing at both The University of Guelph’s satellite campus in Kemptville, Ontario, as well as a private farm located in Ontario. The comprehensive study will include 40 to 60 horses, and Thomason hopes to publish his findings in an academic journal.

“This experience has been an educational one for all involved,” says Munz. “Professor Thomason and his assistant Warren Bigneli have been wonderful to work with.  Part of what we are learning during this period can be incorporated in the curriculum, as well.”

Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary College is an independent, coeducational liberal arts and career studies college distinguished by an accomplished faculty, small class size and diverse student body.  Centenary is the only baccalaureate and master’s degree granting institution in northwest New Jersey.

Centenary College’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township (Morris County).  The Centenary College School of Professional Studies offers degree programs online and in two locations: Parsippany and Edison, and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.  The School of International Programs recruits international students for study at Centenary and Centenary students for study abroad.
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