Each Research Horse is an Individual at KERBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · November 11, 2014
Kentucky Equine Research is home to a number of Thoroughbred geldings ranging in age from two to twenty-something. Younger horses are used in nutrition or exercise physiology studies, while the senior horses enjoy a pampered turn-out lifestyle. Research interns provide daily care and handling for all horses, and these young women quickly get to know each equine’s habits, personality, and quirks.
In a digestibility trial, horses wear a specially designed harness called a “nappy.” This allows the complete and separate collection of urine and feces. These materials are analyzed for nutrients that pass through the horse’s body without being absorbed, indicating that a particular presentation of a certain nutrient may not have allowed complete bioavailability. Due to their individual personalities, the horses react to the nappies in different ways.
Jazmine Skinner, a research intern from Australia, says, “My favorite research horse is Pepe. He is a nine-year-old black Thoroughbred gelding. He is a very pretty boy with a quirky personality. For instance, he is reluctant to pee in the nappy, so we take it off several times each day to give him a chance to pee; otherwise he will literally hold it! He is a bit of a spook and is suspicious of everything. You can be assured that if anything is out of place or has been moved in the barn, Pepe will notice it! He doesn't have a bad bone in his body, though, and always tries to please. You can always count on him to get the job done.”