New Department of Equine Science at Texas A&M University

Participants at a 4-H Veterinary Science Camp receive instruction at Texas A&M University’s Thomas G. Hildebrand DVM ’56 Equine Complex. Photo: Texas A&M AgriLife; Laura McKenzie

An equine science institute will be established at Texas A&M University with nearly $25 million in support.

The new institute will bring together science, academic expertise and institutions to advance its goals, which include strengthening collaboration between the public and private sectors and academia in the equine field.

The staff will work towards improved equine care and welfare, enhanced research infrastructure and world-class education for students and professionals.

The $25 million in seed funding comes from AgriLife Research, the Office of the President of Texas A&M University, the Department of Animal Science at the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Support for research, teaching, infrastructure and salaries comes from the NW “Dick” Freeman Endowment and the Patsy Link Estate Endowment.

The university board approved the project at the end of last week.

“The Equine Institute combines expertise and resources within Texas A&M into a clearly defined, unified mission,” said John August, dean of veterinary medicine at the university. “By doing so, we aim to ignite the spirit of collaboration to advance equine science, academics, leadership, welfare and industry.”

Texas A&M AgriLife Director Cliff Lamb hailed the institute’s approval as a remarkable milestone in creating what he called the most comprehensive and collaborative equine program in the world. “Our work will create synergies across the equine sector that will strengthen it in the long term.”

“The establishment of this institute not only renews but expands Texas A&M’s commitment to equine initiatives,” said Katherine Banks, President of Texas A&M University. “Our impact in this area is remarkable and we look forward to building on our success.”

The establishment of the institute represents a new era in the alignment of horse initiatives at Texas A&M and builds on the programs that began in 2009 with the university’s horse initiative.

The initiative championed the establishment of the Undergraduate Certificate in Equine Science and the $5 million Glenn Blodgett Equine Chair, both housed in the Department of Animal Science. It culminated in 2014 with construction of the $32 million Thomas G. Hildebrand DVM ’56 Equine Complex.

Impacts of the Equine Initiative also included funding for the Equine Nutrition Research and Undergraduate Equine Reproduction Teaching Complex. The initiative helped modernize the Department of Animal Science’s equine curriculum and create the Equine Industry Management master’s degree. It also funded research at Texas A&M AgriLife and the School of Veterinary Medicine, increasing national visibility and securing operating funds.

“Texas A&M AgriLife’s scientific expertise and infrastructure represent the best resources available to scale equine initiatives in agriculture and life sciences,” said Jeffrey Savell, vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences. “This will be the world’s leading resource for equine science.”

The new institute will be able to expand its mission to grow with the needs of the equine industry.

Current areas of focus include continuous improvement of curriculum, expanding reach and engagement, developing partnerships and improving infrastructure.

A Director for the new Equine Institute, selected through a national search, will report to the Director of AgriLife Research. The Institute will include internal and external advisory boards and will be subject to an annual review.