The horse industry continues to grow and have an increasing impact on North Carolina's economy. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Division of Marketing, reports that 65,000 horse producers own over 225,000 horses which annually generates over $704 million of gross revenue from training, showing, boarding and breeding establishments in addition to agri-business sales of horse-related products.
Extension Horse Husbandry conducts an ongoing 4-H youth and adult educational program through county extension agents and horse commodity groups. Active 4-H and adult educational programs are offered in 87 of 100 North Carolina counties. Check the NC Cooperative Extension Service Resource Page calendar for educational opportunities in your area.
Adult horse owners annually receive management and training information through a series of county conferences, statewide short courses and clinics, two-way television broadcasts, newsletters, extension bulletins and agent/specialist consultation services. Educational conferences are a popular method of providing nutrition, breeding, business management, facility, waste management, health care, selection and training information.
The NCSU/NCHC Equine Short Course and Clinic series offers short courses on horse breeding, semen transport, health, performance, nutrition and conditioning, facility design, foal management, forage management, and horse protection officer training.
A series of horse management presentations are developed and produced on videotape for distribution to county extension offices. County extension agents and REINS (Regional Equine Information Network System) volunteer coordinators use the videotape to educate horse owners in educational seminars. A conference-call line enables the audience to interact with the videotape lecturer at the conclusion of each presentation.
Management and horse program information was routinely communicated to extension agents and horse owners through the Carolina Performance Horse Program Newsletter developed jointly by the college of Veterinary Medicine and Extension Horse Husbandry.
The REINS (Regional Equine Information Network System) was established as a pilot program of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service to assist in the education and development of the North Carolina Horse Industry. The program is coordinated by Extension Horse Husbandry at North Carolina State University and participating county extension agents. Through guidance of a coordinating extension agent, horse owners in a multi-county area are organized into 14 regional horse educational organizations. Over 135 REINS volunteers, coordinated by 15 extension livestock agents, develop and deliver educational programs and newsletters within their respective REINS region.
A nationally respected and highly diversified 4-H Horse Program provides horse-owning and non-horse-owning youth with training in basic horse science and horsemanship. The 4-H Horse Program continues to enjoy a strong industry support while developing "today's youth" into the horse producer of the future. A variety of educational events are offered to 4-H members throughout the year. Activities include horse bowl, essay, judging, public speaking, demonstration and hippology contests, stable management events, county, district and state horse shows, horsemanship camps, retreats and clinics, trail rides, cumulative record competition and five artistic expression events.
Program participation includes over 14-15,000 annual projects which rank the North Carolina 4-H Horse Program second nationally in program participation. An assortment of program educational curricula, including project books, worksheets, lesson plans and a monthly 4-H Horse Program Newsletter are provided to volunteer leaders and extension agents. Much of the program's success is attributed to the assistance and dedication of approximately 700 volunteer leaders and horsemen, who are supported on the local level by county extension agents.
The educational merit of the program is evidenced by the continued success of North Carolina 4-H teams and individuals in national educational competitions.
The Animal Science Department Equine Advisory committee was formally established in 1993 and includes 18 representatives from the 4-H Horse Advisory Board, North Carolina Horse Council, State Breed Associations and Agribusinesses. The committee meets twice annually and provides input into the development and coordination of extension, teaching and research equine activities in the Animal Science Department.
The State 4-H Horse Advisory Board consists of 48 volunteer leaders and 7 county extension agents from each of 7 extension program districts. District 4-H Horse Advisory Councils exists in each of the 7 extension Regions. The committee meets for two days annually to provide input into the development and management of youth educational programs and review of educational curricula. Subcommittees of the Advisory Board assist in the management of educational events, leader training conferences and horse shows.