Building a Horse Farm Improvement Program for New York State Equine Farms

The New York State Horse Health Assurance Program was established in 2002 with the goal of certifying New York State equine farms. The program is no longer active, leaving New York without any equine evaluation, certification, or improvement program. This internship will build on a former intern’s project to create a program for equine farms that aims to improve equine welfare. The outlines of the Horse Farm Improvement Program have been established through a literature review, interviews, and a preliminary survey. Farms are assessed in eight evaluation areas: horse health, biosecurity, manure management, nutrient management, human safety, business management, facilities, and environmental sustainability. The next stage of the project is to enroll equine farms in New York State to serve as test subjects for the continued development of the evaluation program. By the end of the project, the student will have created a functional evaluation program by conducting pilot evaluations, integrating feedback from barn owners, and considering scientific literature in the field.

Roles and responsibilities 

The intern will have the opportunity to play a large role in the development of the Horse Farm Improvement Program. He or she will gain experience contacting and coordinating with barn owners and managers, interviewing barn personnel, conducting farm inspections and welfare assessments, and integrating their findings to create recommendations for barn owners. Based on the student’s areas of interest, he or she may be involved in the development of resource- or animal-based measures included in the final program. The selected intern will also gain experience conducting scientific literature reviews, summarizing findings, and presenting their ideas in written and oral formats. This will be an excellent opportunity for a student to be a part of creating a lasting extension project that will impact many horses and horse industry members for years to come.

Qualifications and previous coursework

This opportunity is available to students in Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Previous experience working with horses or in the horse industry is desired. Preferred: ANSC 2650 (Equine Biology and Management)

Learning outcomes 

By the end of this internship, the student should be able to:

  • Describe the makeup of the New York State equine industry
  • Conduct a thorough scientific literature search and integrate their findings into a comprehensive literature review
  • Comfortably engage with equine industry members including barn owners and managers, horse owners, trainers, industry professionals, and extension personnel
  • Perform an equine farm assessment
  • Recommend appropriate resource- or animal-based measures for on-farm welfare assessments
  • Integrate evaluation findings and scientific literature into actionable recommendations for horse barn owners and managers
  • Convey their findings in written and oral formats