The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents has approved the establishment of the Texas A&M Institute for Equine Sciences.

The new institute will bring together world-class science, academic expertise and facilities to advance its equine mission. Major goals include strengthening equine collaborations among public and private sectors and academia. Collaborators will work toward enhanced care and welfare of horses, improved research infrastructure and top-tier education for students and professionals.

“The Equine Institute combines expertise and resources across Texas A&M toward a well-defined, unified mission,” said John August, BVetMed, MRCVS, Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M. “With this, we aim to ignite the collaborative spirit of advancing equine science, academics, leadership, well-being and industry.”

“Today’s approval from the Board of Regents is a remarkable milestone in forming the world’s most comprehensive and collaborative equine program,” said Cliff Lamb, Ph.D., director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research. “Our work will create synergies across the equine sector that strengthen it long into the future.”

Support for establishing the new institute totals nearly $25 million. Funding comes via AgriLife Research, the Texas A&M University Office of the President, the Department of Animal Science in 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 N.W. “Dick” Freeman Endowment and Patsy Link Estate Endowment.

“Establishing this institute not only renews but expands Texas A&M’s commitment to equine initiatives,” said M. Katherine Banks, president of Texas A&M University. “Our impacts in this area are remarkable, and we are excited to build upon our success.”

Continuing impact

The institute’s establishment represents a new era of aligning equine initiatives at Texas A&M and building upon programming that began in 2009 with The Equine Initiative at Texas A&M University.

Horses outside in front of a window that reads
Horses at the Thomas G. Hildebrand DVM ’56 Equine Complex. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Laura McKenzie)

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

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

“The scientific expertise and infrastructure within Texas A&M AgriLife amount to the finest resources available for expanding equine initiatives within agriculture and life sciences,” said Jeffrey W. Savell, Ph.D., vice chancellor and dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences. “This will be the world’s premier resource for equine science.”

The future of equine sciences at Texas A&M

In building upon the impacts of the Equine Initiative, the new Equine Institute will expand its mission to grow with the needs of the equine industry.

Current focuses include continued curriculum enhancement, outreach and engagement expansion, partnership development and infrastructure improvement.

A director for the new Equine Institute, determined by a national search, will report to the director of AgriLife Research. The institute will include internal and external advisory committees and undergo an annual review.

Gabe Saldana is a Texas A&M AgriLife Marketing and Communications strategist focusing on initiatives of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, which includes 13 research and extension centers across Texas. Saldana was a news reporter and editor of the Mid-Valley Town Crier in Weslaco, TX, covering the Rio Grande Valley of Deep South Texas before joining Texas A&M AgriLife in 2014.