The Equitarian Initiative has arrived in South Dakota! Under the guidance of Dr. Rebecca C. Bott at South Dakota State University, Angie Gebhart completed an Honors independent study undergraduate research project entitled “The 2011 South Dakota Equitarian Survey and Reservation Equine Welfare Analysis.” She presented her results at the Midwest Society of Animal Science meeting in Des Moines, IA for a third-place finish in the undergraduate research competition. The study’s results are in the final editing stages and will be submitted for publication this summer.
South Dakota’s Native American reservations encompass the poorest counties in the U.S., and veterinarians are scarce in these areas. Angie & Rebecca sent a survey to all of South Dakota’s equine veterinarians, ascertaining their perceptions of the current standard of welfare of South Dakota’s Native American reservation equine population and overall impressions of the effectiveness of an equitarian initiative in these locations. After rec
eiving tribal council approval, Angie & Rebecca then directly observed almost 300 horses on the Cheyenne River Reservation in northwestern South Dakota for welfare indicators and standards of care.
Using the results of this study, Angie & Rebecca are leading a South Dakota reservation equitarian initiative this summer. This effort includes a farrier apprentice training program in which 9 young men from several South Dakota reservations were selected from an application pool to receive tools and two-week hoof care instruction on the Pine Ridge reservation. Additionally, 10 tribal educators will be selected to receive lesson plans about horse health and
horsemanship information to be brought to South Dakota’s school-aged reservation population. Finally, a partnership with R-VETS has been established to deliver workshops this June on Cheyenne River and Pine Ridge reservations. The R-VETS group will provide veterinary care while the SDSU group brings educational materials and short courses to the event.