Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council will explore how horse owners can maintain a healthy animal, pasture, and environment at this year's equine forage conference, Feb. 11-13.

The conference will be offered on Monday, Feb. 11, at the Ruritan Building, Chesapeake, Va.; Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Middleburg, Va.; and Wednesday, Feb. 13, at the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Teaching Arena on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va. Registration for each session will begin at 8:30 a.m., and events will end at 3:30 p.m.

"When it comes to making management decisions, knowledge of horses' grazing behavior or having the ability to think like a horse may help alleviate problems before they surface," said Shea Porr, equine Extension agent for Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Northern district. "This conference is designed to help horse owners understand basic horse and land management principles, which in turn will improve the health and well-being of their animals."

Speakers will present information on a variety of topics including the management of toxic plants, horse grazing behavior and health, alternative forages and extending the hay supply, soil and forage testing, and soil and manure management.

  • Dr. Scott Pleasant, an associate professor in large animal clinical sciences at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, will discuss grazing behavior and issues influencing obesity in horses.
  • Kate Norris, a district manager of the Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District, will explain how changes in grazing management practices can positively influence soil and water quality and keep horses out of the mud.
  • Dr. Dennis Blodgett, an associate professor of biomedical science at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, will discuss the potential presence and management of toxic plants that may be in pastures and hay.
  • Shea Porr, the equine Extension agent in Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Northern district, will discuss ways to extend your horse's hay supply after the drought of 2007.
  • Chris Teutsch, associate professor of crop and soil environmental sciences and an Extension specialist in forages for Virginia Cooperative Extension, will discuss how to take a proper soil and forage test and explain how to interpret and act on the results of such tests.
  • Matt Rose, a successful livestock owner and hay producer in Northern Virginia, will discuss tools and implements that a small acreage horse owner can use to manage the property without having to own full-sized equipment.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation supports the conference. The early registration fee (postmarked two weeks prior to the event) is $25 for Virginia Forage and Grassland Council members and $40 for non-members. After the deadline for early registration, the fee is $35 for Virginia Forage and Grassland Council members and $50 for non-members.

For more information or to register for the conference, contact Chris Teutsch at (434) 292-5331.

Virginia Cooperative Extension brings the resources of Virginia’s land-grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, to the people of the commonwealth. Through a system of on-campus specialists and locally based agents, it delivers education in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, community viability, and 4-H youth development. With a network of faculty at two universities, 107 county and city offices, 13 agricultural research and extension centers, and six 4-H educational centers, Virginia Cooperative Extension provides solutions to the problems facing Virginians today.

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