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New Equine Rehabilitation Center opens at Morrisville State College

Public invited to open house April 28 from noon to 3 p.m.
MORRISVILLE, N.Y.—Once a day, Pretty Lopin Machine, “Purdie,” gets a 20-minute workout in the large underwater treadmill in Morrisville State College’s equine rehabilitation facility.

As she walks in a relaxed motion against the resistance of the water, her ears perk in the direction of students coaching her with words of encouragement. “Good girl. You’re doing a great job,” said equine student, Cassie Clark, of Rochester, N.Y.

The daily routine is helping to strengthen and condition Purdie, who was diagnosed with lameness in her front feet and right hind stifle joint, which is equivalent to a human knee. The lameness prevented the sleek, muscled Quarter Horse from being used in Morrisville State College’s western riding program.

Purdie’s become somewhat of a celebrity on the Morrisville State College campus. She’s one of the first horses to receive comprehensive care offered in the college’s new equine rehabilitation facility, and the first to utilize the above ground, underwater treadmill. With the progress she’s making, she is expected to be back in the western pleasure show ring soon.

Other equine athletes like Purdie are also benefiting from the new Morrisville State College Equine Rehabilitation Center (MSCERC) which officially opened its doors during a grand opening April 13.

The public is invited to an open house at the new facility April 28 from noon to 3 p.m.

One of few publicly accessible equine rehabilitation facilities in the Northeast, the MSCERC offers equipment and rehabilitation techniques to keep healthy horses conditioned, and to help injured equine athletes recover post injury or post-surgery. The center is also home to the college’s thoroughbred racing management program.

The multi-million dollar complex, located on 103 acres of land three miles west of campus on Route 20, in Morrisville, boasts a 40,000-square-foot riding arena, stabling for 40 horses, and a complete rehabilitation center furnished with the most modern equipment and therapeutic modalities. Among them are; an underwater treadmill, indoor swimming pool, an 80-foot diameter exerciser, solariums, a cold salt-water spa, laser therapy and therapeutic ultrasound.

The MSCERC plays an integral role in helping equine athletes in all disciplines stay fit, avoid injury and recover faster from injuries stemming from competing and performing.

It’s also opening doors in the equine world, providing a unique level of service to horse owners that hadn’t been available locally.

“We’re looking forward to providing services to outside horses. They can be performance horses, race horses or companion horses,” said Karin Kohl, MSCERC manager and adjunct instructor. “We’re anticipating this facility being a very collaborative effort among veterinary professionals and the equine community.”

“This is something needed in the industry, said Bill Maddison, a former equine professor at the college and vision behind the facility. “All of this could not have come to fruition without the support and backing from so many people.”

Generous donors, contributions from the Morrisville College Foundation, and money secured by Sen. David Valesky, D-49, and Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-111, helped to fund the project, which was 10 years in the making.

Valesky noted the far-reaching effects the facility will have throughout the region.

“With this facility, you are not just filling a need; you are broadening a burgeoning industry in New York state, further cementing Madison County and Route 20 as ‘Equine Alley’,” he said. “The educational benefits are outstanding, and the economic development potential is unlimited.”

The new facility is broadening horizons for Morrisville State College students too. It fostered a new equine rehabilitation concentration in its equine science bachelor degree program and already has 12 students onboard.
“I was so excited when I heard Morrisville was offering this program,” said Crystal Porvaznik, 25, of Long Island, an equine science-equine rehabilitation bachelor degree major.

“I’ve always loved horses and this new program will help me obtain my future goal of rehabilitating them,” said Clark, who already has an associate degree in equine science from Morrisville State College. After she receives her bachelor degree, Clark plans to attend Ontario Veterinary College then pursue a career specializing in equine lameness and treatment.

While it spells out more employment opportunities for students, the new program will also provide the equine industry with more students who have training in equine rehabilitation.

The MSCERC is a live, learning environment, where students, under the direction of Kohl and Mike Bednarek, assistant manager, help carry out each horse’s individualized treatment or fitness program.

“A licensed veterinarian assesses the horses and develops a physical rehabilitation plan, then Mike and I, as veterinary technicians, implement the plan with students helping to complete the tasks,” Kohl said.

Kohl and Bednarek have dedicated their lives to horses. Kohl, a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT), Master Equinology® Equine Body Worker (MEEBW), and Certified Equine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CERP), has been involved with horses for more than 30 years and provides equine body work and saddle fitting services to performance and companion horses in various disciplines.

She is the first veterinary professional to be certified in equine manual lymph drainage (MLD) in the United States through the European Seminar for Equine Lymph Drainage at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover, Germany.

Bednarek, is a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) and his experience in the equine industry spans more than 40 years training and breeding horses through his business, Bednarek Quarter Horses, Inc., located in Jamesville, N.Y. He also shows horses in halter, western and English pleasure, western reining, trail, hunters and jumpers, showmanship, horsemanship, hunt seat equitation, and longe line. He holds five judge cards in AQHA, PHBA, IBHA, NRCHA and NSBA, and is one of only three judges in New York state qualified to judge any Quarter Horse event.

Making Their Mark
The MSCERC and students are already making progress in the equine world.

“During the fall semester, when horses had their first re-check by a veterinarian, the veterinarian said the students should be very proud of the work they are doing,” Kohl said. “The horses are showing physical improvement, decreased pain levels, and are happy horses.”

Among students embracing the new facility and program is Katey Rowe, 26, of Cortland, N.Y.
“I want to learn everything I possibly can,” said Rowe, who already has an associate degree in equine science from Morrisville State College. “The exposure to all of the equipment and modalities, and getting this hands-on experience, is very valuable.”

Rowe, who works for a large animal vet, jumped at the chance to return to earn a bachelor degree in the equine rehabilitation concentration.
 
So did Abbie Giacona, 20, of Auburn, N.Y. “For me to actually work on the equipment in this amazing facility is huge,” she said.

Among the modern equipment is the underwater treadmill which allows horses to exercise without putting their full body weight on injured limbs, joints, or tendons, and also provides a controlled, safe way to strengthen and condition.

In the same room, a 50-foot long by 25-foot-wide, 14 -foot deep equine swimming pool, allows horses to maintain muscle tone and cardiovascular fitness without straining joints, tendons, or ligaments.

Right now, students are in the process of learning how to handle a horse in the pool from Modern Desire, “MD,” a retired Standardbred horse who has the role of a teaching horse.

Once they learn the ropes from MD, they will also be working with other horses in the pool, which holds 110,000 gallons of water.

A pair of solariums inside the MSCERC produce infra-red heat and many benefits for horses including increasing circulation and relaxing muscles.

So far, the new facility is receiving high marks from the community.

“The equine rehabilitation center represents the true essence of Morrisville State College’s mission—combining facets of agriculture, science, technology and entrepreneurialism into a higher educational experience that benefits students and also the larger economy of the region and state,” Valesky said.

“I’ve seen a tremendous growth in the equine industry and we need to do all we can to embrace it,” Magee said. “This is really a wonderful thing for the area, the industry and Morrisville State College.”

“This will make a significant mark in New York state and beyond, and will be a signature piece of equine rehabilitation,” said Dr. Bjong Wolf Yeigh, officer-in-charge at Morrisville State College.

“It is beyond my fondest dreams,” said Maddison of the completed facility. “These things come with hard work and determination. I am proud to be a part of this legacy.”

Learn more about the MSCERC, operated by the Morrisville Auxiliary Corporation MAC) at www.morrisville.edu/facilities/equinerehab.aspx.

About Morrisville State College Equine Programs
Morrisville State College was the first college in New York state to offer a four-year equine science degree. Additionally, the college offers one of the most diverse equine science programs, with specializations in breeding, western, hunt seat, draft/driving, thoroughbred racing, standardbred racing, business, and now equine rehabilitation and therapy.

The college’s equine program is one of the most recognized in the nation, known for the diversity of its academic offerings and for successful business enterprises that serve the equine industry through its Equine Institute.

The institute undertakes many entrepreneurial ventures including the breaking of and showing horses, selling horses standing of syndicated and privately owned stallions, and conducts an annual standardbred sale which nets nearly $2 million.

Equine Degrees Offered
Morrisville State College offers a bachelor of technology degree in equine science and two associate degrees in equine racing management and equine and science management. Facilities include an Equine Breeding and Training Center, a 34,000 square-foot breeding and hunter/jumper facility, a breeding and foaling barn, hunter/jumper barn, stallion barn, a complete breeding laboratory, collection area, laptop classrooms and four indoor arenas.
 
Morrisville State College sets the world in motion for students. Curriculums are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology. Lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs, the college was named to the 2012 President’s Higher Community Service Honor Roll. Visit www.morrisville.edu to experience, Morrisville in motion.