June 17, 2012–Welcome to my new blog, Horse Ownership 2.0.? My name is Christine Skelly and I am the equine extension specialist at Michigan State University.? I received my doctorate at Texas A&M University in equine nutrition and physiology–basically how to feed horses and how a horse’s body responds to exercise and stress.? I have worked with a broad range of horse owners around the country including ranchers, race horse owners, elite performance horseman and first time horse owners.? I am the founder and director of My Horse University, an online horse management and education program.? You may have seen our logo, as MHU has had a strong partnership with the Equine Network since 2009, and DiscoverHorses.com since its launch in 2010. I have learned a great deal from my education and work with other horse people, but my best teachers have been the horses I’ve owned?starting with the first when I was 11. My parents weren?t horsey.? In fact, I grew up in a typical subdivision on the outskirts of Houston, Texas.? However, I had horses in my blood, probably from my granddaddy who was raised on a cattle ranch in south Texas. My best friends were also horse crazy. A matter of luck?? I doubt it. We just seemed to gravitate to each other, perhaps because we all watched Mr. Ed or we obsessively drew horses at school.? Our conversations centered on horses instead of boys.? We gossiped about the horses we personally knew and loved.? We routinely visited horses pastured around our neighborhood, rode rental horses every Saturday morning, and joined 4-H when we turned nine–even though we were the only kids in our club without a horse. I read every horse book and magazine I could get my hands on.? I was a disciple of Mary Twelveponies, a featured trainer in Horse&Rider magazine back in the day.? I became a little 10-year-old horse expert, digesting every piece of horse knowledge I could find.
My parents finally gave in when I kept buying grooming tools, buckets and fly spray with my chore money, knowing someday I would own a horse.? When I was 11, my parents purchased Bluebonnet for me. She was a smallish flea-bitten gray mare who turned out to be an ideal first horse.
So my journey into horse ownership began, and after some 30-plus years, horses have permeated all walks of my life.? My passion for horses has taken me on some twists and turns along the way, from my career as a professor in equine science at Michigan State University to getting engaged on horseback in the mountains of New Mexico. Today, I work with horse owners and professionals in all aspects of horse management, from feeding to cleaning up after them–and everything in between. In this blog, we will have conversations on all aspects of horse ownership, sharing management strategies, the triumphs and the bumps and twists that can come up along the way.? Next, we will ask the question, “Is horse ownership for you?” Dr. Christine Skelly is an extension specialist at Michigan State University where she founded and directs My Horse University, an online horse management education program.? Dr. Skelly developed the free online course Purchasing and Owning a Horse 101, in partnership with Discover Horses.?Follow My Horse University on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and take the free online course Purchasing and Owning a Horse 101.?