Student workers tend to needs of 50 University horses
MURRAY, Ky. — Remaining true to their name, a group of Racers continue to care for the Murray State University Equine Center’s stable of 50 horses amidst the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Bailey Coffman of Jackson, Tennessee, McKenna Debus of Fort Mill, South Carolina, Rachel Lawrence of Owensboro, Kentucky, Gabby Lee from Elgin, Illinois, and Danielle French of Benton, Kentucky, are all continuing their work tending to each horse, from feeding them twice a day to maintaining stalls, rotating hay in and out, managing each horse’s hooves and shoes and much more.
“The Equine Center has been my home for the past four years,” said Coffman, a senior equine business management major. “I consider the faculty and staff here my family, and there was no way I could turn my back on them in such a time of need. I’m glad to stay as long as I can to help make a place that has done so much for me continue to do so for other students after I’m gone.”
The team is led by Equine Facilities Manager Mrs. Alysia Conner. She said her students have risen to the occasion to manage the farm’s daily operations, along with a handful of recent projects. That includes vaccinating and blood-testing each horse — usually performed by entire labs of students — while assisting in transportation for veterinary appointments. The group also recently delivered a pair of foals, with a third pregnant mare due soon.
“When COVID-19 began disrupting our daily lives, these students never hesitated to confirm that they were going to stay to help me care for the horses,” Conner said. “These young women take great pride in how the Murray State University horses are cared for and they are great examples of what we hope to produce as graduates of our program.”
“I stayed to work because as agriculture workers, it is our responsibility to make sure our animals are cared for,” said Debus, a senior equine business management major. “They work for us and in turn, it is our job to work for them. As hard as this time is for everyone, it is a little easier knowing our animals are still getting the care they need.”