Saving the Farm: UNH’s equine program needs your help

Development plans threaten to relocate the University of New Hampshire equine program, but some people are convinced that the program won’t survive a move.

As far as university equine programs go, UNH has a flourishing one. In addition to award-winning equestrian teams, the program provides students with strong academics and unique opportunities for hands-on learning.  Students can earn a B.S. in Equine Industry Management, Equine Science or Therapeutic Riding (via PATH international premier accredited Therapeutic Riding Program), or an A.A.S. in Equine Management. The facility includes a 52-stall barn with indoor and outdoor riding rings and an on-campus Beginner Novice through Preliminary cross-country course.

Far from insular and self-contained, the program actively interacts with the community in which it is based. UNH hosts USEF/USEA recognized horse trials and USDF/USEF recognized dressage shows on-site, and its facilities are open to area riders and organizations for a fee. The breeding facility offers services to community members, including collection and storage, and the barn is open for walk-throughs to the public daily.

But the program is in trouble. I’ll let New Hampshire event rider and “Confessions of an AA Eventer” blogger Suzanne Adamstake it from here:
Let me see if I can simplify a somewhat complicated situation…

  • The Problem – NH State budget cuts reduced funding to the University by $48 million.  UNH developed a Campus Master Plan (CMP) which originally planned to lease out lands used by the Agriculture/Equine/Life Sciences programs for commercial development to bridge some of the shortfall.
    • That means RETAIL stores – think Big Box Stores.
  • The Outcry – Two public meetings were held.  Over 600 people attended and the support against this development was astounding.  As a result of this outcry, the Master Plan Steering Committee changed the language to “limit” potential development in these areas.
    • “Limit” does not mean no commercial development
  • More of the Problem – The public meetings were contentious and the Master Plan Steering Committee along with the Consultants were caught unprepared for such a reaction from the community.  Now, they meet quietly until the next public release.   There are Plans to move the Equine program in order to make way for commercial/business development eliminating the current facilities (parts of the XC course, stabling, paddocks, farm buildings, indoor and stadium jumping course). 

So, the Master Plan Steering Committee feel that by moving the facilities, all will be well and that we will be silent.  Where is an already cash-strapped university going to find the money to replace what is being “moved”?

Remember Over the Walls
Horse Trials?  Gone!


It’s kind of like a shell game…  they are not canceling the plans for development they are just shuffling it around.  And, for how long will the shuffling last?  Will the Equine Program be able to survive if it continues to be squeezed slowly and consistently like an anaconda eating its prey?

Some of you are all fired up, right?  We’re Eventers and we love a good challenge!  And maybe some of you are thinking…  “Well, it’s kind of out of my hands and really,  I don’t live in NH and haven’t ever competed at UNH.”  (I actually hope that’s just my mom and not an Area 1 Eventer.)
Here is why its important to all of us… even those Eventers outside of New England. 

  • Every time Commercial or Retail development occurs on green space we all lose.  Think of all the Commercial and Retail lots in your area that are still “For Lease”, half empty or that have signs in the window “Store Closing”.  Do we need more on our open lands?
  • UNH is one of the first Land Grant Universities whose mission was to, among other things, teach Agriculture using the land granted to them.  If we continue to erode our Agriculture/Environmental Educational base, who will teach our future horsemen? 
  • And is a Green/Sustainable future really possible if these colleges continue to be pathed over to make way for the Walmarts of the world?
Photo used with permission


If you love a good gallop, or a great XC run and if you want to continue to see Horse Trials throughout New England…  WE ALL NEED YOU NOW!

Take a few moments and email the following key individuals:

 Express your concern over the proposed development and kindly demand:

  1. that the Campus Master Plan be revisited and redirected
  2. that they must discontinue the plans for any large scale retail development on UNH land,
  3. that Agriculture, Dairy, Equine, Organics and Sustainability are very important and should be invested in rather than squeezed out.
  4. that the President meet directly with the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture to hear their input

Change happens when we make it happen! Get emailing!

[Republished from the Area I newsletter and Suzanne’s “Confessions of an AA Eventer” blog]

Thank you, Suzanne, for your advocacy. As for the rest of Horse Nation, remember that even if you don’t live in New England, land conservancy is an issue that affects us all as equestrian nthusiasts. Go make some noise, and Go Riding.


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