In Depth: Behind The Scenes At Kentucky Equine Research

Jun 19, 2016
Originally published on March 24, 2017 11:59 am

A central Kentucky-based research facility will play a vital role in the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio.  Samantha Lederman recently paid a visit to the Kentucky Equine Research Center.

Dr Joe Pagan founded Kentucky Equine Research on the outskirts of Versailles, Kentucky in 1998, and since then has overseen it’s growth and global expansion to the world leader it has become today.

The traditional barns and antebellum house in rural Woodford County that are Kentucky Equine Research or KER’s Kentucky headquarters and office, house some of the most advanced equine research equipment in the world, along with a dedicated and highly qualified team of staff led by Pagan.

KER has an office in Victoria, Australia to serve that continent and Asia, as well as personnel in Europe and South America, but the 150 acre farm here in Central Kentucky is the heart of the operation.

A lot of the research is done in the stables but KER uses an equine treadmill for it’s exercise physiology research. The high speed equine treadmill is exactly what it sounds like and what you’d see in the gym except purpose built for horses and for KER.

Originally from Arkansas, Pagan chose Kentucky as his base because he maintains it is the capital of the horse world. Although KER conducts research into all breeds and disciplines, because of it’s location it has a distinct advantage in the Thoroughbred racing world.

As in the last five Olympic Games, this summer in Rio KER will also play a vital role, supplying literally tons of carrots for each and every four-legged competitor.

A crew of seven will assist Pagan at the Games with the 200 competing horses and 25 reserves, and then a smaller squad will return a couple of weeks later to make sure everything runs smoothly at the Paralympics where it’s expected there will be about 75 horses, all competing in one discipline.

KER Kentucky usually accepts three interns annually who spend a year doing hands on research as well as working in the barns in exchange for board and a small stipend. This year there were 130 applications from all over the world. Barn manager Alana Mann came from Australia to intern here two years ago and couldn’t wait to come back.

Pagan had told me earlier that his satisfaction comes from answering questions & proving facts via the research, but even more so from seeing results live as in his Derby winners. Mann is equally passionate but undecided yet where her experience will take her.  Meanwhile KER will continue to be a world leader in it’s field.

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