WILMINGTON — Wilmington College was literally full of it last weekend as its equine business management students collected 130 bags of horse feces to test for intestinal parasites.
This student-run community service — light-heartedly called Poo-Looza — provided equine owners and managers with an opportunity to have their horses tested for a nominal fee that includes a follow-up with the results and a personalized de-worming schedule, if warranted, emailed within 10 days.
Ali Davis, a senior from Gallipolis majoring in equine business management, managed the weekend activities. Those included picking up samples from the World Equestrian Center Saturday and hosting an open house at WC Sunday in which people with horses dropped off equine fecal samples for testing.
“It’s good for us to get out into the community with a service like this,” Davis said. “Hopefully, this will continue long-term as both a service to the equine community and a learning experience for WC students.”
Davis explained that the fecal egg counts they performed represent an inexpensive way to monitor a horse’s overall health by identifying specific eggs of such parasites as strongyles, tapeworms and ascarids, which can be controlled by targeted deworming.
She said effective deworming schedules would reduce the likelihood of gastrointestinal tract blockages due to parasite infestation.
Under a microscope, the students count the number of eggs per gram of feces to determine the animals’ intestinal parasite load. The end goal is that horse owners and managers will only deworm as needed, which decreases the likelihood of parasite resistance.
Bethany Siehr, assistant professor of equine business management, commended Davis and the students in her Equine Event Management class who promoted the activity, analyzed the specimens for fecal egg counts and will issue personalized deworming plans based upon guidelines from the Association of Equine Practitioners.
“I preach science in my classes and this is a way to get science out in the community,” Siehr said.
She believed this would be a good community service because fecal egg count monitoring services are limited in the area and, at $10 a specimen, they charged a fraction of what a veterinarian would normally require.
Siehr said numerous persons participating in the Poo-Looza expressed their appreciation for the service with such comments as “You folks made this so easy!” and “A win-win for everybody; a really smart idea!”
Davis was paid for her leadership of the program through WC Haas Project Grants, which are created through generous gifts from alumni John and Carolyn Haas. Their wish is to aid students by funding projects that further prepare students for the working world.
Projects are defined as unique events that do not occur on a regular basis such as research, analysis, production, marketing or similar specific work that provides on-the-job training.
Wilmington College offers a major in equine business management, which features coursework centered on communication, science and business management as it pertains to the equine industry.
Its minor in equine studies provides students with the opportunity to tailor their education and concentrate on specific areas of interest within the equine industry.