Virginia Tech Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center

A pasture based research center that focuses on improving equine management while enhancing land stewardship.

Philanthropist Paul Mellon donated the 420-acre farm to Virginia Tech in 1949 to foster research that improved pasture and animal productivity while enhancing the land. The center was used primarily for beef cattle research for 40 years, but was rededicated to equine research and teaching in 1992. The MARE Center has been instrumental in advancing the frontier of knowledge related to the care and well-being of the horse. Many of today's common practices regarding equine nutrition, growth and development, pasture management and exercise physiology were developed as a result of research conducted at the Center. Today, we continue the rich tradition of research in pasture-based nutrition, and have expanded our discovery efforts to include additional disciplines of genetics, immunology, reproduction and behavior.The center is one of 11 of Virginia Tech's Agricultural Research and Extension Centers.

Mission: The MARE Center creates, integrates and shares knowledge to improve the health and well-being of the horse, the environment and the community.


Our friends at Virginia Working Landscapes are having a workshop on regenerative grazing in Rappahannock County this Friday. For more details or to sign up, click below: Studying and promoting the sustainable use of Virginia’s landscapes for native biodiversity through ecosystem research, habitat monitoring, and community engagement.

Bzzzzzzzz. 🐝🐝🐛🦋.... Mooooo 🐮🐮

September 11, Dr. Ben Tracy is giving a Bee-friendly Beef Summer Pasture Walk at the Shenandoah AG. Research and Extension Center in Raphine, VA. Registration starts at 5:00pm with tour starting at 5:30pm. Topics include: establishing and managing native grasses and wildflowers for cattle and bees, native grass and wildflower options for planting, and tour of current research on native grasses and wildflowers. For more information contact Dr. Tracy at (540) 231-8359 or [email protected].

Eat up there little buddy- summer is winding down! Glad I didn't mow the milkweed last month 🐛🦋

Behind the scenes from yesterday's #VTSOTU. Smart Farming is on the move in Middleburg! Watch the SOTU here-

Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Tune-in tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. to hear Robin White discuss the SmartFarm Innovation Network during the State of the University Address. Live video:

Dr. Seuss’s Long-Lost Final Book Is about Art History

🤩🤩🤩 The illustrator’s late wife found an incomplete manuscript for “Horse Museum” in a box six years ago.

Great program next week here at the Center. See some horses on research trials, drill calibration demonstration, and a great BBQ dinner! VT_MAREC, VTCals. Registration still happening.

Dr. Ben Tracy and PhD student, Shayan Ghajar will host a Native Grass Field Day on Wednesday, September 4, 1:30pm at Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center to discuss establishing and managing native grasses for forage and wildlife benefits, demonstrate how to calibrate a seed drill for native grasses and give a tour of their current research. @vtcals #forages #plantscience #hokies #agronomy #environment

2019 Equine Science Summer Internship Application.pdf

The MARE Center is excited to announce we are open to applications for the summer internship program. Applications are due by 5PM on February 21st. Application forms and more details about the internship are linked below:

Equine Science Application:

You know it chilly when you empty feed bags and they stand up by themselves. #nothingahammerwontfix

Buckeye Nutrition

Its so quick and easy!

🔉Calling all senior horse owners!
Do you own a horse or pony 15 years of age or older? We want to hear from you! Take a few minutes and complete the second part of our Horse Feed Concepts Survey for your chance to win $100 in coupons redeemable for any BUCKEYE Nutrition products!

Have you taken a previous survey? That's okay, this is a new and different one-so go ahead and click "Learn More" to get started!

Virginia 4-H

Joining 4-H is a great way to start learning about horses!! This is Mary, one of our 4-H Horse Ambassadors! She is awesome!

Would like everyone to meet Mary Blankenship! She is a 4-H member in Tazewell County, who has been inspired by 4-H! #TrueLeaders #InspireKidstoDo

Look familiar to anyone in warrenton area?

UDATE. SHE IS HOME SAFELY. DO YOU KNOW ME?! I'm a goofball senior gal that was found in the Warrenton area. It's real nice here at the shelter but I would really like to go back to my own bed. Please call the FSPCA if you know where that is! #FSPCA

[09/19/18]   VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: The MARE Center is planning a digestibility study looking at native warm-season grass hays for horses starting this October and continuing through December. We would love to have help during the digestibility trial, which will include weighing feed and water, emptying total collection harnesses, and processing fecal samples. If interested, please message [email protected]

IACUC certification is a huge plus, but if you don't have it, we can help you get it without issue.

Thank you!

Horses and Horse Farms: Hurricane Preparedness

Great tips to prepare your horses and horse farms for the impending hurricane this weekend from our NC State Extension colleagues! Hurricane season is upon us. Here are some tips to help prepare your horses and your farm for a storm. Before the Storm Vaccinations: All horses should have a tetanus toxoid vaccine within the last year. Due to the increase in mosquitoes after massive rainfall, all horses should also receive West Ni...

Healthy Lands for Healthy Horses: Short Course - The Virginia Forage and Grassland Council

Are you eligible for cost share to make improvements on your farm to reduce environmental impact? Do you want to learn how to identify plants in your pastures? Not sure what to do with your manure? Concerns about pasture laminitis? Not sure how much and when to apply fertilizer?
Register now to answer these questions and more! This one day short course will connect you with Virginia Tech equine faculty and conservation district experts to help you improve horse and pasture health through management. The one day hands-on training is offered in four locations throughout the Commonwealth, so register today for a location near you!
Dates: Middleburg 9/25, Roanoke 10/10, Free Union 10/11 and Chesapeake 10/30
Only $35 (lunch and reference materials included)! A day-long workshop to address the needs of small horse farms. Includes lectures and hands-on field demonstrations by professionals. Learn about conservation practices that benefit land, water and animals. Pasture and grazing management Plant identification and selection Maintaining healthy soils Fa...

Thank you Alison Spivey for a great day!! It was a great educational visit! It’s also so exciting and inspiring to see VA 4-H alumni succeeding in the equine industry!!

We were so excited to welcome the interns at the MARE Center to our barn yesterday! We talked about dressage, our horses, and our management practices. They are a very sharp group of students! Go Hokies!! #teamasd

Summer interns Intro to horse racing! #winning

Butterfly Count - Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy

Register now for the butterfly count August 4! Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has coordinated the Annual Loudoun Butterfly count since 1997. The count takes place in early August, which is the peak time for butterflies in our area. We report our data to the North American Butterfly Association, which tracks butterfly populations.

Summer interns learned all about how the equestrian industry translates to a wider audience through equitourism! Thank you Ashely Farrell for your time and insights!

So many beautiful horses! Thank you Hilltop Farm for inviting our summer interns for this incredible opportunity!

Hound kisses anyone? Our summer interns were graciously welcomed by the Middleburg Hunt today to learn all about foxhunting. A sport near and dear to the heart of our equine community and land conservation efforts. Thank you hounds, staff and masters for having us!

Thank you Cliff Williamson and Bryan Brendle for discussing legislative and regulatory issues important to the horse industry with our Summer Interns!

Giant Hogweed Identification

Per Dr. Flessner, a weed science specialist with Virginia Cooperative Extension:

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) has recently been confirmed to be present in Clarke Co. Virginia, which is the first confirmed report in Virginia. Skin contact with giant hogweed sap and sunlight can result in severe blistering and burning. Giant hogweed can easily be confused with cow parsnip; this link is a good resource for identification: Giant hogweed is a Tier 1 Noxious Weed in Virginia and should be reported to VDACS (

Our summer interns are never lacking opportunities to learn here! This is a snapshot of our week:

2016 MARE Center Internship alum Kyla S. presenting her MS research from Tarleton State University on probiotics and transport stress in horses at the 18th Annual AAVN Clinical Nutrition and Research Symposium.

We are all set up for Day 4! Come see us!

Summer undergraduate interns after a long day of working at Upperville!

Night check! Both foal and dam are doing well!

Just 2 days left! Will you help support our future equine professionals?

Please help support the State 4-H Horse Program Educational Teams! Give a gift of any amount! We are only at 23% of our goal with 2 days left!! Thank you so very much!!

Congratulations to our equine nutrition graduate students for their success at the Mid-Atlantic Nutrition Conference graduate student research poster competition! Katie Kaufman, PhD candidate, won 1st place with her research “Effects of seasonal changes in pasture nonstructural carbohydrates on the metabolic response in grazing horses,” and Shayan Ghajar, PhD student, won 2nd place with “The effect of distance from water and shelter on forage utilization and vegetative composition in an equine pasture.” Kristine Ely, PhD student presented “The effects of feed processing methods on morphometric measurements and fecal parameters in horses.”

All three students did a fantastic job representing Virginia Tech in the competition which included all species from a number of

We are so grateful for support from the Virginia Horse Industry Board, Buckeye Nutrition and MARS Horsecare US for making these studies possible.

We would also like to thank the organizers of the poster competition and Cumberland Valley Analytical Services for the generous sponsorship and awards for the student competitions.

Thanks to all who came out to learn at the VFGC/VHIB Doing Right by Your Horse, Land and Pocketbook last night! Shout out to graduate students Katie Kaufman and Aubrey Jaqueth who did an outstanding job presenting the research they are doing at the MARE Center. Side Saddle Cafe knocked it out of the park with their delicious and local spread for dinner! Some lucky guests also went home with BUCKEYE Nutrition treats and feed as well!

Wondering what grasses to plant and how to avoid laminitis this spring? Want to learn how to identify plants commonly found in hay and pasture? Are you looking for ways to prevent mud and erosion? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then plan to attend the FREE seminar below offered in three locations throughout the state! Dinner and refreshments are included. To RSVP for the Middleburg location please contact Dr. Bridgett McIntosh [email protected] or 540-687-3521 ext22

Colonial Downs: Virginia House approves historical racing * The Racing Biz

Great news for Virginia’s horse industry! The possibility of racing returning to Colonial Downs moved forward today, when the Va. House approved a critical "historical racing" bill.

It is with great sadness to report that Innkeeper was humanely euthanized due to complications related to colic. The 30 year old stallion was the last remaining intact son of Secretariat and was out of the Mr. Prospector Mare, Sue Babe. He epitomized the diversity and greatness of the Thoroughbred breed where he was successful racing, three day Eventing, fox hunting, in dressage and as a breeding stallion. He was donated to Virginia Tech in 2010 by Ursula Ferrier where he was an integral part of our teaching, breeding and outreach programs. It was a privilege and honor to care for such an amazing and special horse. Innkeeper, aka Howard, will be greatly missed and leaves a special mark on the MARE Center. He was buried on the farm where a memorial will be created in his honor. Thank you to all who cared for and loved him throughout the years. Rest In Peace our friend Innkeeper, March 15, 1988 - February 2, 2018.

Please visit the link below to read a wonderful story by Patricia McQueen that describes the twists and turns of his life:

[01/19/18]   There is nothing quite like the bond between our graduate students and the horses that help build their careers. Kristine Ely is a PhD student originally from Illinois studying equine nutrition. The research we do at the MARE Center helps horses like Innkeeper (son of Secretariat) live long healthy lives. He is 30 this year!

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5527 Sullivans Mill Rd
Middleburg, VA