lenn Petty has spent a lifetime with horses. And as president of the North Carolina Horse Council, Petty sees a promising future for the state’s horse industry, thanks in part to ties with a strong Extension Horse Husbandry program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The Horse Council estimates the state’s horse population to be 250,000 head on 60,000 farms. Petty says you can find a major horse farm within 25 miles of any point on the North Carolina map.
He attributes the industry’s strength to a thriving 4-H horse program – one of the largest in the nation at 20,000 participants – supported by Extension Horse Husbandry.
The council values its relationship with both the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine, and it has awarded a number of grants to N.C. State University.
“Through his leadership of the North Carolina Horse Council, Glenn has positioned the council to be a driving force in the future development of the horse industry in North Carolina,” said Mike Yoder, animal science Extension associate and coordinator of REINS (Regional Equine Information Network System). “His understanding of and involvement in the national horse industry has definitely broadened the scope of the industry in our state.”
Petty’s relationship with horses began while he was growing up on a farm in Cleveland County, where cotton, soybeans and beef cattle were raised. One of his friends had a pony, and it was just a matter of time before Petty had one of his own. Later, he upgraded to a horse.
As an animal science and poultry science major in the College, Petty continued his involvement with horses by participating in rodeos. It was an activity he had to give up when more serious pursuits occupied his time.
“When I got a regular job, I found they don’t take kindly to your being out of work with injuries that could have been prevented,” he said.
In 1972, Petty became the horse specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the nation’s first full-time horse specialist with a state agriculture department. In that role, he obtained funding for the Hunt Horse Complex at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh and a second horse complex in Asheville and promoted the facilities among horse owners up and down the East Coast.
Now retired, Petty continues to manage the N.C. State Fair Horse Show and numerous other horse shows across the Southeast, including the Duke Children’s Hospital Horse Show in the fall. This spring he had just returned from shows in Houston and Perry, Ga.
His office travels with him to shows in a fifth-wheel travel trailer that he purchased for that purpose.
Bob Mowrey, coordinator for the College’s Extension Horse Husbandry program, says Petty has been active as a spokesman for the state’s horse industry, even in his retirement. In the early 1980s, when Petty worked at then-NCDA, he was instrumental in bringing together a number of state agencies to educate the public and investigate the theft of nearly 200 horses across the state.
Petty and his wife, Joan, own and operate Triangle Farms in Rolesville, specializing in hunter training. They started with a six-stall barn, and now they are up to 36 horses on this operation. They both also specialize in real estate development and sales related to equestrian and estate property.
The horse industry contributes to the state’s economy in many ways, Petty says. From horse sales to trainers, stables, tack shops, vets, farriers and more, there are many businesses that support the industry.
Horse farms also provide an urban element to agriculture. As farms near urban areas are swallowed up by development, horse farms often remain, preserving green space, he says.
As a trade organization for the state horse industry, the Horse Council has supported the development of horse trails across the state. The council sponsored a trails symposium this spring and has worked to maintain safe, accessible horse trails.
“There’s a lot of pressure to develop land used for trails, and it’s important to ensure continued access to horse trails in North Carolina,” Petty said.
The council has a “wonderful relationship” with N.C. State, Petty said. It has supported the College’s equine teaching program by providing funds for the Equine Educational Unit off Reedy Creek Road. The council co-sponsors educational seminars each year with Extension Horse Husbandry.
To support REINS during the recent state budget crisis, the Horse Council has provided $70,000 for two years to maintain paid leadership for the program.
REINS began as a pilot program of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service to assist in the education and development of the state’s horse industry. The program is coordinated by Extension Horse Husbandry and participating county Extension agents.
Mowrey, who has known Petty for 24 years, described him as “just a tremendous individual. Horses are part of the state’s animal agriculture industry, and Glenn is a huge promoter of the industry.”
Petty himself has served as a member of the College’s Animal Science Equine Advisory Board and the N.C. 4-H Horse Program Advisory Board, as well as past-president of the College of Veterinary Medicine Foundation. He is a past adjunct professor in the Animal Science Department and 1989 recipient of the Partners-In-4-H Award.
“Glenn has been an avid supporter of post-secondary education concerning the training and development of young people interested in horses and horse management,” Yoder said. “In addition to serving on our (animal science) advisory committee, Glenn served on the Martin Community College Equine Advisory Committee helping to establish and develop that program.”
Petty would like to see a stronger push for equine research at N.C. State, particularly in the areas of forage, horse nutrition and waste management. Because horses are not part of the food and fiber industry, there has not been as much research in the equine area.
And the College’s strong horse Extension program continues to be important for the industry. “There are a lot of new people continually coming into the horse industry,” Petty said. “And that’s the reason we support a strong horse Extension program.”