This story was originally written for the College of Veterinary Medicine by Grateful Client Program Coordinator Mallory Moye.
Endurance riding taught Stagg and Cheryl Newman the valuable bond between humans and horses. Their professional careers taught them the value of research. Today, the Newmans blend their passions to advance equine research for generations to come.
COMMITMENT TO HIGHER ACHIEVEMENT
Stagg and Cheryl met in graduate school at Cornell University, where they earned their doctorates.
Cheryl grew up in New York City with a nascent passion for horses. Cheryl explained “I somehow saved enough money to learn the basics of riding. Upon leaving graduate school, I convinced Stagg to try riding.”
Stagg, an avid runner, found long-distance riding combined his love of endurance sports with a now-joint passion for horses. Stagg converted Cheryl to distance riding. Combined they have now completed over one hundred 100-mile competitions with their equine partners. In 2020, Stagg and Cheryl were honored and humbled to be elected to the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) Hall of Fame.
“Fundamental to our involvement in endurance are the outstanding athletes, our equine partners,” says Stagg. “Our goal with any horse is ten or more years of long-distance riding together.”
Protecting their equine partners requires outstanding veterinary care. Upon their move to North Carolina in 2000, the Newmans chose the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine as their go-to vet school thanks to their local vet, Dr. Ann Stuart, a former UGA CVM intern. Since then, they have had repeated visits to the UGA CVM. Four of their endurance horses successfully completed many endurance competitions after UGA VTH surgery including two brothers, Super, arguably the top endurance horse in the country for several years, and his brother Khrome, who completed endurance competition after experimental street nail surgery.
In early 2014, Tanka, their “youngster,” suffered a freak injury on a mountain training ride. Tanka had a condylar spiral fracture of his right rear, apparently as a result of a twist caused by soft footing at some point during the ride. Within the day, Tanka was in surgery at UGA to correct the fracture. He has since completed multiple tough one-day, 100-mile rides.
In late 2016, O’Ryan, their horse who won the AERC National 50-mile Championship with Cheryl the prior year, pulled a suspensory ligament on his left rear. A long-term saga began, resulting in anular ligament surgery early 2018 at UGA. Also during that stay at UGA, O’Ryan tested positive for Cushing’s disease. After working with UGA VTH on careful rehabilitation and managing his Cushing’s, O’Ryan and Cheryl came in first and earned high vet score in a challenging 25-mile AERC competition in 2019. He is now 21 and still doing tough mountain rides.
FUNDING EQUINE RESEARCH
The Newmans attribute many of their horses’ successes over the years to the talented clinicians at UGA. “Endurance riding has taught us so much about the value of the relationship of humans and horses and how little we really understand. Our professional careers have taught us the value and need for research.”
In 2018, the Newman’s first gave to “For the love of the Horse,” an equine endowment at the College dedicated to equine research. In 2019, they established a fund to advance equine research for generations to come.
“Our endowment honored a horse we lost to laminitis that was not seen by UGA, but we wish he had been,” said Stagg. The “Winston and Super Fund” honors two of their beloved horses and supports equine research. “Through this gift, researchers and clinicians will investigate devastating diseases, such as laminitis, that negatively affect many horses,” describes Dr. Jarred Williams. “Opportunities like this save populations of horses and change the way we perform clinical medicine.”
“Their commitment to the health of their own horses is matched only by their commitment to the health of other horses through funding of research within fields of need,” says Dr. Kelsey Hart. “Their willingness to support both the research projects and the graduate students working on them is unique and so important for the advancement of equine medicine.“
“We are fortunate that we are able to honor our horses by supporting equine research with the outstanding practitioners at UGA,” says Cheryl. The Newmans would like to acknowledge and thank the many large animal faculty, house officers, staff, and students who provided care for their animals throughout the years.