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A Love of Horses Leads to a Legacy of Equine Research

Posted February 16, 2015

Love of HorsesAsk anyone who knew her, and they would tell you that Patsy Link had a deep love of horses beginning in her early childhood. Working with horses was a central part of her life and a source of great happiness for her. This love of horses led Link to leave much of her estate to Texas A&M University to support research benefitting equine health and welfare. The endowed gift that bears her name—the Patsy Link Endowment, now in its 20th year—has funded more than $6.5 million in equine-related research that has advanced the knowledge of equine health.

The endowment, which began in 1995, was a cooperative effort between the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (COALS). Under the direction of Dr. Bryan Johnson of COALS and Dr. William Moyer of the CVM, a plan was put into place to ensure that Link’s passion for horses was reflected in the excellence and impact of the research programming her endowment supports.

Born Helen Patricia Link to Helen Wicks and John Wiley Link Jr., an insurance agent, Link grew up as an only child in the River Oaks community of Houston. Her grandfather, John Wiley Link Sr., formed and became president of Link Oil Corporation and was later president of the Dr Pepper parent company. Link learned early on about horses and horse care, and the purchase of a saddlebred mare led to the start of her own horse farm near Burton, Texas.

“Patsy started off with the one saddlebred mare,” recalled Dr. H.A. Smith, a veterinarian in Brenham, Texas. “It wasn’t long before her friends in the Thoroughbred world got her involved with that breed. She raced some of her horses, trained some, and had some really nice brood mares.” Smith provided veterinary care for Link’s horses for many years. He recalls that Link’s love for horses was evident in how well she cared for them.

“There were some occasions where we needed to send her horses to the teaching hospital at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences for specialized services,” Smith said. “She was always very satisfied with the treatment her horses received there.”

Link died on March 16, 1994, shortly after being diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor at age 65. Beforehand, she had ensured her beloved horses would be provided for.

“It was her wish that a part of the estate would cover the care of her horses until they could be sold or otherwise cared for,” Smith said. “The remainder was given to Texas A&M in the form of an endowment to support the equine research programs there, an endeavor she found important.”

“Patsy Link’s love of horses has led to an incredible opportunity to provide funding for leading-edge research that directly benefits the health and welfare of the horse,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “The researchers who have received funding from the Patsy Link Endowment are undoubtedly as passionate about horses as she was, and are driven to discoveries that impact horses and the entire equine industry. We have seen tremendous success in our equine research programs that would not have been possible without the legacy that Patsy Link established 20 years ago through her generosity.”

What began as a child’s love of horses has engendered a legacy of research to help ensure equine health and well-being. Established 20 years ago, the Patsy Link Endowment has fostered programs of research and education in equine reproduction, genomics, epidemiology and infectious disease, and more. Along with the strengths of the faculty, a dedicated scientific advisory committee has contributed to the successes achieved. The college remains grateful to Patsy Link for the endowment and looks forward to all it will continue to support in the years ahead.

Read the full article in the Winter 2015 edition of CVM Today

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