Equine Studies Program
Meet the Equine Studies staff
Dr. Judy Downer
B.S. in Animal Science, Rutgers University
M.S. in Animal Science, University of Kentucky
Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition, University of Delaware
A lifelong horsewoman, Dr. Downer serves as full-time faculty and program facilitator for Equine Studies at CF. After earning her Ph.D. she worked in technical support and research for the Church & Dwight Company. Later she joined the pharmaceutical development team at American Cyanamid Company and was promoted to Manager, Global Clinical Research. She retained that position through the merger with Fort Dodge Animal Health in 1995. In 1999 she became Director, Clinical Research for Nutramax Laboratories. After moving to Ocala, FL in 2001, Dr. Downer formed Serengeti Consulting to assist smaller companies with clinical development and regulatory affairs for veterinary pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements. In August, 2005 she accepted the position of Associate Professor, Equine Studies at CF.
Judy has actively competed in hunter, eventing, western and dressage competitions. She was the NJQHA All-Around Youth 14-18 in 1973, is a USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medalist and holds numerous regional and national awards in dressage at levels from Training to Grand Prix. She is a professional trainer and a USEF “r” dressage judge.
Dr. Marsha Pidherney
B.S. in Biology, North Texas
M.S. in Neuroscience, Texas Women’s University
D.V.M Oklahoma State University
Dr. Pidherney teaches Equine Reproduction, Equine Medicine, and Equine Anatomy and Physiology courses at CF. Involved with horses since the time she could walk, Dr. Pidherney has been fortunate to have many good teachers. Her Uncle George taught her that dogs eat the hoof trimmings not the actual shoes and she learned how to groom, saddle and exercise horses at Bethpage and Stoneyhill Stables. Upon graduating with degrees in both biology and neuroscience Dr. Pidherney taught college biology courses and later conducted research in biology, authoring over 15 publications. Dr. Pidherney then entered the veterinary college at Oklahoma State University. During her senior year she served on the vet school’s foaling team and was president of the Stillwater Kennel Club. She has worked with equine practitioners in New York, Oklahoma and Florida as well as the Reproduction Unit at Colorado State University.
When away from the classroom, Dr. Pidherney is busy running Sumter County Equine Service, a full-time equine veterinary service. She enjoys trail rides and dressage and also loves training border collies, gardening, swimming and spending time with friends and family.
Betsy Wees Gamberino
Betsy Wees Gamberino brings both a strong scientific background and experience as a stock seat competitor to CF. She earned her B.S. in Animal Production from Penn State University and her M.S. in Biology from Shippensburg State College. In 1996 she moved to Florida and worked as a scientist in the Department of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Florida.
While at Penn State, Gamberino won the Individual High Point Performance Judging World Championship for Division I colleges. She also served as coach for the Intercollegiate Team and was Pennsylvania Quarter Horse Association Youth Advisor.
She is an active competitor in Quarter Horse shows and also enjoys rescuing cats and ensuring they get a good home. At CF she teaches Horse Handling and Safety, Equine Behavior and Psychology, and Equine Conformation Analysis.
Since her first riding lesson as a little girl, Amanda has been infatuated with horses. While studying at Cook College, Rutgers University, she interned at Monmouth Park racetrack. At that point, she realized that the thrill and excitement of Thoroughbred racing was the arena for her career. Upon graduating from Cook College, Amanda worked for 10 years as a racing official on the New Jersey/Florida racing circuit. During that time she met her husband, a successful racehorse trainer, and since has relocated to Ocala to raise their two children. Knowing the importance of education, Amanda decided to follow in the footsteps of her mother and pursue a second vocation, teaching, which she achieved after receiving her accreditation. The Equine Studies program at CF allows her to combine both passions – horses and teaching.
Dr. Brent Barrett had a successful career shoeing horses prior to attending Veterinary School at Colorado State University. Following veterinary school he worked for several years as a lameness veterinarian while providing specialized hoof care for select cases. In 2009 he started his own business, Equine Podiatry Services, to pursue his dream of working as an equine podiatrist. He has a true passion for the equine foot and greatly enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience with others.
Diego has been an enthusiast of horses since the age of three in his native Colombia (South America). He received his B.S. in Animal Science from Universidad Nacional de Colombia in 1989. His thesis examined the physics of Colombian Paso horse bits. He also completed advanced courses in Farm Management from EAFIT university in 1994. After several years of experience managing horse farms in Colombia, he founded and directed several Paso riding schools. Diego was a professor of “Producción Equina” (Equine husbandry) at Universidad Nacional de Colombia and at Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia.
Diego is an expert in the four Paso horse breeds: Paso Fino, Trote and Galope, Pure Trocha, and Trocha and Galope. He has written two books about Paso horses: “Caballo Colombiano Ciencia y Arte” in 2001 (Spanish) and “Science and Art of the Paso Fino Horse” in 2007 (English). He also has written numerous articles for different international equestrian magazines. He is the director of Ocala’s School of Equestrian Art – Paso Horses (OSEA) in Ocala, FL. He also teaches the course, “Horse Handling and Safety” at CF. He is a judge of the American Trote and Trocha Association, and is a clinician/judge at horse shows/events to promote Paso horses in the United States.
Diego was coach of the Colombian Paso equitation team for the Fourth CONFEPASO Equitation World Cup held in Medellín, Colombia (in 2002), and coach of the USA Paso equitation team for the Sixth CONFEPASO Equitation World Cup held in Kissimmee, FL (in 2006) and for the seventh CONFEPASO Equitation World Cup held in Medellín, Colombia (in 2008).
When Diego is not teaching at OSEA or at CF, or training/showing his beloved Paso horses (which he calls his four-legged students), he enjoys practicing outdoor sports such as bike riding, roller skating, playing tennis, playing ping-pong (table tennis), swimming, jet-skiing, or hiking. He breeds color/song canaries, a hobby that he inherited from his mother.