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Neuroscience major competes on U.S. team in world mounted games

Laura Barbour sits on a horse.
March 26, 2013

Senior Laura Barbour’s plate is full – she’s finishing her capstone in anti-epileptic drugs, wrapping up coursework in her self-designed Neuroscience major and thinking about entrance exams and applications for medical school. Still, she carved time out of her busy schedule to compete in March in the 2013 World Mounted Games in New Zealand and help the U.S. team finish sixth, its best ever in a foreign country.

Barbour, who’s from Boonsboro, Md., fell in love with riding when she first sat on a pony at the age of 3. Six years later, she joined the U.S. Pony Club (USPC) where she was introduced to mounted games, a sport with teams of five riders who perform a series of relay races involving jousting, galloping dismounts and vaults, leaning off the side of the ponies to grab equipment and galloping hand-offs.

“This year was the first time I qualified to ride on the U.S. world team competing at the 2013 World Mounted Games team championships at the Horse of the Year show in New Zealand,” she says of the competition on borrowed ponies against teams from 10 other countries. “It has been a great honor to be on this team, and it’s been the trip of a lifetime.”

Barbour competed in mounted games in Australia in 2009 and 2011 and at the Royal Welsh Show in 2011 and in France in 2012. Tryouts are in Kentucky and coach Clive Jones picks who makes the team.

“I love Mounted Games because it's a very exciting and team-oriented sport,” says Barbour, who talks proudly about her two horses: Cookie Monster, an American paint pony for mounted-games practice, and Dirty Dancing, a thoroughbred mare for events and foxhunting. “IMGA (International Mounted Games Association) is like a big family and I have friends all over the world thanks to the competitions I have ridden in.”

Neuroscience major competes on U.S. team in world mounted games

Now it’s back to campus for the home stretch to graduation. The research project she’s been working on with Psychology professor and neuroscientist Madeline Rhodes, “Enzyme-Altering Anti-Epileptic Drugs Influence Affective and learning and Memory Processes of Male Rats,” took a first place in Biological Sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences.

Barbour and Rhodes have presented the behavioral data from the research on how a class of anti-epileptic drugs affect learning and memory in male rats at conferences in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Now the chemical data is being analyzed, and the student-professor team has plans to publish the paper once all aspects of the study are complete.

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