Ag Progress Days offers new information for horse enthusiasts

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's 2015 Ag Progress Days exposition will showcase entertaining yet educational activities for horse lovers of all ages and experience levels, according to organizers in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

The event's Equine Experience, Aug. 18-20, will offer a full schedule of training and breed clinics, demonstrations, informational displays and lectures, noted Ann Macrina, senior instructor in the college's Department of Animal Science.

"Ken and Karen Sandoe of Sunny Hill Farm are returning this year to drive their hitch of Belgian draft horses," Macrina said. "They have one of the best hitches in Pennsylvania and will certainly delight the crowd. They will perform once each day in addition to a special performance during the Wednesday Evening Extravaganza."

On Aug. 18, Konny Troupe, of the Kentucky Mountain Horse Association, will show the qualities of the smooth-gaited mountain horse. Chris Grant, of the Penn State horse program, will present a demonstration on training the young horse.

Miniature horses return this year with an all-new performance by the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association Youth Ambassadors. This group has performed at Horse World Expo and the Pennsylvania Farm Show. "Children really connect with the miniature horses because they aren't daunted by their size," said Macrina. "They will be on display all three days."

Highlights on Aug. 19 include Training from the Ground Up, presented by Ward Studebaker. The long-time and now-retired manager of the Penn State horse program, Studebaker is a well-respected trainer. "Even experienced horse trainers come to learn from Ward," said Macrina. "He has a wealth of knowledge, and we're happy he's willing to share it with us."

Also on Wednesday, Rick Shaffer, national-level competitor and judge, will be on hand with his Paso Finos, another gaited breed that Macrina said is smooth as silk to ride.

The Wednesday evening program will open with a Salute to America by the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association, followed by trick riding by Ashley Pletcher, of Keystone Equine Entertainment and Training. The evening will close with the Sunny Hill Farm hitch.

"Thursday, Aug. 20, will feature fun on horseback," said Macrina. "The Keystone Appaloosa Club will offer racing games where horses and riders compete against each other, and the American Polocrosse Association will hold a mock match."

Other featured events will include drill-team performances and horseback racing games, and the Pennsylvania State Police Mounted Patrol will demonstrate crowd control using horses. Ashley Pletcher will perform a trick-riding performance each day.

In addition to watching the riding and training demonstrations, visitors can hear a series of lectures in the Equine Learning Center. Tuesday will feature talks on normal horse health parameters, housing, saddle fitting, laminitis, the benefits of massage and the Pennsylvania Equine Council. Wednesday's sessions will cover the new threat of equine herpesvirus, ulcers and colic, conformation, resistant parasites, state regulations, and equine liability.

The Penn State Equine Science Horse Quiz Bowl competition returns on Thursday, Aug. 20. Teams of four in two age divisions (8-12 and 13-18 years old) will compete in a test of equine knowledge, and monetary prizes will be awarded. Registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Visitors can groom a horse at the Pennsylvania Equine Council's Learning Station, speak with council members and learn what issues are at the forefront of Pennsylvania's equine industry. Penn State Equine Science faculty and staff also will be available all three days at the Equine Arena and Equine Exhibits Building to answer questions and provide information.

Sponsored by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 18; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 19; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 20. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website. Twitter users can share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogressdays, and Facebook users can find the event here.

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Last Updated July 20, 2015