16th annual quarter horse sale: A tradition of excellence

Kelly Jedrzejewski
March 07, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The 16th annual Penn State Equine Science Showcase and Quarter Horse Sale will take place Saturday, April 28, at the Snider Agricultural Arena, University Park.

The sale is more than just a horse auction -- it is a full day of events that show off the equine science program at Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, according to Brian Egan, an equine science instructor and horse farm coordinator. The day includes demonstrations of the horses under saddle, a free lunch, information about the ongoing equine research, and a silent auction to benefit the Ward Studebaker Horse Farm Endowment.

All of the equestrian clubs will be represented, and there will be booths from some of the sale's sponsors. Tours of the farm are offered, allowing potential buyers to see where the horses were raised and meet the other horses at the farm.

"We want to showcase our horses, our breeding program, our undergraduate program and especially all the work our students have put in. The sale allows us to integrate the whole program in one day," said Egan, a graduate of Penn State who has worked at the barn since his undergraduate days, and has been a driving force in the evolution of the sale format.

Over the years, the sale has grown and changed in many different ways, he said. Originally, students were hardly involved in the sale process at all.

"Our students have always been a part of our breeding program, starting with the young horses and management at the farm, but we really wanted to let them get involved in the marketing aspects, too," Egan explained.

Before the current auction-style sale, the horses were sold in a modified private treaty sale. The horses were listed for sale with individual prices, and anyone who was on the farm's sale list would be notified. People on the sale list were previous buyers or individuals who had expressed an interest in one of the horses, but the list was not extensively publicized.

The system worked, but the farm managers handled everything. Egan said, "The students would leave at the end of the semester, and when they came back in the fall, the horses were gone."

When Egan became more involved with the teaching program at the University, he and two other then-faculty members, Nancy Diehl, veterinarian, and Keith Bryan, doctorate in animal sciences, wanted to change the sale system. Looking to model the horse sale after the successful Angus cattle and Dorset sheep sales at the University, the equine marketing class, AN SC 117, was developed to allow students to be more involved in the sale process. This class works in cooperation with the horse-handling and training class, AN SC 317, where the students help get the young horses started under saddle. 

The first year of the auction format sale, about 75 people attended, with 17 bidding numbers and nine horses sold. From there, the sale has grown exponentially. Last year, there were about 400 people in attendance and 83 bidders. Horses have been sold to buyers all over the state of Pennsylvania, and as far away as Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. 

This growth can be attributed to two major things, Egan said. With the addition of PSU Dynamic Krymsun's genetics to the herd during the years he was the main sire at the farm, the quality of the horses skyrocketed. Interest in his offspring born between 2010 and 2018 led to more people attending the sale, which in turn led to buyers seeing how dedicated students are to the program. Facebook has also been a huge asset in advertising and promotion.

Enrollment in the marketing class is usually around 30 students. In addition, there are also 20 to 25 committee chairs -- students who have previously taken the class and have returned to work at the sale again as an independent-study class. The students in the marketing class are responsible for everything from finding sponsors to writing the sale catalog. Every assignment in the class has some purpose related to the sale.

"The public relations committee does a lot with Facebook, taking pictures and publicizing both the horses and the students," Egan said. "We usually have more than 20 sponsors and the students talk with all of them and are always on the lookout for new ways to support the sale."

In the last few years, the students even set up a live-steam video feed of the sale for people who could not be there in person.

Each year, four students are in charge of overseeing everything that goes on before, during and after the sale. This year, seniors Katie Russell and Sydney Vogt are the managers with assistant managers Kate Meyer and Cody McLafferty.

Vogt, an animal science major from Berlin, says without the marketing class, students would miss many opportunities. "The sale gives students the chance to see what the Penn State Horse Barn is about and it also gives them an inside look into the equine industry."

Vogt noted that her favorite part of the sale is getting to see how much the students and horses change and improve over the course of the semester. Sale day proves what the students have learned and how well they are applying those marketing concepts. "To see everyone in the class enjoying themselves and working hard proves that we, as sale managers, have given them proper instruction and guidance," she said.

Meyer, an animal science major from Canandaigua, New York, pointed out that the students are part of these horses' lives from the time the horses are conceived until they are sold. "The whole point of having horses on our campus is for the students to learn from them," she said. "The sale is a pivotal moment that we would not want the students to miss."

For Russell, of Grampian, "Sale day is always full of bittersweet and proud moments watching all of the students' months of hard work come together."

The most satisfying thing for McLafferty, of Elmhurst, is seeing all of the students on sale day in their blue equine science shirts, "taking the event and just running with it."

"Our students carry themselves with professionalism and pride in their work and it's really amazing to see a bunch of college kids come together to organize and run an event of this size and significance," McLafferty said.

With the incorporation of new stallions into the Penn State herd, the next few years will see a notable change in the horses offered at the sale. "The quality of our horses is only getting better -- every year, the sale grows in some way and it's been an incredible process to be a part of," Egan said.

Doors will open at the Snider Agricultural Arena at 8:30 a.m. with a demonstration of the horses starting at 10 a.m. The auction will begin promptly at 2 p.m. For more information about the sale or to view the online sale catalog visit: http://sites.psu.edu/quarterhorsesale/ or visit them on Facebook.

  • Horse show two

    Penn State Equine Science Showcase and Quarter Horse Sale is more than just a horse auction -- it is an event that promotes the equine science program at Penn State.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 07, 2018