No time for horsing around: Students prep for annual quarter horse sale

Kelly Jedrzejewski
April 12, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The 17th annual Penn State Equine Science Showcase and Quarter Horse Sale will take place Saturday, April 27, at the Snider Agricultural Arena at 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. 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 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,” said Brian Egan, assistant teaching professor and horse farm coordinator in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “The sale allows us to integrate the whole program into one day.”

Each year, student managers and assistant managers are in charge of everything that goes on before, during and after the sale. This year, seniors Kate Meyer and Cody McLafferty are the managers, with help from assistant managers Isabella Cerrone, Meg Gingerich and Scarlett Loya, all juniors.

“We wouldn’t be able to host the sale without the rest of our students, but the managers are able to answer a lot of the questions they may run into and oversee the students to make sure everyone is getting their jobs done,” said Meyer, of Canandaigua, New York.

Enrollment in the equine marketing class is usually about 30 students, but there are also 20 to 25 committee chairs. These are 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 student body of the sale class is not just animal science majors; in fact, the group is very diverse.

“We had someone majoring in advertising one year who helped redesign the cover of the sale catalog,” Egan said. “We had someone interested in photography and another person in finance. The class is structured so that they can all use their talents and interests, and so we get a lot of different students to be a part of the sale.”

Penn State horse sale Meyer

Kate Meyer, one of this year’s student managers, is shown at the 2018 Penn State Equine Science Showcase and Quarter Horse Sale.

IMAGE: Penn State

There are 12 different committees within the class. From advertising to food preparation to technology, the student chairs and their committees work throughout the spring semester to prepare for the sale.  

Melaina Pepsin, of Old Forge, is one of the committee chairs for farm tours. This committee is in charge of showing off the farm to potential buyers and visitors on sale day. To prepare for the big event, committee members host mock tours for high school ag groups that visit the University. 

“People love having the chance to come out and see the horses, especially when we have foals,” Pepsin said. 

As a chair for the sponsorship committee, Shannon Kohler, of State College, and her team reach out to potential sponsors not only for sponsorships, but also to advertise the program in general.

“At the end of this class, we have a real sale,” she said. “It’s of the utmost importance that we maintain a professional image. Marketing and advertising are easy on paper, but this committee is a great experience for students as they get to speak with potential sponsors and market the sale in the real world.”

Kohler noted that students can network within the industry, which can be helpful to their future careers.

Kaitlyn Railer, of New Cumberland, is the technology committee’s chair. The digital multimedia design major had been attending the horse sale even before she started at Penn State and knew she wanted to be a part of the program when she started college. The technology committee oversees the event’s website and runs a livestream video feed of the sale.

Railer explained that she and her committee not only maintain the website, but also monitor the pages for errors and work on ways to make the site more user-friendly. The livestream is designed for people who cannot attend the sale in person or are taking part in phone bids.

Although they work behind the scenes, the facilities committee is integral part of the group. Kaylee Kishbaugh, of Shickshinny, said that most of the facilities work takes place in the week leading up to the sale. They handle everything that is set up, and eventually torn down, at the Snider Agricultural Arena.

This impressive to-do list includes setting up the round pen, cleaning off bleachers, preparing the stalls for horses, setting up displays for posters from research presentations, and setting up tables and chairs for lunch. Kishbaugh, an animal science major, said, “We want to make sure the sale’s success continues even into clean up. Our goal is always to leave the facility even better than we found it.”   

“Our sale is unique because 80 students come together to create an event that is attended by upwards of 400 people,” said Loya, an animal science major from Washington, Pennsylvania, and assistant manager. “The students learn to be resilient and take challenges in stride and also learn how to work with other people and be mindful of what they’re trying to accomplish.”

As a supply chain and information systems major, Gingerich, assistant manager, got involved with the sale because of the real-life application of her business knowledge and equine experience. The Columbia, Pennsylvania, native said that working with the horses at the barn has been one of her favorite experiences at Penn State.

“I think the most satisfying thing for me is seeing all of the students on sale day in their blue equine science shirts taking the event and just running with it,” she said. “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,” said McLafferty, an animal science major from Elmhurst.

Cerrone, an animal science major from Muttontown, New York, is acting as an off-campus assistant manager. She is currently working at an internship in Lexington, Kentucky, and she credits the Penn State sale with helping her land the position working with thoroughbred yearlings at a similar sale.

“Sale day is an unbelievable experience, and it’s really rewarding to see everyone’s hard work pay off,” Cerrone said.

The first year of the auction, about 75 people attended, with 17 bidding numbers, and nine horses sold. From there, the sale has grown exponentially. Last year, Egan said there were 87 bidders and more than 400 people in attendance. Horses have been sold to buyers all over the state of Pennsylvania, and as far away as Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. 

With the incorporation of new stallions into the Penn State herd, the next few years will see an exciting change in the horses offered at the sale.

“The quality of our horses is only getting better,” Egan said. “Every year, the sale grows in some way and it’s been an incredible process to be a part of.”

Doors will open at the Snider 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 Facebook.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 12, 2019