Horse Barns Continue Care & Sale Planning Despite Remote Learning Period

The world has seen drastic and unprecedented changes during this past week, but for the 70 horses that call Penn State home, it has been business as usual.

Penn State Horse Farm Coordinator Brian Egan says the dedicated staff at the horse barns are to thank for keeping things status-quo. The farm’s equine residents have been seemingly undisturbed despite the changing world outside of the pastures. 

“We’re no different than any other livestock industry,” Egan said. “We can’t stop.”

Besides feeding, mucking, and grooming, there’s an additional task that the staff needs to handle at this time of year. Penn State will soon be home to about 21 foals, which for those who aren’t farm-literate, are baby equines up to one year in age. Staff at the horse barns have been closely monitoring the mares that are expecting newborns soon.

While life for the horses may be still be normal, what Penn State students are facing is far from what they’re used to. 

“From video lectures to online quizzes this has been a big change for us,” student and Assistant Penn State Quarter Horse Sale Manager Meg Gingerich said. 

Egan, alongside Edward Jedrzejewski, uses the facilities on campus to teach students with an interest in horses, and one of those classes is specifically based on the foaling process. The students were able to finish the lecture portion during the first half of the semester. Now, students are supposed to be helping with the foaling process, but many aren’t on campus as Penn State continues classes remotely for the next three weeks. 

In order for students to still be a part of the process, Egan has set up a camera system for students to monitor the mares remotely.  

In addition to foaling season, the 18th annual Penn State Quarter Horse sale is right around the corner. The sale is currently scheduled for May 2, and Egan’s students are the ones who plan the event. There are between 70 and 80 students involved, but they have faced the new challenge of being apart.  

“It changes things quite a bit, but it’s manageable,” said Egan. 

The students involved with the sale have two jobs. The first places students on a committee where they are put in charge of different aspects of the sale, such as public relations, marketing, or even ensuring there is food available. 

The other job for students include being put into groups where they are in charge of creating an ad and page for horses being sold on the quarter horse sale website

Despite the changes, some students are trying to see the silver lining in this remote experience.  

“Since so much of our marketing class and sale planning occurs face to face, this experience has created an opportunity to polish our written communication skills as we go to email and text with our class,” sale manager Scarlett Loya said.

Overall, organizers for the sale are optimistic that they can stick to the original May 2 date. If not, backup plans are being made for either a postponed sale or even a livestream sale.

“We are very lucky to receive encouragement from the College of Ag, Penn State Equine Science Alumni Society, industry and corporate partners, and the equine community,” student and assistant sale manager Madison Heilveil. “Even if we move into alternative marketing methods, those involved will still experience a unique equine marketing opportunity and hopefully will continue to be involved with the sale in future years.”

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About the Author

Dana June Nunemacher

Dana is a senior, who is studying public relations. She is from the 570 and yes, she has watched The Office. Her passions in life include drinking unsweetened iced tea and spreading her love for agriculture (yee haw)!

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