While many shoppers have succumbed to an impulse purchase — few needed a trailer to cart it home.
Taylor Shears was a freshman in Penn State’s equine science program when she found herself with the winning bid on an item in that year’s Quarter Horse Sale auction.
This particular item was of sentimental value, a reminder of an entire semester spent helping to care for and market a horse to prospective bidders, something that she could easily trot out to remember all of the good times.
She bought the horse.
Shears returned again to the Snider Agricultural Arena on Saturday, not looking to buy but to sell. The now-junior was co-assistant manager at Penn State’s 13th Annual Equine Science Showcase and Quarter Horse Sale.
Organized and managed entirely by students, this year’s auction featured 12 equines primed to move. Proceeds from each sale were placed into the Ward Studebaker Horse Farm Endowment fund, which supports the Penn State facility where the animals are kept.
“It’s awesome seeing how everyone will come together to support one cause and support the Penn State tradition of quarter horses,” Shears said.
The auction featured a collection yearlings, 1-year-old and 2-year-old horses, all of which were put through their paces during a demonstration in the arena several hours before bidding commenced. Prospective buyers could then consider potential purchases over a hearty helping of beans and sandwiches.
There’s no rest — or beans — for the weary though. Students in Penn State’s Equine Marketing and Horse and Handling and Training classes have been working in tandem over the past semester to whip the event into shape. Almost 38 young scholars were divided into committees that specialized in everything from food to public relations.
“A unique part of the experience is that this is how they learn,” Molly Cashman, co-assistant manager, said.
Students working in marketing were assigned a horse to promote in advance of the auction, placing ads online and drawing attention to each equine’s pedigree.
The students try and be as transparent as possible with potential buyers both before and during the auction. There were three horses that were pulled from the bidding entirely because they were deemed unfit to sell. Even the very first equine up for grabs came with a disclaimer that it was resistant to clippers and had to be tranquilized the last time the procedure was performed.
“It’s a huge part of the class — teaching honesty,” Cashman said.
New horses are already in the process of being bred for next year and Shears, who will return as a full-fledged manager alongside Cashman, is already expecting big things.
“Every year it seems to grow a little bit more, which is awesome,” Shears said.