UNIVERSITY PARK — The Equine Experience at Penn State’s Ag Progress Days is a highlight for equestrians of all ages and disciplines. During the three-day event, Aug. 13-15, visitors can attend breed demonstrations and clinics, interact with Penn State Equine Science faculty and staff, and learn more about horse health and care.
“We try to incorporate something new every year,” said Danielle Smarsh, equine extension specialist and assistant professor of equine science in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “The Equine Experience is a great way for people to see the diversity of horses and their uses all in one place.”
Located at the top of Main Street at the Ag Progress Days site, the Equine Arena and Equine Exhibits Building showcase the full range of the equine world — from miniature horses to draft horses — through University displays and handouts about forage, pasture management and stable facilities. Penn State Equine Science faculty and staff, along with members of the Pennsylvania Equine Council, will be available in the Equine Exhibits Building throughout the three days to answer questions and provide information on equine-related topics.
Horse owners also can join the Penn State Extension equine team daily to learn about fecal egg counts and identifying equine parasites. These tests are important to monitor a horse’s parasite load and can help owners plan an appropriate deworming schedule. Visitors can bring a sample of their horse’s manure to be tested at Ag Progress Days for free. Samples must be fresh (less than 12 hours old) and kept cold (refrigerate at home, then bring in a cooler to test).
This year’s arena events include demonstrations on handling and training, evaluating lameness, horsemanship skills and riding. Crowd favorite Rick Shaffer of R&S Paso Fino Stables, of Somerset, will return for breed clinics, and the Centre County 4-H Drill Team will perform on Wednesday.
Visitors also can see the draft horse hitch from Spring Mount Percherons, of Tyrone, and the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association Youth Ambassadors miniature horse performances all three days. Members of the State Police Mounted Patrol and equine representatives of Penn State’s own quarter horse farm will be onsite, too.
A new addition to the Equine Experience this year is Bear Hill Horse Logging. Based in Clearfield County, Bear Hill Horse Logging specializes in low-impact timber management, selective harvests and wetlands logging, explained company owner Steve Perrine. The company does log skidding demonstrations at several events annually to help educate about horse logging and restorative forestry. Bear Hill will host demos at the arena all three days.
The Percheron hitch and miniature horses will take center stage during the “Salute to America” Evening Extravaganza, slated for Wednesday beginning at 6 p.m. Also included in the extravaganza is the second annual Miniature Horse Jumping Derby, which was a great hit with attendees and competitors last year.
To wrap up Ag Progress Days, 4-H teams will challenge their peers in an equine knowledge competition at the annual Penn State Equine Science Horse Quiz Bowl on Thursday.
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, 9 miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 13; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 14; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 15. Admission and parking are free.
For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website. Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogressdays, and Facebook users can find the event by searching @AgProgressDays.