Rutgers Young Horse Program Auction April 26

The Young Horse Teaching and Research Program at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University will offer 14 draft cross yearlings for purchase at the 10th Annual NAERIC Yearling Horse Auction.

This year's auction will occur Sunday, April 26, at the Round House at the corner of College Farm Road and Sheepfold lane, New Brunswick, N.J., 08901. The preview/bidder registration is at 11 a.m., with the auction starting at 1 p.m. There also will be a public preview held on Saturday, April 11 at 5-7 p.m.

RU Firedance
RU Sebastian and RU Jenny

Some of this year's "graduates." Past graduates have excelled in diverse disciplines, including hunters, dressage, and competitive trail.

The horses, eight of which are registered with the North American Equine Ranching Information Council (NAERIC), are utilized during the school year for student education and nutrition and behavior research. The students, who learn equine handling and training skills, also help with the research of Sarah Ralston, VMD, PhD, Dipl. ACVN, associate professor of Animal Science at Rutgers and Co-Director of Teaching at the Rutgers Equine Science Center. Additionally, George H. Cook Honors students design and conduct their own research projects, usually looking at some aspect of behavior and/or nutrition.

Each spring, the year's "class" of horses is presented in-hand by their students at the Rutgers Day Ag Field Day horse show on the Cook Campus in New Brunswick. On the following day, the horses are auctioned off, with proceeds funding the subsequent year's program.

Most of the 14 yearlings to be sold are half-siblings or full siblings to horses sold in previous years. See the horses on the student-run Web site.

Research from the program has contributed valuable new knowledge about transportation stress, vitamin C supplementation, growth rates and nutrition of draft cross horses, glucose/insulin metabolic responses to a wide variety of feeds and forages and the feasibility of use of total mixed rations for horses. The results of these studies have been widely disseminated through lectures, seminars, publications and popular press articles, and some are available at the Web site. More fact sheets and summaries are also available on the Equine Science Center site.  

Since the program's inception in 1999, 96 draft cross yearlings have been sold through the program. Many of the recent buyers said they came to the auction because they knew a former "graduate." At least 20 of the "graduates" have won many blue ribbons in halter, western pleasure, hunters, dressage, driving, and competitive trail competitions. At least three have garnered year-end awards. More than half of the RU horses, however, are pleasure horses, used primarily for trail riding and "fun" shows.

More than 500 students have participated in the research and teaching aspects of the program. About 50% of the students had limited to no previous experience with horses. More than 50 of the students have gone on to careers in veterinary medicine (many pursuing equine tracts). Others have gone on to pursue graduates degrees or have jobs as technicians in equine veterinary practices, farm managers, trainers, extension specialists, feed company representatives, and even an equine journalist.

Up to now the program has been totally self-sustaining, thanks to the generosity of sponsors and major donors. However, estimates for the upcoming year are about $30,000 higher than previous years. In these tough economic times, sponsorship support is increasingly important but also uncertain. If you'd like more information about the program, horses, or sponsorships, contact Ralston at ralston@aesop.rutgers.edu, 732/932-9404 and visit the student-run Web site, younghorse.rutgers.edu.

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