The Annual Rutgers Ag Field Day horse show was a “Wild” success. The weather was almost perfect, cool with a light breeze. The Mustangs all looked fabulous-dappled, and gleaming in the bright sunlight. This was the best behaved group of young horses we have had in twelve years! They stood like statues (well, there were a few spooks as the judge, Art Stafford-Taylor approached-he is VERY tall and a few of the more timid young horses did move a little) but for the most part the horses were totally unfazed by the crowds and commotion, performing well for their handlers. No drama this year! Though RU Shy Anne and her 17 day old filly Sky Lark were not in the grooming or handling classes, they were brought out by their students, Pam Brzezynski and Lauren Wheeler, to put on quite a show during the intermission between the grooming and handling class. The student coordinators and supervisors had done a great job in getting the students (and horses!) ready for the big day. It was hard to believe that none of the mustangs (except the foster, Annie Oakley) had been even halter trained in September, 2010, when we got them!
Fillies Grooming: First: RU Sassafras-Alex Broomell
Second: RU Sierra-Laura Sherry
Third: RU Annie Oakley - Samm Wehman
Geldings Grooming: First: RU Koda-Cassandra Messina
Second: RU Santana - Kelly Mannion
Third: RU Levi - Nataliya Esperson
Fourth: RU Sundance Kid - Megan Termyna
Grand Champion Grooming: RU Sassafras-Alex Broomell
Reserve Champion Grooming: RU Santana - Kelly Mannion
Handling Classes: Novice: First: Kelly Mannion with RU Santana
Second: Samm Wehman with RU Annie Oakley
Third: Megan Termyna with RU Sundance Kid
Advanced: First: Alex Broomell with RU Sassafras
Second: Rachel McGovern with RU Sundance Kid
Third: Laura Sherry with RU Sierra
I unfortunately did not get the other placings in this class-there were a total of 9 exhibitors!
The first and second place exhibitors in the novice and advanced handling classes were given a new horse to show for the championship.
Grand Champion: Kelly Mannion with RU Sundance Kid
Reserve: Samm Wehman with RU Sassafras
3rd: Alex Broomell with RU Annie Oakley
4th: Rachel McGovern with RU Santana
The horses were turned out after meeting and greeting parents and friends of the students after the show in their stalls. They continued to entertain the crowds with their antics all afternoon in the front paddock, led by the exhuberant RU Levi and RU Sundance Kid. RU ShyAnne and Skylark were in their double sized stall and enchanted hundreds of vistors with their calm acceptance of the crowds and Sky’s boldness-licking everyone’s hands in between naps. Unfortunately no one stepped forward to adopt the two foster horses, RU Annie Oakley or RU Sundance Kid, who were officially available for adoption, but everyone I spoke to expressed surprise at how well behaved and how beautiful the mustangs were. Many thanks to the students who stayed after the show to help explain about the program and the mustangs to the seemingly endless crowds. We kept the barn open until 5PM and even then had to shoo people out so the horses (and we) could get some rest.
Sunday dawned with perfect weather-pleasantly cool with bright sunshine, which was a double blessing since the Roud House was still under renovation and we were planning to hold the auction outside the barn in the round pen. The students were at the barn at 8AM to get the horses and barn ready for the auction. As the morning before, all of the horses except Levi and Shy/Sky were put into the Equiciser to get some exercise while their stalls were being cleaned. It was really fun to watch their personnalities being expressed, with Santana and Sassafras being pushed by the panels, exerting minimal effort, Koda and Annie trying to push the panels faster and Sierra and Sunny carefully keeping in the middle of their sections! After 11AM a crowd of about 100 people showed up, many of whom were owners of RU graduates:Elsie Nelson, Katie Stevens, Carla Prentiss, Lyn Halsey, Chelsea Bullock, Sheryl Senczakiewicz, Chuck Rosen, Mike Warren, Veronica Sullivan, Josh Alster and of course, current student Brianna Stafford and my husband Bill Kaminski), representing atleast 17 of the 131 RU graduates from the program (I may have missed someone too). However, even after a thrilling preview with trainer Jose Romero Bosch putting the auction horses through round pen rountines, a special showing of Shy and Sky by Pam Brzezinski, assisted by my student assistant, Erin Koci, and a ground driving demonstration with Santana and exhortations from us all to please register to bid, only 4 people registered (Each expressing interest in a different horse) and one family decided to adopt RU Annie Oakley instead of going for an auction horse. So there was really no point in having the official auction, though auctioneer Dennis Cassidy had volunteered his time to do so, as had the on-line RealTime Bid company represented by Art Stafford. So the party continued until about 2PM…The horses going to new homes, all for the minimum $500, were:
RU Koda was purchased by his ecstatic student, Samantha Rodgers, who is graduating from SEBS in two weeks and starting an internship
in horse training with Jose.
RU Santana was purchased by a friend of our long time benefactor and supporter, Margrit McCrane, as a dressage/trail prospect. Thank
you, again, Margrit, for bringing her along!
RU Sassafras was purchased by the owner of a farm in Colts Neck who is not entirely sure what she will do with the 2 year old filly-it was one of her “bucket wishes” to own a mustang. She will be working with the one of the students and Art Stafford to keep Sassy’s ground training manners intact.
I just heard that RU Sundance Kid is being adopted by one of our long term and very generous sponsors, Joanna Barnish and her husband Louis Sorrentino. Sunny will remain in training with Robin Rivello for at least the next few months.
The two three year old fillies, RU Sierra and RU ShyAnne/RU Skylark are still available, first come/first serve to experienced horse handlers only, for their minimum bid of $500. Sierra will be going to Jose’s training facility next week if she is not purchased by the end of this week to continue her training and her price will go up accordingly. ShyAnne and SkyLark will remain here at Rutgers until Sky is old enough to be weaned if they are not purchased together (hey, folks-it is a “Two Fer one” deal!). At that time we will determine how to proceed with them, since there will not be new young horses brought in for the 2011-2012 school year. Both of these 3 year old fillies have tremendous potential as dressage/trail/competitive horses and their value will only go up as they mature and are trained to the next steps in their careers. Sky is a spitfire and shows promise as a gaming horse, the way she runs around!
As announced earlier, RU Levi, “the Professor” will be going to New Bolton Center as a neurology teaching horse, generously sponsored there for the rest of his life by our benefactor, Liz Durkin.
The goal this year was not to raise money but to promote the Mustangs, which I think we have done quite successfully. Hundreds of people now recognize that the gathered mustangs, even the sales horses, can be groomed and trained like any other horse to be gorgeous, athletic candidates for just about any equine discipline that accepts all breeds as competitors. The proceeds from this year’s auction did not cover the expenses, but the Young Horse Research and Teaching funds, thanks to the generosity of our many benefactors in the past, were more than sufficient to cover what I consider well spent expenses. Next year we will be utilizing portions of the Young Horse funds to promote responsible horse ownership (Details to follow), leaving enough for “start up” if the economy (and I!) recovers sufficiently to resume getting in young horses in 2012. It has been a “wild ride” this year and I want to thank again the students to numerous to list here, Robin Rivello and the USWHBA, Jose Romero-Bosch, Joanne Powell, Anthony Sacchetti for their endless hours and efforts that made the end results such a success. Anthony was there for us all day on Saturday, Joanne took over Sunday. Special thanks to Sean Conway, a student working on farm crew over the weekend, who performed several miracles for us in getting the bedding/manure removed despite the spreader breaking down and several other near disasters averted!
As I said repeatedly over the weekend, this was the best group of young horses we have ever had with respect to looks and behavior at the shows! GO WILD! BUY A MUSTANG! They are well worth the effort!
Sarah Ralston, VMD, PhD, DACVN