This was the seventh year for the auction held at Mizzou’s South Farm in Columbia. The average price per horse was up 18 percent from the past few years, with the top sale price up 30 percent, said Marci Crosby, MU Equine Program coordinator. “We hope this trend will carry on in the coming years,” she said.
Crosby said the auction raises money for the Equine Program while giving students practical experience in breeding, raising and marketing horses. Students put together portfolios with medical records, training journals and bloodlines on the sale animals. These were available at the sale preview for potential buyers to go through with students.
“We have continued to find a good market for our young horses aged 6 months and 18 months, which means we have less money invested when compared to keeping horses until they are 2-3 years old before selling them,” Crosby said. “However, by taking in a few older horses as donations for our training and sale program, we have been able to make a larger profit on these horses when considering their low input costs.”
Real Life Training for Students
Crosby said her Equine Behavior & Training students – many of whom handled horses for the first time this fall – gained experience in managing and training a wide variety of horses. “This class focuses on the etiology – the study of causation – of natural equine behavior and strategies for modifying their response to stimuli through training,” Crosby continued. “Students also gain patience and improvement in their own communication with peers by fine-tuning their non-verbal communication and timing of reinforcements with their assigned horses.”
As a testament to the Equine Facility Management & Marketing students’ hard work, the 2013 auction page views saw a 9-fold increase, Crosby said “The average number of views per horse increased from a historical average of 840 views to 7,500 views in 2013. That’s pretty darn impressive!”
These students also learned professional skills such as taking photographs for equine marketing, writing descriptions on individual sale animals, interacting with clients at the sale preview event and producing videos highlighting each individual animal’s training.
“Throughout the semester, this class also practiced critical thinking and problem solving by actively managing and caring for the MU Animal Science equine teaching herd,” Crosby said. “This class is now switching gears and focusing on examining the economics of running an equine facility and will focus on ways to generate income through various aspects of the equine industry.”