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Friday, April 19, 2024

An end leads to new beginning

The annual UC Davis Horse Barn Production Sale is coming up on June 23, and that means it is time for internship students to part ways with the horses they have spent every day with for the last six months. Although the internship is the culmination of the work done by the internship students, it is also the beginning for incoming interns.
Traditionally, the horse auction brings in between $15,000 and $20,000, a sum that helps the internship program for the following year.
“The money gets put back into the internship program, so we can do the internship program the next year,” said Joel Viloria, equine facilities supervisor at the Animal Science Horse Barn.
Among other things, Viloria said the money goes toward covering the costs of “the equipment, vaccines, the supplies, vet care and feeding the horses.”

Keeping the horses well-supplied and fed is important not only to the horses themselves, but also to the research on breeding that the Animal Science Horse Barn conducts.

“The research aspect of the barn is supported in part by the availability of the horses, mostly during the summer when they are not being used for teaching,” said Jan Roser, UC Davis professor of animal sciences.

Viloria said that the internship, culminating with the auction, serves as a good way for students to learn how run a business.

“The students definitely do feel the effects when they are in the auction, but it is part of the training of how to run a business,” Viloria said.
Viloria said that the Animal Science Horse Barn does not place minimums on its horses, so they have never had a “no sale.” This year 14 horses will be put up for sale.
“How well we do is dependent on the students. This is their opportunity to learn how to run an operation,” Viloria said. “It’s really why we do these programs.”
Roser said the horse barn strives to provide the best opportunities for students.
“The main motivation is to provide a venue for the students to learn how to run a breeding operation,” Roser said. “Sitting in a classroom is fine but doing it [taking on the responsibilities of the internship] reinforces all that didactic knowledge.”
Megan Dodd, a junior animal science major and a part of the internship program, really enjoys what the program has to offer.
“I think it’s one of the best internships on campus; you really get to experience running an equine barn,” Dodd said. “It gives you real world experience, something to take with you.”
Dodd said that the first quarter of the internship is comprised of learning and the second is applying what is learned.
“You learn working as a team, a leader, and taking initiatives,” Dodd said. “It teaches you to manage your time and apply your knowledge.”
Dodd said that the auction is difficult because of the uncertainty.
“It’s toughest because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Dodd said. “It’s totally worth it, though, even knowing you’re going to lose your kid [horse] forever.”
Though the auction can be an emotional time for the students involved with daily activities at the Animal Science Horse Barn, it proves to be vital for more students to get the experience of working in the equine industry.
“It’s a very rewarding task for all the hard work it takes,” Dodd said. “I’d rather be here than in my classes.”
ERIC C. LIPSKY can be reached at science@theaggie.org.

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