Horse enthusiasts will have a chance not only to acquire some of Virginia’s finest horses, but also to support equine research during the sale of Virginia Tech’s yearling horses at the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center (AREC), Sunday, Oct. 8.
All proceeds from the annual yearling auction benefit Virginia Tech’s breeding and research programs at the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center. The auction begins with inspections at 10 a.m. and the sale at 2 p.m.
“Some of our 18 thoroughbred yearlings sold at the auction will go on the racetrack and others will be purchased as show horses or field hunters,” said Kathleen Crandell, superintendent for the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Horses bred at the center have earned more than $2 million on the racetrack and have produced 40 race winners, while others have gone on to do well in show rings.
Researchers at the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center hope to better understand the relationships between nutrition and healthy development in a growing horse, improved reproduction in the mare, and optimal performance in the athletic horse. The center’s pasture-based nutrition research relates the care and welfare of the horse from conception through its older years to its interaction as a grazing animal with the land.
Crandell said the research program at the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center would not be possible without the interest and support of the horse industry, especially in Northern Virginia. Generous donations from horse enthusiasts have provided all of the broodmares and stallions at the center. Today, the center has more than 50 Thoroughbred broodmares who produce dozens of foals each year.
Situated at the heart of Virginia’s horse country, the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center is one of Virginia Tech’s 12 agricultural research and extension centers. Philanthropists Paul and Rachel Mellon donated a 420-acre farm in 1949 to establish the Virginia Tech research hub dedicated to improving pasture and animal productivity while enhancing the land. During the 1980s, an impressive gift of horses shifted the center’s research focus from cattle to horses. Today, the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center has grown into one of the world’s leading equine research units, the hallmark of which is its unique investigation on the effects of pasture and pasture variation on the diet and growth of horses.
Since its inception in 1992, the annual yearling auction has not only been an opportunity to purchase thoroughbreds raised at the center. “Faculty members will be there along with graduate students to discuss the equine research and operations at the facility,” Crandell said.
Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech is the most comprehensive university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is among the top research universities in the nation. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to quality, innovation, and results through teaching, research, and outreach activities. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.