Former Steeler Great Mel Blount at Ag Progress Days

Posted: January 1, 2002

Posted 04-Sep-03


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Former Pittsburgh Steelers all-star defensive back Mel Blount will give a demonstration of roping and riding at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at Penn State's Ag Progress Days. Blount, who will perform at the Equine Experience area, owns a ranch in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and uses a well-publicized equine program there to reach at-risk youth. "Mel will be riding a cutting horse -- that takes a talented horse and an accomplished rider," says Ann Swinker, associate professor of equine science, extension horse specialist and coordinator of the Equine Experience. "He will ride a horse that was bred with cattle sense and bred to work cattle in addition to being well trained." Visitors to the Equine Experience will also be entertained by unique horse performances and can learn about horse ownership, management and horsemanship throughout Ag Progress Days, Aug. 19-21. The Equine Experience, conducted by Penn State, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), the Pennsylvania Quarter Horse Association (PQHA) and other breed and industry groups, will offer horse enthusiasts new activities plus several popular attractions from past years. A highlight is the AQHA 4aHORSE Test Ride. The program also will feature breed demonstrations, a learning center with educational displays, Penn State Extensions educational venue, demonstrations and seminars by horse experts. In cooperation with AQHA and PQHA, horses will be available for the public to ride throughout all three days of Ag Progress Days. "This is a great opportunity for anyone who has always wanted to ride a horse, those thinking about becoming horse owners or current horse owners who want to improve their horsemanship knowledge and skills," says Swinker. 4aHORSE is AQHA's referral service that helps horse enthusiasts find breeders, trainers, riding instructors, horse vacations and health and maintenance care for horses. "We're delighted to give horse enthusiasts in the Pennsylvania area a chance to ride American quarter horses," said Bill Brewer, AQHA's executive vice president. "Ag Progress Days gives AQHA a chance to bring together the region's top horse experts in a single place." "The Equine Experience is a great place to visit with horse business and organization representatives, attend seminars in the learning center and obtain educational information from Penn State, AQHA and other breed and industry experts," says Swinker, who urges everyone to come out and give an American Quarter Horse a test ride and learn more about horses. Program topics will include nutrition, management, hay selection, preventative veterinary care, selection of the proper horse, horse behavior, handling and training, breed clinics and much more. Visitors also may participate in a variety of activities including riding, driving and horse judging. "The Equine Experience will be of interest to all horse enthusiasts, from potential or new owners and novice riders to experienced horse owners or professionals," says Swinker. "This event will showcase Pennsylvania's equine industry and the Penn State Equine Science Program. It is also a safe and exciting way to introduce the public to horses and horse-related activities." On Tuesday, Aug. 20, events will feature Friesian, American Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Australian Stock Horses, Percheron and other discipline clinics, a working sheep dog demonstration, and performances by the Keystone Dressage and Combined Training Drill Team and the Pennsylvania State Police Mounted Patrol. Expert horse trainers also will demonstrate handling and training techniques. New this year, the Keystone Polocrosse Team will demonstrate the sport of Polocrosse. A demonstration on trail riding techniques and proper use of Pennsylvania’s public lands will be given all three days. Highlights on Wednesday, Aug. 21, will include an American Quarter Horse versatility demonstration, Pennsylvania State Police Mounted Patrol performance and draft horse breed and driving demonstrations, including a six-horse hitch and a horse- handling and training demonstration and breed clinics. On Thursday, Aug. 22, in addition to the continued horse educational demonstrations, the Penn State/Pennsylvania Quarter Horse Association 4-H Equine Skillathon will start at 10 a.m. The skillathon is a multi-phase competition that allows young equestrians to demonstrate their skills in a showmanship and horse-judging competition, a written test and a series of identification stations. For more information about the Equine Experience, visit the Penn State Equine Science web site at (click on horses), or contact the Penn State Equine Science Team at (814) 865-7810. Penn State's Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 19; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 20; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 21. Admission and parking are free. For more information, call (800) PSU-1010 toll-free from July 14 to August 21 or visit the Ag Progress Days Web site at

### Writer/Editor

Jeff Mulhollem (814) 863-2719

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