Equine students at Colorado State University have been knee deep in clover as they’ve trained young American Quarter Horses during the past seven months, but that training relationship will come to an end Saturday when the horses are auctioned at the annual Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale.
The sale caps a unique learning experience for students in the CSU Equine Sciences Program: For nearly the full academic year, about 40 students have had the chance to start well-bred young horses – guiding them with faculty assistance from barely halter broken to working well under saddle.
Now the 2- and 3-year-old horses, from some of the nation’s best-known Western ranches, will be sold alongside an equal number of older, proven horses during the CSU sale. The total offering of 81 horses makes the 2013 Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale the largest yet.
The sale begins 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the B.W. Pickett Equine Center on the university’s Foothills Campus, off Overland Trail in Fort Collins. It is part of a big horse weekend: On Friday afternoon, CSU will celebrate the re-opening of its well-known Equine Reproduction Laboratory, which has been rebuilt after a fire in 2011.
Students said their experience has provided unmatched insight into the connection between horses and their trainers.
“His progress has taught me that the learning never ends for the horse or the rider, and that makes me a better horse person,” said Logan Bennett, a junior majoring in equine science. He has worked with a 3-year-old gelding named Peppy from Haythorn Ranch Co.
Bennett is among more than three dozen undergraduate students in the university’s trademark Equine Sciences Program who have started young horses in training laboratories that meet several times a week during the academic year.
“It’s the best class I’ve ever taken,” said Bennett, who grew up riding in his hometown near Atlanta.
Last spring, the Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale generated more than $330,000 in proceeds, according to records. The average sale price in 2012 was $5,376. Proceeds are split among consignors, the CSU Equine Sciences Program and sale costs.
Equine students not only have trained about half the horses to be auctioned, but also have planned and will manage most aspects of the sale.
The arrangement gives CSU equine students an uncommon learning experience, while also benefitting consignors and the university’s Equine Sciences Program.
“We’re proud of the marketplace position that the Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale occupies,” said Dr. Jerry Black, D.V.M., director of both the CSU Equine Sciences Program and the CSU Equine Reproduction Laboratory. “However, what really matters with this sale is not what the horses bring, but what the students learn. The real value is in the hands-on education.”
Carly Little, an equine science senior from Denver, is among many students in the Legends program to admit she’ll be sad to see her horse go. Little has worked with a 3-year-old roan gelding named Red Hot Slush.
“Working with horses, you learn something new every time,” she said. “It’s definitely rewarding because you see the progress step-by-step.”
It’s also challenging, said Taylor Randall, a sophomore from Yorkville, Ill., who has trained a 2-year-old mare named AR Especials Barmaid.
“It’s a lot of work,” Randall said, patting the sorrel filly’s neck. “She thinks so quickly that she figures things out, sometimes faster than I realize I’m teaching her. But it’s been very rewarding. I mean, I did this – I trained a horse!”
For sale information, including an online sale catalog, visit the CSU Equine Sciences website, http://equinescience.colostate.edu.