April 19, 2012
By Coleman Cornelius
The Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale in late April will cap an academic year of learning for nearly three dozen CSU equine students and the young horses they have trained for the sale.
As students guide the horses through the final phase of a CSU training regimen, they are reflecting on partnerships formed with the animals and anticipating sending the horses to new homes.
“We’ve been teaching each other equally,” said Lorraine Johnston, an equine science major from Seattle, as she brushed a buckskin gelding named Playboys Double. “It’s going to be awful to say goodbye. There will be tears. But I’m excited for him to go to a home and get to do something.”
The Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale will begin at 1 p.m. April 28 at the B.W. Pickett Equine Center on CSU’s Foothills Campus off Overland Trail in Fort Collins. A sale preview will start at 9 a.m.
The sale will offer 34 quarter horses ages 2 and 3 years old. All these young horses have been started by CSU equine students with faculty guidance. The sale will also include 31 older working quarter horses consigned by the university’s industry partners.
The Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale is the apex of a trademark educational offering in CSU’s renowned Equine Sciences Program. It gives students a unique hands-on learning opportunity as they work with young horses provided by sale consignors, which include some of the nation’s best-known Western horse ranches.
“Student education is the foundation of this event, and we are grateful that our consignors support a program that provides educational excellence while also offering high-quality horses for buyers,” said Jerry Black, head of the CSU Equine Sciences Program who also holds the Wagonhound Land and Livestock Chair in Equine Sciences.
This year, 33 undergraduate equine students were assigned to train the young quarter horses. Many horses arrived at CSU barely halter-broken, and now respond calmly under saddle.
Sixteen other equine students have worked to plan every aspect of the Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale through a sales management class.
These roles come with significant responsibility: The 2011 auction generated more than $250,000, with an average price of $4,052 for quarter horses in the sale. The high-selling horse, from Cowan Select Horses, LLC, of Havre, Mont., sold for $14,500.
Auction proceeds are divided among consignors, sale costs and the Equine Sciences Program, meaning the event benefits both students and industry partners.
The sale helps prepare CSU Equine Sciences students for success in the diverse horse industry. The industry has an economic impact of about $102 billion each year in the U.S. economy and nearly $1.6 billion in Colorado alone, according to the American Horse Council.
Yet for the seven months that students train their equine charges, they are focused on the skills at hand – starting with acclimating the horses to human interaction, and progressing to near-daily riding.
“You have to start teaching them and showing them the way. It takes on a whole new meaning because they don’t know anything. We’ve got to be their leaders, and do our best to help them along,” said Teo Abbruzzese, a senior equine student who serves as a teaching assistant for this year’s horse-training labs. “This is a learning experience for the horses, and for us.”
For Morgan Hargrove, a CSU senior from Dallas, training a palomino gelding named WYO Trusty Sidekick has been an exercise in demonstrating – and teaching – patience.
Hargrove knows all about patience. As a child, she endured serious hip problems, resulting in multiple surgeries, a body cast, the challenge of learning to walk three times over, and finally a replacement operation that gave her an artificial hip made with ceramic and titanium.
Today, Hargrove has no problem riding – once she mounts with assistance.
“He takes my disability and makes it part of his ability to stand and be patient,” Hargrove said during a recent riding class, as she smiled broadly and patted the neck of the horse she calls “Wyo.”
“My experience has translated into helping the horse stay encouraged and have fun. I definitely understand the importance of baby steps in horse training,” she said. “Having patience, and teaching the horse to have patience, is key.”