Colorado State University's Legends of Ranching Sale is on-the-job training.
The annual sale offers finished ranch and performance American Quarter Horses along with started 2- and 3-year-olds from respected ranches. At the same time, it's a learning experience for students in CSU's equine sciences program.
Students from classes in colt training and event and sales management are in charge of putting on the annual sale, from starting colts to planning the sale’s catered events and producing the sale catalog. That’s just the short list of what the students have to do throughout the fall and spring semesters.
The 2012 sale is April 28, and they've catalogued 65 horses from 22 consigners from across the country. AQHA will be on-site with a booth, and The American Quarter Horse Journal will cover the event.
Let's step back to the 2010 sale (where 68 horses averaged $4,734, with the high seller bringing $20,000) and take a look into what life is like for the students' working to put the sale on.
After the last few horses were going through the ring at the 2010 sale, back in the barns, all was quiet. Two students sat in the barn aisle, all smiles, but looking tired.
Courtney Grey hails from Littleton, Colorado, and Miranda Leffler from Topeka, Kansas. Both are equine sciences majors minoring in business, and both started horses for the sale.
Courtney’s parents finally gave her riding lessons when she was in the fifth grade – but it was a phase that she “never grew out of.” Miranda grew up in the country and had horses around; she just “couldn’t stop doing it.” Sound familiar?
The American Quarter Horse Journal stopped to ask them for a student’s-eye view of their sale experience. (Scroll down for the sale slideshow.)
Journal – What has it been like this last school year, working with these colts and on the sale?
Miranda – It’s been amazing. I think it might be the best class at CSU. It’s a lot of time commitment, but it’s fun. It’s worth it.
J – Give me a week-by-week idea of what life has been like.
Courtney – We have class three days a week for about two hours. Then we are free to come out here on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the off days, and on the weekend. The two of us are barn rats, and we practically live here. We spend at least three hours a day here.
Miranda – And it’s been a lot more than that lately.
Courtney – In the last few weeks, it has been more like four or five hours.
J – What are you doing in that time?
Miranda – We bring (the sale colts) inside in January, and once they come inside, you have to be here seven days a week to clean their stalls and buckets and make sure they are eating and healthy. They are yours, basically, and you have to take care of them. Then you work them and ride them.
There is a lot of stuff to do on the ground. We had a student competition and the salesmanship part of it, which is all on the ground, is worth just as much as the riding part. We work with them on the ground and get them used to different things. We’re also trying to get them shed out to look nice.
Courtney – That’s a lot of work! We spend a lot of hours grooming, brushing and brushing.
J – What horse did you work with, Courtney?
Courtney – I was working with Four K 721, she’s a 3-year-old filly from the Haythorn Ranch. She brought $2,200.
J – Was it hard leading her through the auction ring?
Courtney – It was hard walking her out of the ring. In the ring, I was just focused on keeping her calm; she was getting a little bit frisky in there. Walking out of there, after they said, “Sold,” that was hard
J – What was your biggest challenge with her?
Courtney – Last semester, we had the hardest time getting her to move forward really well. She was kind of slow and didn’t really want to move out. This semester, you would never know it; we managed to get her really working well with that.
She is so sweet; she loves to be loved on. As far as riding, she’s really smart, and she’s really willing. She tries to figure out what you want and tries to please you, which is really nice to have in a horse.
J – Miranda, who did you work with?
Miranda – Ikes Double Six from the Four Sixes Ranch (Burnett Ranches Ltd). He is cool, fun to ride and big; I’ve had a lot of fun with him. He brought $2,200, as well.
J – Was it hard coming out of the ring?
Miranda – I felt all right about it. It was kind of sad watching him go. It was kind of sad watching all of them, actually. But it was exciting to see what we’ve been doing all year finally get to where we were going.
J – So, what do you want to do in the horse business?
Courtney – That’s the million-dollar question. Honestly, in the last four years I’ve been introduced to so many different things that I don’t know anymore. After taking this class, I’m really interested in the ranching stuff. I’d like to do some internships and work on some ranches and get a feel for that. I didn’t have any exposure to that before this class. One thing that I am interested in is physical therapy and rehabilitation for injured horses. I might go that way.
Miranda – I’m really into the sales stuff. After this class, it 's just all I’ve been thinking about. I might try to get on somewhere with an internship and learn the ins and outs of sales and training. I’ve guided trail rides, and that’s fun; I might go back to that eventually, but I want to branch out and see what else is out there.
J – You said you thought it was the best class in your program; why?
Miranda – It’s just involved. In the other classes, they show you pictures and Powerpoint presentations, and in this one, it’s, “Here, go do this.”
Courtney – It’s so hands-on, and it’s all about the experience that you get. You learn so much more from experiencing it than from sitting in a classroom and listening to a lecture.
Watch the CSU Legends of Ranching Sale slide show (click on each photo to see the caption).
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Editor, American Quarter Horse Journal
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