Colorado State University equine sciences students reigned in the biggest Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sales in the event's history this spring, breaking even their own expectations with a sale that generated nearly $300,000.
The 8th annual sale posted a $295,000 income, making it the largest in the event's history, with an offering of 79 American Quarter Horses.
The success was a tribute to the determination of student volunteers who worked long and hard to develop the sale, says Gary Carpenter, CSU Equine Sciences industry outreach and liaison director.
"The students were exceptionally motivated," he says. "They embraced the challenges of getting these horses ready and they understood the value of our contact with the industry."
The average price paid for horses auctioned was $3,600. The highest price for a young horse was $10,000, and the highest selling older horse posted a $13,000 price.
Consigners provide the young horses to CSU equine students who break and train the animals for the sale. Older horses are directly sold by consigners.
Another group of students prepares he sale event, including writing the catalog and preparing the auction ring at the B.W. Pickett Equine Center for the sale at CSU's Foothills campus.
While Carpenter isn't sure that the CSU program using equine students to handle the horse training and sale is unique, he knows of no other program of its kind in the West. "If there are similar programs out there, I doubt if there is one developed to the level of our sale," he notes.
The real benefit of the program is what the students, many who will go on to veterinarian careers, are learning, he says. "These are students who have a very close contact with people in the very industries in which they will want to work," he says of the sale affiliations. "Many will go into jobs on breeding farms, training facilities, horse marketing and other areas, the in many cases the very people they would work for are interfacing with them as the sale."
The event is vast in terms of its reach, he says, with this year's consignments coming in from as far as Hawaii and Canada, as well as throughout the U.S. More than 500 attended this year's sale, he estimates.
"Our sale is pretty popular with the industry, and those people work very close with use in presenting this event," he says. "Our reputation with excellent consigners helps create a confidence in our buyers. That trust is vital to us."
Of horses sold this year, half were two- and three-year-olds provided by consignors last fall to begin their training by select students in the equine program.
"We're very careful who we pick for the training," says Carpenter. "We need to make sure our trainers will be determined to fulfill their roles through the sale. It can be very busy as the sale gets closer, and students will be called on to work long periods of time."
While it is the students who benefit most from the sale, Carpenter is quick to compliment consignors for their role. "Dedicated partners have helped us grow this into a notable sales event," he says.
In this year's event, the high selling young horse was a two-year-old from Burnett Ranches. Their Gunpowder Pick was sold for $10,000.
The top selling older horse was a nine-year-old gelding, Peptoplay, from Cowan Select Horses, bringing $13,000.
The average price paid this year was $2,995 for young horses, $4,274 for older selections.