The steady chatter of whinnies, nickers, and snorts across the aisles by the young horses stalled in the Adams-Atkinson barn at Colorado State University filled the air and drowned out the conversations of interested buyers.
The 17th annual Kesa Quarter Horse sale featured 56 catalog entries. The horses ranged from weanlings born during the spring and summer to geldings, mares, and stallions from their breeding program.
Hip number eight, Speedywood Jo Jo a 2009 bay stallion, was the top selling horse bringing $14,500. Trained by Luke Jones of Iowa, Speedywood Jo Jo has already qualified for the 2014 AQHA World Show.
There were many different reasons for bidders to raise their card as the auctioneer chanted the current price for each horse in the ring; a desire to train the next champion from the ground up, acquiring a horse that already had competition earnings and points, or adding proven bloodlines into their breeding program.
Dr. Patrick McCue, CSU professor and equine assisted reproductive specialist, lectured on special reproductive cases in stallions and mares during the break between the preview and sale. One example highlighted the successful fertilization of eggs harvested from a mare that had died. A short video clip of the manual injection of a sperm into an egg with a pipette under a microscope captured attendees’ full attention.
Ken Matzner and Sam Shoultz, owners of Kesa Quarter Horses, have been long-time partners with CSU’s equine sciences program. One way they support the education of the students is by providing internship opportunities at their facility east of Fort Collins.
Dana Ratcliffe, a junior equine science major, worked with the weanlings as part of her summer internship.
“Working at Kesa was a great life experience,” Ratcliffe said. “I learned the proper way to halter break babies and how to handle studs.”
Sarah Domagala attended the sale as part of an assignment from the colt training class and explained what she would look for if she were buying a weanling.
“I look at personality because it’s something they’re going to bring through their entire lives,” Domagala said. “So I look at that. It’s kind of hard to judge [their] body at this age since they’re always changing.”
The vesicular stomatitis virus outbreak this summer, and subsequent quarantine of all horses to their home barns by the state veterinarian, pushed Kesa’s annual sale from August to October. However, this delay gave Erin Ramirez, a senior in the equine program, the opportunity to work with the weanlings this fall.
“We would bring them in with their mothers from pasture, and then drive them into smaller pens and separate them out,” Ramirez said. “We would work on getting halters on them.”
With the sale papers completed, the only sounds left in the barn were the shuffling of papers, phone calls arranging transport, and the rhythmic clip-clop of the last weanlings being led down the aisles to waiting trailers.