Molly Morris | Courtesy Credit: Molly Morris | Courtesy

Smooth and Snappy. Nine Ball Wild Card. Cowboys Fancy Sage. Wednesday Corona. WW Colonel Hawkinson. Hes All Wright. Miss Jackson. Smooth Jaguar. Bullet Proof Boon. Willie Was Colonel. Call Me A Pepto. 

What could all of these words have in common?

These are the official registered names of some of the horses that will be in the Cal Poly Performance Horse Sale this June. 

The Cal Poly Performance Horse Sale is the culmination of two quarters of training and planning done by Cal Poly students. Students in the Quarter Horse Enterprise have participated in this sale since 1978. 

Students in the class are usually assigned one or two horses to train over six months so that the horses are ready to be sold at the end of the school year. 

Last year’s sale of 30 horses made Cal Poly a record $420,000, according to Oppenheimer Equine Center Manager Kent Barnes. Individually, the horses went for $13,700 on average, with the highest individual sale being $39,000. The primary reasons for difference in sale price are breeding pedigree and physical attributes. 

Barnes said he expects to see some return buyers as well as new buyers. 

“The word is getting out that buyers can come here and get a good quality, well-bred horse that has solid foundation training,” Barnes said. “I’ve already had contact with people that bought horses from us last year who want to know if we have full siblings or half siblings to the horse they bought last year.” 

This year, about 25 quarter horses are expected to go through the sale. 

The horses normally going through the Cal Poly sale are two-year-old colts and fillies that were raised at Cal Poly. They are trained under saddle to be trail or ranch horses. However, after the sale, the buyers can choose what exactly their horse will be doing. 

Yearlings, year-old horses, are sometimes put through the sale as well. Selling them at a younger age allows them to be trained under more specific disciplines by their buyers. 

A quarter horse is a specific breed of horse that originated in America. The horses were bred specifically to run a fast quarter mile and is how they got their name. Now, they can run up to a half-mile depending on bloodline. 

“They excel at short fast bursts of speed, but they are also bred to work cattle. So if you have to run after a cow, that first burst of speed is what you need to catch the cow,” instructor of the enterprise, Lou Moore-Jacobsen said. 

Quarter horses are all registered through the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), a national database. The association has specific parameters about what constitutes a quarter horse, mainly concerning breeding and body type, but also color.

“[AQHA] is picky about how much white the horses can have,” Moore-Jacobsen said. 

She pointed out one of the horses that had four white socks and a “blaze” of white down its nose and said that was about as much white AQHA will allow on a quarter horse. Otherwise, the horse is considered a paint horse and is registered with a different association. 

However, a fully light-colored horse could still be considered a quarter horse as long as it is one of the 15 AQHA recognized colors, such as palomino or gray. 

Lady Smith N Wesson aka “Daisy” is a gray quarter horse, seen here working with Chance Leatherman in a pen. Molly Morris | Courtesy

The quarter horses being worked with at the Equine Unit are in the “preschool” stage of learning, according to Moore-Jacobsen. 

The training stages for these horses start with groundwork. The students teach them to be comfortable with lead lines, lunge lines and ties. This means that the horses are able to be walked, run around in a circle or tied to posts for care while connected to leash-style ropes attached to their head halter. 

Once comfortable with a rider on them, the students begin to ride them in different areas, starting with smaller pens and working their way into larger ones. Ultimately, the students want to get to the point where the horses go onto the trails and work with little issue.  

“They’re all being ridden right now, but they do tend to be in a little different stage of how far along they are,” Moore-Jacobsen said. “All the ones that are going to be in the sale, they walk, trot and lope. Some of them have already been on trail rides, and then we’ll just progress from there.” 

The quarter horses registered names are either a combination of or related to their parents’ names to showcase the horse’s breeding pedigree. This helps potential buyers evaluate what traits the horse will have. 

While working with the horses, students usually shorten the horses’ registered names or they get a nickname that becomes their “barn name.” 

The students involved in the Quarter Horse Enterprise grow close with their animals over their six months together. 

Animal science junior Lindy Ludwig said that the horse she is training, Whisper Wild Card, commonly referred to as “Flynn,” has a very “in your pocket” personality. 

“The best way to describe them is that they’re just big dogs,” Ludwig said. “They’re all totally different. As you work with them more and more of their personality comes out.” 

Training the horses includes working with those personalities. When the horses start their training in January, most of them are coming off of a year spent with only other horses and very little human contact. 

“They’re more standoffish, but then they become overly friendly,” animal science junior and one of the enterprise’s student managers Christian Toy said. 

One of the horses Toy is training, CP Olenas Diamond, also known as “Walker,” is scared of “everything,” including drinking water from a pond rather than his usual water feeder. 

However, Walker’s friendly personality helps Toy work through his nerves towards unfamiliar experiences. 

Animal science senior Emily Phelps said that the horse she is training, Wandie Wild Card, also known as “Ace,” likes to work and likes to connect with her. 

“The emotional bond is going to be hard to let go of in June,” Phelps said. 

Aside from the actual training, the students get everything together for the sale as well, according to instructor Moore-Jacobsen. 

“We start planning the sale as soon as we finish the other sale, so it’s a year-long process, but most of the planning comes winter and spring,” Moore-Jacobsen said. 

Student manager of the enterprise Tori Schamber works with the other student manager, Christian Toy, to coordinate the business side of the sale. 

“A lot of it just carries over from last year, so we don’t have to worry about it as much. But, our biggest thing right now is sponsorships,” environmental management and protection junior Schamber said. 

With their sponsorship letter recently approved, the students can begin to get sponsors for the sale in June. Sponsors are necessary to pay for the online portion of the auction, the auctioneer and other aspects of the sale that need funding. 

The manager of the Cal Poly Beef Center Aaron Lazanoff is set to coordinate the barbeque at the sale, according to Schamber. 

Each of the Cal Poly horses has a ‘P’ branded on them, a physical reminder that they will carry their training at the Equine Unit in San Luis Obispo for the rest of their lives, no matter where the sale might take them. 

Student Manager Tori Schamber and WW Colonel Hawkinson aka “Hawk” kicking up some dust. Quarter Horse Enterprise Student | Courtesy

Follow Whisper Wild Card, CP Olenas Diamond and the other colts and fillies, as well as the students who care for them, on their journey to the sale on their Instagram

All levels of horseback riding classes at the Oppenheimer Equine Center are open to Cal Poly students regardless of major. Find more information about riding classes and other equine opportunities offered on the equine science website.

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