It’s no secret that all of us here at SLOHN are fans of the Cal Poly equestrian programs. Since their annual Cal Poly Performance Horse Preview and Silent Auction is coming up this weekend (Saturday May 31st) Natalie Baker invited us down to get to know a few of the horses involved as well as what actually happens with them on their journey with the students.
First and foremost is Cal Poly’s philosophy of ‘Learn by Doing’ – which couldn’t be more obvious than at the Equine Center, their multi-use equine education facility that hosts about 125 head of horses over nearly 700 acres in SLO. In my two most recent visits to the campus, there has always been students everywhere getting things done; from grooming and washing to riding and training.
Saturday, May 31st
Cal Poly Equine Center, Cal Poly Campus, SLO
10am – Equine nutrition and reproduction seminars
12pm – BBQ lunch
1pm – Horse preview and sale begins
The horses available in the sale are all part of The Quarter Horse Enterprise Project and Sale. In this unique program, 15-20 students are selected to start and train young Quarter Horses that are mostly Cal Poly bred, but there are some donated horses as well. The horses are completely trained by the students for both performance and ranch work, making them the perfect horse for the lives many of us lead here in the Central Coast. As their Facebook Page states,
Our goal is to produce a versatile, quiet and talented horse that can be used for a variety of equine activities.
An amazing feature of the sale is that the money that’s made at the sale goes back into the equine educational programs at Cal Poly, so you’re not only getting a nice horse, you’re helping to fund the next generation of horse owners and professionals.
While at the campus, we were able to sit in on a class and watch some of the Quarter Horse Enterprise Project students at work with their horses. There was, of course, warm up riding at first with a lot of students all in a large round arena. There’s no need to worry how the sale horses are around other horses or in tight quarters, the students do a great job of getting the horses acclimated to working in large groups up close with others. After that, it was on to the cattle work. Under the instruction of Pete Agalos each of the student/horse pairs took turns working a cow up and down an arena across from another pair. It was a fun experience to watch both the horse and the rider learning in real time about the movements of a cow, and how to manipulate and counteract them.
While there, we also got a chance to get out their stallion Backdoor Cat and see him under saddle (yes, Cal Poly has a stallion in their breeding program, two actually!) Backdoor, as he’s known there, is a tank of a horse and built like a good cow horse should be. After glossing him up and taking some pictures he was saddled up and taken to the arena where Pete Agalos rode him around for a bit. That’s when the fun began. They let a cow into the arena and we got to watch Backdoor go to work moving the cow up and down the arena fence. After a few seconds it was obvious that he inherited quality genetics from his sire High Brow Cat.
There will be 17 horses offered for sale on Saturday and all but four are Backdoor Cat breeding. Rarely can you go and meet the sire of a horse that you’re considering purchasing, but you can with Cal Poly. For me personally, it was an amazing experience to get to meet the dam of my horse Soleil and become personal friends with the owners of her sire.
We hope you come and join us on Saturday to meet the students and staff of this amazing program, preview the horses for sale, and if you’re lucky enough, take one home with you.
Please contact Natalie Baker at (805) 748-4714 with any questions regarding the sale.