The equine program offers specific courses, internships, enterprise projects, volunteer activities and clubs that prepare students for careers in various segments of the equine industry. The program's unique and valuable experiences offer students diverse opportunities. The equine curriculum and program can be formatted to fit any equine-related career a student may wish to pursue.
The program includes a vast array of projects, enterprises, and types of horses. The horse unit facility houses roughly 100 horses during the summer and fall and roughly 200 during the winter and spring. The increase of horses comes with the addition of breeding season, colt-starting and student activities.
The horse program at Cal Poly began in the early 1900's with the breeding and training of Percheron draft horses. The horses were used in the agriculture fields at Cal Poly and students raised and trained the powerful animals to compete in draft horse shows. In the 1940's the Cal Poly horse program shifted to raising lighter horses as tractors replaced draft animals in the farming industry.
The horseshoeing facility was established in 1948 under the guidance of Ralph Hoover. Later, when Bill Gibford ran the Horse Unit, the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association donated a group of Thoroughbreds, including mares and one stallion. In 1955, the donation of five Driftwood Quarter Horses by Channing and Katy Peake, marked the beginning of the Quarter Horse program at theHorse Unit. In 1960, the Horse Unit was relocated from near the campus core, to its present location.
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The success of the Cal Poly breeding program is due to several stallions who have significantly contributed to the program over the last half century. These stallions allowed the Horse Unit to raise quality horses that are suitable for student learning.
Not long after the Driftwood horses were donated in 1955, Cal Poly purchased Bras D' Or (right) who stood at the unit until 1967. Another influential stallion was Doc's Star Barred. He is a cornerstone of the The Quarter Horse breeding program at Cal Poly. He was bred and raised at Cal Poly and was the sire of several of the broodmares that Cal Poly still has to this day. He was sold in 1980 for $150,000 and was donated back to the program in 1993. In the 1970's the Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred Enterprises were developed. The Breeding Enterprise was established in 1990.
Smart Cash Cutter was syndicated as a weanling and Cal Poly currently owns approximately half of the shares of the stallion. He is no longer standing at stallion. This stallion significantly impacted the breeding program at Cal Poly by siring athletic and trainable offspring.His
offspring have helped to provide a strong educational foundation for
students at the Equine Center. Born in 1984, Smart Cash Cutter is
the sire of a number of broodmares at the Equine Center. He has
sired successful show horses. Several of his offspring were raised,
trained and sold at Cal Poly. Docs Peppy Lee, who is retired, was
born in 1980 and contributed to the Equine Center breeding program
as a ranch horse sire. His quiet, willing foals have been highly
sought as ranch and family horses. Currently, Cal Poly stand two
stallions, As Smart As The Fox and Cinderella's Fox. Stallion owners from the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse industries continue to donate breedings to the Equine Center.
The Equine Center is maintained through support from the equine industry and the hard work of students and faculty.
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Cal Poly Foundation owns all of the horses that are kept permanently and is responsible for funding most operations at the Equine Center. The Equine Center supports itself through revenue generated by the sale of horses, the breeding program and stallion fees.
The Equine Center currently has a Quarter Horse broodmare band of approximately 35 mares. These mares are bred to Cal Poly owned stallions and stallion services donated by owners in the equine industry. The foals from the Cal Poly mares are started as two-year-olds and sold through the Quarter Horse Enterprise Parent and child horse running Project or the Annual Cal Poly Ranch Horse Sale held on campus. Cal Poly Foundation also owns five Thoroughbred mares, who are bred strictly to outside stallions. The Thoroughbred foals are conditioned and sold as yearlings through the Thoroughbred Enterprise Project. They are bred and raised with the goal that they will become successful race horses.
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