UW-River Falls Colts in Training sale on international stage

Kati Kindschuh

RIVER FALLS - Rhinestone riders denim, stiff rimmed Stetsons, broke in boots and pearl snaps were in full force at the 41st Annual Colts in Training sale held at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF), May 6.

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls hosted the 41st Annual Colts in Training Sale,  May 6, 2017. This sale is unique to UWRF, drawing in hundreds of buyers from across the nation and even from abroad.

Stretching as far as California, Canada, Mexico and England, the 41st annual sale coordinated by the university, is an international event. Over 60 colts rode through the sale area that afternoon, with riders all enrolled as students at the university, dedicating their entire semester to training these horses to work.

Successful sale

The 2017 sale was a success with 61 horses sold Saturday afternoon, bidders from 13 states and four countries totaling 146 registered bidders.

High seller of the sale was lot #15, Gunnersspecialwoman, a two year old palomino filly sired by Gunners Special Nite going for $20,000. Second high seller at $15,000 was lot #22, Tinker Be Ruf, a two year old sorrel filly sired by Tinker With Guns.

The 2017 sale was a record year in terms of sales; two year olds averaged $5,344, UWRF Lesson Horses averaged $8,023 and the sale totaled $291,050.

Colts in Training program

At the start of the 16-week spring semester, colts are purchased from ranches and consignors from across the nation and transported to the university horse farm located just east of UW-River Falls’ main campus.

It is at that point where students enrolled in the Colts in Training course are assigned to a colt. This horse is the student's’ responsibility to train in the discipline that it was bred for, whether that be reining, barrel racing or other form of horsemanship.

“Their futures are based on their pedigrees,” said Sale Manager Kayla Oelhafen, a junior on campus and a second year Colts in Training student.

Oelhafen says that students are highly committed to the program, spending a minimum of 5 days a week training their project horse, spending roughly eight hours each week at the farm. Over those 16 weeks, that’s an accumulated 128 hours of training, proving that these colts are ready to be put to work once the semester is completed.

The Colts in Training program enrolls students each spring semester, allowing them to train a colt for 16 weeks. Students spend hours each week preparing the horses for the internationally acclaimed sale occurring each May. Shown are students with their instructor, Nathan O'Connor.

“I’m so proud of our UWRF Colts in Training students and how much they accomplished this semester. They put their hearts and minds into preparing the horses for this year’s sale and it definitely paid off on sale day,” instructor Nathan O’Connor remarked.

This dedication goes to show how much students at UW-River Falls care about their education within equine science, and more specifically this course, in working directly with training new colts.

“New horses, new breeding, it’s really just a lot of fun,” says Oelhafen of the program.

Colts in Training is a course specific to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, attracting potential students from across the Midwest and beyond. The course is time intensive, with colt chores, washing and cleaning stalls, and riding, it is not uncommon to find students spending one to two hours per day at the farm.

“While this time takes away from other things, it opens the doors to other opportunities,” senior Amber Yager proclaimed as a three time Colts in Training student.

For more information about the UW-River Falls, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, visit uwrf.edu/CAFES/Index.cfm or the Colts in Training program’s website, uwrfcoltsale.com for more information.