Three lumberjacks brought their Paints to the 2017 APHA World Championship Show, but these ones were dressed in purple instead of red plaid. Three students representing Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, proudly showed two weanling colts from their university’s breeding program, the culmination of hard work, sweat and dedication, and a mid-term capstone to a specially designed college course.
“I joke around sometimes and say, ‘It’s really hard work building an empire,’ ” said Michaelle Coker, a Ph.D. student at SFA and professor in the school’s animal science department. “I know we have the potential to be a great program; it was just going to take a lot of hard work. This is, to my knowledge, the first time the university has shown something they’ve bred at the world level.”
Though SFA has had an equine program for a number of years, it’s only recently gained steam as one that can produce show-quality offspring. That turnaround started when SFA received donation of seven broodmares in 2015; coupled with donated breedings, coordinated by Michaelle as part of her Master’s program, the university produced its first crop of foals in Spring 2017.
The schools’ equine reproduction class handled the crop first—students actually helped foal out the broodmares and care for the foals. Students Sarah Bone and Kelsey Chatigny were among the crew who helped care for the foals during the spring and summer, and both young women are using their experience of prepping two SFA colts for the World Show as part of an independent study course, designed to prepare students for work in the equine industry.
“I haven’t had the opportunity to pursue anything with horses previously, but I’ve always had a passion for them. This has given me hands-on opportunities,” said Sarah, a senior graduating in May 2018. “I started out thinking I wanted to train and ride, but it turns out that I’m really into the reproductive classes. I’d really like a career in that.
For Kelsey, a senior graduating in December, the real-world opportunities afforded to her by SFA have helped her decide to pursue a Master’s degree and career in theriogenology.
The trio brought two solid Paint-breds to the World Show: Remember The Name, a 2017 bay solid colt by Finest China Rose (QH) and out of Chips Chocolate Image, and Make Me Move, a 2017 chestnut solid colt by Invited Back and out of Shes Got A Dot. Michaelle earned second with Make Me Move in the Breeders’ Futurity Bronze Senior Weanling Stallion & Geldings; in Solid Paint-Bred Weanling Stallions, Michaelle handled Remember The Name, and Kelsey showed Make Me Move.
Michaelle, Sarah and Kelsey have used their time in Fort Worth to take in the experience of showing on the world level, network with other breeders and exhibitors and maybe sell a few horses, spreading the word about the fledgling SFA equine program along the way.
“The end game for me, in terms of the university, is to get our name out there and let people know that we do have a breeding program where we produce good quality offspring. We are small, but we’re mighty.”
[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. Its mission is to inspire, nurture, promote and provide meaningful experiences to generations interested in preserving the versatile Paint Horse.