Animal Sciences and Agricultural Education
The Horse Unit of California State University, Fresno raises Quarter Horses and Hackney horses. There are approximately 100 horses at this facility. About 25 are broodmares and the rest are weanlings, yearlings and two and three year olds. Female horses are called mares, while a broodmare is a mare used specifically for breeding. A stallion is an intact male used for breeding purposes while a gelding is a castrated male used for work or pleasure riding. Geldings and mares are much easier to handle than stallions.
The Quarter Horse breed originated in the United States and is actually a mixture of many breeds. The desire was to breed a horse that was smaller, quicker, more athletic, dependable and with a good disposition. The Quarter Horse received its name because they were bred to also be the fastest breed at the of a mile sprint distance race.
Quarter Horses come in a variety of colors and sizes. A mature horse can weigh 850 to 1300 pounds. They are used for both English and Western riding disciplines. The Quarter Horse is an extremely versatile breed.
The Horse Unit at Fresno State breeds all of our broodmares by artificial insemination (AI). Gestation of a mare is 11 months and foals are usually born between February and June. The foals stay with their mother in the pasture until they reach about 6 months of age. Then they are weaned in groups to reduce the stress of separation from their mother.
Next, the foals are halter broke and taught to lead. Students teach them how to stand while being tied-up, brushed and have their hooves cleaned and trimmed. When the horse turns 2 years old, it is ready to be taught to be ridden. All of the young horses at the Fresno State Horse Unit are worked with by students. Once they have some training, they are sold to people who want to ride, show or breed them.
Most of the horses at Fresno State are kept on permanent pasture. Some are kept in stalls if they are hurt or when it is foaling season. Every horse is fed two times per day. They are fed alfalfa hay and some horses also get rolled corn. All of the horses have constant access to fresh water.