Cal Poly Pomona is home to the oldest Arabian horse program in the U.S.
Between late April and early June, a dozen mares will give birth at Cal Poly Pomona’s W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center. They will be attended by the 73 students currently enrolled in the university’s Foal Watch course.
“The horses typically foal out in the middle of the night,” says Jeanne Brooks, director of the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center. “Students in the class are assigned to the pregnant mares. After some testing to guesstimate when each horse is going to foal, the students spend the night or several nights in a classroom next door waiting for the baby to be born.
“You can estimate how close a mare is to foaling by testing how much calcium is in the milk,” explains Brooks. “Then again, the mare can be at 72 hours by the amount of calcium in their milk at dinner, and then they can foal overnight. Other times they can follow the ‘rules’.”
When the mare goes into labor, students get to watch the birth, only assisting if necessary under the guidance of our Breeding Lead. Assuming all goes well, the mare and foal are left alone for an hour to bond and just monitored via video.
By the first week of June, 12 knobby-kneed foals, all descended from Arabian show horse champions, will be exploring the barns and pastures, building on the Kellogg legacy. Stallion services are donated to the university by the Arabian industry’s leading breeders. One sire of this year’s foals is national champion HA Toskcan Sun. Another sire, Hairy Al Shaqab, is a world champion. Afires Heir is a four-time national champion in English Pleasure. The mares are just as illustrious with champion bloodlines. Six mares are descended from the original CP bloodlines.
When W.K. Kellogg donated the land for what would become Cal Poly Pomona, one of the deed covenants was the continued breeding of Arabian horses of the “highest type, quality, and bloodlines.” Another was continuing to educate the public about the breed.
The Foal Watch class is the largest course in Cal Poly Pomona’s Huntley College of Agriculture. Open to all majors, this quarter the class has 73 students who are learning horse handling skills and how to care for them. Over the course of a year, approximately 200 students take the class. Because the campus is urban, most of the students may never have touched a horse before, says Brooks.
The horses are bred on campus with the students’ involvement. “We foal them out with the students,” says Brooks. “The foals then stay close to the barn until they’re about 30 days old, when they go out in the pastures to grow up. They come back in at weaning time and have another session of training. They stay outside until they are two. Then they’ll move inside where they will be put under saddle with the students and begin more training until the Cal Poly Pomona Annual Production Sale in August of their three-year-old year.”
Cal Poly Pomona’s horse center is the only university equine breeding program in the state that specializes in Arabians.
The Kellogg Arabian Horse Center currently has 81 Arabians and another 15 horses for student programs, including the horse show team and student-owned horses. The center is used for academic labs, breeding and the student programs. The majority of Arabian horses on campus trace to three mares from Mr. Kellogg’s foundation stock through tail female line – Ghazayat, Incoronata and Rossana. Ten to 15 mares are bred every year to industry-leading stallions. The majority of foals are sold as three-year-olds in an annual production sale.
California has the second-largest population of horses in the United States behind Texas. The California Equine industry produces $4.1 billion in goods and services annually.