In 1957, Robert Q. Sutherland of the R S Bar Ranch, Overland Park, Kansas, donated six horses to the University of Missouri, College of Agriculture. These horses were the foundation for the developed quarter horse breeding program. Additionally, they were used for teaching and extension activities, as well as cattle work. Under the guidance of Bill Slemp, the University of Missouri equine breeding program began.
From this core breeding herd, all geldings were kept and used to work cattle and for class work while fillies were added to the broodmare band. The palomino stallion Commando Star (by Power Command and out of a Star Deck mare) was the first herd sire. In 1968, the breeding herd was moved from Columbia to the Wurdack Farm near Cook Station, Mo. All geldings, due to their working bloodlines, were used by the cattle farm. In 1969 Bar Le Top (sired by Clabber Bar) was acquired from Kenneth & Mary Botner of Columbia, Mo., to cross with the Commando Star daughters. As the size of the horse herd grew, many two and three year old horses were started under saddle by students and sold. In 1978, the current MU Equine Teaching Facility was built near campus at the University of Missouri’s South Farm. At this time the breeding herd was moved closer to campus so it could be used for undergraduate education. Also during this period, Dr. Wayne Loch began to develop the University’s equine teaching program. Throughout the years, various program supporters donated stallions, mares and breedings to world champion stallions to assist in the University’s goal to produce athletic performance horses.
The size of the MU Equine Breeding Herd has ranged from 6-35 mares, with usually only one or two select stallions. Most horses raised through this program are now sold to support operation of the MU Equine Teaching Facility. Currently, the University raises around six foals per year, with horses being sold between the ages of eight months and two years. The total herd size ranges from 25-40 head, but at one point over 120 horses were part of the program!
As of 2009, the University of Missouri has produced 442 quarter horse foals. This was achieved by utilizing 90 different mares and 60 different stallions since 1958. All mares were either raised by or donated to the University of Missouri. Many stallion owners donated breedings to our program, in addition to about a dozen University-owned stallions over the years.
The equine program at the University of Missouri is present due to support from our community and alumni. We would especially like to thank the following people for their years of service and support:
- Elmer Kiehl, Ph.D., Dean of College of Agriculture (1960-1979)
- Homer L’Hote, Asst. Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station (1964-1981)
- Melvin Bradley, Ph.D., Animal Science Professor & Livestock Extension Specialist (1968-1985)
- William H. Slemp, Manager of Farm Operations (1957-1992)
- Karen Bennett-Wimbush, Ph.D., Graduate Assistant (1989-1995)
- Herman Klippel, Horse Farm Worker (1980-2004)
- Erika Berg, Ph.D., Graduate Assistant & Instructor (1998-2006)
- Wayne Loch, Ph.D., Animal Science Professor (1973-2007)
- Doris Lyons, Administrative Assistant (1969 to present)
- Marci J. Crosby, Instructor & Equine Program Coordinator (2007 to present).