New Temple Grandin Equine Center at Colorado State University offering new programs in equine world

Candace Krebs
The Ag Journal
Adam Daurio is director of the newly opened Temple Grandin Equine Center in Fort Collins. The program will soon expand with a second satellite location at the SPUR campus in Denver. Daurio discussed activities at the center during a webinar hosted by the CSU animal science department.

From horse therapy to horse marketing, Colorado State University has several unique programs that create opportunities for equine enthusiasts to support student education at the university.

Two of those programs were featured during the first in a series of webinars intended to introduce alumni and supporters to different facets of CSU’s animal science department.

Future sessions will cover beef cattle and ranching, meat production and processing, and the health and wellness of animals and the people who raise them, according to host Jennifer Martin, an assistant professor at CSU who specializes in meat quality.

During the hour-long webinar, director John Snyder reported on the Legends of Ranching Program, which conducts an annual spring performance horse sale at the university.

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“We had 21 unique consigners this year that provided horses for students to work with and that we offered for sale,” he explained. “Those consigners ranged across the entire United States, from as far east as South Carolina and as far west as Hawaii, from as far north as Montana and as far south as Texas. We have a strong connection with producers and industry professionals across the U.S.”

This year’s late April sale was a hybrid event, with online virtual bidding offered in addition to in-person attendance. More than 185 individuals registered to bid in the first-ever online format.

“Eight lots sold through the online platform, and the remaining 36 were sold to those attending in-person,” Snyder said.

Sale averages were strong: young horses averaged $7,304 and older consignments averaged $11,972, he said.

Students plan and promote the sale, but also learn how to handle and prepare the horses, including exhibiting them in a student competition the weekend prior to the sale. Snyder said he felt fortunate that CSU had been able to continue the program, with solid participation from students, in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.

Director Adam Daurio gave an overview of the Temple Grandin Equine Center, which offers an array of equine-assisted therapeutic services, research programs and educational outreach.

The center’s namesake is a CSU professor and world recognized animal handling expert, who has described horses as her “salvation.” In the midst of a challenging childhood, during which she was picked on by other students due to her autism, Grandin ended up at a boarding school that included a stable and an opportunity to work with horses. It provided a lifeline that also led to a future career.

She remains convinced that horses have a transformative effect on a range of physical, emotional and developmental challenges. Many times she’s heard parents say that a nonverbal child spoke for the first time while or after being astride a horse.

“Something’s happening here,” is how she puts it.

According to Daurio, the program is about “further advancing the role of the horse in society.”

That role has expanded beyond racing or working on ranches to integration with health care.

Specific conditions the equine center addresses include autism, dementia, depression, brain-related injury and at-risk behaviors.

Research is strongly emphasized, Daurio said. CSU is the first institution to compile a library of knowledge related to equine-assisted studies.

Around 175 students are directly involved in the program, but student clubs and organizations also use the new facility in Fort Collins, which has been open since March. The facility brings in about 75 clients for services on a weekly basis.

It also serves as a regional training center for a nonprofit horse adoption program, which includes rehabilitation of abused and neglected horses.

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The program also operates an additional satellite location in a Denver warehouse, providing various services such as experiential psychotherapy. But that portion of the program is getting ready to move into the new VIDA building on the CSU Spur Campus at the new National Western Center in Denver, once completed.

The first two of three new buildings that make up the CSU Spur campus are scheduled to open in January 2022.

Tours are currently being offered to those who want to see the construction first-hand. The next tour is set for May 7 at 9 a.m.

Daurio emphasized there are lots of ways for volunteers to get involved in assisting the program. Each session with an instructor requires three volunteers to lead or walk alongside the horse, and volunteers can also assist with basic horse care. Another unique form of involvement for business groups is coming to the center for team-building exercises.

For announcements on future webinars, follow CSU Animal Science’s Facebook page.