Rowdy Yankee is Feather River College’s new prize stallion. He’s a 25-year-old registered quarter horse (Smart Chic Olena x Nita Chex) who earned $96,906 during his illustrious reining career. He won many championships, including the 1997 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Non-Pro Futurity.
What makes him so valuable to FRC’s Equine Program, though, is the fact that his offspring have won a combined total of $1,492,493.81. With 183 offspring performers, Rowdy Yankee is on an elite list of top reining sires.
How he arrived at FRC and what he will mean to the breeding and training students in the equine degree programs is a story of tenacity and passion.
Crystal Anderson is the Agriculture and Equine Studies Program Coordinator. She explained that Jessica Keller, manager at Hilldale Farms in Brashear, Texas, put out the word that Rowdy Yankee’s owners were looking to donate him to an established equine college or university program to donate him.
Anderson said as soon as the announcement went out on social media, three or four people tagged her. She didn’t wait; she immediately sent a private message to Keller at Hilldale Farms letting her know that FRC’s Equine Program would be very interested.
Anderson had heard about Rowdy Yankee long before this announcement was made. She breeds her own horses, and the stallion “was always on my short list,” she said.
Anderson liked what she knew of the stallion. Not only was he a winner in competition, but “he’s got such a sweet, kind disposition,” she’s hoping his foals will be the same and “that they’ll be horses we can use in our program.” In addition, she’d already worked with some of his offspring, as Equine Program students had brought them to FRC over the years.
For these reasons, she “got in immediately and really lobbied for the school,” she said. Anderson sent YouTube videos and photographs that highlighted FRC’s Equine Program at Keller’s request. She also had “industry contacts” like Eric LaPorte, a well known reining trainer who had recently held a clinic at the College, call Keller “to vouch for FRC’s program.”
Also, Nick Dowers, an FRC Equine Program graduate has become famous in his own right, starting horses and winning competitions including the 2019 Road to the Horse for a $100,000 purse. According to Anderson, the fact that he came out of the FRC program helped, as well.
A couple weeks after her initial push to get Rowdy Yankee awarded to FRC, Anderson followed up. After answering many more questions and after further negotiations, FRC was accepted as the “million dollar sire’s” new home.
Anderson said she was so excited, that as soon as she got the green light she put out the word to friends that this special horse needed trustworthy transport from Texas. She got word that a friend of a friend was leaving the next day. Anderson called Keller and said, “Can you have him ready by tomorrow?” And, Keller got him ready for the road. It “seemed like it was meant to be,” said Anderson.
Owning the stallion will offer students so many opportunities, Anderson explained. Breeding Rowdy Yankee foals will benefit the program because students will have the opportunity to work with newborn foals and yearlings, and they’ll get to start the 2-year-olds. “It’s great to have kind ones to work with,” and such potential talent, as well, Anderson said.
And, for people in the industry to purchase horses from FRC’s training program with this quality breeding and “such a kind nature . . . is really something special,” she added.
Also, students in the four-year B.S. program will be able to take a Genetics and Reproduction class in which they’ll collect semen and use liquid nitrogen to freeze and preserve it. “We have the equipment, including the liquid nitrogen . . . if done correctly, we’ll have it forever.”
She added that they’ll “want to get a move on,” however, as Rowdy is really healthy now, but he is 25 years old. The collecting process can put a strain on the horse’s back and hind legs. As healthy as he is, though, she believes “he should be able to continue for many years.”
Anderson has her master’s in animal science from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Her master’s thesis research was on stallion genetic preservation. It seems like she’s been preparing for this moment for a very long time.
Rowdy is housed in the best stall at the Equine Center; it’s very large and partially inside. And, they’ll blanket him in winter if necessary, Anderson explained. “We’re trying to treat him like royalty, because he is royalty,” added Anderson.
Many people are excited to help care for him, Anderson said. Lauren Pearson, an associate faculty member, keeps his stall pristine and filled with plenty of shavings. They all regularly bathe and groom him and give him plenty of turnout time.
“All of us who are taking care of him are trying to treat him like our personal horse,” said Anderson, adding, “Everyone’s fallen in love with him. This is a true legacy, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”