WC equine program strikes gold


Wilmington College’s equine program struck gold with gifts of five world-class horses — and more — in the past 18 months. These equines are contributing to both the Equestrian Team and academic endeavors in equine studies and equine business management.

On the heels of receiving gifts of the acclaimed show horses, Chevrolattie and Talking Sweet Impulse, last year, the College secured another windfall with gifts of three additional world-class horses. Also, the aforementioned “and more” is a donor’s gift of semen from a horse representing one of the most famous show horse bloodlines in America.

This fall, a longtime equestrian aficionado interested in WC’s program gifted the horse, Lookie Who’s Gold (barn name Luann), a 12-year-old Palomino with two world titles in ranch riding. That great fortune was soon followed in December by the gift of Eyes a Smokin’ Hotchip (Barn name Hank), who possesses a reserve world title and numerous top 10 finishes on the world stage.

Luann’s and Hank’s donors are Beverly Armstrong and Linda Long, respectively. Both are acquainted with Daren Wright, director of WC’s equine program. He is a veteran equestrian judge of international reputation with numerous connections in the nation’s vast horse industry.

He convinced the owners that their horses would be well cared for by student workers and “treated with kid gloves” at Wilmington College. “The horses get great care and they don’t have to work very hard,” he said. “These horses are tremendous assets to our program. How many times can college students ride a world champion? It just doesn’t happen.”

Complementing their presence at the Equine Center is the gift of a mare named Got My Swag On, who is a world champion that will be bred. “She’s such a great horse. Breeding her will be so beneficial to the program,” Wright said, noting her offspring will be a salable entity for the program. That’s in addition to the benefits students will gain when the mare and foal are featured in the equine health, reproduction, handling and training courses.

“It’s unheard of we have this many great ones — five horses with world-class show careers,” he added. “It’s hard to get better than that for learning. It’s been life-changing for our program!”

Wright explained how the foal of Got My Swag On will be part of a bloodline that includes “some of the most decorated horses in the history of the American Quarter Horse.”

Indeed, the horse called VS Code Blue was sired by RL Best of Sudden, a world champion stallion whose offspring have won 50,000-plus AQHA (American Quarter Horse Assn.) points and $5 million in earnings, out of the “legendary mare,” Vital Signs Are Good, who won 13 AQHA World Championships, eight Reserve World Championships, Reserve Superhorse, World Show All-Around Amateur, is a member of the AQHA Hall of Fame and is an AQHA and National Snaffle Bit Assn. Leading Dam.

“VS Code Blue himself has an impressive record as a show horse and stallion,” Wright added, noting he is the sire of multiple World Champions, futurity champions and the 2018 World Show Super Horse. Also, he was AQHA High Point Western Pleasure Stallion of the Nation, High Point Trail Horse of the Nation and two-time High Point Western Riding Horse of the Nation.

Wright expressed his appreciation for these “incredible donations” from the Christine West family for its gift of Got My Swag On, as well as to stallion owner Katherine Tobin and stallion manager Jim Searles for the donation that will result in the foal of Got My Swag On. “This is huge for our equine program,” Wright said.

“All of these horses still have a lot of life in them, but they needed jobs,” he added. “Most students haven’t been around these kinds of horses before. They’re good for the program and they’re a good advertisement for our program. We’re very fortunate to have them.”

Submitted by Randy Sarvis, senior director of public relations, Wilmington College.

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