April 16, 2024

Frank Blaha

The Most Successful Federal Program You Have Never Heard of – The Army Horse Breeding Program

Featured Brewery: Golden City Brewery

Introduction by: Margaret Blaha, Head Trainer – Harmony Equine Center

Golden Beer Talks has not had a talk that has addressed horses in any way for several years. It’s time change that: the April Talk will cover the highly successful Army Horse Breeding Program of 1920 – 1948.

Only a small percentage of our population owns horses, but the appeal of horses is nearly universal. A recent survey found that 30.5% of Colorado households include a horse enthusiast. The popularity of horses and horse events is currently on the increase due to shows like “Yellowstone” and its progeny, but horse events go well beyond rodeo competitions.

The best current estimate is that the US has 6.65 million horses (somewhat over 200,000 horses in Colorado), and the horse industry accounts for $177 billion dollars and 7.2 million direct and indirect jobs. About 2 million people also serve as volunteers in horse programs. Given the large size of the “horse economy” a historical program that contributed to the vibrancy and diversity of that economy by giving us more serviceable horses and better equine athletes has current relevance, which brings us back to the Army Horse Breeding Program.

This program was run by the Army, but it was not limited to army bases or federal facilities; it had substantial civilian involvement across the country. Without that civilian involvement the program could not have been the success that it was. The broad outlines of this program will be explained, but more emphasis will be placed on the civilian aspects of the program, and particularly those parts that took place in Colorado or locally, down to the level of Golden and horses that you can see today. This will be a small window into a fascinating bit of history involving civic pride, common cause, many exciting horse events, and a highly successful federal program. This is largely forgotten history, but this program has had a significant impact on the horses that we see today in our pastures and at our shows.

Speaker Bio:

Frank on his American Mustang, Riley
Photo by Ethan Dunlop
IG: @303firephotography

Frank got involved with horses on an ongoing basis in 2002 when his daughter–Margaret–joined Westernaires. He and Margaret got their first horse in 2005, and shortly thereafter Frank joined the Jefferson County Horse Council (JCHC). They both continued to get ever more involved with horses.

Frank is currently the president of JCHC. He is a volunteer patroller (an Equestrian Ambassador) with Jefferson County Open Space, and a Civil War cavalry reenactor. He sometimes drives Margaret’s horse-drawn carriages. Frank often participates in trail rides and obstacle courses while always promoting and supporting American mustang horses.

Frank’s penchant for history and involvement with horses caused him to pull on loose strings associated with the Army Horse Breeding Program, and you can learn where those strings lead on April 16th.

In his working life, Frank has a Master’s Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he works at a non-profit water research organization.

How This Works
The Buffalo Rose will open at 6:00 p.m. Food and drink service will begin at 6:00 p.m. and the program will begin around 6:30 p.m. Following the presentation, we’ll take a brief intermission for Q + A. We’ll wrap up around 7:45 p.m., but people interested in staying a bit longer to socialize will be able to do so. There is no cover charge and no purchase is necessary.

Please check out podcasts of Past Talks.