Southern Idaho has all the elements of great horse country: natural forage, wide-open range, and rugged ground that helps colts develop strong bones, solid muscle and good feet. It's the kind of place where stallions and their mare bands run in vast pastures, and their foals are born outside, as nature intended.
This region is home to Zollinger Ranch, located outside the small town of Oakley, Idaho, just north of the Utah line. Here, Wade and Linda Zollinger head up a horse program that blends proven Quarter Horse performance lines with the blood of contemporary greats, producing horses sought after by horsemen from across North America.
The couple attribute their program's success - the result of 45 years of work, beginning with Wade's acquisition of his first Quarter Horse in 1961 - to the environment in which their horses are raised.
"Raising foals as naturally as possible is best,"Wade says. "They learn a lot from being with a herd."
It's true the quality of the ranch's foal crops is defined, in part, by place - by the ranch's terrain, its harsh winters and hot summers. Foals are born tough, or they get that way in a hurry.
But it's also the Zollingers' shared belief in quality, high standards for their mare herd, progressive business approaches, and the blending of old and new influences to create something greater that's fueled nearly a half-century of meticulously planned horse-breeding strategies.
For the rest of this article, see the October issue of Western Horseman.