When I move back to Alberta in 1991 I lost track of Al, but fast forward ten years and out of the blue, I received a call from him. He had also moved to Alberta and was the owner/operator of Aldersyde Petro Can near High River. He and his family had a small farm not far away and he was still passionate about standard bred horses. He was wanting to start his own breeding operation and he called to see if we would be interested in helping him with that. Of course I said yes and so the partnership began. We started with a few mares that we bred with shipped semen and foaled out at the college. It was not long before Al asked me what I would do if he bought a stallion. I said that I guessed we would stand him at Olds College and so Clinton’s Cigar arrived in the spring of 2003.
Every year for the last twelve years, Al has provided a breeding stallion and 6 to 14 well bred mares for the breeding and foaling practicums as well as weanlings for the ground training course. I estimate that the total value of the animals that he has provided for the program over the years to be well in excess of a half a million dollars.
But that is not the only way that Al has impacted the Equine Science program over the years. He is a well known, well respected member of the harness racing community in Western Canada and has promoted the program actively to his colleagues. As a result many breeders have followed his lead and brought their horses to Olds College for breeding and foaling. As a result we have become one of the larger centers for breeding Standardbred horses in Alberta.
I think, however, that Al’s greatest contribution to the college is his relationship with the equine students. He always treats them with consideration and respect and he handles their inadequacies patiently and with good humor. Over the years he has had to deal with many issues regarding his horses including illness, injury and sometimes death of mares or foals, abortions and mares that do not conceive. Most recently, in September 2012, he was faced with the tragic death of his stallion, Clinton’s Cigar. Although always disappointed, Al has responded to each of these losses in a calm and pragmatic manner and has never become angry or laid blame. In fact, when his stallion was killed, he refused compensation from the college but instead asked that the money be used toward a surveillance system for the stallion penning area in order to try and prevent such an event from happening again.
Al Neurauter is not a famous personality nor is he a large, wealthy corporation but in every way he exemplifies the mission, mandate and values outlined in the college Comprehensive Business Plan. In addition to the monetary value of his horses, the contributions that he has made to providing learning opportunities for Olds College students is immeasurable as is the positive image he has fostered for Olds College and the Equine Science program in the horse industry. He is a quiet, unassuming man but the impact the he had had on the college and specifically the Equine Science program is huge.
On behalf of the students and staff of the Equine Science program I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to Al Neurauter on receiving a 2013 Honorary Degree.