Carol Austin brings over 35 years experience as a horse industry professional to Superior Equine Sires. SES was founded in1999 to provide North American horse breeders with easy access to the world's finest sport horse stallions. "I am proud that the semen I have imported through the years has had a profound positive effect on the North American sport horse industry," said Austin. "Results of mare and foal inspections and stallion tests show the strong influence on our gene pool of the semen I have imported. Because the warmblood sport horse breeds originated in Europe, it remains the best place for stallions and their offspring to be developed and tested to the highest standards.
Austin was a typical horse-crazy little girl who learned to ride at the age of six, galloping Shetland ponies across the Montana plains. Due to her father's constant career moves she did not own a horse while growing up, but "caught rides" wherever she could. She purchased her first horse, an unbroken Appaloosa filly, at the age of 21, with an insurance check received for a parking lot fender-bender. The fender was never repaired, but that filly launched her on an equine career path. Austin bred horses, with all its highlights and heartbreaks, for over 30 years. She has bred Thoroughbreds, warmblood sport horses and Appaloosa sport horses.
Starting out as a breeder of pleasure horses, Austin soon gravitated to the Thoroughbred racing industry, where she learned the business from the long end of a pitchfork. While working as a groom for several top trainers, she benefited from their expertise and learned that muc of the basis for successful horse athletes lies in the care and attention they receive from their grooms. She met her future husband and the father of her two grown children at the now-defunt Centennial Racetrack in Denver, Colorado. Marrying into a racing family from the intermountain west was another learning opportunity. The family's horses did well at small, regional racetracks and graduated from the "bushes" to the competitive California circuit. "The bush tracks were the most fun," Austin said. "There was a lot of camaraderie and I even headed my own horse in the starting gate once. The downside of the bushes was that if you won, buying celebratory dinners for everyone cost more than the purse money won!" Austin got her trainer's license in 1978 and spent 15 years training and running Thoroughbreds, mostly in Washington state, before retiring to the family farm north of Spokane to raise horses and kids. Her husband was a racetrack farrier at Playfair, Longacres and Emerald Downs racetracks in Washington, for over 20 years. Horses purchased by him at the track were recycled by Austin for dressage, hunters and jumpers, eventing, polo, pleasure riding and for use as broodmares. Rescuing as many horses as she could for useful careers after their racing days were over was a focus of her life for many years.
Several years of raising Thoroughbreds for the yearling sales concluded because Austin felt that simulcasting and the year round racing it engendered encouraged the over-racing of tired and sore horses. The increased use of medication and other factors had changed the face of racing forever. In her opinion, the business had become too hard on the horses. Many were used as disposable money-making machines, with the financial interests of the owners taking precedent over the best interests of the animals. Not wishing to produce any more horses for racing, but not wanting to part with a band of broodmares assembled at great effort over several years, Austin decided to breed sport horses. "I have always preferred a halfblood riding horse," she said. "Early on I realized that frozen semen from the great European stallions was more logical economically than breeding to their sons or grandsons based in the USA for several times the cost." Her first foray into buying frozen semen was with a group of friends, but it quickly evolved into a business. "Though I am no longer an active breeder," Austin said, "I am a vicarious breeder through my clients. I hear about their successes and problems breeding horses. I console them when they lose a beloved broodmare or a foal. My favorite thing is receiving photos of their beautiful babies and knowing I played a small part in their production."
Austin's riding experience is varied. She bred, raised, broke, trained, conditioned and started her own racehorses. She has competed in endurance riding and taken a few lessons in dressage and jumping. Trail riding for pleasure and high-country pack trips with friends are her main riding pursuits these days. On a recent pack trip, she and four friends hired an outfitter and rode across the Continental Divide from Cody, Wyoming to Jackson Hole. "I had done some horse packing in the mountains of Washington and Oregon," Austin said, "but there we didn't get to hear wolves howl at night or practice grizzly bear avoidance."
Another favorite pastime of Austin's is writing. She writes text for her website and and her articles have been published by leading horse magazines like Western Horseman and Equus. She also writes essays for literary publications and has three book manuscripts in progress. Much to her surprise, a recent essay was selected for interpretation by a dance company. Other interests include yoga, , playing the guitar, cooking and fine art appreciation. A recent move back to the Pacific Northwest has inspired an avid interest in coastal Indian art and totem poles.
Tours to Europe with clients each fall , to attend auctions, stallion licensings and visit stud farms are looked forward to with great anticipation.