UA Ranch Horse Team
As I mentioned in my bio, I am a member of the University of Arkansas Ranch Horse Team.
I want to share with everyone how awesome this opportunity has been and to catch everyone up! About 10 years ago, the American Stock Horse Association started a collegiate branch for schools to start teams that would compete on region and national levels. We are registered with the American Stock Horse Association and at the University of Arkansas, we are considered an Animal Science team with a designated class time. There are teams from all over the country that compete in the association. We are in Region 3 and compete Collegiately against Missouri State University in Springfield.
We compete in the standard four ASHA events.
Ranch Pleasure: shows the different gaits as horse and rider go around the arena
Ranch Trail: different obstacles needed on the ranch
Reining: normal reining, shorter patterns
Cow Work: Non Pro (boxing, turning down the fence and circling/roping), Limited Non Pro(boxing on both ends of the arena), and novice(boxing on one end of the arena)
Our team was started January of 2016. It was the second semester of my freshman year. Our coach was a team member at Missouri State University. He is young and experienced in the horse world. He has been the backbone of the team since it started! I have grown up showing in events like these at Quarter Horse Shows and local shows in Arkansas. Arkansas is a huge horse state and everyone in the “horse world” was so excited for this new opportunity. I was so excited to show on a collegiate level for a school I loved!
The team was small at the start. There was only 4-5 of us that had horses to ride and a handful of other members that supported us. I was using a mare we had raised named Liberty Reins by Remin Whiz and out of our brood mare Yeller Dandy. She’s a gorgeous buckskin and a great all around horse. She was practically made to be a ranch horse. The University of Arkansas was not very welcoming to the team and we have fought our hearts out to keep the team alive. We keep our horses off campus, pay to board, and we haul ourselves to practice twice a week. There were a lot of “liability” excuses the high up people tried to use to shut us down.
Once we realized the adversity we faced, we knew we had to prove ourselves.
We went to three shows that first semester including the ASHA National Collegiate Championship Show. We had four members including myself since we were competing in the Division II. With just a semester in our belts, we were the Division II Reserve High Point Team.
We set a goal to win it the next year when our inaugural members of the team would be seniors.
Our first Fall semester was slow and the team was facing even more “drama” from the outside world so we remained low-key. This was my first year that I would use my reining horse, Sherman. I had spent the summer before getting him used to the “ranch” style.
When the Spring Semester started, we decided it was time to go for blood. Even if the U of A didn’t want us there, we wanted to represent them. We went to our usual shows: Missouri State Show, our home show, Collegiate Showdown at NRCHA Celebration of Champions, and nationals. We accomplished our goal! We left Sweetwater, Texas as Division II National Champions! Everyone showed at their best and we had a lot of individual wins within the team. I was the 3rd Place High Point in the Novice Division. It was a huge accomplishment and we really impressed the people back in Arkansas.
This past summer, our coach spent so much time calming the storms and working all the strings out for our team. We have had so many professors, administrators, and people in charge backing us up now.
Here we are, Fall 2017, starting our 4th semester!! There’s a whole new vibe that happened when this year started. We’re a team. We’re competitive. We’re structured. We’re organized. It’s intense and it’s fun!! We have 10 very competitive members. We all have different show backgrounds and it’s neat to learn together. We are still on our own with boarding and hauling. Things have really changed though since we won a National Championship for the school. We have much more lenient use of the arena and we can keep our horses at the livestock barn on the facility for the days before the show. We had great home and Missouri State University shows. I finished Limited Non Pro High Point at both shows and even won a buckle at the Region 3 Championships at MSU! Everyone has been working so hard, and we’re almost intimidated by ourselves!! We are finished for the semester and we will spend our time preparing for our busy spring semester!! Woo Pig!
Written by: Ashton Williams