Thursday, May 26, 2022
Media contact: Jami Mattox | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-8061 | [email protected]
In a state with 326,000 horses, Oklahoma State University and Ferguson College of Agriculture are well known for their collegiate equestrian and rodeo teams.
Now a new riding team is getting ready to start their competitive season.
The OSU Ranch Horse team was formed in 2020, and after more than a year of building a team and program, members are ready to hit the road in competition, said communications junior Megan Newlon. agricultural and animal sciences.
When Newlon started her studies, she noticed a missed opportunity in college, she said.
Newlon grew up showing in the discipline of ranch horses, and during her college search she looked for universities with established programs, she said.
Although OSU didn’t have the ranch riding team it wanted, it fell in love with the academic programs, she said. Once her freshman year began, she began the process of forming a club for the sport she loved, Newlon said.
“We are Oklahoma State and we are in horse country,” Newlon said. “I was like, ‘Why don’t we have a ranch horse team? What’s stopping us?
Excited about a new team and passionate about the equestrian industry, Newlon applied for an internship at OSU’s Charles and Linda Cline Equine Teaching Center her freshman year, she said. In her interview, she told her ranch horse team idea to Marissa Chapa, senior equine herd manager at the center, Newlon said.
“I walked in, interviewed, and told him my idea,” she said. “Marissa said, ‘That’s a great idea! Let’s do it!'”
Originally from Kansas, Newlon said she didn’t know anyone and never really talked to her until she came to OSU and ran into her one day at North Dining.
Chapa, now a team advisor, was happy to help the girls start the process, she said.
“Megan and her peers, like Sierra, are liaisons for the team and the right kind of people to bring the initiative to get the team started,” Chapa said.
With the team up and running, members like Newlon and Walter are critical to the program’s success and growth, Chapa said.
“Some of these girls on the teams have a lot more experience than I do in ranch horse events in particular and can provide another level of value and insight to their teammates that I personally don’t have experience” , said Chapa.
To aid in the success and building of the team, the team has established an executive committee, Newlon said. Members help with everything from sponsorships and paperwork to coordinating the practice, she said.
“Being a student-led organization, all students really need to be fundamental leaders,” Newlon said. “Because it’s all the students, not the people who are paid to organize everything. Everyone must mobilize and want it.
Student participation is what sets this team apart from teams at other universities, Newlon said.
“Our members want to be here and they want to make it better for all the students who come after them,” Newlon said.
The team strives to involve any student with an interest in the industry, even if they don’t show or have a horse, Newlon said.
“We want more novice riders to develop through our program,” Newlon said. “We also wanted to connect students with industry. They will be able to have these contacts by the time they graduate and will have more ability to find jobs in the industry. »
The OSU Ranch Horse team works with the OSU Horseman’s Association to run clinics and connect students to industry, Walter said.
“One of our goals, in terms of educating students, is networking,” Walter said. “Many of these types of opportunities, such as clinics and educational seminars, are coordinated through the OSU Riders’ Association.”
Many members of the OSU Ranch Horse Team hope its creation will help get more students involved in the ranching and cowhorse riding disciplines at OSU, Newlon said.
“In terms of student recruitment, that’s a huge plus for OSU,” Walter said. “I know a lot of kids in high school who aren’t necessarily interested in being on a horse team, but they are interested in being on a ranch team.”
During a meeting with future students and alumni, Chapa was asked about a team of ranch horses, she said. Many would-be students who grew up showing they want to stay competitive and involved in the equine industry while in college, Chapa said.
As the ranch’s horse team continues to grow and establish a presence, they are preparing to ride for OSU at collegiate events, said Vivienne Sander, a sports management junior.
Sander is from Germany and came to the United States as a high school exchange student, she said. She was placed with a family in Oklahoma and was exposed to the lifestyle of ranch horse and ranch disciples, she added.
After returning to the United States for college, Sander was looking for a way to continue riding and connect with the equine industry when she heard about the ranch team, she said. Her involvement with the team has helped her find community and pursue her passion for horseback riding, she added.
Animal science junior Amy D’Epagnier learned about the creation of the ranch’s horse team while taking a course at OSU’s Charles and Linda Cline Equine Teaching Center, she said . After watching her older sister compete on a ranch horse team for another college, she was eager to join on the ground level, she added.
As practice coordinator, D’Epagnier works with the team and enjoys seeing everyone learn and succeed, she said.
To help promote the new team, the executive committee created a slogan reflecting the team’s culture and goals, Newlon said. After much deliberation, they settled on “Ride for the Ranch,” she added.
Each member has taken that and created their own meaning, but together they want to support each other and build a lasting reputation in the collegiate ranch horse community and at OSU, she said.
“We don’t ride for our own benefit or personal gain,” D’Epagnier said. “He’s more than that. It’s about helping each other and being there for the ups and downs.
Support the race
Many two- and four-year colleges across the country offer students the opportunity to compete in the ranch horse discipline at the collegiate level.
Teams compete in four events designed to demonstrate the skills required of a working ranch horse: reining, ranch trail, ranch riding, and working cow horse. Novice, limited and advanced non-professional riders make up each team.
A team can compete in Division I with four to six competitors or in Division II with three to four Novice or Limited competitors.
DI teams are a combination of non-professional, limited and novice riders. The OSU Ranch Horse team competes at the D-II level and riders supply their own horses.
In 2021–22, the team had 40 members but not all of them competed. Without direct funding from the university, the members finance themselves for their competitions.
To support the OSU Ranch Horse Team Fund, visit the OSU Foundation or call 800-622-4678.
Story by: Madelyn Owens | cowboy diary