Lubbock – Call them ambassadors or pioneers. Members of Texas Tech University’s newly formed Ranch Horse Team serve as both.

The team, created in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences following the 2004 donation of Texas Tech’s Equestrian Center, is the first traveling team in the nation to be sponsored by a university department, said its coach, Kris Wilson, an animal science doctoral student. It competes in Stock Horse of Texas shows where both rider skills and horses are assessed using designated standards in four classes: Pleasure, reining, trail and working cow horse.

Dr. Kim Guay, coordinator of the Equestrian Center, said she believes the 12 Texas Tech students will act as ambassadors for the university while increasing their own practical experience in a competitive atmosphere.

“(Dr. Guay) and I thought we would try and provide the students a unique opportunity that they can't get anywhere else in the nation,” Wilson said. “Plus, it really fits this area with all the large ranches we have around.”

Team members are required to take a class teaching them various stock horse techniques and events.

Wilson admitted that getting the team to its first show at the Feb. 12 Brazos County Stock Horse of Texas Show was a daunting task. The students and horses, however, hauled in 21 honors during the show. The team had one open entry, six non-pro entries, and eight novice entries in the show.

Donations for funding, feed and supplies came from around 20 sources and were raised through the sale of shirt, saddle pad and banner sponsorships.

The team will attend a total of three shows this year. Tech also will host its own clinic and competition April 8 and 9.

SOURCE: Kris Wilson, Ranch Horse Team Coach, (806) 742-2804, k.wilson@ttu.edu.