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University Public Relations
1000 E University Ave
Dept. 3226, Bureau of Mines
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2379
Fax: (307) 766-6729
Email: uwmktg@uwyo.edu


Contact Us

University Public Relations

1000 E University Ave

Dept. 3226, Bureau of Mines

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2379

Fax: (307) 766-6729

Email: uwmktg@uwyo.edu

UW Profiles

Riding in the Cowboy State

UW is home to three riding teams that offer students the opportunity to compete in rodeo, ranch horse, hunter seat equitation and Western horsemanship.

By Micaela Myers

One-hundred years after the death of the famed bucking horse Steamboat—whose image forever represents the state and the University of Wyoming—the cowboy culture is alive and well. It’s only fitting that the Cowboy State’s flagship university offers many opportunities for student equestrians. 

At UW, student riders of all levels have three teams to choose from: the UW Rodeo Team, the UW Ranch Horse Team and the UW Equestrian Team. All three compete and train regularly and are open to any and all students (rodeo and ranch horse require the student to have a horse). Together, more than 120 students participate in the three riding teams each year. 

University of Wyoming Rodeo Team

The UW rodeo team dates back 65 years, with its first team men’s national championship in 1961 and its most recent national championship—this time with the women’s team—in 2009. The team also boasts 20 individual champions. Aside from other rodeo events—such as saddle bronc riding, bull riding and bareback riding—riders can compete in breakaway roping, team roping, tie down roping, steer wrestling, goat tying and barrel racing.

“We get to display the heritage of the Western lifestyle,” coach George Howard says. “We have 56 students that participate in the rodeos now, and I have a little over 60 in the organization. Everybody that buys a card and goes to the rodeo is on the team. I don’t deny anyone the opportunity—they just have to make a commitment.

“We go to 10 regional rodeos,” he continues. “We usually have five in the fall and five in the spring, and then we have the College National Finals.”

Accounting sophomore Amelia Anderson of Forsyth, Mont., competed in high school rodeo and was offered a scholarship to compete on UW’s team. “I compete in goat tying, breakaway roping, barrel racing and team roping,” she says. “I’ve made a lot of friends and we’re pretty close. We have a lot of fun at practice and at the rodeos.”


Ranch Horse Team

The youngest of the three teams and a registered student organization, the UW ranch horse team started in 2011 with eight students. “We have grown to about 25 members currently, and about half of the 25 students participate in shows on a regular basis,” says the team’s adviser, Doug Zalesky, director of the Laramie Research and Extension Center. “The team participates in American Stock Horse Association-sanctioned collegiate shows.” The ASHA Region 5 competitions take place mainly in Wyoming and Colorado.

Computer science senior Brian Moore of Denver, Colo., says the ranch horse team is one of the reasons he chose UW. “I wanted to bring my horse up and be able to ride with the university,” he says. “I’m making a lot of what seem to be lifelong friends through it, and I’m having a lot of invaluable experiences because of the ranch horse team.”

While the team has an adviser, it doesn’t have a coach. Instead, members help one another. “If there’s something someone needs help with, it’s a very open environment,” Moore says.

University of Wyoming Ranch Horse Team

Ranch horse versatility consists of four classes: stock horse pleasure, cow horse, reining and trail. “Ranch horse is taking what’s done out on a ranch and putting it into an arena and a show environment,” Moore says. “You have to show that you can control a cow … show that your horse can maneuver in tight areas … demonstrate that you have complete control of your horse … and show your horse can maneuver through obstacles.”

UW team members mainly pay their own way but are working on a business plan to increase fundraising and sponsorships. In the short time since the team was founded, it already hit its stride.

“At the Colorado-Wyoming-Nebraska (CoWN) Stock Horse Association’s 2012 year-end awards, Brian Moore won the Region 5 non-pro division and another team member, Lacey Teigen, was reserve champion Region 5 in the limited non-pro division,” Zalesky says. “In 2014, the team won high team honors at the Colorado State University spring show, and we also had the high point novice rider, Payton Gibson. We had three students participating in the ASHA Collegiate Championship Show in Loveland, Colo., in April 2014. They are very committed to the team and put in a lot of time and effort to represent UW. ”

“In 2013, the vice president of the team, Katie Schmidt, got third overall in collegiate nationally in the limited non-pro,” Moore adds. “At shows we’re all there for one another, supporting each other.”

For the 2013–14 competition year, Brian Moore earned a champion title from CoWN, and Katie Schmidt received a reserve champion title.


Equestrian Team

Kirsten Phillips of Las Vegas, Nev., graduated in December 2014 with her degree in communications and chose UW because of the equestrian team, a club sport at UW. “I only looked at schools that had an equestrian team,” says the 2013–14 club president. “When I came to visit UW, I was invited to watch a practice with the equestrian team. It really helped me make a decision. I looked at a lot of different schools, including Texas A&M. UW was just the right fit.”

The UW Equestrian Team has been in action for more than a decade and is the only club that doesn’t require participants to have their own horses.

“We don’t use our own horses when we compete—we have to use the host school’s horses,” Phillips explains. “We also have to choose our horse out of a hat. We don’t practice on the horse we draw, either. When it’s time for us to compete, we get on and go. It’s crazy but awesome and so exhilarating. Some girls have their own horses and offer them to use in practice, our adviser has horses we use, and there are others in the community who offer their horses for us to ride as well.”

University of Wyoming Equestrian TeamThe team competes in hunter seat equitation and Western horsemanship at Intercollegiate Horse Show Association events in the region, with most competitions taking place in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado. Between 30 and 40 students participate each year, and the team practices twice a week.

“We ride in equitation classes, which basically means we are judged as riders versus the horse or horse and rider combination,” Phillips says. Riders who make it into the post season may travel to the West Coast or East Coast for competitions. 

“We have several riders that have made it to post season competitions every year,” Phillips says. “This year, we had six riders qualify for regionals, and three of them become regional champions. Lindsay Zacco continued on to win zone champion for her class. Ruth Lewis received third in the zone, and I placed sixth. Lindsay went to nationals the first weekend of May 2014. As a team, we were second in the region this year for hunter seat and fourth in the region for Western. It’s the highest we've placed as a Western team in the history of the equestrian team.

“We are the only team at UW that includes both English and Western styles of riding, and we are the only team that doesn't use our own horses,” she continues. “We can show an entire season never riding the same horse we did before. It really challenges us, but it also shows us how much diversity and versatility we have as riders and increases our horsemanship.”

The team also offers goals to work toward and provides a support system, Phillips says. “When I’ve gone through hard times in my life, the team has always been there for me. The team is awesome and really allows [students] from all over to come together, make new friends and bond over the mutual love of horses.”

Club Sports

UW offers 22 Club Sports programs.
UW offers 22 Club Sports programs that represent the school regionally, and even nationally.

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University Public Relations
1000 E University Ave
Dept. 3226, Bureau of Mines
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2379
Fax: (307) 766-6729
Email: uwmktg@uwyo.edu


Contact Us

University Public Relations

1000 E University Ave

Dept. 3226, Bureau of Mines

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2379

Fax: (307) 766-6729

Email: uwmktg@uwyo.edu

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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