The bond between a horse and its rider is a beautiful thing. Both will do anything for each and through that bond greatness can occur. The members of the Murray State Ranch Horse team have seen this happen.
Members of the University Ranch Horse Team was recognized Feb. 18 at the American Ranch Horse Association Awards banquet in Nashville, Tenn. For the year-end awards they achieved.
Some of the accomplishments include: Junior Jacob Schwarm ranked first in the nation for Ranch Sorting, Senior Abby Harper finished fifth in timed speed events, graduate student Laney Workman finished 11th in horsemanship and senior Annalisa Bertsch ranked 13th in reining.
The team was started two years ago by Daniel Pugh, the barn manager, said Equine Professor and Assistant Coach Alyx Shultz.
“They practice several times each week at 6:30 a.m.,” she said. “Students compete on a horse they train. The majority of the students ride a horse they own.”
The team competes in the amateur division of the American Ranch Horse Association. They compete against adults from across the nation, not in a just collegiate division.
“It’s a very unique team where the focus is basically on developing the most broke horse,” Shultz said. “The classes are designed to assimilate real ranch work. ”
Graduate student Laney Workman competes using one of the University’s horses, Papanita Fantasy, also known as Punk.
“I was so proud when we found out how well our team members were doing nationally,” Workman said. “We went into last year hoping to just get our feet wet in this new association, and we are extremely fortunate to be receiving these accolades.”
For team members to be ranked so high with only competing in less than five out of 30 shows offered throughout the year is an accomplishment, Workman said.
“Everyone works so hard and to see the hard work paying off is very gratifying,” she said. “Everyone on the team has seen improvement in their horses as well as their horsemanship skills, which really is the goal of our organization. Being able to win with those skills is just an added bonus.”
The team is very blessed to be coached by Daniel Pugh and Alyx Shultz, Workman said.
“Daniel keeps our horses and us looking great and Alyx is like our own personal Chuck Norris and keeps everything running like clockwork,” she said. “Without them none of this would be possible!”
Although the team is very competitive, competition is not the sole focus of the team. Rather they focus on team work and working together to train horses.
“Somehow along the way to developing as a team and improving our horses we were able to develop to a level that’s competitive on a national level,” Shultz said. ” I’m very proud to be a part of a team that operates this way.”
In addition to competing at shows, the team has also helped catch several wild cattle in the area and has assisted at a cattle branding
Pugh said he is proud of his students.
“I have enjoyed watching them improve themselves and their horses over these past two years,” he said in an interview with Roundabout Murray. “More so, I’m just proud to be a part of such a fun team. We’re all looking forward to learning, working, and competing this next year.”