They were the new kids in the saddle, but coach Andrea Rego and the determined riders of the 2021 MTSU stock horse team rode into the Sweetwater, Texas, outdoor coliseum ready to defend their American Stock Horse Association National Show Division 2 championship with a well-executed plan of preparation and mental skills training.
“We had a whole new team, so we had expectations to compete and represent MTSU as best as we could and get them (riders) to have correct and clean runs (in the various categories),” Rego said.
MTSU, the 2019 champion, finished fourth overall — behind champion North Central Texas College, runner-up Missouri State University and third-place University of Arkansas — and collected five individual national and reserve (runner-up) awards at the end of the two-day outdoor competition held April 16-17 in the Nolan County Coliseum. MTSU also earned the 2016 championship.
Student riders and their horses competed in cow horse, reining and trail events. In cow horse, the rider is tasked to work a live cow, performing specific maneuvers requiring skill, coordination and timing.
“The team focused a lot on mental skills training and incorporating confidence and accuracy in the practice pen, so that it reflected in their performances,” said Rego, who learned recently she has been named the MTSU Student Organizations Adviser of the Year.
“I noticed more precise and assertive showing from our preparations,” she added. “I’m very pleased with the team members’ support of one another. I think the obstacles they’ve been through over the last year have set them up to appreciate every opportunity they can get to show and make it count.”
The 2020 event was canceled because of COVID-19. This year, the ASHA followed current Texas, Nolan County and coliseum safety protocols for outdoor events, the association’s Stacy Jo Hartley said.
MTSU team members include:
- Lindsay Gilleland, a senior horse science major from Powder Springs, Georgia.
- Taylor Meek, a junior horse science major from Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
- JoBeth Scarlett, a sophomore animal science major from New Market, Tennessee.
- Jordan Dillenbeck, a junior horse science major from Murfreesboro.
- Rachel Petree, a junior horse science major from Maynardville, Tennessee.
- Louann Braunwalder, a freshman fermentation science major from Lascassas, Tennessee.
Meek was awarded the Sumrall Sportsmanship Award by national show officials and coaches, who chose a rider who exemplified the character of the late Brian Sumrall, an influential stock horse clinician, judge and ASHA executive committee member since its inception.
Riding Dunnits Smokin, Meek earned reserve champion, Collegiate Trail Champion and third overall Collegiate rider in the National Champion, Limited Non-Pro division.
Scarlett rode Dontjacwithmyspook to the National Novice Trail, Reining and Cow Horse Class championship in the National Champion, Novice division.
Braunwalder, riding Twentyeventwister, earned the National Youth Pleasure & Reining Championship in the National Champion, Youth 14-18 division.
In the National Reserve Champion, Non-Pro division, Gilleland, riding Dontjacwithmyspook, was the National Non-Pro Trail & Pleasure Champion; Collegiate Limited Reserve Champion Cow Horse; and sixth all-round Collegiate Limited Non-Pro rider.
Riding BC Pennys From Tari, Dillenbeck finished as National Novice Pleasure Champion and National Novice Reserve Champion Cow Horse in the National Reserve Champion, Novice division.
Petree, riding Hay Now Sunshine, placed third in Nation Novice Cow, fifth in Nation Novice Trail and sixth in Nation Collegiate Novice Pleasure + Trail — ranking fourth overall in Nation, Novice.
“The key difference between the ASHA limited non-pro and the novice divisions is the degree of difficulty in the trail and cowhorse classes,” Rego said. “… For most students, they have limited experience showing in ranch horse events prior to joining the MTSU team.”
Recognizing outside support
Rego acknowledged the team sponsors — Purina, Norfleet Marketing and Photography, DC Cow Horse Gear and Leslie Jones Farrier — and Neal Agee of Hurricane Creek Ranch for lending cattle for practices.
She also recognized the Tennessee Stock Horse Association and professionals Stephen Freeman, Lucas Ayers, Ben Baldus and Sandy Collier “for taking time to assist in teaching the students during the academic year.”
—Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)