In 2004, while working on his PH.D., Kris Wilson had a vision to create a new, competitive, equestrian-type team to represent Texas Tech University. West Texas is known for its ranches and working cowboys so Wilson wanted the team to incorporate both showing and the cowboy way of life. With the backing of the Animal and Food Sciences Department, the nation’s first ranch horse program was born. In the spring of 2005, 13 members made up the first Texas Tech Ranch Horse Team and began traveling throughout the state of Texas competing in the Stock Horse of Texas Association, which Wilson had helped found in 1997. In its first year of existence, the Texas Tech RHT made quite the impression on the industry. Members stood out above the rest, competing in matching white shirts, adorned with the Double T logo and multiple sponsors, all while proving to be fierce competition in the show pen.
The dream of one man has since escalated into something no one could have ever imagined. Colleges all over the country have started programs similar to Texas Tech. There is now a National Collegiate Championship Show which determines the country’s best ranch horse team. Texas Tech has tryouts each fall to determine the 15 best riders to represent the Double T brand. Students all over the country now come to Texas Tech because of its ranch horse program and the opportunities it provides.
From its humble beginnings the Texas Tech Ranch Horse Team has since become a dominant force in not only collegiate competition, but in the ranch/stock horse industry as well. The team competes under the spotlight of the American Stock Horse Association (ASHA), Stock Horse of Texas Association (SHOT), and the Ranch Horse Association of America (RHAA). In a span of seven years, Texas Tech RHT has claimed three ASHA National Collegiate Championships and one Reserve National Collegiate Championship. As well as team success, many RHT members have claimed individual, year-end championship titles in ASHA, SHOT and RHAA.
The Texas Tech Ranch Horse Team’s mission is to preserve the heritage and tradition of the functional, versatile ranch horse, while demonstrating that purpose in a competitive form for all to enjoy. Outside of training and competition, Texas Tech RHT works to provide its members with many important life skills such as confidence, leadership, integrity and strength of character that will positively lead the industry of tomorrow.
Outside of the show pen, members of the RHT take every opportunity available to give back. Over the years, team members have participated in numerous canned food and toy drives during the holidays. Each summer, selected members of the team partner with the American Quarter Horse Association, embarking on a four-week trek across Europe, teaching valuable western-style horsemanship skills to local participants. RHT members have also used their skills to teach others right here at home. For the past two years, members have volunteered their time, putting on monthly clinics for local FFA chapters in order improve the overall abilities of both rider and horse. The year ends with a show put on by the team, giving clinic participants a little friendly competition and an opportunity to showcase all they have learned.
Competition is broken into four distinct categories of ranch function:
- Stock Horse Pleasure ensures a horse is functional and a pleasure to ride in everyday stock/ranch horse chores.
- Stock Horse Trail includes common sense obstacles that would be encountered in everyday stock/ranch horse work.
- Reining measures a horse’s ability to be willingly guided while performing many basic handling maneuvers such as spins, roll backs, circles, stops & flying lead changes.
- Working Cow Horse measures a horse’s ability to respond to a cow in stock/ranch horse work.