UMW Students Invited to Compete in Road to the Horse Collegiate Colt Starting Challenge

A team representing the University of Montana Western will compete in the Road to the Horse Collegiate Colt Starting Challenge during the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo in South Jordan, Utah on July 23 and 24, 2021.


The Days of ’47 Cowboy Games and Rodeo is excited to continue to add to its legacy in the Salt Lake Valley by expanding events featured in conjunction with the World’s Only Gold Medal Rodeo. In 2021, the Road to the Horse Collegiate Colt Starting Competition will be added to the schedule. With an emphasis on education, Road to the Horse has inspired and fostered a strong knowledge of the fundamentals of natural horsemanship within its fan base. Since its inception in 2003, cultivating a solid foundation of natural horsemanship and strengthening equine partnerships have served as key principles of Road to the Horse, and one is hard pressed to find a more fitting classroom than the collegiate equestrian arena. Road to the Horse is honored to co-host the Collegiate Colt Starting Challenge in conjunction with the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo on July 23 and July 24 at the Salt Lake County Equestrian Center in South Jordan, Utah.

“There is no better way to create a legacy, than to invest in the future,” states Morris Equine Group President, Tina Battock. “We couldn’t be more excited to work with the Days of ’47 Rodeo to create an amazing platform to showcase the region’s top collegiate teams. We’re excited to bring Road to the Horse colt-starting action to Utah for the very first time!”

Three top collegiate teams will compete for $30,000 in scholarships during the Collegiate Colt Starting Challenge, which requires each team to gentle a colt and display the highest standards of horsemanship over a two-day period. Three top regional horsemanship teams will represent the University of Montana Western, Utah Valley University, and Casper Community College. The judging panel will consist of Road to the Horse celebrities including Jeff Williams, Ken McNabb, and Wade Black. The event schedule, brimming with colt starting action, includes invaluable clinics from Ken McNabb and Wade Black.


“As we continue to look for events to showcase as part of our overall Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo, this event felt like a natural fit,” said Tommy Joe Lucia, General Manager of the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo. “Road to the Horse not only reminds us of the importance of horsemanship fundamentals but showcases it in a competitive environment. We are excited to bring this unique event to the great State of Utah.”

Students representing the University of Montana Western will be Katie Ross, James Ramirez, and Jacob Christenson. Head Natural Horsemanship Instructor, Eric Hoffmann, will accompany the students to the event. From left to right: Katie Ross, James Ramirez, Jacob Christenson, and Eric Hoffmann. Ross is a sophomore from Elko, Nevada, majoring in Ag Business with a minor in Natural Horsemanship. Ross lives for ranch rodeos, roping and playing basketball. She brings a great personality and a willingness to learn while working with horses. After college, she plans to work on the ranch with her father back home in Elko as well as other ranches in the area. Eventually, Ross would like to become a Western Video Market Representative.


P.C. UMW
From left to right: Katie Ross, James Ramirez, Jacob Christenson, and Eric Hoffmann

Ramirez is a senior from Churchill, Montana, double majoring in Biology and Natural Horsemanship with a minor in Equine Science. Ramirez is also a member of the rodeo team and will be a student senator this coming fall at UMW. He enjoys roping, riding horses, and attending team roping and calf roping jackpots. Ramirez qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo in team roping this past June. After college, he hopes to continue training horses and would like to rodeo professionally.



Christenson is a junior from Buffalo, Minnesota, majoring in Natural Horsemanship with a minor in Ag Business. He serves as the President of the Horseman’s and Young Farmers and Ranchers clubs and is currently the Vice President of the Montana Associated Students organization and Student Senate at UMW. Christenson likes to show in sortings, cuttings, ranch rodeos, and reined cow horse. After college, he wants to take care of his family ranch in Minnesota.

Hoffmann is the Director of Horsemanship and Head Horsemanship Instructor at the Montana Center for Horsemanship and the University of Montana Western. He has taught horsemanship classes at MCH and Montana Western since 2008. Hoffmann holds an A.A.S. in Equine Management and Training from Laramie County Community College and has earned both a B.S. and M.S. degree in Agriculture Education from the University of Wyoming and Montana State University. He currently serves on the Ranching Heritage Committee for the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA).


The competition will get underway on Friday, July 23 at 8:30 a.m. and Saturday, July 24 at 8:15 a.m. Tickets are available for sale at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/160875993427 as well as on-site daily. To learn more about Road to the Horse, visit www.RoadtotheHorse.com. To view the schedule of events for The Days of ’47 Cowboy games, and to purchase tickets, visit www.daysof47cowboygames.com.

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