Ranch Horse Aggies ride in fall finale

CURTIS, Neb. — Collegiate riders aboard experienced and young horses, alike, are setting goals and gaining experience in the ranch horse arena.

Training and riding either their own horse or a borrowed mount, Aggie students on the NCTA Ranch Horse Team, recently competed in a two-day season finale at Torrington, Wyo.

Four of the eight Aggies from the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture team were introduced to their first collegiate show.

Newcomers were Casey Podsobinski of Maywood and her mare Dixie Darlin; Gwen Olberding of Falls City and her mare I Make It Look Easy; Kirstin Cawthra of Benkelman and her gelding Oxbows Dynamite; and Emma Yarolimek of Papillion and her mare Missouri.

“We start these horses off in two classes and work up to all four at subsequent shows,” said Joanna Hergenreder, NCTA associate professor and Ranch Horse Team coach. “They had a wonderful first go and will be strong duos that we look forward to seeing excel.”

Ranch Horse contests are comprised of four classes: Reining, Working Cow, which tests the athletic training of horse and rider in maneuvering a cow along the rail of the pen or arena; Western Pleasure, and Trail Course of obstacles and features commonly found in ranch work.

With previous show experience in youth programs, Olberding tried all four classes and won seventh place in pleasure.


Yarolimek, who hadn’t entered any equine competitions previously, got her project mare “Missouri” this summer. She discovered NCTA in April, from a family friend who lives in Omaha. During a campus visit that month, Emma said she fell in love with the campus and equine programs.

“I was a very easily intimidated person about performance class. I wasn’t sure I was ready to go out and compete,” she said. “But I worked very hard with my horse. I owe a lot to Jo; she is a very good coach.”

Emma was composed during her foray into the show ring, but Missouri had jitters. Teammates helped calm the mare so she could step into the arena and complete the pleasure class pattern.

“I’ve been able to see a lot of progress this semester. I look forward to learning more about equine industry management next year,” Yarolimek added. “Everyone at NCTA has been so welcoming and helpful.”


Team leader Cauy Bennett of Elwood rode his mare, Katy Sugar Lena, to the All-Around title in Collegiate Non-Pro division. They placed first in working cow and pleasure classes, and second in reining and trail course classes.

Macy Zentner, Cedar Rapids, and Blue had a strong show after having had a few weeks off. The duo competed in Collegiate Limited Non-Pro and were reserve champions in trail, sixth in reining, and seventh in both working cow and pleasure.

Jessica Burghardt, Fedora, S.D., and PR Remake or “Rem”, competed in Collegiate Novice. They placed 11th in both working cow and reining.


Gillian Brinker of Anchorage, Alaska, riding Big Gem Surprise, also competed in the Collegiate Novice division. She was sixth in the all-around of the four classes at fourth in reining, eighth in pleasure, 10th in trail and tied for 11th in working cow.

“The high point of my weekend in Torrington was probably the growth we all saw as a team both in the arena and out,” said Brinker. “I love the positivity of this team as well as how much I can learn from watching them all compete.”

Brinker has been around horses most of her life. An equine industry management major who also is earning a certificate in equine training, will graduate in May.

She rides Gem, an NCTA-owned gelding, and for the first time, at Torrington, they competed in all four classes. Her mother and grandmother flew from Hawaii to see her first collegiate show.

“It was pretty incredible to place fourth out of 25 in the collegiate novice division for reining and the support I felt from the team after receiving that placing.”


Team camaraderie and support from family members, alumni and local friends makes a difference.

“It was a pretty neat as multiple parents from around the country and friends from Curtis made it out to watch this group,” Hergenreder added. “It was special to have that many folks travel that far to support the kids.”

The season ended with a horsemanship and reining clinic in Curtis. Already, they’ve booked professional trainer and clinician Sherman Tegtmeier to return in March for more team training. The team will travel to several winter shows next semester. They host the NCTA Punchy in Pink Spring Round Up on April 7-10 in McCook. They expect to draw more than 100 exhibitors and horses with the multi-state event.

Registration details will be available from Slidin’ Daze Enterprises, Versatility Ranch Horse Competition of the American Quarter Horse Association, and Hergenreder at


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