Consistency: The key to a world championship title

Kirsten Wood and her horse, Chandler, pose for a photo after winning the 2021 Collegiate Limited Non-Pro Stock Horse of Texas World Championship title. (Photo/High Cotton Promotions)

As a transfer student from Northeastern Junior College in Colorado, Kirsten Wood, a junior agribusiness major, is new to West Texas A&M University. Yet, she has made quite a name for herself during her first semester, winning the 2021 Collegiate Limited Non-Pro Stock Horse of Texas World Championship title. This is a triumphant achievement for both her and WT.

“Knowing my horse, I knew that this is one show where we could experience success,” Wood said. “I feel that versatility shows will show off my horse well because of how consistent he can be in the show pen.”

The Stock Horse Association of Texas is the organization through which WT’s Ranch Horse Team shows horses competitively. Each member and their horse compete in four classes.

The first class is “ranch pleasure.” The goal of this division is to exhibit the smoothest transitions of a horse’s gait. A rider may be asked to slow down from a lope to a walk or to speed up from a jog to an extended lope.

Including obstacles a horse may face when working on a ranch, the “ranch trail” class shows off quiet and confident horses. Taking a slicker off a fence post to carry, walking over a bridge, loping over logs and roping a dummy all exemplify said obstacles.

Chandler and Wood execute a sliding stop in the rein work class. (Photo/High Cotton Promotions)

“Rein work” rounds the third division. Horse and rider will show off handy patterns with sliding stops, spins, lead changes and lead departures.

Wood and her horse, Chandler, enter the cow work class, waiting for their cow to be released into the arena. (Photo/High Cotton Promotions)

Arguably the most thrilling event, “cow work” is the last class. In cow work, the horse and rider duo will prove their control of a cow in the arena by rating, stopping and turning the cow.

To do well in all four classes takes a well-rounded and very talented duo, a duo such as Wood and her horse, Chandler.

“Chandler is a 2017 gelding by SDP Blue Blood,” Wood said. “I bought him about a year and a half ago looking for a project, as I was still showing a bridle horse at the time.”

At just four years old, Chandler had to step up to the plate for Wood. She had bred her bridle horse and decided Chandler was no longer just a project. He needed to be turned into her show horse for college. The two had hit the ground running to prepare for this show season and the process was not always easy.

With this duo, horse and rider have very different personalities.

“We take personality tests on our team. They [Wood and Chandler] are two completely different personality types,” said Dr. Lance Baker, coach of the WT Ranch Horse Team and professor of animal science. “There were some early struggles. He caused her some frustration, as all horse people know.”

Wood admitted she felt a bit disappointed and frustrated after the first show of the season. However, Dr. Baker helped her to gain a new perspective by advising her to change the way she showed Chandler.

“He isn’t like other horses I have shown, meaning he isn’t as spunky or catty in the show pen,” Wood said. “This was something difficult for me to accept, but in order for the two of us to have success together, I knew it was going to have to be something I accepted.”

The advantage of this pair is their consistency. Consistency is the name of the game at the Stock Horse of Texas World Show.

“She consistently placed in the top five or top 10 of about a 30- or 35-horse class. In every class, she came out on top,” Dr. Baker said. “We were just so proud of her for staying hooked, staying consistent and showing everyone else how you win at a large show like that.”

While achieving this title is a big accomplishment, the duo still have a lot of work to do.

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