Students show off their skills during annual colt graduation

Syerra "CY" Christensen

  Syerra "CY" Christensen shows offer her horse training abilities during the
  recent colt graduation. Christensen will represent LCCC at the College
  National Finals Rodeo on June 14 in Casper. Photo by 
Ty Stockton

As soon as the music started, Fireball galloped to the middle of the arena ready to show off all that he’s learned.

He executed each turn, trot and sidepass flawlessly with the help of his trainer, Syerra “CY” Christensen, 21, a student in Laramie County Community College’s equine studies program.

After each graceful display, Christensen patted the horse gently, rewarding Fireball for a job well done.

Christensen, of Kennebec, South Dakota, and 20 other student riders in LCCC’s equine studies program showed off their training abilities during the Spring 2015 Colt Graduation on May 16 at the college’s arena. The event was the culmination of the hard work and training that each student put into their horses.

“We did round-pen training to get them to pay attention,” Christensen said of the horses. “We worked with the horses to get them to where they are today. It’s such a rewarding experience when you can train a horse.”

For Christensen, the colt graduation won’t be the only place where she will get to show off her skills. Christensen will represent LCCC at the College National Finals Rodeo starting on June 14 in Casper, Wyoming. She finished the last rodeo season in first place in the breakaway roping category with a total of 555 points.

“I just love it here,” Christensen said of her time at LCCC. “I do, I just like it. If I could stay here the rest of my life, I might."

The students who are enrolled in the equine studies program have the option of studying one of three degree options– equine science, equine business management and equine training and management.

Admission to the programs is competitive. Once admitted, students get the traditional classroom experience, but also get exposed to plenty of hands-on learning by working in the heated, 125-foot-by-250-foot indoor arena, the outdoor arena, the four 50-foot round pens and the three 100-foot round pens. Students also use the attached stall barn, wash racks and tack rooms.

Students get the hands-on experiences by taking lab and classroom classes that offer a variety of teaching techniques and experiences. LCCC instructor Travis Shoopman teaches the equine training labs where students learn riding, horse-training skills and horse care. LCCC instructor Lanae McDonald primarily teaches in the classroom where students gain knowledge in nutrition, reproduction, preventative medicine and equine judging.

“All of our horses come from the community,” Shoopman said. “Owners pay to board and feed their horses here. The students then work with the horses to get them trained. It’s a great opportunity for the students to gain valuable experience.”

The horses are colts, which means they are typically two to three years old. The colts that the college receives are only halter broke, and the students are expected to do all the other training a horse requires.

The students at the colt graduation said they were excited to be able to show off how well they trained their horses and showcase their skills.

“The biggest challenge I had with my horse is she had a big character,” said Tess Braslau, 19, of Paris, France, who is studying equine training and management. “She fought the bit but we did exercises to train her. It’s so rewarding to be able to train a horse.”

Braslau decided to attend LCCC after searching the Internet for training and management programs that were offered at community colleges. She said she liked LCCC’s program, which is why she decided to study in Cheyenne.

Samantha Robart, 21, of North Carolina, said the lab has helped her improve her horse training skills.

“I had to work with a horse that’s never been rode,” said Robert, a freshman. “I had to work with her every day to get her to where she is today. She took to the saddle right away.”

Prospective students can learn more about LCCC’s equine studies programs by visiting the Web page

  • 2015 Colt Graduation
  • 2015 Colt Graduation
  • 2015 Colt Graduation
  • 2015 Colt Graduation
  • 2015 Colt Graduation
  • 2015 Colt Graduation