WT Horse Judging Team Ends Season with National Championship

Chip Chandler Nov 06, 2023
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WT Horse Judging Team Ends Season with National Championship

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University’s horse judging team won the reining national championship following competition this weekend in Oklahoma.

The team also took third in the American Quarter Horse Association World Championships.

“Ending the year with a national championship is truly extraordinary,” said Dr. John Pipkin, Regents professor of agriculture, Paul Engler Professor of Animal Science and director of WT’s Equine Industry Program in the Department of Agricultural Sciences in the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences. “The team completed an outstanding year with exceptional performances. Every team member has worked diligently and persistently for over a year to be prepared for these end of year competitions. I am so honored to have been able to work with them, and very proud of each one of them and how they pushed themselves to their absolute maximum.”

The five-member team came out on top of 13 teams at the National Reining Championship on Nov. 3 in Oklahoma City, outranking such competitors as Texas A&M University, Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Arkansas.

WT students took four of the top five rankings in individual placings.

Lindsey Sawin, a senior agriculture media and communication major from Vernon, ranked first; Samantha Faber, a junior equine industry and business major from Maple Park, Illinois, placed second; Haley Bucher, a junior equine industry and business major from Washington, Illinois, placed third; and Addison Shireman, a junior animal science major from Argos, Indiana, placed fifth.

The team also includes Koelle Brandenberger, a senior agricultural business and economics major from Corona, New Mexico.

The team also scored well at the AQHA championship, also held in Oklahoma City, where they were in tight competition with Texas A&M, Oklahoma State University and others.

In addition to the third-place overall team showing, the team also placed third in each of the separate categories—halter, performance and reasons.

Shireman ranked seventh individually, scoring fourth in halter, 10th in performance and seventh in reasons. Bucher ranked 11th individually, with a seventh-place finish in halter and sixth in reasons.

The team recently took third at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio.

WT’s horse judging teams are one of the ways the University is responsive to regional needs, as set out in its long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic One West comprehensive fundraising campaign, which reached its initial $125 million goal 18 months after publicly launching in September 2021. The campaign’s new goal is to reach $175 million by 2025; currently, it has raised more than $150 million.



About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.


Photo: The West Texas A&M University horse judging team recently won the National Reining Championship on Nov. 3 in Oklahoma City. Pictured are head coach Dr. John Pipkin, from left, Addison Shireman, Haley Bucher, Lindsey Sawin, Samantha Faber, Koelle Brandenberger and Coach Makenzie Knipe. (Photo courtesy Shane Rux)