Student applies for equine instructor position

After a difficult year for the colt starting class — which teaches students techniques for training a young horse — the Department of Animal and Range Sciences is preparing to hire a new instructor for next fall. Last week, it was announced that Reata Brannaman, MSU freshman and daughter of famed horse trainer Buck Brannaman, is an applicant for the position.

 Last fall an instructor was hired to teach the course, but chose to resign from the position by the end of the semester. Two trainers from Copper Spring Ranch came to teach the class on a volunteer basis for the remainder of the year.

Brannaman said she has been in a teaching situation her whole life, explaining that she started helping her dad train colts when she was seven years old and has helped with her dad’s clinics since she was ten.

 “I have experience dealing with outside horses” and have been “fortunate to have had many opportunities come my way,” she said. “I know how a colt should progress,” she added, and wants to teach the class so “students are in a place they are proud of by the end of the year.”

Equine science sophomore Joanna Rodgers-Liston plans to take the class next fall. Having never started — or trained — a horse before, Rodgers-Liston is excited to learn the techniques and maintain a relationship with a horse. “There is something special about … the bond with an animal,” she said.

 Rodgers-Liston is “open” to the idea of learning from someone her own age, but has heard that others do not share her opinion.

Brannaman said, in response to concern about her young age, that the equine community has been “up in arms.” However, she contends that “you can learn from anyone, no matter how old,” and is “not concerned with what people think” about her age.

“I’m more concerned about her own schedule,” said Rodgers-Liston, saying that Brannaman may be too busy with her studies to have “time for us and really be able to help.”

The job would not detract from her studies and pursuit of a degree in business marketing, Brannaman said. Sometimes people’s extracurricular activities get in the way, but this won’t bother her because “this is mine,” she said.

 Glenn Duff, head of the Department of Animal and Range Sciences, said he has not heard any feedback after naming Brannaman as an applicant, but also said “a qualified person is a qualified person” and the department will hire whomever it deems most qualified.

Animal and Range Sciences faculty will come up with a set of requirements which determine what makes a person qualified to teach this course. After acquiring a pool of applicants, the department will make the final decision over the summer, according to Duff.

 As the hiring authority for the position, Duff was unable to disclose the number of applicants due to policy rules. However, he did say that there are other applicants besides Brannaman, noting the search only started about two weeks ago.

Originally scheduled for last Thursday, April 11, tryouts for the students wishing to be in the class were postponed at the last minute and will be rescheduled for next fall. Duff explained that waiting until the fall will give transfer and current students the opportunity to try out.

  • Clint

    If anyone is qualified to teach this course it would be Reata, her age should not be an issue her abilities to help the horse and rider are all that matters. If someone can’t take advice from a younger more experienced trainer maybe they are not ready to be helped. It’s all about the horse and rider growing together!

  • Shaelyn Meyer

    I think Reatta is more than capable. Maybe some humility is in order for some of these students who are so opposed to the idea. She is very mature and poised for her age and I’ll bet she can command some respect!

  • Dorothy Love

    I would like to say that MSU is lucky to have Reata to teach this course and age had nothing to do with the miles and the experience that she has to offer as an instructor. I have been an avid student of colt starting since I met Ray Hunt when I was a teenager and I am now 58. I have traveled and have seen many colt starters in my time. Reata will be a blessing to the program and she in her years has seen and dealt with more colts and problem horses than most full time horse trainers have in a lifetime. MSU is lucky to have her and I would love to be able to watch her class as it progresses.

  • carin baer

    reata brannaman is one of the finest horse people in the business! and like her dad she comes by it naturally and has a love and understanding of horses that far surpasses most people that i have seen. she also has a sensibility with people and their horses and her people skills are stellar. i have personally seen her start several colts at a private clinic at her fathers arena, and i was amazed!!!! they are a great duo, but solo she can ride and train with the best of them!!! i vote that you give her this position as she is a lady of great character 🙂

  • Jacqueline Hunt

    I know Reata Brannaman, as well as her father Buck Brannaman. I have watched her at clinics for many years and I can tell you she is highly qualified and that her age should not be a concern. She is a talented horse woman that I feel would be an asset to any training program and you would be very lucky to get her. I suggest you see what shes all about before you dismiss her due to her age. The proof is in her horsemanship and how she relates to students.She has been raised with great horsemanship the goal which benefits all disciplines. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions . Thank you
    Jacqueline Hunt

  • Levi Draper

    Being a horse trainer myself, I have studied all the great traners out there. After reading True Unity, by Tom Dorrance, Think Harmony With Horses, by Ray Hunt, and The Far Away Horses, by Buck Brannaman. I beleive they have the best training techniques, for many reasons. And I’m sure Reata is a chip off the old block, but you could be the best trainer in the world and if you lack the ability to communicate clearly with others, you have no business being in a teaching position. The college needs to do what is best for the students, the proof is in the pudding, I’d have all applicaints do a demonstation. If Reata can communicate with humans as good as she does with horses then that would be a no brainer.

  • Good for Ms. Brannaman. Sounds to me like she has more than enough experience and will bring along the passion that goes along with being young. I guess I don’t get the controversy.

  • Brandy

    MSU would be missing out on a tremendous opportunity if they pass up Reata based on age or any other criteria. She has a lifetime of hands on experience and has been influenced by some of the best trainers in the US. I think she will have a lot to offer the students at Montana State.

  • Age discrimination is appalling especially in an institute of higher learning. Qualifications and expectation of success should be paramount in selecting instructors in all disciplines. This case may be a bit unusual but age should not be a factor. Do students look into all instructors job and personal schedules before signing up for a course? How can you judge ahead of time? For 25 years I have been involved with the equine industry as a business owner and have worked and known Reata Brannaman for a number of years. MSU staff and students will be very well served by her obtaining this position.

  • Candy Diaz

    I have known Reata a couple years and I have seen her start a colt this last Feb. at A Legacy of Legends, she was incredible right from the start. She is so kind to her horses and really knows what she is doing. I am an old lady and she is able to communicate with me just fine. We are friends on Facebook. If I didn’t know her age I would think she was in her mid 20’s, I have read her posts on Facebook and she is very intelligent. Even if she never uttered one word, her students would benefit from her by just watching how she handles her horses and colts. I would bet that having her as a teacher that will bring students to your college. She is a very classy lady also and you won’t be sorry with Reata Brannaman as your new instructor.

  • Mandy

    I don’t care how old a person is, I care about what a person knows and their passion for it. Reata is a passionate horsewoman and has grown up traveling the country attending her dad’s clinics. She has learned how to reach the horses and the humans. I can’t think of anyone better to teach this course. What a gift to the students!

  • Charlene G. Brooks

    I would like to express my opinion about the qualifications concerning the applicant Miss Reata Brannaman. I can honestly say she is well beyond her years in her ability to teach those wanting to learn most anything concerning the horse. I believe Miss Brannaman was 12 years old the first time I encountered her and one thing that really impressed me was how comfortable she is around horses and people of every age. She conversed with me intelligently and respectfully. She is pleasant and kind. Throughout her young life she has learned from her father, Buck Brannaman the best way to handle horses from start to finish. Miss Brannaman also has naturally absorbed the ability to teach others this knowledge due to her lifelong exposure, participation, hard work and dedication in assisting and learning from her father. I would feel honored if I had an opportunity to learn from her. I have no doubt she would be a huge asset to your program.

  • the other side

    The article didn’t quite touch on the fact that the department HIRED someone (her) before offering to have interviews and accept applications…They blew off the trainers who stepped up and helped finish the program this semester, and not until concern was voiced that they ( the interim VOLUNTEER trainers) didn’t get to apply for the position was it “remedied”. No people are concerned that Reata doesn’t know what she’s doing- she does. The concern was that no one else was even interviewed, and the process was “higher ups” making up their own rules and going about things in the wrong order.

  • Kyle

    I love how in this article is says we will hire over the summer, mean while the MSU Equine Science page says they hired someone already. Get your s*** together MSU!!!!! I also like how faculty are posting all over Facebook, seems like they should probably back off and do things in a professional manor NOT on their personal Facebook accounts about the position. Just let the people who want to apply apply and pick the best fit for the job. Safety for a class like this needs to be the number one priority choose who is fit for the job!

  • Dissent

    I’m sure Ms. Brannaman is more than experienced in leading the class in horsemanship skills, but she is not a collegiate-level teacher. I don’t believe that the progeny of an established horse clinician should have first bite at an instructor position. I think the university should take a look at all applicants, famous children or not.

    For example, in regards to the Top of the West horse sale (in which students from MSU and University of Montana-Western show horses that were trained in each schools respective programs), MSU has failed for the past few years to even compete on the same level as UM-W, let alone win ‘top selling horse’. UM-W has not needed a rotating cast of clinicians to meet these goals; it comes from consistent, professional instruction from a professionally qualified teacher.

    • the other side

      Well said.