University of Montana Western takes the Collegiate Colt Starting title

Road to the Horse has a passion for inspiring the next generation of horsemen and women and was proud to produce in partnership with the Idaho Horse Expo the 2024 Collegiate Colt Starting Challenge held April 5-7 at the Ford Idaho Horse Park. This event created a valuable learning experience in the art of colt starting for three collegiate teams who were able to compete for their share of the $6,000 cash purse. 

The collegiate teams that participated were Treasure Valley Community College, coached by Suzannah Campbell; Treasure Valley Community College, coached by Wade Black); and the University of Montana Western, coached by Eric Hoffmann. Donating their time to the event were judges Chloe Cuddie Hudson, Benjamin Longwell, Noel McQuigg, Tim Phillips and Leo Van Sistine. 

“There is no better way to create a legacy, than to invest in the future,” states Road to the Horse Director of Operations, Tammy Sronce. “We were honored to work with the Idaho Horse Expo to create an amazing platform to showcase the region’s top collegiate teams. The horsemanship and sportsmanship displayed by all three teams was inspiring to all.”

Over the course of the event, each team partnered with a filly from Bar 71 Ranch. The competition consisted of three round pen sessions, with the challenge accumulating on the final round which included both rail work and an obstacle course. All collegiate teams displayed superb horsemanship in a close competition that came down to the final round to determine the winner. 

The University of Montana Western claimed wins in rounds one, three and four. Treasure Valley took the top score in Round Two. Feather River displayed impressive horsemanship throughout all rounds with a sensitive filly and left fans in awe of their progress during the finals. 

The University of Montana Western claimed the championship with an accumulated score of 1299 points riding TOTTIE GUN SMART, followed by Treasure Valley Community College with 1210.5 points riding DAIQUIRI B GUN SMART and Feather River Community College with 1008 points riding GINGER BE SMART. All three fillies were sired by WILLY B GUN SMART (PLAYGUN x COW SMART HIGH BROW).

University of Montana Western Collegiate Coach Eric Hoffmann was proud of his team and grateful for the opportunity for the students to gain valuable, hands-on experience.

“It was such a wonderful event for students to learn from as far as reading the subtle tries that colts offer us all the time and the ability to take those and turn them into positive outcomes,” states coach and head instructors at the Montana Center for Horsemanship Eric Hoffmann. “[The event] brought me inspiration about being an educator for our future leaders in the equine industry and how we can take what we learn from the horse and apply it into our daily lives.”Road to the Horse would like to extend a special thank you to the Idaho Horse Council, the Idaho Horse Expo, our judges, the colleges and to all the individuals who made this very special event possible. For more information or apply to compete at Road to the Horse, visit

Champions: University of Montana Western, Dillon, MT.

Second Place: Treasure Valley Community College, Ontario, OR.

Feather River Community College, Quincy, CA.