Author

Shanel Waggoner

Shanel Waggoner has 2 articles published.

Agricultural Communications graduate from Texas Tech University.

The New Ranch Horse Team Coach has Big Plans for the Future

Justin Stanton Ranch Horse Head Coach
Justin Stanton looks to the future as the new ranch horse team head coach.

The Texas Tech Ranch Horse Team has a reputation of winning multiple national and reserve national championship titles, but the new head coach wants more for his students than winning in the show pen.

“I want my students to be the most sought after students in the industry.”

Justin Stanton

Justin Stanton, a native of Slaton, Texas, was excited and surprised when the previous head coach approached him about becoming the new head coach for the Ranch Horse Team.

Ranch Horse Team Coach Justin Stanton
The new ranch horse team coach, Justin Stanton, has big goals set for his students.

“I was really surprised,” Stanton said. “It just kind of came out of nowhere for me. Chance was the first one to talk to me about it and after it, all kind of sank in. I was, of course, super excited. I have such a passion for this team because it did so much for me and my family. I know what it can do for so many other students and just something about that just gets me fired up. This team holds a special place in my heart, and I want it to be successful.”

Being a qualified candidate for the position of head coach, Stanton runs his own horse training operation, Stanton Performance Horses, and was the prior assistant coach and a member of the Texas Tech Ranch Horse Team.

“We had two national championships that I was part of on the team,” Stanton said.  “I won a reserve national championship and then my last year I was high point individual, won the nonpro division and that’s pretty much my show career for the team. At the time I was also training outside horses and I had about 10 horses in training that I showed on my own as well.”

Stanton knows the pride that comes from wearing the double T logo and has high expectations out of current and potential future team members. 

“With the reputation that the ranch horse team has there is a level of pride that you have while on this team,” Stanton said. “There are so many things that we do that requires a great attitude, a great work ethic, and a love for this team. A desire to make it better for the future kids to come on this team is huge that I look for in prospective team members.”

Stanton is looking to the future for the next big thing to help grow the program. He said he wants to focus not only on winning in the show pen but also helping his students prepare for life after college and being successful in the industry.

“We’ve gotten pretty good at winning,” Stanton said. “One thing that I really want to focus on is preparing these students for the industry. I want the ranch horse team to be the most elite program that all of the top professionals in the industry call and ask, ‘Who’s graduating this year?’ That’s more important than winning to me. Winning is, of course, important, but I want my students to be the most sought after students in the industry because they have that much more experience.”

Stanton said he does not want a lack of experience to keep his students from not getting a job after they graduate but instead wants them to gain as much experience that they can while being on the team.

“To me, especially in the horse world, and really any industry, the experience you get out of school is important,” Stanton said. “But what does every facility, or place that you’re trying to apply to say? ‘You need more experience.’ I don’t want that to be a problem with my students. I want my students to have more experience than any other student coming out of similar programs.”

CASNR Names Hales as the New Thornton Distinguished Chair in Animal Science

Thornton Distinguished Chair Dr. Kristin Hales
CASNR announced Dr. Kristin Hales as Thornton Distinguished Chair in Animal Science.

A Panhandle native and a leading export in her field of nutrition and beef cattle has brought her expertise to Texas Tech University as the new Thornton Distinguished Chair.

“I came back to academia because I really enjoy mentoring graduate students and helping them learn how to conduct research.” 

Dr. Hales said
Hales named Thornton Distinguished Chair
Dr. Kristin Hales named as the new CASNR Thornton Distinguished Chair in Animal Science.

Dr. Kristin Hales grew up in the Texas panhandle where she raised and showed cattle and sheep. She also did horse judging through her college career but said she always knew her passion was for beef cattle.

“I participated in the Texas Cattle Feeders Association Fed Beef Challenge where you had to feed a pin of cattle,” Hales said. “Then when I was in high school, I worked in the summertime, and after school at our local feedlot. That really piqued my interest in feedlot nutrition, especially in all feedlot cattle aspects and that’s really where I became interested.”

Hales completed her undergraduate and master’s degree in animal science at Oklahoma State University and then came back to Texas to complete her Ph.D. in animal science at Texas Tech. After Hales completed her schooling, she began working for the USDA Agricultural Research Service for the next decade.

“I knew that I wanted a heavy research job,” Hales said. “My degrees were very research driven and in doing the research in graduate school, I realized that I really enjoyed conducting research and analyzing data, interpreting the results, and then writing the results.”

While Hales worked for the government for the past decade there were not many opportunities to work with students or teach, she mainly just conducted her research and analyzed her data.

“I came back to academia because I really enjoy mentoring graduate students and helping them learn how to conduct research,” Hales said. “Helping students find their way and hoping that I can make research enjoyable for them so that they will want to one day do research as well. I always wanted to teach a little bit but going into ag research within the USDA I didn’t have that opportunity.”  

Through the years of research she did while working with the USDA, she said she was very excited to get to be teaching classes that related back to this research.

“I’ve been doing heavy research for the past 10 years,” Hales said. “Which makes it really fun to use what I’ve learned in my research, and then incorporate that into my classroom teachings. I really enjoy being on the university campus and I enjoy being around young people that are enthusiastic about agriculture.”

The animal and food science department staff were very excited to have Hales joining the department. Animal and food science chair and professor, Dr. Michael Orth, spoke very highly of Hales and looked forward to what she will bring to Texas Tech.

“Dr. Hales is a great addition to our faculty,” Orth said. “She became a nationally recognized researcher during her time at the USDA. She has a great work ethic and focus that is also being seen in the classroom. She will continue the tradition of outstanding scholars in the Thornton Chair position following in the footsteps of Drs. Preston and Galyean.”

Hales said she is excited to be back at Texas Tech teaching the next generation of research conductors and answering some of her research questions during her time at Texas Tech.

“When you look at it, time goes by so fast,” Hales said. “I’ve already been out of graduate school for 10 years. You really have to prioritize what questions do you want to answer before you retire because those answers take a long time to get when you’re doing research and so you have to prioritize. Like what things do I want to know before I retire, and I didn’t realize that right out of school.”

Go to Top