Zwetzig wins NE horse challenge

Savanna Simmons
for Tri-State Livestock News

Seven contestants put their horses to the ultimate test in the Elite Ranch Horse Challenge hosted by Christensen Ranch in Crawford, Nebraska, July 30-31.

Taylor and Chasidy Christensen’s inaugural event featured two courses, more than 10 trail challenges, and awards made by Teskey’s Saddle Shop in Weatherford, Texas, including a saddle, buckles, headstall, and breast collar.

The courses were based on AQHA events like roping, reining, trail class, horsemanship, jumping, and cutting, but “not out of the AQHA book, but more like a course to preview a horse. We’re not aiming to get anybody hurt, but show horsemanship levels,” Taylor said.

The weekend kicked off with a wooded trail course featuring stations throughout included a maneuvering a gate, roping a stationary roping steer, side passing a log and a “W” formation, crossing water and bridge, dragging a log, and sorting and holding a heifer. Stations were timed and scored.

“I went to school at National American University for horse management, which involved everything from nutrition to reproduction, and training to farrier work,” Taylor said. “In the training portion, we did something called follow the leader, where we went out in wooded area, and had to follow whoever started out and do whatever they did; it may be a lead change, change or diagonal, or jump a log. If you couldn’t do it, you’d go to the back of the line. This inspired the competitive trail ride.”

The trail was followed by a bridleless pattern course, testing “how comfortable the rider is without bridle and how well they communicate with their horse,” according to the event website

“I’m still learning everything and Taylor has done it his whole life; it’s fun though,” said Chasidy, who grew up in a city, not “a ranch or farm girl setting.”

Brynn Zwetzig, of Douglas, Wyoming, was the first ever Elite Ranch Horse Challenge Winner with a cumulative 386.5 points. She received a saddle for her efforts.

Zwetzig also placed first in trail with 226.5 points. Savanna Simmons, of Lusk, Wyoming, placed second with 211 points.

Robin Ferguson, of Gordon, Nebraska, placed first in the brideless arena work with 170 points and earned a buckle. Deb Powell of Hot Springs, South Dakota, placed second with 160 points and received a Teskey’s breast collar.

Krista Nix, of Hay Springs, Nebraska, placed third in trail with 205 points and third in arena with 155 points.

Christensen Ranch offered accommodations to participants at extra costs, including catered meals and lodging for humans and horses.

Those with questions about future events may call Taylor at 605-430-0935 or Chasidy at 308-360-2685 or emailing Their ranch is located five miles east of Crawford.