Former faculty member, ranch horse team leader Kris Wilson dies at 38
Kris Wilson, the founder of Texas Tech's perennial national championship-quality Ranch Horse Team, passed away after a long illness last Wednesday (Sept. 7) in Amarillo. A graduate of Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences, he served on the department's faculty from 2006 to 2009 before moving on to manage several of the region's top ranches.
The Portales, N.M., native graduated from Tolar High School, and received his associate's degree in animal science from South Plains College. His bachelor's degree in animal science and master's degree in equine nutrition were from Texas A&M University. Wilson's doctorate in ruminate nutrition was from Texas Tech.
Wilson was around horses his whole life: His father was a horse trainer who kept many stallions on his Texas ranch. He gave his son his first horse, a Shetland pony, at the age of three. In high school Wilson won the American Junior Paint Horse Association World Champion title in heading, and Reserve World Champion title in breakaway roping. He was on the All-American Quarter Horse Congress 4-H Champion Horse Judging Team. In college, he was a member of the American Quarter Horse Association World Champion Horse Judging Team.
Wilson joined the Texas Tech faculty in 2006 as an assistant professor. While at Tech he was on the board of the Stock Horse of Texas Association and was the Open All-Around World Champion in 2008 and 2009. In addition, he led an All-American Quarter Horse Congress Collegiate World Champion Horse Judging Team and founded the university's first intercollegiate ranch horse team program.
At the time he told a local reporter, "When I came to Tech I thought it would be good to have a traveling ranch horse team. Tech was the first team in the nation to do that."
Wilson took a managerial post at Matador Ranch in 2009. While there he was on the first American Quarter Horse Association Ranching Heritage Council, and was the American Quarter Horse Association Versatility Ranch Horse Open Reserve World Champion. In 2010, he became manager of New Mexico's Bell Ranch and the TO. These sprawling ranches are large-scale operations encompassing cattle production, farm ground, a feed mill and reportedly one of the most revered reined cow horse programs in the nation.
Wilson is survived by his wife, Cara, and two children.
This year Tech's Ranch Horse Team took first place honors and a national championship title at the American Stock Horse Association National Collegiate Championship. It was the sixth time in eight years the top riders from the Texas South Plains have won in their sport's top prize. Previously, Texas Tech won the ASHA National Championship in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015.
The Tech team consists of members who ride individual horses and compete in four separate events: stock horse pleasure, trail, reining and working cow horse. Students are divided into three separate divisions, based on their previous showing experience and years of riding.
Written by Norman Martin
CONTACT: Steven Fraze, Interim Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or firstname.lastname@example.org
0912NM16 / Editor's Note: The family has suggested donations to be made to the Kris Wilson "Fearless Champion" Endowment at http://donate.give2tech.com/?fid=T8719TN
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Editor: Norman Martin
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