STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton State University’s storied rodeo team has a new home on the Downunder Horsemanship Ranch in the heart of the “Cowboy Capital.” The announcement was made this afternoon during a celebration for rodeo athletes following the school’s participation in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association National Finals Rodeo in Arlington last week.
Longtime Tarleton supporters Brad and Nancy Allen bought a portion of the iconic ranch — just a stone’s throw from the university’s Stephenville campus — this fall after world-renowned horse trainer Clinton Anderson switched his focus to training and showing performance horses in Arkansas.
The Allens met in 1972 while attending Tarleton and have contributed to numerous university projects and programs over the years.
“We are fortunate to have such strong supporters as Brad and Nancy Allen,” said Tarleton President James Hurley. “Opportunities of this level are a solid vote of confidence in our institution and our commitment to provide the best academic and sporting programs possible.
“From the barns and arenas to the wash racks and saddling bays, the ranch is a best in-class facility and the perfect complement to the top rodeo program in the country. Simply put, this is a game changer for the university.”
Established in 1947, Tarleton’s rodeo program has won seven national team championships and 28 individual titles. The Texans team, one of the largest in the nation, features 120 card holding student members.
At the helm for one of the team championships and 11 of the individual titles, rodeo coach Mark Eakin calls the new state-of-the-art home the “crown jewel” of any equestrian program.
“The covered arena and new 20-stall horse barn — it’s all a dream come true,” he said. “Our team was thrilled this summer when Dr. Hurley committed to find a way to cover our existing arena. Then we get this unimaginable opportunity that exceeds all of our expectations.”
Tarleton will lease a portion of the ranch — 47 of the 80 acres — acquired by the Allens, with hopes to buy the property pending approval by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and the outcome of a successful fundraising campaign.
“Dr. Hurley heard our rodeo student-athletes and alums loud and clear when they talked about the need for a better facility and one that is indicative of the top program in the country,” said Dr. Gabriel Cagwin, Vice President for the Division of Institutional Advancement. “When the opportunity to lease a portion of the ranch — and possibly own it — was presented, he jumped on it, knowing we could provide them with a world-class facility and an enhanced experience.
“Now we need the philanthropic support of our alumni and rodeo enthusiasts to make it a reality. There’s no better time to get involved and invest in our rodeo program. We are excited about the future.”