A group of University of Kentucky students wants to represent the commonwealth's flagship university as UK's newest athletic team, dedicated to some of the commonwealth's most identifiable animals.
Trouble is, they don't have a stadium, a formal schedule or much funding. However, the new UK rodeo team does plan to become part of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association in 2014.
Senior Chelsea Reumont is helping to start UK's rodeo team. She and her mother, Teresa Draher, who owns The Antique Shop on Southland Drive, are hustling to raise money for — and interest in — the budding rodeo team.
Reumont decided she wanted to come to the University of Kentucky as a child visiting one of the Breyer Fest model horse shows at the Kentucky Horse Park. She realized at the time that she was in the world horse capital, and decided that was where she wanted to be.
But there was no rodeo team at UK — so, her mother said, "she thought she would just create it."
Draher raises money for the team in several ways, among them designating a part of her store's items to be sold directly for the rodeo team, and boarding horses on Kismet, her 200-acre farm in Bourbon County.
Draher — who has two children at UK and one at the University of Hawaii — moved her family to Kentucky from Montana three years ago, but has been in the antique store business for 25 years.
She bought Kismet Farm to be headquarters for the rodeo team. "They definitely have room to grow there," she said.
Reumont, who also works at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital as a veterinary technician, has spent her life around horses.
"I put her on the horse, and the horse taught her," Draher said. "Chelsea was on a horse before she was walking. She's just all about horses."
Reumont is hearing from a lot of students, from high schools and colleges, who would like to come to UK to compete in rodeo, she said.
Draher did not ride horses in college, "but I have always had horses and done horse rescue."
The ironic thing is that Reumont, who's majoring in equine management, will graduate and never get to formally compete even if the rodeo team is ready to compete in the 2014 fall rodeo season.
"At least it will be there for all the kids behind her," Draher said.
Kentucky's public universities have only one other rodeo program, at Murray State University.
Fees at Murray can be steep: $250 for a National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association card, $500 to rent a barn stall, $65 for the first event entered at each rodeo with $45 per additional event.
Because UK's team hasn't staged its first season, dues start at $25 a semester. A UK news release said additional fees would depend on the events students choose: Barrel racing, roping, goat tying or steer wrestling would cost $150 a semester, with bull riding starting at $500 a semester.
Murray does not cover travel expenses because participating students are eligible to win money for competing.
■ Connect with the University of Kentucky rodeo team on the team's Facebook page.
■ Watch college rodeo participants in action: Collegerodeo.com
HOW TO HELP
■ Donate an antique item, proceeds from which go to the team, at The Antique Store, 436 Southland Drive. Theantiquestoreoflexington.com, (859) 373-0802.
■ The University of Kentucky rodeo team's wish list includes the following items: rope dummies, feed, hay, horse feed, cattle feed, silage, gates, panels, four wheeler, arena drag, roping chute, laser timer for timed events, barrels, livestock (steers, bulls, bucking horses, goats), trained rodeo horses, barrels, roping, steer wrestling, feed and water buckets, horse trailer, arena sand, stock tanks, tractor.
■ Leave a message on the team's Facebook page if you can make a contribution.
Cheryl Truman: (859) 231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.