Ride offers chance to contribute to scholarship fund

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— Jo Semotan remembers being occasionally left in the dust as a child.

To counter the monotony of long cattle drives, her parents raced their horses to the top of steep slopes.

Instead of following suit, Semotan turned her horse, Tex, around to avoid breathing in the large cloud of dust kicked up by scrambling hooves.

"Tex and I would just sit there until the dust settled," she said. "They were always doing that."

Young and old alike have an opportunity next weekend to kick up some dust of their own on a range ride that traces the trail taken by Semotan and her family on cattle drives.

Semotan launched the Quentin Semotan Memorial 4-H Benefit ride last year to raise money for a 4-H scholarship named after her father, who helped to establish the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association.

The $225 scholarship and plaque recognizes 4-H participants in the horse-breeding category every year at the Routt County Fair.

When the scholarship fund began to dry up, Semotan turned to the daylong ride as way to raise money and bring together people who work and breed horses.

Many people do not know how instrumental Routt County was in cultivating many of the main bloodlines for today's quarterhorse, she said.

"We have a lot of history in the quarterhorse industry, and we just want to prolong that history and keep that going," said Jay Whaley, 4-H agent for the Routt County Cooperative Extension Office.

The 4-H program would like to involve more youths in its horse-breeding project, he said, and the range ride contributes to the scholarship that encourages more young people to participate in horse-breeding projects in Routt County.

"We are tying to grow and increase the horse-breeding project," Whaley said.

Jo Semotan can rattle off the names of several quarterhorses from Routt County that produced prized offspring. One such steed was the top quarterhorse stallion in the world at one time.

Starduster, brought by Quentin Semotan to Routt County from Oklahoma, was named Grand Champion of Champions Stallion in 1948.

The stallion sired many award-winning horses before Quentin Semotan eventually sold him to a man from California. Starduster died in 1974.

"He was a horse," County Commissioner Doug Monger said. "When people talk about performance horses now, a large majority go back to Starduster."

The scholarship fund also provides money to cover the cost of stud fees.

Jo Semotan wants to give local children, who might not otherwise have the resources, a chance to breed their horses.

Local breeders have agreed to breed their quarterhorse stallions to children's mares to produce a colt or filly in time for the youngsters to show the animal at next year's Routt County Fair.

It's all part of preserving the tradition of quarterhorse breeding in Routt County and introducing a younger generation to its historical significance in the county.

"It's a really exciting time to let the kids experience this," Jo Semotan said.

The June 30 range ride begins at 9 a.m. past Clark on County Road 62A and takes riders through the Sand Mountain Area, with lunch provided at Lilly Lakes.

The route will bypass Rocky Peak this time around, Semotan said.

"It's just a nice, gentle ride," she said.

People should be prepared for an all-day ride.

The outing follows an old ride Quentin Semotan took with his cows every year, Whaley said.

The event is limited to the first 100 riders, but those without a horse don't have to miss out on the chance to ride.

Steamboat Lake Outfitters, which can be reached at 879-4404, offers rental horses.

Tickets are $40 for youths and $60 for adults or two for $100.

Tickets must be purchased at Elk River Farm and Feed or the Extension Office by June 28.

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