Writer: D'Lyn Ford
Las Cruces--Debbie Jones, a Tatum native, has been hired to teach Western riding classes and coach New Mexico State University's defending national champion Equestrian Team.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity to work with other individuals in sharing the knowledge that I have," Jones said.
Jones replaced Larry Sanchez, who left NMSU in December to head the equestrian program at Oklahoma State University under the athletic department. Sanchez coached NMSU's team from 1993 to 1998, leading the team to two national championships.
For the past 23 years, Jones has been self-employed as a horse trainer and English and Western riding instructor.
In 1997, Jones was named German Quarter Horse Champion in junior trail and hunter under saddle. In 1990, she was a Palomino World Show finalist in hunter under saddle. Jones was named both the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association All-Around Champion and the Colorado State Fair Quarter Horse Champion.
In 1976, she coached the three-time American Junior Quarter Horse Association World Show Champion in Showmanship, Horsemanship and Equitation.
She also worked for Harrison Schmidt Elementary School and the Horizon Southwest Nursing Home/Extended Care Facility for three months in a program that helps children and the elderly with emotional and learning disabilities.
"We feel very fortunate to get Debbie. She has tremendous background in English and Western competition and tutoring," said Bobby Rankin, NMSU animal and range sciences department head.
For many years, Jones has been an instructor at the Suzanne Norton Jones 4-H Horse School, named for her mother, who has been riding horses and competing for more than 65 years. Suzanne worked as a 4-H horse project leader and helped to found the school in 1982.
Debbie Jones received her bachelor's degree in academic studies in 1995 and an associate's degree of applied sciences as an occupational therapy assistant in 1998, both from Western New Mexico University.
"She decided that she wanted to get back into teaching, and we found her at the right time," Rankin said.
Jones hopes to incorporate her experience with therapeutic horsemanship and occupational therapy into NMSU's existing riding program. "By participating in hands-on experience, being able to help someone else, you end up helping yourself," Jones said.
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