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Meet the Member Stana Asmussen Collens
story by Sharon Adams
A “hair pulling” contest at a college rodeo? Or maybe a “fashion statement” gone wrong? With some prodding from her husband Zack, Stana Asmussen Collens tells this story on herself.
“I missed winning the All-Around saddle at the Kansas State University NIRA rodeo in 1967. I lost by five points to Ruth Ann Marty of Black Hills Business College. I had tied my hair back with some bailing twine for the goat tying. The twine came loose and I got my hair wrapped up with the goat’s legs causing me to get 2ND Place. My husband thought this was funny! I did not!”
“As a kid, I probably walked further every day catching my horse to ride to school than if I had just gone ahead and walked to school,” says Stana. Stana Asmussen grew up in Agar, South Dakota, in a family where horses were pretty important as you will see, when your learn about her brother’s sons.. She attended a one-room school in Agar but made her way to Southern California for two years of community college in Desert Hot Springs. Her college rodeo career came at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.
She majored in Animal Husbandry and would have liked to have become a veterinarian. This was a time, the “ sixties,” when women were not encouraged to take that path, especially if they were small in stature and wanted to be a large animal vet. But she was not “too small” to barrel race and not “too small” to tie goats. And, as all the women who tied goats back then can tell you, “ those goats were a heck of a lot larger than the ones they tie now.” She competed her first year on a borrowed horse but the next year had her own horse and a couple of practice goats. Barbara Socolofsky Hintz, Women’s All-Around Champion in 1967, was her teammate and remembers how they practiced together. Barrel racing and goat tying were the only women’s events at that time. Instead of a coach, they had a faculty advisor who knew nothing about rodeo, so they taught and critiqued each other and went to rodeos “on a shoe-string.”
Stana competed at the College National Finals in both 1965 and 1966 as a member of the Women’s Team for Kansas State and served as Goat Tying Director in 1966. The College Finals in 1966 was held in Vermillion, South Dakota, outdoors in pouring rain. Stana comes from horse racing family who were all at a race track in another town so she came to that finals only long enough to compete and returned to the race track.
After graduation, Stana married jockey Zack Collins. Coming from a family of horse racing trainers she worked in that field while raising a family. Zack worked as a jockey for 20 years. They have two children and two grandchildren. Zack and Stana live in Partridge, Kansas, where they keep busy with “four horses and some cows and calves.”
Now to her brother’s kids. If the name “Asmussen” and the words “horse racing” don’t ring a bell with you, they should. Her nephew, Steve Asmussen, is a well-known horse trainer and had two horses in the 2016 Kentucky Derby with Gun Runner coming in third. He trained Rachel Alexandra who won the Preakness Stakes in 2009. Stana has another nephew, Cash Asmussen, who was the French champion jockey in 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1990. His career began in 1979. He retired from racing in 2001, having ridden and won 3000 in Japan, France, England, Ireland, Canada, and Hong Kong as well as the United States.