Photo by John Eisele/CSU Photography
James Dantimo’s favorite memories at Colorado State University have almost all been from atop a horse.
Starting at CSU after serving six years in the Army, Dantimo, 28, says the equine sciences program was a big draw for him, as was its Legends of Ranching program, which prepares students to work in the horse industry.
“Under the direction and education of instructor Mike Brashear, we have achieved so much more than any of us had imagined, and it genuinely feels like a team that has each other’s backs,” he said.
The first-generation college student will graduate with a degree in equine science from the Department of Animal Sciences in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
“James works extremely hard to engage with all faculty and is proactive in both his educational journey and in finding opportunities to advance his knowledge and experience,” said his nominator, Professor and Department Head Keith Belk.
Following graduation, Dantimo said his goal is to apprentice under professional farriers, train colts and pursue farrier school.
“All in all, I am just excited to join the equine industry full-time,” he said.
In their own words
Q. What led you to pursue a major in equine science?
I chose to pursue my major in equine science due to a few different reasons: Firstly, I was raised around horses from the time that I was a very young kid. My mom was an avid rider, and the one who really got me into the community. Secondly, I chose my major because of the Legends of Ranching Program that the department offers. High-quality quarter horse breeding farms across the country consign colts and fillies to CSU, and the students take care of them, train them and get them to a point where they are ready to be sold at the spring sale the following year. It is a two-semester class and allows for a lot of hands-on experience with really fine horses! Lastly, I chose to pursue my major because horses saved my life in many ways. Before coming to CSU, I was in a place in my life where I did not have much going for me and just was not in a good spot mentally. Reconnecting with horses, riding, caring for and working with them all played a role in turning my life around, and I made the conscious decision to devote the rest of my life to helping as many of them as I possibly could – sort of as a way to repay them for the comfort, excitement and joy that they bring to so many of us in the equine industry.
Q. What experiences in your life, or at CSU, have required you to demonstrate courage?
I know that I have been required to demonstrate courage in my life on many occasions, and to be asked to talk about such things does make me feel a bit odd. That being said, I will do my best here. I think one of my favorite times of displaying courage would be at the most recent “Come to the Table” for the College of Ag. Even though our dean, the director of animal science, and equine science were all in the room, I chose to stand up for my peers and address the issues we have in our college at this time. I primarily focused on the lack of accountability demonstrated by individuals on staff, ranging from those in top leadership positions all the way down to the students themselves.
“I think one of my favorite times of displaying courage would be at the most recent ‘Come to the Table’ for the College of Ag. Even though our dean, the director of animal science, and equine science were all in the room, I chose to stand up for my peers and address the issues we have in our college at this time.”
I feel that it is necessary to sometimes open the festering wounds that institutions might have, as it might be the only way to fix things for those who come behind me.
Q. What was the most rewarding part of your CSU experience?
The most rewarding part of my CSU experience has to be my participation in the Legends of Ranching Program. I was assigned to a colt consigned to CSU by Creek Plantation out of Martin, South Carolina. He is a 2-year-old gelding quarter horse, whose registered name is “Captain Splash.” I have seen him grow and trained with him all the way from a lightly handled colt, to where he is now. I am able to ride him under saddle, whilst packing a snaffle bit, across obstacles and around the arena.
Q. What is your advice to incoming students at CSU?
My advice to incoming students is this: Try hard at everything you do, and do not let yourself become discouraged by hard times. Hard times come and go. You’re paying for these classes in some way, shape or form; get your money’s worth, invest your time, invest your efforts and you don’t need to be a bookworm in order to succeed. You’re still allowed to have fun but think things through and temper yourself. Moderation doesn’t cost you a dime.