Three Aggies Earn NCEA Distinguished Alumni Awards

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 2:06 PM CST
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WACO, Texas – Texas A&M former equestrian student-athletes Tara Matsler ‘11, Katie Forest-Schroeder ‘05 and Emily Eastman Smith each were awarded with National Collegiate Equestrian Association Distinguished Alumni awards, announced by the NCEA.

Matsler received the distinguished alumni award in media & communications, while Forest-Schroeder was recognized in business and Eastman Smith was won the equine industry (business) award.

The NCEA recognizes distinguished alumni as former student-athletes separated from their institution for at least six years prior to nomination. They are recognized as distinguished in areas including academic success, athletic success, outstanding service contributions and post-graduate success.

Distinguished alumni are recognized in eight categories including business, community engagement, education, equine industry (rider/trainer/coach), equine industry (medical/business), health sciences/services, media & communication and young alumni.

The 2022 winners will be recognized during the NCEA National Championship in April 2022 at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida.

Tara Matsler ‘11 – Media & Communications

Matsler currently works for the American Quarter Horse Association as a digital content manager and managing editor for Performance Horse Journal. As a digital content manager, she strategizes and develops digital content for the world’s largest equine breed registry and manages the website that attracts more than one-million monthly users. Matsler also photographs performance horses with the goal of educating readers and creating reverence for western performance horses. In total, she has worked with AQHA since the summer of 2010 starting out as a publications and online communications intern. Along with working for AQHA, Matsler is the digital content manager for Northwest Reined Cow Horse Association and the Panhandle Reined Cow Horse Association.

A four-year letterman from 2007-11, Matsler graduated with her bachelor of science in agricultural communications and journalism with a minor in agricultural economics. During her time in Aggieland, she was a member of the 2009, ‘10 and ‘11 teams that won the Varsity Equestrian National Western Championships. In 2009, she was named the team’s most valuable Reiner. Most notably, she won the 2010 Texas A&M Aggie Heart Award, which is a year-long award for the most exemplary teammate who demonstrates great team spirit, support and epitomizes a true Aggie. Academically she was awarded the 2010 Thomas L. Curl Endowment for Excellence in Agricultural Journalism Scholarship, given by the Texas A&M University Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications. Matsler also earned college of agriculture & life sciences distinguished student awards in 2008 and ‘09.

Katie Forest-Schroeder ‘05 – Business

Forest-Schroeder transferred to Texas A&M in 2002 where she made an immediate impact on the Aggie program. She led the Maroon & White to Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) western team national titles in 2003 and 2004 while pushing A&M to its first-ever Varsity Equestrian National Championship (VENC) in western riding in 2005. She was also named the top female western rider in the nation at the conclusion of the 2005 season. A 2005 graduate, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Ag business and following graduation she served as the director of operations for the Texas A&M equestrian teams for four years.

In July 2011, after serving two years as the transport division manager for Nedpoint Quarter Horses, she purchased the transport division of the company. Two years later, she moved to Texas into the heart of the equine industry and started her own company, Equiflight, where she continues to fly horses around the world. At Equiflight farms she offers extensive amenities for horse quarantine and export horses with advanced services to her customers.

Emily Easton-Smith ‘06 – Equine Industry (Business)

A Texas A&M Scholar Athlete from 2002-06, Easton-Smith graduated with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. As a freshman she was a walk-on as a member for the jumping seat team. She earned high point honors in the first competition and won every class entered for three competitions in a row. Following the first semester she earned a partial athletic scholarship. Following her graduation at Texas A&M, she earned a master’s degree in animal science from New Mexico State University.

Easton-Smith currently works as an equine nutritionist for Platinum since 2009. She fields technical questions from clients and veterinarians as well as receives forage analyses and help to build diets for horses, particularly those that have special health concerns such as PSSM, EMS, Cushing’s, and other disease states that have a significant dietary correlation, as well as elite performance horses. In addition to working as Platinum’s clinical nutritionist, she has worked as a member of the marketing team since 2017. Easton-Smith has been a jumping seat steward for Texas A&M home meets since 2017 and was an NCEA jumping seat steward for the 2021 NCEA National Championship in Waco, Texas.