Saddlebred trainer Smith Lilly made history in Freedom Hall this August, claiming the Five Gaited World’s Grand Championship aboard a horse he’d only had in his barn for four months.
On Dec 2-3 William Woods University students will have the opportunity to interact with this world champion trainer and his wife, Alexandra, during a two-day saddle seat clinic.
Lilly’s Mercer Springs Farm is based in Princeton, W.Va. Although he has been involved with horses his entire life and has been a professional horseman since he was 19, it took one special horse to propel him into the world spotlight.
This horse, his original star, was a game little five-gaited mare called Have You Ever. The entire Saddlebred world began to take notice of this young trainer when Have You Ever began racking up wins, and Lilly was quickly making a name for himself.
Today, Lilly is the trainer of numerous equine stars, including this year’s Five Gaited World’s Grand Champion, He’s the Man. If Have You Ever began the process of making Smith Lilly’s name a household term, the brilliant He’s the Man finished the process with Lilly this August.
Riding He’s the Man on Stake Night at the World’s Championship Horse Show, Lilly made history by winning the Five Gaited World’s Grand Championship. There is, however, a lot more to the story.
The best part comes when you realize that Lilly only had He’s the Man since
April, and it was never intended that he show in the Grand Championship. He was purchased with the intent of being a juvenile horse for Lilly’s young student, Allison Combs, and somehow went on to win the Open championship.
When he won, Lilly also became the first West Virginian to either own, train or ride the Five Gaited World’s Grand Champion.
While most would see this as his biggest accomplishment, Lilly puts it second to one other thing.
“First, my biggest accomplishment is to have done my best with every horse we have had the opportunity to train,” he said.
Gayle Lampe, WWU professor of equestrian science and saddle seat instructor, feels that her students will learn a lot from Lilly.
“They’ll learn how to show a horse, how to train…he can teach every aspect of Saddlebred horse showing,” said Lampe.
Lilly is looking forward to the event.
“I enjoy talking about horses and horse training,” said Lilly. “I feel strongly that our greatest opportunity for the growth of our industry and our sport is the proliferation of more training barns and lesson programs throughout the country. I was honored when Ms. Lampe asked me to do a clinic.”
Estimated times for the clinic are 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sunday. Times are approximate and subject to change.
A talk is planned for noon-2 p.m. on Saturday, and it includes a pizza lunch and beverages in the large equestrian classroom.
An audit fee of $15 covers the clinic and talk, as well as the pizza lunch.
For more information, contact Gayle Lampe at (573) 592-4395.