William Woods University is constructing a new large indoor arena, to be completed for the fall 2006 semester. The arena was made possible through a $300,000 lead gift from Sarah and Landon Rowland of Kansas City, Mo., and other WWU supporters. Additional funding sources are being sought.
Sarah Rowland breeds and raises American Saddlebred horses, which she has ridden since growing up in Moberly, Mo. This is not the first time she and her husband have made contributions to the WWU equestrian program. Together they created an endowed scholarship called the Gayle S. Lampe Equestrian Achievement Award.
Landon H. Rowland is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Stilwell Financial Inc., a global financial services company with operations, through affiliates and subsidiary companies, in North America, Europe and Asia.
The need for an additional arena results from the growth in the WWU equestrian program: the number of majors has doubled since the fall of 2001, placing a strain on the existing facility.
This past fall, riding classes were limited to equestrian majors and minors. The current facilities are in use from 6 a.m. to midnight, with the arena being used most of that time.
“There are basically no breaks in the arena schedule,” said Laura Ward, equestrian studies division chair.
This means that any student “projecting” a horse, (working one-on-one with a horse outside of class for a long period of time) has to work with their horse after classes are finished anywhere from 8 to 9 p.m. A new arena will change all of this.
“With a new arena, classes will be held 8-5, and any evening classes will be by choice, not by necessity. There will be a large amount of down time for arena maintenance and extra riding,” said Ward.
“I’m sad I’m not going to be here for it,” said recent graduate Amanda Wright of Illion, N.Y.
“The new arena will have square corners, which is something that dressage riders need to know how to ride,” said Karen Pautz, dressage instructor. “I am hoping to get
mirrors put in the arena as well, and I am definitely excited about the fact that I won’t have to teach until 9 at night.”
Although the new arena will be rectangular, which is the ideal design for instructing hunter jumpers and the dressage horses, it will benefit all four of the seats the WWU equestrian division offers.
“It will give everybody more ring time,” said junior Alex Willie-Irmiter of St. Paul, Minn. “It will be fabulous.”
Currently during free-riding time—a time when the students are allowed to work with horses outside of class—if there is any bad weather, all four seats end up riding inside in the same arena.
“It gets extremely difficult for a student jogging a Saddlebred to move around a course of jumps, and when you’re worried about maneuvering an obstacle course your horse’s headset is the last thing on your mind,” Allie Layos, a freshman from New Tripoli, Pa., said.
“The new arena will allow both the horses and riders to better themselves,” said junior Jackie Ware of Duluth, Ga. Each seat will be able to concentrate on what they should be concentrating on.
Freshman hunt seat rider Nicole Kovanda, of Maplewood, Minn., said, “More space is needed; with this new arena free-riding will be both easier and safer. Free riding was hard with all four seats competing for the ring.”
Kovanda sees the difficult situation from both sides, since her first semester at WWU was spent riding saddle seat.
The finished new building will be 103 ft. by 220 ft. and will include a 90 ft. by 200 ft. riding arena. The arena will be a heated teaching arena with a small viewing space and a restroom. It is being built just south of the current arena, and 13th Street has been closed from Ewing Street to Monroe Street for this project.
Plans also call for converting a small back arena inside the western barn into an area with 23 stalls, a wash rack and tack room. The arena has had limited use because of size.
The total cost estimate of the project is $715,000. This includes all excavation, mechanical infrastructure, and the renovation of the small arena.
William Woods University has a reputation for providing one of the finest equestrian studies programs in the country—filling a national, regional and local demand for graduates holding a four-year equestrian science degree.
This demand is heightened by a thriving equine industry that contributes about $112 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product each year.
WWU, in 1972, was the first school in the country to offer a bachelor’s degree in equestrian science. A degree in equine administration was added in 1992.
The university’s equestrian facilities encompass a city block, with 128 large box stalls in four stables, two heated indoor arenas, one of which is the UPHA Arena, a lighted outdoor ring and a 40-acre cross-country riding course.
The equestrian studies program is the most popular at William Woods, with an average of 102 students majoring in equestrian science and 14 students majoring in equine administration each year for the past 10 years. The placement rate for WWU equestrian graduates is nearly 100 percent.
Breeds represented in the William Woods stable include American Saddlebreds, Appaloosas, Arabians, Morgans, National Show Horses, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Friesians and Warmbloods. The university provides instruction in saddle seat, hunt seat, dressage and western.