Noted horseman and author, Smith Lilly, visits William Woods

Smith Lilly
Smith Lilly

Renowned horseman and author, Smith Lilly, spoke and conducted a two-day clinic at William Woods University last week. Sponsored by the Saddle Seat Club, Lilly discussed the history of the American Saddlebred horse, current industry topics and his opinion on the future of the breed.

“Smith Lilly is the author of the book, ‘Saddle Seat Horsemanship,’ and one of the best horsemen in the country today,” said Sarah Track, saddle seat instructor at WWU. “I use his book as the text book for the majority of my classes.”

Known and respected by his peers as a versatile and thorough horseman, Lilly brings many years of experience training show horses to the pages of “Saddle Seat Horsemanship,” the most comprehensive and detailed study available on the subject.

After developing his skills working under the direction of noted horsemen, Lilly returned to his family’s Mercer Springs Farm, which he operates along with his wife and mother as a public training stable specializing in American Saddlebreds.

From their base in Princeton, West Virginia, the Lillys have trained crowd-pleasing world champions in all divisions, including in-hand, junior and amateur riders, young horses and open grand champions. In all, they have amassed more than 100 world and reserve world titles, including World’s Grand Championships in the Five Gaited and Fine Harness divisions.

While Saddlebreds are their specialty, the Lillys have experience working with many breeds, including Morgans, Arabians, Hackneys, Friesians, National Show Horses and Standardbreds.

Renowned horseman and author, Smith Lilly instructs Joey Neuman and Steelin A Dream during a clinic at William Woods University.
Renowned horseman and author, Smith Lilly instructs Joey Neuman and Steelin A Dream during a clinic at William Woods University.

Smith Lilly was recognized by the ASHA with the prestigious C.J. Cronan Sportsmanship award in 2002 and by the UPHA with the very first Tony Ray Young Professional of the Year award for 2004. Additionally, Lilly has served on the USEF (U.S. Equestrian Federation) Rules Committee for the Saddlebred division since 2005.

On writing a book about Saddle Seat riding and training, Lilly said, “When I decided to make training show horses my life’s work, I wanted to learn as much as possible about the horse. While many books were available discussing training theories for other disciplines, precious little written information was available about show horses.

“Information on the topic was shared the truly old fashioned way, in discussions among horsemen, with young trainers learning from the master horsemen under whose tutelage they worked.”

He added, “I am indebted and eternally grateful to the men and women who have shared their knowledge of the show horse with me and hope that making this information more readily accessible servers to broaden the popularity of the sport. The majesty of the horse, fully on display in show ring competition, is truly a stirring sight worth sharing with others.”