Olympic Gold Medalist to Speak at WWU’s Equestrian Academic Showcase

United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) President and Olympic Gold Medalist David O’Connor will be the featured speaker and clinician at William Woods University’s equestrian academic showcase Oct. 29 and 30.

Prospective students from Maine, South Carolina, New Mexico and California are among those who have registered to attend the two-day event, which is being planned for high school students interested in studying for careers in the equestrian industry.

O’Connor is perhaps best known for bringing home the first Eventing Olympic Gold Medal for the United States in more than a quarter of a century when he clinched the individual Eventing championship at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney with the best score in Olympic history.

He has competed internationally for the United States Equestrian Team since the late 1980s, earning three Olympic Medals, one of every color; two Pan American Games Medals, and two World Championships.

Aboard his equally famous partners, Giltedge and Custom Made, O’Connor compiled a list of awards too numerous to mention, and was named Equestrian of the Year by USEF—the national governing body of equestrian sports—for which he now serves as president.
Another highlight of the weekend will be a “parade of disciplines” on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. in the large indoor arena, featuring students and horses from dressage, hunter/jumper, saddle seat and western concentrations.

Current WWU equestrian students will model appropriate lesson and show riding attire and answer questions about their studies, and an overview of equine scholarship opportunities will be presented. Also planned are barn and campus tours.

O’Connor will speak about the Equine Industry Saturday evening after the dinner buffet. He will also conduct a riding and jumping clinic all day Saturday and Sunday for pre-registered participants.

William Woods University, 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 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.

The university’s equestrian facilities encompass a city block, with 128 large box stalls in four stables, two heated indoor arenas, a lighted outdoor ring and a 40-acre cross-country riding course.

Breeds represented in the William Woods stable include American Saddlebreds, Appaloosas, Arabians, Freisians, Morgans, National Show Horses, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods. The university provides instruction in saddle seat, hunt seat, dressage and western.

The equestrian studies program is the most popular at William Woods, with 247 students either majoring or minoring in equestrian science or equine administration this year. The placement rate for WWU equestrian graduates is nearly 100 percent.

Students interested in attending the equestrian academic showcase should contact the WWU Office of Admissions at (573) 592-4221 or admissions@williamwoods.edu. Registration deadline is Oct. 14.