William Woods University will host the tryouts for the Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup Friday and Saturday, March 17 and 18. Many of the top saddle seat riders in the country, including a rider from WWU, will compete for the opportunity to represent the United States in the World Cup competition next December.
The trials are free and open to the public and will be held in the equestrian science UPHA indoor arena. Both three-gaited saddle seat riders and five-gaited riders will compete. One of the five-gaited finalists is a William Woods student—Jamie Bender, a senior from Omaha, Neb.
Saddle seat equitation became a recognized international sport only a few years ago, and this year marks the sixth time a World Cup has been held. William Woods University has hosted the trials for the U.S. team each time.
For the World Cup competition, the host country supplies a pool of horses and lots are drawn so that all riders are on unfamiliar, but well schooled, horses. The riders are judged on their performance on the rail, as well as on the execution of individual work-outs.
William Woods will provide university-owned horses for the tryouts, and equestrian science students at WWU will groom the horses to get them ready for the competition.
According to Gayle Lampe, WWU professor of equestrian science, William Woods was chosen to host each of the World Cup Saddle Seat Team Final Trials because of its ability to provide suitable horses for the event and the international reputation of its equestrian science program.
WWU’s on-campus stable complex encompasses a city block with 106 large box stalls in four barns; each barn containing its own wash racks and tack rooms. The university maintains a large indoor arena and a cross country course.
Breeds represented in the William Woods stable include American Saddlebreds, Appaloosas, Arabians, Morgans, National Show Horses, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Friesians and Warmbloods.
In 1972, William Woods became the first university in the nation to offer a four-year degree in equestrian science. The university provides instruction in saddle seat, hunt seat, dressage and western.
Thirty riders, chosen from the best junior and senior amateur saddle seat equitation riders in the United States, will compete in the World Cup tryouts at William Woods. Six judges will choose the team of five riders and one alternate, using an Olympic scoring system.
The World Cup Saddle Seat Championship is an outgrowth of the successful international equitation championships that were held between South African equitation riders and U.S. riders, beginning in 1993.
In 1995, representatives from American Horse Shows Association, the United Professional Horseman’s Association, the American Morgan Horse Association, the International Arabian Horse Association and the National Show Horse Registry met and expanded the concept to create the World Cup Saddle Seat Championship.
The inaugural World Cup competition was held in Louisville, Ky., in 1996. Lampe coached the U.S. team, which won first place. Another competition was staged in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1998. Madison, Wis., was the site for the World Cup in 2000 and Lampe was one of six judges for that one. Robertson, South Africa, was the 2002 site, and in 2004 the competition was held in conjunction with the Kentucky Fall Classic Horse Show at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.
This year, the World Cup competition will be held in South Africa in December. In addition to the United States, four nations will compete–Canada, Great Britain, Namibia and South Africa.