William Woods hosts Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup Team Selection Trials

    Juliette Dill of Austin, Texas, competes for a place on the 2014 U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup Team.
Juliette Dill of Austin, Texas, competes for a place on the 2014 U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup Team.

The top saddle seat equitation riders in the country will assemble this weekend when William Woods University again hosts the United States Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup Team Selection Trials.

The trials, which are free and open to the public, will be held Saturday, Dec. 5, in the equestrian studies UPHA indoor arena at WWU. The three-gaited trials will be held 8 a.m.-1 p.m., and the five-gaited trials will be held 1:30-6 p.m. The team to represent the United States in the 2016 Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup in July in South Africa will be announced at 6:15 p.m.

Having the World Cup selection trials on campus offers a unique opportunity for William Woods University students who act as grooms for the riders and scribes for the judges. They hold the gates, work the concession stand and sell event t-shirts, as well as many other jobs behind the scenes.

“It is truly an honor to be able to host the USEF World Cup Selection Trials at William Woods,” Sarah Track, WWU Saddle Seat instructor, said. “These trials bring the Saddle Seat industry’s top riders and professionals to campus. It is great to see these current leaders in the industry interact with our students who get a chance to watch them coach their riders through such a unique situation.”

The trials were first held at William Woods University in 1996 and have been held there ever since. WWU was chosen because of its outstanding facilities, large number of saddle seat horses and students who are willing to help.

IMG_0912The International Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup is a bi-annual competition which originated in the early 1980s with an informal exchange of saddle seat athletes in the United States and South Africa.

Originally a three-gaited saddle seat equitation showcase, it has expanded to include a five-gaited component, as well. Teams from as many as five nations now compete for the coveted World Cup titles, and the goal is further growth and visibility for the saddle seat discipline on national and international levels.

The inaugural World Cup competition was held in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1996. Gayle Lampe, WWU professor emeritus of equestrian studies, coached the U.S. team, which won first place. She also was selected as one of three judges for the competition in 2000.

The event features amateur athletes 14 years of age and older who compete for individual scores that ultimately accumulate toward a total team score. The athletes compete on horses supplied by the host competition and horses they are not familiar with, which is a true test of their riding skills.

The competition consists of four segments to be completed in two phases held on different days: rail work where the athletes compete as a group, and then in individual workouts.

rider 405 Every other year, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) fields a team of 12 athletes (five forthe three- and five-gaited sections, with two alternates respectively) and two coaches to represent the United States in the International Saddle Seat World Cup competition.

One goal of USEF’s involvement is to increase participation from multiple breeds and to partner with USEF Recognized Breed Associations in the promotion and support of this event.

Janet Thompson of Columbia, Missouri, will be the announcer for the selection trials at William Woods. Judges include Kent Swalla of Columbia, Missouri, as well as Karen Homer-Brown of Georgetown, Kentucky; Ray Krussell of Richmond, Illinois; Jody La Salle of East Woodstock, Connecticut; and Matthew Roberts of Cave Creek, Arizona.

Swalla also has been chosen as one of three coaches of the 2016 U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup Team when it competes in July in South Africa. He is the owner of Glendale Stables, LLC and has more than 20 years of experience conducting one-on-one training sessions for riders.

He was a coach of the double Gold-medal winning 2015 US Young Riders Home Team and stepped in to assist with both the 2010 and 2012 Saddle Seat World Cup Teams. In 2013, Swalla was named the UPHA Equitation Instructor of the Year. He was honored as the 2011 UPHA Chapter 5 Horsemen of the Year and the 2010 MHSA Horse Person of the Year.

IMG_0921Three-Gaited participants in the selection trials at William Woods are: Aleia Brown, Dayton, Ohio; Megan Buckley, Zionsville, Indiana; Sydney Budzinski, Mukwonago, Wisconsin; Molly Codeanne, Wethersfield, Connecticut; Katelynn Cox, Custer, Michigan; Audrey Crites, Waukee, Iowa; Raven Gropp, Augusta, Georgia; Matt Huke, Westfield, Indiana; Ada Johnson, Stillwater, Minnesota; Cameron Kay, West Bloomfield, Michigan; Kristina Mauro, Carlsbad, California; Clara McCool, Newburyport, Massachusetts; Courtney McGinnis, Santa Barbara, California; Lauren Osborne, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Faith Robbins, Carmel, Indiana; Alice Rowland, Kansas City, Missouri; Kasey Saccocia, Halifax, Massachusetts; Madison Stringer, Scottsdale, Arizona; Isabella Templeton, West Des Moines, Iowa; and Victoria Walz, Rancho Santa Fe, California.

Five-Gaited participants in the selection trials at William Woods are Ashley Brandies, Jesup, Georgia; Cailin Bridges, Salisbury, Massachusetts; Abigail Kastenholz, Pewaukee, Wisconsin; Jennifer McGowan, Louisville, Kentucky; Anne Pateman, New Orleans, Louisiana; Laura Plant, Advance, North Carolina; Allie Poovey, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Eleanor Rainbolt-Forbes, Oklahoma City, Oklahona; Ashley Stewart, Pfafftown, North Carolina; Catherine Wheeler, Keswick, Virginia; Rose Marie Wheeler, Anchorage, Kentucky; and Jade Woods, Altoona, Iowa.

For more information, contact Sarah Track, WWU saddle seat instructor, at 573-592-4575 or sarah.track@williamwoods.edu.