Spirit, a 5-year-old Morgan gelding owned by William Woods University, won the Morgan Grand National and World Championship Open Jumper last week in Oklahoma City.
“WWU has never won a world championship in the jumper division at the Morgan Grand National World Championship show, so this win was huge for us,” Linda McClaren, assistant professor of equestrian science, said.
To win the event, Spirit competed all week in the Jumper classes, winning every class he entered. Betsy Irvin, a senior from Ballwin, Mo., rode Spirit to the wins. Irvin is training Spirit to become one of WWU’s future stars as part of her Mentor-Mentee honors research project with McClaren.
Spirit is quite unique. He is a buckskin, which is an unusual color for a Morgan horse. He was donated as a 4-year-old to WWU and his background was in saddle seat. He showed more of an aptitude for jumping than for saddle seat, so the hunter/jumper students took on the task of training him. Irvin has done most of the work with him.
According to McClaren, “He is a precocious little horse who acts like he knows everything there is to know about jumping (never mind that he never did it before coming to William Woods). He acts like he does not think he needs Betsy to pilot him around, but she does a good job of getting him to think that doing it her way is his idea. This is a good thing, since Betsy can read the course diagrams better than he can.”
For winning the world championship, Spirit and Irvin brought home ribbons, a trophy halter, a trophy cooler and plaque, and prize money.