Every other year the top saddle seat equitation riders in the country converge on William Woods University’s stables to participate in the United States Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup Team Trials.
This year, the trials were held at WWU March 26-28. The top five riders in each division (three-gaited and five-gaited), as well as two alternates, are selected to represent the United States in the World Cup.
The 2010 Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup Finals will be held at the Kentucky Fall Classic in Shelbyville, Ky., Oct. 6-8. The team will compete against Canada, Namibia, South Africa and Great Britain.
Selected for the five-gaited team were Jacqueline Beck, Brittany Baird, Ali Judah, Scooter Scheurich and Drew Taylor Hewitt, with Cyd Simmons as alternate. Scheurich plans to enter WWU as a freshman in the fall.
Chosen for the three-gaited team were Jessica Moctezuma, Brittany McGinnis, Abby Mutrux, Alexis Muniz and Nick Maupin, with Taylor Newton as alternate.
The trials were first held at William Woods University in 1996. WWU was chosen because it had the space, the students to run the event and, most of all, it had the horses.
Since each applicant rides four horses for the three-gaited competition alone, there had to be dozens available, allowing for back-ups. The horses are also unfamiliar to the riders, which helps make the competition fair.
WWU students 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.