WWU to host International Saddle Seat Invitational

By Rebekah Savage ’14

William
Woods University students this year have the rare opportunity to work beside
the newly formed U.S. Saddle Seat Young Rider team. On April 4-6, saddle seat
riders from three countries will compete in the International Saddle Seat
Invitational, being held at William Woods for the first time.

Saddle
seat riders from the United States and South Africa will represent their
countries in the three- and five-gaited divisions. Riders from Canada will
represent their country in the three-gaited division.
 
The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF)
formed the U.S. Saddle Seat Young Rider Team to develop riders for future U.S.
Saddle Seat World Cup competitions. During years that the Saddle Seat World Cup
competition is not held, members of the Young Rider Team will be eligible to
represent the United States in other international competitions.
 
According
to the rules, members of the Young Rider team must be between 22-13 years of
age. In actuality, the riders chosen this year are between 14 and 19. Because
this is an invitational competition, the riders were selected by a committee
and did not try out for the team. Sixty applications were received and, after
an extensive review, 12 riders were selected to represent the United States.
 
Although
this is the first year for William Woods University to host the International
Saddle Seat Invitational, the university has hosted the United States Saddle
Seat Equitation World Cup Team Trials every other year since 1996.
 
During
the years the cup is not held, an international competition is held in its
place. In December 2011, two WWU students, Murphy McSemek and Alyssa Wick, earned
gold representing the United States in a Saddle Seat Invitational in South
Africa.
 
WWU
saddle seat students will groom for the riders in the invitational. Each
student will be assigned a horse, and will work and get paid as a groom.
 
Kristen
Cuneo, a WWU junior, was a groom during the United States Saddle Seat Equitation
World Cup Team Trials last spring, and plans to groom again during the
invitational in April.
 
“It
will be basically the same as last year; however these riders have already made
the team, so the final competition is to be held here at WWU. I am looking
forward to grooming at the International Saddle Seat Invitational because you
get to watch great riders show off their skills on our WWU donated horses.”
 
Cuneo
also enjoys watching how the riders adjust to riding a horse they’ve never
ridden.
 
“It’s
a lot of fun watching them pick a warm up for the horse they have drawn, as
well as how they go about their rail and pattern work.”
 
Sarah
Track, clinical instructor of saddle seat at WWU, is looking forward to the
competition.
 
“I
am thrilled to be able to have the international element here on campus; it
will be great exposure for the school. People will experience the campus and
see the school. It’s a big deal. This has been really great for William Woods.”
 
Selected
for the U.S. Saddle Seat Young Rider Teams were:
 
Three-gaited
Caroline
Cherry, age 15, Encinitas, Calif.
Courtney McGinnis, age 15, Fishers, Ind.
Allison Schuh, age 18, Seymour, Wis.
Kristen Smith, age 19, Crestwood, Ky.
Lila Tatar, age 16, El Cajon, Calif.
Mary Mag Wilson, age 16, Scottsdale, Ariz. (alternate)
 
Five-gaited
Katherine
Bosworth, age 16, Greenville, S.C.
Emily Gutenkunst, age 17, Pewaukee, Wis.
Eleanor Rainbolt-Forbes, age 14, Oklahoma City, Okla.
William Nalty, age 14, Metairie, La.
Marjorie Townsend, age 17, Kansas City, Mo.
Shelby Hader, age 16, Menomonee Falls, Wis. (alternate)