EQS students of all ages compete in nationally-ranked Hunter/Jumper Show

The third of three high-level national and regional competitions during the month of November, the Lake St. Louis Hunter/Jumper show offered another chance for William Woods Equestrian Science students and faculty to demonstrate why the EQS program at The Woods is the most prestigious in the nation. Coming on the heels of the American Royal and Color Breed Congress, the Lake St. Louis Hunter/Jumper show is a USEF rated “A” show put on by Queenie Productions. Riders competed in Hunter and Jumper classes with competitors coming from as far away as Canada.

As with other high-level competitions, attending this one was a major commitment for EQS students that attended.

The horses were fed at six a.m., lunch at noon and dinner at six p.m. plus night checks at nine p.m.  Stalls are cleaned and horses that need it are lunged or ridden early to help prepare them for the classes each day.  Sometimes we will school at night for the next day,” said Michele Smith, Associate Professor of Equestrian Studies. “Depending who had classes and at what time, other riders helped with the schooling by assisting me with the jumps and were there to support each other when going into the ring,” she said.

Students of all years competed and helped each other prepare for the show.

“It started on Wednesday and ran through Sunday. We got there on Monday to practice schooling. If one of us was showing the rest of us will come help warm them up and then we’ll dust their boots off before they go in,” said Kate Thompson ’21.

William Woods is all about teamwork at shows. Students are expected to work together to keep their stable area clean, keep tack clean, groom horses and help each student compete to the best of their ability. Smith makes sure all her riders are working well together and working well with their horses.

“I think it really benefits us to go to A-rated shows because we keep our name on the circuits for professionals to see us, which can find you a summertime job or internship as well,” said Molly O’Connell ’22. Though just her first year with William Woods, O’Connell is already able to experience showing and getting her name in front of potential employers for the years to follow.

“We would get to the show at 7. Since we have separate hunter and jumper divisions it was easy for us to help each other. The jumpers would help get the hunters ready for their classes and the hunters would help the jumpers ready for their classes. The show would run all day long,” said Lauren Hagen’ 18.

Hagen is on the opposite spectrum on O’Connell and is graduating in December. She has been showing with William Woods over the years and has come to learn how Associate Professor Smith likes things done and how to keep the barns tidied correctly.

Sydney Englund ‘21 liked being at an A-rated show, but one close enough to home that is wasn’t overwhelming.

“For this show, it’s really nice to be getting that A show experience but not getting overwhelmed by a huge show,” said Englund. “But you’re still competing against professional riders and getting your name out there,” she said.

Just like all horse shows William Woods attends and horse shows in general, the days are busy and there can be a lot of hurry up and wait.

“It can be very fast-paced and then a lot of sitting and waiting. But there are always things to do. Your tack needs to be cleaned, your horse needs to be spotless, and stalls need to be cleaned,” O’Connell said.

“It is rewarding to see that they are prepared, what they accomplish, how they professionally conduct themselves and how they work together as a team.  It is also fun,” Smith said of taking students to these shows. “The requirement of a show of this level is discipline, time and horse management.  Also, the teamwork required to keep the aisle and horses looking good as we are a showcase for William Woods. They were all great, and I am very proud of them.”

Both in Hunter and Jumper divisions, the five riders that attended this show all brought home ribbons and were successful in their classes.