WWU equestrian student showing an American Saddlebred

William Woods University student Equestrians capture championships at the American Royal

Fulton, MO – Further cementing its elite status among higher education Equestrian degree programs, William Woods University (WWU) students from the university’s Equestrian Science program brought home three grand championships and one reserve grand championship in the Missouri/Kansas Division in the past week at the 2019 United Professional Horseman’s (UPHA) American Royal National Championship, held November 11-16 in Kansas City. The horses and riders were joined by six others from WWU competing at the famed competition. 

Alix Polydoros, a graduate assistant from Scottsdale, Ariz., took first in both the qualifying class and grand championship of the American Saddlebred (ASB) Three Gaited Open MO/KS classes, while riding Sir Mambo. Kaycee Reiner, a senior from Escondido, Calif., took first in both the qualifying class and grand championship of the ASB 3-Gaited Show Pleasure MO/KS classes while riding Harlem’s Flower Girl. And Hayden Neilsen, a senior from Olathe, Kan., took first in both the qualifying class and grand championship of the ASB Five Gaited MO/KS Amateur/JR Exhibitor classes while riding A Sharp Temper. These horse and rider combinations were part of a team of nine WWU Saddle Seat students showing generously donated horses at the Royal.  

For more than a quarter century, students and faculty from William Woods have competed at the American Royal, the prestigious horse and livestock show, rodeo and barbecue competition held for more than 100 years in Kansas City.

“The American Royal is considered the biggest horse show that the WWU Saddle Seat students participate in,” said Sarah Track, associate professor and Saddle Seat instructor director at William Woods. “It showcases each student’s ability to work with a horse over the course of the semester and then show the fruits of their work at a major horse show. We gratified by the stellar showing of our students at this year’s American Royal.”

Other prominent finishes for WWU students included a second place finish by senior Madeline Van Guilder of Kenyon, Minn. in the ASB 5-Gaited Show Pleasure MO/KS Amateur Championship, and a third place finish by senior Kasey Nolan of Louisville, Ky. in the ASB 5-Gaited Open MO/KS Championship. Also competing for William Woods at the Royal were junior Grace McFarland (Palos Park, Ill.), sophomore Shenia Beyer (Wheat Ridge, Colo.), junior Emily Rhodes (Olathe, Kan.) sophomore Victoria Papai (New Orleans, La.).

For more on the William Woods Equestrian program, please visit: https://www.williamwoods.edu/academics/undergraduate/programs_and_degrees/equestrian/bachelors_equestrian_science.html