2012 U.S. Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup Team
Among the largest grants awarded by USA Equestrian Trust in 2011 was $25,000 to the United States Equestrian Federation to benefit the 2012 U.S. Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup Team, which won gold medals in the international competition.
The grant helped reduce the athletes’ participation costs, one of many exciting changes to the program by USEF.
USEF assumed responsibility in 2011 for fielding and supporting the team, which vies for the International Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup. The bi-annual competition originated in the early 1980s with an informal exchange of Saddle Seat riders in the United States and South Africa and was named the Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup in 1992. Originally a three-gaited Saddle Seat Equitation showcase, it has expanded to include a five-gaited component as well. Teams from as many as five nations now compete for the coveted World Cup titles. The 2012 competition was held in early December in South Africa. After the days of intense competition, the U.S. teams were honored with the gold medals during the closing ceremonies. Cheering them on were nearly 40 supporters from the United States who had traveled with the teams.
“This is what USEF does,” said Federation President David O’Connor. “It just makes sense for us to be involved with this.”
One of the goals of USEF’s involvement is to encourage more participation from as many as six of the organization’s recognized breed groups — Andalusian, Arabian, Friesian, Morgan, National Show Horse and Saddlebred. To bolster interest in participating, USEF created a promotional video shown at various competitions and national championships.
In the past, the riders who qualified for the Saddle Seat World Cup Team were required to provide at least $5,000 of their own funds toward participating. With the Trust’s grant, that amount was cut in half to make joining the team more accessible to riders of all financial backgrounds.
2012′s three-gaited members:
- Brooke Boyer, 15, Johnston, Iowa
- Brooke Jacobs, 31, Georgetown, Ky.
- Alexandra Lawson, 18, North Salem, Ind.
- Abigail Mutrux, 16, Saint Louis, Mo.
- Emily Chapman, 17, Tucson, Ariz.
- Kristen Smith, 18, Smithfield, Ky. (alternate)
2012′s five-gaited members:
- Hunter Chancellor, 16, Evansville, Ind.
- Angela Darrow, 20, Hartland, Wis.
- Drew Taylor Hewitt, 16, Advance, N.C.
- Ali Judah, 22, Louisville, Ky.
- Nick Maupin, 18, Sussex, Wis.
- Rachel Rafolski, 20, Brunswick, Ga. (alternate)
Among USEF’s accomplishments in its first year of coordinating the U.S. team was announcing the application process months ahead of the typical schedule. An online application process was also created to save prospective riders the time of making copies that were previously required to be submitted to multiple parties. The selection process was revised to involve a committee who met in person to review the applications together in an effort to provide a more fair opportunity for riders to be evaluated.
Looking toward the future, the U.S. Saddle Seat Committee is also considering a new proposal that would add a junior / developing / invitational team. This group would represent the United States in invitations or other similar competitions against the other countries during the off year. It would also provide additional experience to some riders who are not quite ready for the trials or who may have just missed the cut for them.