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Meet the Team for the 2020 Saddle Seat World Cup

by Kathleen Landwehr | Nov 3, 2020, 1:23 PM EST

The 2020 Saddle Seat World Cup was one of many competitions affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally scheduled to take place July 19-25 in Parys, South Africa, the U.S. Saddle Seat Team withdrew from the competition in April in an effort to prioritize the safety and well-being of the athletes. Despite the unfortunate outcome, the team members remained proud to have been selected to represent their country at the international level. US Equestrian is pleased to introduce the athletes and coaches and to share some of their insights from their time as saddle seat equitation competitors.

 

Making the World Cup Team is a competitive process. Out of the 46 applications received for the 2020 team, 32 were granted spots at the Trials Event in December 2019, where, through the random horse draw process, they demonstrated their abilities to ride any horse through both rail and pattern classes. From the Trials Event, six three-gaited riders and six five-gaited riders were chosen to represent the United States in the 2020 Saddle Seat World Cup.

 

Even though the 2020 event was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, these individuals have proven that they are leaders within their discipline of saddle seat equitation. We appreciate their dedication and hard work to achieving their goals and recognize them for their efforts.

 

Alayna Applegate (Howard Schatzberg)

Alayna Applegate

Age 16

Ewing, Ky.

 

How long have you been working towards the goal of making the World Cup team?

“Being on the World Cup team has been a dream of mine since I started showing Saddlebreds when I was seven. I have always looked up to the members on the team, and it was so nice to follow in their footsteps.”

 

What advice would you give other riders trying to meet the same goal?

“My advice would be to dream big; nothing is ever impossible. Hard work can get you anywhere you want to go.”

 

What were you looking forward to most about the 2020 World Cup event?

“I was most looking forward to getting to compete with such an amazing group of riders on the team, getting to know each individual teammate better, and, of course, traveling to South Africa for the first time.”

 

What is your best piece of advice about general horse care or riding tips?

“Always help out in the barn; do whatever you can do to absorb as much information as possible. The more knowledge you have, the better horse person you will be. You can never have enough knowledge.”

 

What is your favorite memory with horses?

“One of my favorite memories with horses was competing on the 2019 Young Riders Team. We had such a great time in New Orleans, and, of course, winning the double gold medals made everything even more fun!”

 

 

Haley Berget (Howard Schatzberg)

Haley Berget

Age 19

Oconomowoc, Wis.

 

What is your favorite saddle seat memory?

“My favorite saddle seat memories would definitely be the entire year of 2018! It started from the moment I was told I would be riding the amazing Park mare Brookhill’s Passion Punch, a.k.a. Leila, in equitation, then competing in the Saddle Seat World Cup on the Five-Gaited U.S. Team where we won gold! With the year culminating where all of our hard work paid off when I was crowned the 2018 Saddle Seat Equitation Triple Crown Champion on my partner CH-EQBrookhill’s Passion Punch!”

 

How long have you been working towards the goal of making the World Cup team?

“I have been working towards and dreamed about being on the World Cup Team for years, but I took that dream one step further in 2015. As a family we decided if I was going to be fully committed to advancing my riding it would be best for me to move to online schooling. With an online high school platform, it allowed me the availability to increase my training on diverse horses, compete at more shows, work at the barn and at academy shows, and, ultimately, immerse myself in the Saddlebred horse industry in any way that I could.”

 

What advice would you give other riders trying to meet the same goal?

“My advice to younger riders would be to set a goal, be dedicated to learning and be teachable, listen to the horse, work hard every time you ride, and believe that nothing is impossible.”

 

How have you continued your training during this COVID pandemic?

“During Wisconsin’s pandemic lockdown I worked on keeping myself in shape by running and lifting weights at home, but as soon as the restrictions began to be lifted, I started riding again at Knollwood and Hollow Haven. I also began cycling at an indoor cycling studio to further stay in shape.”

 

Who was your favorite horse to compete on and why?

“During my junior exhibitor years, I had the opportunity to show well over 20 different horses, whether from my home barn of Knollwood or from a multitude of catch rides from various barns across the nation. These experiences and challenges prepared me for what would make dreams come true. My favorite horse to show would definitely be CH-EQBrookhill’s Passion Punch. She was fresh out of the Park division and had not shown in equitation. In 2018, Leila was in need of a rider and I was in need of a horse. Scott and Carol [Matton] had their trust in me and I in them! I was honored to be chosen to show this grand, beautiful, and feisty mare. We learned from each other and gained confidence together throughout the season to heights I never thought possible. Our growth together and trust in each other allowed us to make my wildest dreams come true.”

 

Ella Hampton (Howard Schatzberg)

Ella Hampton

Age 17

Sheridan, Ind.

 

What is your favorite saddle seat memory?

“My favorite memory was in 2019 after the Senior Equitation championship class at Louisville. I had completed my pattern with my horse CHAnderson Cooper. I was so proud of him. We had come so far and to have such a great ride and pattern meant the world to me!”

 

What advice would you give other riders trying to meet make the World Cup team?

“I would tell other riders trying to make the team to not be hard on yourself. You are going to have good and bad days, and hard horses that test you. At the end of the day, you are still doing what you love. Enjoy the process because it builds who you are as a person.”

 

What is your best piece of advice about general horse care or riding tips?

“My number one advice is to love what you are doing. If you love what you are doing, you’ll enjoy it more and take pride in it.”

 

What were you looking forward to most about the 2020 World Cup event?

“I was looking forward to being able to compete with some of the best riders in the country and challenge myself with whatever horses I drew.”

 

What is your favorite memory with horses?

“My favorite memory with horses is traveling to the shows. I love helping work the shows and taking care of my horses along with showing them! It’s something I’ll cherish forever!”

 

 

Makayla James (Courtesy of Makayla James)

Makayla James

Age 20

Smithfield, Ky.

 

What is your favorite saddle seat memory?

“I have to say my favorite saddle seat memory is being part of the 2019 Saddle Seat Young Riders Team. Both the Three- and Five-Gaited Teams won double gold, and it was truly the best week ever. I made so many lifelong friends that I am still very close with. It was an honor to compete with and against so many great riders.”

 

How long have you been working towards the goal of making the World Cup team?

“Ever since I was a little kid, I have dreamed of being a part of the World Cup Team. I remember seeing pictures of the past teams and watching videos and thinking, ‘I want to do that!’”

 

What advice would you give other riders trying to meet the same goal?

“You can do anything you set your mind to! Never give up, and always work hard. There will be tough moments, bad rides, and rough shows, but that is just a part of it. No dream is too big, no matter who you are or your experience level, you got this. As Walt Disney once said, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it!’”

 

How did you feel when you made the team?

“When I made the team, I was so unbelievably excited that one of my biggest dreams had come true. What an amazing feeling to have your hard work pay off! I also felt extremely blessed and grateful for everyone who has helped me get to where I am and given me opportunities to work, ride, and show.”

 

Who was your favorite horse to compete on and why?

“I have been blessed to show many different amazing horses, but I have to say my favorite horse to show was my very first horse J.W. Crew. I got him when I was seven years old, and he taught me so many lessons about not only riding, but about life. Although he has since passed, I still use things he taught me, and I cherish the great memories we have together.”

 

Audra Lee (National Horseman)

Audra Lee

Age 18

Binghamton, N.Y.

 

What is your favorite saddle seat memory?

“My favorite saddle seat memory easily has to be taking reserve in the AMHA Saddle Seat Medal back in 2017. It was one of the deepest classes in which I have ever competed. When they announced my name for second place, it was a complete shock! This class was also the most fun I ever had showing my wonderful mare, CBMF Random Hearts.”

 

What advice would you give other riders trying to make the World Cup team?

“I would tell other riders who are working towards this goal to never shy away from a difficult horse. There have been many times throughout my career where my trainer gave me one of two options: I can train and fix this horse for you to show or you and I can work together. Every time I have picked the second option and, by doing so, it has shaped me into the rider I am today.”

 

What is your best piece of advice about general horse care or riding tips?

“Stretch before you ride, especially if you are about to show in an equitation class.”

 

What were you looking forward to most about the 2020 World Cup event?

“I was really looking forward to having the once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to South Africa with an amazing group of people and to have the chance to compete on some really nice horses.”

 

Who was your favorite horse to compete on and why?

“My favorite horse to compete on has to be CBMF Random Hearts. Since I had been riding her since I was 10, I know her like the back of my hand and as soon as I hit the saddle, it feels like home.”

 

Alayna LoCascio (By Ashleigh Wood for The Morgan Horse)

Alayna LoCascio

Age 14

Dayton, Ohio

 

What is your favorite saddle seat memory?

“My favorite saddle seat memory was winning the Morgan Saddle Seat Triple Crown. It was an absolute dream comes true.”

 

How long have you been working towards the goal of making the World Cup team?

“I have always dreamed of being on the World Cup team. I became very focused on making the team several years ago and dedicated myself to working hard towards that goal.”

 

What is your best piece of advice about general horse care or riding tips?

“My best advice is to listen to your trainers and instructors because they offer so much knowledge.”

 

What were you looking forward to most about the 2020 World Cup event?

“I was most looking forward to traveling to South Africa to compete with my team. I was also excited to see friends from the South African Team who I had met while I was a member of the USEF Young Riders Team.”

 

What is your favorite memory with horses?

“I have a lot of favorite horse memories. One that comes to mind is being on the USEF Young Riders Team. I loved riding different horses and I loved how our mutual love for horses created lifelong bonds with my teammates.”

 

Hailey Miller (Courtesy of Hailey Miller)

Hailey Miller

Age 16

Nicholasville, Ky.

 

What is your favorite saddle seat memory?

“My favorite saddle seat memory would have to be the first time I saw a Saddlebred showing, and it was at the World’s Championship Horse Show when I was 7. It is my favorite saddle seat memory because it was the first time I saw a horse and rider work together to accomplish such a goal. It was almost magical to me to see a horse put a smile of pure joy on people’s faces of every age from everywhere. I have countless favorite memories of my saddle seat journey, but this one stood out because it was what made me dream of having a Saddlebred of my own to show with.”

 

What is your best piece of advice about general horse care or riding tips?

“My advice for general horse care is to treat every horse with respect as if it were your own and always take into account their personalities.”

 

What were you looking forward to most about the 2020 World Cup event?

What I was most looking forward to about the 2020 World Cup event was getting the opportunity to be on a team with such amazing athletes working together and learning from each other to win the gold medals. Another aspect of World Cup I was excited for was going to such an amazing location and being able to ride new horses, as well meeting other teams.”

 

What is your favorite memory with horses?

“My favorite memory with horses was when my horse Miner’s Blessing got his first RWCC title in the 17 and under park class. That was such a special class to me because we had such a fun class together, but then to get Reserve in the championship was what made it my favorite moment with him.”

 

What is your favorite game to play while on horseback?

“My favorite fun activity to play while riding is doing no stirrup competitions at the barn. It is fun to do with a bunch of people to see who can last longest, which is entertaining and always fun.”

 

Mia Provenzano (Dana Steinecker Photography)

Mia Provenzano

Age 17

Elmhurst, Ill.

 

What is your favorite saddle seat memory?

“My first time showing at the World Championship Horse Show in the 13 and under division. The entire experience was unforgettable!”

 

What is your best piece of advice about general horse care or riding tips?

“Treat every horse you ride like it is your own. I like to make sure my horses are extremely clean and well cared for, and all horses should experience the same level of care. One of my riding tips is to push yourself outside of your comfort zone because that’s how you will become a more skilled rider. Also, be patient, both with your horse and yourself.”

 

What were you looking forward to most about the 2020 World Cup event?

“I was looking forward to spending time with the team and, of course, representing the U.S. I was also very excited to visit South Africa and ride some new horses!”

 

What is your favorite memory with horses?

“My favorite memory was getting my first show horse, The Crescendo, a.k.a. Ernie, who I still compete with today.”

 

What is your favorite game to play while on horseback?

“Bareback relays!”

 

 

Laney Simpson
(Howard Schatzberg)

Laney Simpson

Age 19

Tampa, Fla.

 

What is your favorite saddle seat memory?

“Winning my first saddle seat equitation championship. It was the first time I have ever felt as if I became one with my horse, and our hard work paid off.”

 

How long have you been working towards the goal of making the World Cup team?

“When I was 12 years old, one of my first instructors, Carly Duggar, introduced to me what the World Cup was, and what it meant to be on the team. She was a huge inspiration of mine and, ever since then, it became my dream to be on this team.”

 

What advice would you give other riders trying to meet the same goal?

“Never ever give up. I once thought it was a far stretch, but when I put my heart into it, and surrounded myself with people who believed in me, that dream became a reality.”

 

What is your best piece of advice about general horse care or riding tips?

“Treat every horse equally, no matter if they are the lunge pony that lives outside or a world champion, treat them all with the best care and respect, and they’ll give the same in return. Be optimistic, they ALL have something different to teach.”

 

What is your favorite memory with horses?

“My favorite memory was hands down purchasing my first horse, Majestic’s Trust Me. I had waited my whole life to be blessed with such a special horse.”

 

Emma Tuleu (Courtesy of Emma Tuleu)

Emma Tuleu

Age 18

New Orleans, La.

 

What is your favorite saddle seat memory?

“That would be hard to pick, but either making the World Cup team or being Reserve World’s Champion.”

 

What advice would you give other riders trying to make the World Cup team?

“Keep working hard and never give up. It may be stressful, but try and enjoy the process and try and learn everything that you can to become a stronger rider.”

 

What is your best piece of advice about general horse care or riding tips?

“Be open to taking instruction and work on your weakest points. Try and ride as much as you can and enjoy every minute of it because it’s supposed to be fun!”

 

What were you looking forward to most about the 2020 World Cup event?

“I was looking forward to riding new horses and spending time with the team. Also, to get to go to a completely new continent!”

 

Who was your favorite horse to compete on and why?

“Definitely the horse I have had for the past five years, Fox Grape’s Dream Merchant (“Guppy”). He’s always fun and keeps me on my toes.”

 

Ryan Visser (Courtesy of Ryan Visser)

Ryan Visser

Age 17

Lexington, Ky.

 

What is your favorite saddle seat memory?

“My favorite saddle seat memory is the day-to-day life at the barn. I love watching my dad work horses. The process is fascinating to me, and I believe it’s the best way to get to know the animals.”

 

What advice would you give other riders trying to make the World Cup team?

“I would say not to give up and never lose confidence. It can be hard to stay proud of your abilities after not making the team but how you bounce back is a big deal. Always be open to instruction and try again!”

 

What is your best piece of advice about general horse care or riding tips?

“A general riding tip of mine would be to avoid psyching yourself out. The great thing about riding is it truly is reacting based on what you feel. If you get too in your head, you tend to not trust what you are feeling from your horse.”

 

What were you looking forward to most about the 2020 World Cup event?

“I was looking forward to making memories with the team. At the same time, my dad’s entire side of the family lives in South Africa, so I was also looking forward to seeing them at the competition.”

 

Who was your favorite horse to compete on and why?

“My favorite horse to compete on was WGC WCC Lady Mandolin. When she first hit the ring, it felt like she was floating and she never put an ear back. It was an unexplainable feeling and she helped me grow in exponential ways, both on and off her back.”

 

Victoria Walz (Lila Tatar) 

Victoria Walz

Age 21

Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

 

What is your favorite saddle seat memory?

“One of my favorite saddle seat memories is having an undefeated Louisville in my last junior exhibitor year in 2017.”

 

How long have you been working towards the goal of making the World Cup team?

“I first heard about the World Cup team in 2013 when my friend Lila Tatar was on the Young Riders team. I was able to attend the competition at William Woods and from there began to dream of being on one of the teams. I have since then been fortunate enough to have been a part of the 2015 and 2017 USEF three-gaited young riders team and the 2018 three-gaited world cup team.”

 

What advice would you give other riders trying to meet the same goal?

“My advice to any rider who dreams of being part of the World Cup team is to work hard and ride as many horses as they can.”

 

What is your best piece of advice you give about general horse care or riding tips?

“Listen to your horse; they tell you what they need and from there it’s your job to help them succeed.”

 

What is your favorite memory with horses?

“One of my favorite memories is winning the AMHA Hunt Seat Medal in 2015 on my horse Kingsgrove Dynasty, who was originally my eight and under walk and trot saddle seat horse.”

 

Coaches

Katie Case (Courtesy of Katie Case)

Any U.S. team needs coaches to help the athletes rise to the occasion on the international stage, and the U.S. Saddle Seat Team was no different. Katie Case and Pam Roush were poised to coach the team in 2020.

 

Katie Case

Simpsonville, Ky.

 

Katie Case took her first riding lesson from Helen Robertson when she was six years old, then had her seventh birthday party at the Kentucky State Fair World’s Championship Horse Show and was hooked. Case graduated from William Woods University with a bachelor’s degree in equestrian science with a minor in education. She wanted to train and teach and began her career after graduation. Case runs ShowCase Stables LLC at Reiser Stables in Simpsonville, Ky. 

 

 

Pam Roush (Courtesy of Pam Roush)

Pam Roush

Lutz, Fla.

 

Pam Roush started her riding career before kindergarten when her mom took lessons and she begged to ride, too. She showed equitation as young rider, where she developed a love of the details and patterns. Roush graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in communications, then went right back to working horses and eventually opened Avalon Stables in Lutz, Fla., in 1995. For the last 25 years, she has coached riders and trained horses from her farm and has loved every minute.