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U.S. Saddle Seat Young Riders Teams Attend Final Training Sessions ahead of 2017 U.S. Saddle Seat Invitational/Test Event

by US Equestrian Communications Department | Mar 14, 2017, 2:20 PM EST

Lexington, Ky. - The U.S. Saddle Seat Young Riders Teams attended their second training sessions at Cascade Stables in New Orleans, La., and Avalon Riding Academy in Lutz, Fla., in preparation for the 2017 U.S. Saddle Seat Invitational/Test Event. It afforded riders the opportunity to continue preparing for competition by riding multiple horses unfamiliar to them, just as they will at the Invitational/Test Event, April 3-6, 2017 in Perry, Ga.

The Stripes Team training session was held January 6-8, 2017 at Cascade Stables. Team practice led by coaches Devon Garone, Kristin Logan, and Christy Parker began Saturday with both three-gaited and five-gaited sections doing rail and pattern work, along with other drills on multiple horses.

The following team members were in attendance and gained insight from Garone, Logan, and Parker:

The Stripes Team (Catching Happy)


Frannie Gefke (Brooklyn, Wis.)

Raven Gropp (Augusta, Ga.)

Jacquelyn King (Tyler, Texas)

Joseph Plunkett (Tucson, Ariz.)

Nicole Rodriguez (Grand Blanc, Mich.)

Victoria Walz (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.)



Emily Hopp (Bellevue, Neb.)

Matt Huke (Westfield, Ind.)

Anne Pateman (New Orleans, La.)

Holly Sarette (Goffstown, N.H.)

Lindsay Slemmons (Birmingham, Ala.)

Jade Woods (Altoona, Iowa)


“Both team practices were very productive and beneficial for coaches and team members. We have been able to test skills and adaptability, and discover strengths and weaknesses in order to best match riders to horses,” Garone said. “These riders are very talented and driven; we are excited to showcase their ability!”

“Our team had great practices in both North Carolina and Louisiana,” Parker said. “Our riders are very adaptable and extremely hard workers. The team comradery is very strong and wonderful to witness. All our riders have been working really hard this winter, riding a wide variety of horses and are well-prepared for the competition next month!”

The Stars Team training session was held March 3-5, 2017 at Avalon Riding Academy.  The Team practice was led by coaches Avery Bul, Scott Matton, and Michelle McVey Haisch and followed a similar schedule to the Stripes Team training session. 

The following team members were in attendance and gained insight from Bul, Matton, and McVey Haisch:

The Stars Team (Betty Tucker)


Grace Allison (Ringoes, N.J.)

Michael Arquilla (Woodridge, Ill.)

Lora Becker (Sac City, Iowa)

Ellie Grosspietsch (Cross Plains, Wis.)

Audra Lee (Binghamton, N.Y.)

Hallie Ricci (Allentown, N.J.)



Cecelia Bolka (Dayton, Ohio)

Ainsley Budzinski (Mukwonago, Wis.)

Madison Kobylski (Asbury, N.J.)

Olivia Schumacher (Sergeantsville, N.J.)

Téa Snider (Carmel, Ind.)

Madeleine Wood (Edmond, Okla.)

“Both training sessions went great. The practices gave me and the other coaches a good look at each kid to see what their strongest assets as a rider are. At both sessions, the kids got to ride multiple horses and the coaches really got to see how the kids adjust to each horse, while maintaining their calmness and composure,” Bul said. “The practices really help the kids come together as a team and get to know each other, which I believe is one of the best parts of this program. Riding is a very individual sport, and being on the team gives these kids the opportunity to have the best of both worlds - riding and being a part of a team.”

“We have a very strong Three- and Five-Gaited team for the U.S. Young Riders Stars Team,” McVey Haisch said enthusiastically. “Both teams have practiced and progressed immensely since the first practice. We are excited to show up for the Invitational in Perry, Ga., the first week in April as the "Stars" of the show.”

The next time these athletes meet will be at the 2017 U.S. Saddle Seat Invitational/Test Event in April. 

The 2017 U.S. Saddle Seat Young Riders Team efforts are supported by the USA Equestrian Trust and the United Professional Horsemen’s Association.  The USEF is pleased to partner with American Jods, who supplied practice jods for the 2017 U.S. Saddle Seat Young Riders Teams. Additional support has been generously provided by Elisabeth Goth, Jack & Debra King, the Walz Family, and multiple patron and stall donors. 

For more information about the U.S. Saddle Seat Young Riders Teams, 2017 U.S. Saddle Seat Invitational/Test Event, or for a complete list of our supporters, go to www.usasaddleseatworldcup.org.

For additional information or questions regarding the Saddle Seat Young Riders Teams, please contact Lori Nelson, Senior Director of National Affiliate, Competition and Alliance Partner Relationships, at (859) 225-6957 or at [email protected].