Harrodsburg, Ky. – The U.S. Saddle Seat Teams earned podium finishes this week as the 2022 Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup came to its conclusion on Friday, July 29, at the Mercer County Fairgrounds. After a week of training, camaraderie, and competition, the U.S. team won the gold medal in the three-gaited division and bronze in the five-gaited division. This marks the sixth consecutive gold-medal win for the U.S. in the three-gaited division.
The U.S. three-gaited team was composed of six athletes from the Arabian, Morgan, and American Saddlebred circuits: Ella Hampton (Sheridan, Ind.); Bostyn Leffler (Zionsville, Ind.); Alayna Locascio (Dayton, Ohio); Jessica Manzo (Lexington, Ky.); Sophie Ouellette (Springvale, Maine); and Sophie Yih (Alamo, Calif.).
The five members of the five-gaited team were Haley Berget (Oconomowoc, Wis.); Nicole Leone (Kingston, N.H.); Mae Luce (Spring Grove, Ill.); Mia Provenzano (Elmhurst, Ill.); and Lauren Treiber (Hartland, Wis.).
Both teams were coached by the Pam Roush (Lutz, Fla.) and Katie Case (Shelbyville, Ky.) along with assistant coaches Georgia and Jimmy Morrison (Nitro, W.Va.).
World Cup competition spans over two days, and on each day, the riders compete in a railwork phase and perform an individual pattern. They ride a different horse on each day, and the horses are donated for the week by several different stables and individual owners; the competitors are paired up with horses they have never ridden prior to World Cup week. In the two days leading up to competition, the teams get one 20-minute practice session each day to briefly get to know the horses. The coaches have the option to switch horses within their teams to create optimal horse-and-rider combinations for competition.
“The teams have been fabulous,” said U.S. Team Coach Pam Roush. “We had a hard draw the first day on a couple of horses and they handled it beautifully. They came in extra early the next day, practiced those patterns [on foot], and we really got our details drilled in on day two.”
“It was fun because I got to see the riders improve from day to day,” said U.S. Team Coach Katie Case. “It is two days of practice and two days of competition. During the practice, we learned some things, and during the competition we learned some things, too. And I got to see them grow, not only as riders, but as people, too.”
The World Cup takes place once every two years and alternates between the U.S. and South Africa as host countries. As one of the only team competitions for saddle seat riders, it provides a unique and invaluable experience for all the participants.
“Going into this week, a lot of these kids knew of each other but had never officially met,” said U.S. Team Assistant Coach Jimmy Morrison. “From the moment they first met, they all clicked. It was like they were sisters. So, we knew going into it that we were going to have a good team.”
“They have developed such great relationships with other kids, not just on the U.S. team, but from the international teams,” added Morrison. “Just the overall experience and the emotions of going through the week, going through the trials of learning horses, getting past all of the difficulties, and coming out on top, is something that they’re not going to forget.”
“It is such a unique opportunity to be able to compete in the World Cup because our sport as a whole is such an individual sport,” said Case. “What I feel like our team gold really did was we gelled together as a group, and each rider brought their best to the show ring, and that’s what helped make the magic happen.”
USA Saddle Seat offers a team experience for young riders in the off years in between World Cup years. Roush encourages all interested athletes to get involved with these programs, either by applying for a team or volunteering as a groom.
“If you are a saddle seat rider and you’re interested in World Cup or Young Riders, apply, apply, apply!” said Roush. “Come and volunteer is the big thing. When you’re back here with these girls and you see how it all happens, it only boosts your confidence to go in and do it yourself.”
2022 Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup Results
- Gold: Team USA
- Silver: Team South Africa
- Bronze: Team International
- Gold: Team International
- Silver: Team South Africa
- Bronze: Team USA
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