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Selection Trials at William Woods University

Editors' Note: The following is a press release from the US Equestrian Communications Department

After impressive showings at the U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup Team Trials, 12 riders were chosen to represent the United States at the 2018 Saddle Seat World Cup. Thirty-two aspiring athletes from 18 states tried out at William Woods University on Saturday. Twenty riders competed in the three-gaited section and 12 riders competed in the five-gaited. Each phase consisted of one rail ride and one pattern ride on an unfamiliar horse. After the Trials, six riders from each section were selected to the 2018 U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup Team in three-gaited and five-gaited.
2018 U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup Team (Photo Provided by Erin DesNoyers)
The riders on 2018 U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup Team are:


Lauren Arquilla (Woodridge, Ill.)
Michael Arquilla (Woodridge, Ill.)
Kaeley Arterburn (La Grange, Ky.)
Kaylee Atkinson (Oro Valley, Ariz.)
Nicole Rodriguez (Grand Blanc, Mich.)
Victoria Walz  (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.)


Joan Benjamin (New Orleans, La.)
Haley Berget (Oconomowoc, Wisc.)
Ainsley Budzinski (Mukwonago, Wisc.)
Matt Huke (Westfield, Ind.)
Anne Pateman (New Orleans, La.)
Reagan Upton (Birmingham, Ala.)

These riders will represent the United States in July 2018 during the U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup competition in Lexington, Ky.

The selection trails were judged by a five-judge panel of Michael Craghead (Fresno, Calif.), Cecile Hetzel-Dunn (Weirsdale, Fla.), Lisa Hillmer (Kearney, Mo.), Anne Judd (Lutz, Fla.), and Donna Pettry-Smith (New Lenox, Ill.). Athletes rode horses provided by William Woods University and were given only seven minutes to warm up before each rail phase. The horses were any breed or crossbreed suited for and trained in the saddle seat discipline.

The Saddle Seat World Cup is a bi-annual international competition originating in the early 1980's as an informal exchange of saddle seat riders between the United States and South Africa. Teams from as many as seven nations now compete for the coveted World Cup titles.

The U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup Team is supported by grants from the USA Equestrian Trust and the United Professional Horsemen's Association. US Equestrian is pleased to partner with ModJods to provide practice jods to members of the 2018 U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup Team. Additional contribution opportunities can be found by visiting; select U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup in the dropdown menu.

For more information about the U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup Team and the 2018 Saddle Seat World Cup, click here.

For additional information or questions regarding the Saddle Seat World Cup, please contact Lori Nelson, Senior Director of National Affiliate, Competition and Alliance Partner Relationships, by phone at (859) 225-6957 or via email at

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