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Morgan Riders Encouraged to Apply for World Cup

The application period for the 2004 US Saddle Seat World Cup Teams has begun. Applications are now available for riders interested in pursuing an opportunity to qualify for the teams that will represent the United States at the 2004 International Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup event. The prestigious international competition will be held October 6-9, 2004, in conjunction with the Kentucky Fall Classic Horse Show at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.

Morgan riders are strongly encouraged to apply for the 2004 team. The purpose of the Saddle Seat World Cup is to promote the discipline of Saddle Seat Equitation on an international level. The diverse breed affiliations involved in Saddle Seat Equitation in the United States create the unique opportunity to draw from an expanded pool of top riders. Horses from the Saddlebred, Morgan, Arabian and National Show Horse breeds will be used in the competition. Riders who have competed in the Morgan industry have been quite successful throughout World Cup history. In the first multi-national International Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup event in 1996, two riders from the Morgan world were outstanding representatives for the United States. Georgia Hunter was a member of the gold-medal winning US team and had the additional honor of being named the High-Point rider for the event. Jennifer Green served as an alternate for the 1996 team and later represented the United States in invitational competition in South Africa in 1999. Just last fall, Kristen Ahern turned in fantastic performances as a member of the 2002 US Saddle Seat World Cup Three-Gaited team. Ahern, who was nominated as a finalist by the AMHA, was the highest scoring rider at the 2002 US Team Selection Trials. A minimum of two riders from the Morgan breed will have the opportunity to compete for a position on the three-gaited team when the US Team Selection Trials are held March 12-14, 2004, at William Woods University in Fulton, Mo. Susie Sessink, winner of the UPHA Morgan Challenge Cup Senior Finals at the 2003 Morgan Grand National, has earned an automatic bid to the trials as a result of her win. In addition, the AMHA will have the opportunity to nominate one additional rider to receive an automatic bid.

A total of 20 finalists will compete to become one of five team members or an alternate for the US Three-Gaited team. Up to 11 finalists will have earned their bids to the trials by winning one of several designated qualifying finals or by virtue of a breed association nomination. The remaining finalists for the three-gaited team will be chosen from a pool of applicants. In addition, 10 finalists will compete for the honors of Five-Gaited Team membership. One automatic bid for this team will be extended to the winner of a designated five-gaited equitation event while the remaining nine finalists are chosen from a pool of applicants. Riders may apply for both the three and five-gaited teams, but must submit separate application materials and fees for each team. In addition, in the event a rider qualifies for both teams, they may only represent the United States on one team.

Complete details, selection guidelines and application materials are available for download at the official USWC web site located at Deadline for receipt of completed application packets is 9 p.m. EST on Dec. 1, 2003. Interested applicants must submit completed applications, a $100 non-refundable application fee, an essay, letters of reference, videotape and two photographs. Applicants must be 14 years of age on Jan. 1, 2004, but there is no maximum age for applicants. In addition, all riders must maintain current amateur certification by USA Equestrian to be eligible.

The US Team Selection Trials will consist of two days of competition during which riders will complete two rail sessions, two individual patterns and one personal interview. Scoring will be equally weighted among the riding portions to total 90 percent, while the interview will account for the remaining 10 percent of each rider’s total score. Teams will be announced on the final day of the trials.

For more information on the United States team selection process or the 2004 international event, including sponsorships, contributions, horse donations and volunteer opportunities, please visit the official web site or contact Executive Secretary Christy O’Donnell (e-mail at or telephone at 813-907-0648). The US Saddle Seat World Cup is a registered 501(c)(3) corporation.

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