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Saddle Seat World Cup Equitation Team USA Hosts a Special Evening


by Susan F. Harris


There is no shortage of things to do during the jam-packed week of the Lexington Junior League Horse Show. The US World Cup Teams kicked off the week in style by hosting a dinner for 120 people at the gracious Red Mile Clubhouse on Sunday, July 9. If riders, parents, and trainers were nervous in anticipation of the week to come, it didn’t show this evening.


Although the primary purpose of the dinner was to raise funds for the US World Cup Team, the evening was much more. In addition to team members, parents, and instructors, many supporters of international saddle seat competition were in attendance. It was easy to pick out Team USA members all wearing white dresses and red, white and blue sashes.

(l. to r.) Cydni Simmons, Ashley Alden, Rachael North, Rebekah Stover, J.J. Beck, and Eleanor Watkins

After a convivial social hour on the first level of the clubhouse, the group retired upstairs to eye an abundance of special items donated for the live and silent auctions. With pencils sharpened, they were quick to begin trying to claim their favorite silent auction items.

(l. to r.) Kristen Pettry, Donna Pettry Smith, Kim Alden, and Lynda Freseth

Even with the interest in the auction items, it wasn’t too difficult to move folks into line for the delicious buffet dinner including cooked-to-order pasta (yum!). While some were still waiting for their main course, the early birds made a beeline for the dessert table that featured a towering chocolate fountain and mouth-watering bread pudding.    

The “short but sweet” program kicked off with horse show announcer Mark Farrar serving as Master of Ceremonies. He turned the podium over to Ellen Beard who warmly thanked the UPHA and other sponsors for their much appreciated support. Event sponsors were Animal Medical Center/Dr. Rita Taylor, Fair Island Farm, Inc, Quickstop Oilube, and the Sandler/Weiner Family.


Beard also recognized key volunteers Cindy Boel, Kim Alden, Jonelle Chovanec Gardiner, Bonnie Zubrod, Laura Hunley Ritts, Nancy Becker, Leah Zubrod, Cindy Willimon, and US World Cup Executive Secretary Christy O’Donnell.

Ellen Beard, Executive Director, US Saddle Seat World Cup

Beard pointed out that Team USA won the World Cup competition in both three-gaited and five-gaited disciplines in 2004 right here in
Lexington, Ky. She expressed pride for the inroads made through World Cup competition in international exchange for showing, judging, breeding, and more within the Saddlebred industry. Saddle Seat World Cup competition started in 1996, making this year its 10th anniversary. The 2006 competition will be held in December in Parys, South Africa. Team USA is determined to retain possession of both the three-gaited and five-gaited cups.

Jonelle Chovanec Gardiner and Bryant Beltle next recognized several alumni of the competition who were in attendance. Later, Christy O’Donnell explained that it was a special treat to be able to honor the alumni. It’s inspirational for current team members to interact with the alumni and hear how their World Cup experience has impacted their lives, both on and off horses.


Jonelle Chovanec Gardiner and Bryant Beltle introduced the team members.

Each member of the two current teams was next introduced and group photos taken.

Three-Gaited Team (l. to r.) : Chuck Herbert (Team Mgr), Mandy Martin, Sarah Taylor,
Michelle Krentz, Jacqueline Beck, and Deveau Zubrod (Team Captain)

Five-Gaited Team (l. to r.): Cristina Sloan Heet (Team Captain), Ashley Alden.,

 Jamie Bender, Brooke Jacobs, Ali Judah, Cydni Simmons,

Lynda Freseth (Team Coach), Liz McBride-Jones (Team Mgr)

Both Teams Together


The live and silent auctions were enjoyable entertainment in addition to raising important funds for the World Cup mission. The high-selling item in the silent auction was round-trip shipping from Ky. to the American Royal which brought $650. It was donated by Southern Venture. An MMX saddle donated by World Champion Horse Equipment and Lillian Shively brought the live auction top price of $2,100.

Nancy Becker and Tasha Sandler (front) Maggie Camp and Alex Waller (rear)

(l. to r.) Virginia Dulworth; Don & Dottie Jacobs; Brooke, Jane & Brent Jacobs

As people were leaving, they took what might not be a last look at the two beautiful World Cup trophies. O’Donnell explained that plans are underway for the trophies to be housed and displayed at the US Equestrian Federation offices, while still in
US possession, where they will get wonderful exposure. On a final note, to emphasize just how special these trophies are, O’Donnell laughed when she said that the five-gaited trophy even had its own airline seat when the trophies were flown to the United States!

Christy Judd O’Donnell,
Executive Secretary, US Saddle Seat World Cup

To learn more about the Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup and Team USA, visit or contact Executive Secretary Christy O’Donnell at or (813) 760-0465.





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