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Stephens Equestrian Student Wins World Championship

COLUMBIA, Mo. – On Friday, Aug. 22, 2008, Stephens College junior Amanda Martin rode her four-year-old five-gaited American Saddlebred to the Junior Five-Gaited World Champion of Champions title in Louisville, Ky. Earlier in the week, on Aug. 18, Martin and her horse, The Daily Lottery, won first place in the very competitive qualifying class as well.

In addition to these wins, the 20-year-old student from Diamondhead, Miss., catch-rode Arrowhead’s Dreamcatcher for owner Deborah Butler to a win in the qualifying class of the Ladies Amateur Five-Gaited Championship on Aug. 18, and to the Reserve World Championship title in the same category, on Aug. 22.

"Mandy bested a large field of professional trainers to take top honors," says Ellen Beard, chair of the equestrian studies department at Stephens. "This was an amazing feat." Martin’s wins at the 105th World’s Championship Horse Show represent the highest honor in the Saddlebred industry for an amateur rider.

Martin, who started riding horses when she was 7 years old, has competed in The World Cup and won as a member of Team USA several times. In 2004, she helped the team win gold in the five-gaited division, and she also achieved the highest individual score in the competition. The following year she won a gold medal again as member of the invitational team in the five-gaited division. In 2006 Martin was an alternate rider for Team USA in the 3-gaited division. Although she did not compete, the team went on to win gold. Finally, in 2007, Martin rode in the three-gaited and five-gaited divisions with Team USA, which won silver in both competitions. Because The World Cup is a team competition, however, Martin describes her recent wins in the World’s Championship as a great individual honor. She enjoyed being able to compete with her own horse, nicknamed "Dan," because World Cup riders, who are strictly amateurs, are assigned to ride horses unfamiliar to them.

"Winning with my horse, Dan, and competing against professionals was a huge honor," she says.

Martin is grateful to her horse’s caretaker, P.J. Terblanche, and his trainer, Mark Turner, both of DeLovely Farm Inc., in Rockport, Ind., for their work in preparing The Daily Lottery for the show. She also credits the Stephens College equestrian studies department for its role in her success.

"The individual attention you get at Stephens gets you farther," she says. Martin, who as a freshman was able to take a horse to the American Royal Show Horse, has taken full advantage of the early opportunities she has had at Stephens to begin projecting horses, becoming responsible for their care and grooming and being able to work with them outside of class.

"As long as you’re willing to put forth the effort, you can start working directly with the horses at any level," she says. "If you’re willing to put forth the effort, you can get to the top."

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