Foxcroft's WEF Program: Reading, Riding, and Arithmetic

by Director of Riding Kate Worsham

The Foxcroft riding program had another wonderful and successful winter season in Wellington, FL, competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Many Foxcroft riders of all disciplines availed themselves of the School’s unique Exceptional Proficiency program to compete at a variety of venues outside of Virginia in the winter months. From Aiken, SC, to Gulfport, MS, and Ocala, FL, to Wellington, there were a number of riders realizing their goals through intensified training and competition experiences.
While some of these riders traveled with their families and were coached by off-campus trainers, a group of riders utilized the Foxcroft WEF program to hone their skills. This program offered Foxcroft riders a chance to train with Director of Riding Kate Worsham in Wellington during weeks 1-8 of the circuit. This season there were six current students who participated in the program as well as two alumnae. 

The core group of two freshmen, two sophomores, and two seniors all lived together with Ms. Kate and Ms. Casey in a rental house which served as the official dormitory for the program. While advancing their riding skills, the girls also learned invaluable life skills including grocery shopping, budgeting, meal preparation, fitness, scheduling their tutoring sessions, juggling time riding and studying, communicating with their friends and teachers on campus, and helping with horse care. This season there were innumerable opportunities for learning and growth of all kinds which led to a fulfilling, special, and rewarding experience. 

While doing a fabulous job keeping pace with their academics, the girls were also attentive to the details of proper riding and horse care. They had the opportunity to gain competency in many areas such as taking the horses’ temperatures, icing and bandaging legs, packing feet, giving medicated baths and monitoring the notorious Florida skin funk, cleaning sheaths, unbraiding, handling uncooperative horses on the bridle paths, learning and walking courses, and the like. 

The horsemanship skills that were discovered or refined during this experience are ones that will stay with these riders for their lifetimes. These moments were as valuable as the ones spent in the tack. When a rider was tired, sweaty, hungry, or having a tough day, the horses always came first and this group embraced this motto and consistently gave their equine partners the respect they deserve. The learning continued when they threw their leg over the saddle and focused on mounted lessons and achieving their competitive goals. It was destined to be a season of growth as the majority of the riders started the season poised to move up a division or try their hand in a ring that was new to them. They did their homework in their practice rides and all of them excelled at confidently tackling taller and more technical courses. 

With her new leased horse, Caladaro W (Spike), Georgia R. ’22 progressed from the .80 jumpers to the .95 classes. Throughout the season, she got great ribbons in the majority of her classes and finished 10th in the circuit standings in the Low Child/Adult Training Jumper division out of 52 horses. Georgia was keen to learn how to properly and accurately ride a tidy jumper track in both the first rounds and especially in the jump-off rounds. Her enthusiasm was matched by Spike’s love of his job and they really formed a solid partnership as the season progressed.

Also mounted on a new partner, Annabelle A. ’23 rode Tiberius (Tibby) to prizes in some smaller classes to get a feel for him before quickly making the transition to the Low Children’s Jumper division — a new division for Annabelle in her show career. In these classes, she learned how to manage the stride and energy of an 18-hand horse and promptly started putting in double clear rounds and earning prizes. Annabelle finished her lease with Tibby and concluded their season together on a high note with an 11th place finish in a large Classic! 

Having first explored the jumper ring in June of last year, Gigi G. ’22 confidently made her move from the training classes to the Low Children’s ring during her time at WEF. Over the course of the winter, she was able to gain some great mileage in the show ring by competing on four different horses: Casalino (Casper), Frame Loriot 371 (Loriot), Tyrol D’Anto (T), and Axel Springs (Axel). After winning an 11th place ribbon on Axel in her very first ever Low Children’s Classic, Gigi kept the ball rolling with many more placings in the Saturday classes as well as a 10th place Classic ribbon on Loriot during week 5. With an average of more than 60 horses competing in the Low Children’s classes every week, each ribbon earned was one worth celebrating! This was a season full of growth for Gigi as a rider as each horse required a slightly different ride and feel and so they all added to her toolbox of riding techniques. She is excited to continue learning the nuances of more advanced flatwork as well as applying these techniques to navigating increasingly difficult courses during competitions.

While searching for a new hunter, Elena B. ’20 had the opportunity to lease a jumper to compete in the Low Adult Jumpers. Di-Rekt (Clyde) turned out to be a phenomenal choice as he was brave, careful, fun, and ready to win! Elena earned ribbons at WEF when she leased him during week 2 and then also went on a field trip to the Ridge where she won both of her Low Adult classes over the grass course. Rounding out the season by partnering with Clyde again during week 8, Elena used what she had learned about him during her previous classes and this time brought home a second-place finish in a competitive Low Adult Classic! Combined with points earned with his owner in the irons, Elena’s finish in this classic helped Clyde finish the season ranked 12th in the circuit standings out of 79 Low Adult jumpers.

Rounding out the jumper riders was alumna Lizzie Schmidt ’19, who traveled from Oregon with her horse, Casanova 513 (Lion) to compete under the Foxcroft banner again. Although a hunter rider who started the circuit earning ribbons in the Younger Adult division, after fulfilling her goal to jump around the International Ring during WCHR week 6, Lizzie transitioned to the jumper ring and let Lion get back to his young horse roots of showjumping. They both found the striped rails, wider oxers, and interesting tracks to be to their liking and moved up to the .95 classes the final week. No doubt that sometime soon Lizzie will be posting videos from the Low Adult jumper ring!

Lizzie was one of two alumnae who rode with the Foxcroft WEF program this year; Mackenzie Harmon ’19 also joined the ranks once again by riding and competing on days that she was not in class at Lynn University. While her horse, Cassander (Cooper), is a versatile soul who can play in the hunter or jumper rings with ease, Mackenzie stuck with her first love and opted to compete with him in the hunters. With ribbons in the Younger Adults and then later in the Younger Amateur Owner classes, Mackenzie solidly found her footing successfully balancing life as a college student with her competitive riding aspirations. Like Lizzie, Mackenzie also got to enjoy the thrill of galloping her hunter around the International Ring. In her first-ever class in that arena, Mackenzie rode like a rockstar and Cooper jumped his heart out, and they finished 10th out of 87 horse and rider combinations in the $5,000 Peggy Cone Memorial WCHR Adult Hunter Classic. She definitely made her debut in the International Ring a memorable one! The current students really enjoyed getting some extended time with these recent graduates and having these alumnae participate was definitely an added value to the program as a whole.

In the hunter rings, seniors Emma D. and Elena B. also had productive seasons. Emma and her Dapper Dan (Danny) jogged and earned prizes in the 3’3” Amateur Owner 18-35 Hunters and, by also dabbling in some Performance Hunter classes, Emma realized her goal of competing with Danny in the 3’6” before graduation. Elena found a new best friend in True Life (Truman), who she purchased while in Wellington and began competing during week 4. This pair hit it off right away and got primary color ribbons in the Low Adult Hunters their first time out, added a rosette to their collection from the Younger Adult Hunters, and then put in some excellent courses in the Young Hunters at 3’3”. Elena is excited to bring Truman along as her next Amateur Owner mount and make some fabulous memories with him in the years to come.

Sydney M. ’23 and her adorable Prince Harry (Harry) had an enchanting show series together in Wellington this winter. Starting with excellent ribbons in the Low Children’s Hunter classes, Sydney was soon ready to make the move up to the 3’ division. Using the training opportunities available on show grounds on ticketed Tuesdays, Sydney practiced over higher courses and then jumped right into the Younger Children’s Hunter division during her third weekend competing at WEF. By week 6, Sydney earned her first ribbons at 3’ — an awesome accomplishment since she was competing against the top competition during the WCHR classes. Her achievements that weekend also included a 7th place finish in the Classic! She and Harry spent the remainder of the season consistently earning ribbons in the Younger Children’s division. She will be ready to fulfill another riding goal by adding in some trips in the THIS equitation classes at the coming horse shows. 

Scrolling through the pictures posted on the professional photographers’ sites and deciding what to order to capture the riding triumphs of the season was a great visual overview of the season in terms of riding; there were some stunningly beautiful shots, some not so perfect ones, and a few bloopers here and there. As with pursuing any set of goals, there were some highlights as well as some challenges along the way, but it was the sum total of all the moments that made the experience truly worthwhile. Between the time mounted on their horses and in the barn, their academic pursuits, and the moments of endless laughter in the rental house, the WEF Program 2020 will go in the books as a resounding success! Looking forward to next season! 
An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.