Equestrian Announces Staff Changes

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Gardner Powell, a nationally-accomplished horse trainer, instructor and judge, has been named Associate Head Coach of the Kansas State equestrian team, Head Coach Casie Lisabeth announced Tuesday.

Powell will tutor the Wildcat Hunter Seat squad, while Lisabeth, who has served the past two seasons as the co-head coach and Western squad leader, has also been promoted to head coach.

"I am thrilled to have Gardner join the Kansas State equestrian team," Lisabeth said. "She has an outstanding riding and teaching background, and her judging experience is invaluable to our program. I am positive she can take our Hunter Seat squad to a new level and her experience in the industry will be a great asset to recruiting new riders."

Powell, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Tufts University and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing and Literature from Bennington College, has spent the past 13 years as a horse show judge and clinician, where she holds the highest class of United States Equestrian Federation license. She holds four cards, the 'R' in Hunters, Hunter Breeding, Equitation and Jumpers, and has judged on both coasts from the Collegiate circuit to county championship level and AA USEF rated shows.

"We are excited to welcome Gardner to the K-State family," said Athletics Director John Currie. "Gardner's extensive resume includes competition as a rider at the highest levels of the equestrian industry. Her coaching experience in various parts of the country and her national reputation in judging will be tremendous assets to us in recruiting and for the visibility of our program."

From 1989-2003, Powell served in various capacities as a horse trainer and riding instructor. After leading her own training business in Arizona with Riding School and Show Training, Powell worked at Zuleika Farm in Los Angeles, Calif., for four years as Assistant Trainer.  She then taught at the historic Flintridge Riding Club for three years.

Powell has coached students to State and Zone Championships in Children's Hunters, Junior Hunters, Equitation, and Junior Jumpers, had one PCHA year-end Champion and also coached at the two junior National Medal Finals and the National Horse Show.

She also has directed and served as Head Trainer at the Napa Valley Equestrian Center where she was responsible for 35 horses and supervising a Riding School. Powell also organized and ran a series of schooling shows and helped gain approval for the Equestrian Center to be a Girls Scouts of America Training Facility.

As a rider, Powell competed at the Medal Finals as a junior rider and was a member of her Zone's Prix de States Team. She also competed under the instruction of 1994 World Championship team member Susan Hutchison, which included performances at the Futures and Grand Prix levels of Show Jumping.

"Coaching is one of the greatest joys in my life," said Powell. "My goal is to lead these young women in thinking like champions, conducting themselves like champions, and riding like champions. I'm honored to be associated with K-State."

Lisabeth, who has served the past two seasons as the co-head coach, will take full reigns of the program in 2009-10 after leading the Western squad to a fifth place national finish at the 2009 VENC and a 10-6-2 record on the year. In fact, under Lisabeth's tutoring, the Wildcats have placed among the top six Western teams in the nation in each of the last three seasons. She also tutored Alyssa Freeman, who became the first Wildcat in school history to compete at the VENC as an individual.

At the 2008 VENC, the Wildcats took third with their only loss during the tournament coming to eventual national champion Texas Christian. She arrived at K-State in 2006 and served the 2006-07 season as an assistant coach.

The end of Lisabeth's second season at K-State was highlighted by the selection of Morgan Campbell to compete at the prestigious Collegiate Reining Invitational held at the 2008 NRHA Derby.  Only four riders from all of the varsity equestrian programs nationwide are chosen each year to compete. Campbell was the second rider tutored by Lisabeth to be selected for the Invitational; former Wildcat Sara Weller participated in 2007.

Prior to coming to Kansas State in 2006, Lisabeth served as a student coach at Texas A&M University, where she assisted with an Aggie squad that placed third nationally in Western at both the Varsity Equestrian and IHSA National Championships.  As a four-year member of the Aggie equestrian team, she was the Reserve High Point Regional Rider of the Year in 2005 and also had two top-four finishes at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships as a senior. 

The K-State equestrian team opens the 2009-10 season on October 2 when TCU visits Fox Creek Farm for a Varsity matchup.

Photo Credit: Quince Tree