Missouri professor honored for work in equestrian field
FULTON, Mo. (AP) — “Easy, easy does it and walk, Jean,” Gayle Lampe said to one of the riders at her equestrian clinic.
Lampe, 72, professor emeritus at William Woods University, stood in the middle of the university’s riding arena, instructing three students who were on horseback.
Lampe has taught in the Equestrian Science Department at William Woods for almost 50 years. During this time, she has been chair of both the department and the saddle seat program. When she began her career, the equestrian program was a fraction of its current size, and the university has since hired instructors for hunt seat and Western. The program also went from having 21 horses in 1968 to around 157 horses on campus in 2018.
Lampe was inducted this month into the International Saddlebred Hall of Fame at the historic Simmons Stables in Mexico, Missouri. She was nominated by her peers for her influence in the field of equestrian science and the American Saddlebred industry, according to a news release from Williams Woods University.
Lampe said she was excited to be receiving the honor.
“I have attended the event in Mexico for the past two years,” she told The Columbia Missourian . “It’s just such an honor to be with such a great group of people who share my passion for the American Saddlebred horse.”
The American Saddlebred is known as the “Horse America Made,” according to the American Saddlebred Horse Association. It is a breed of gaited horse, or a horse that has been bred to give a smooth ride.
Lampe has loved horses for as long as she can remember. She started taking riding lessons when she was 10 or 11. As a native of Louisville, Kentucky, one of her proudest accomplishments was winning the World’s Grand Championship Five Gaited Ladies Class at the Kentucky State Fair. She won the competition on her horse, Callaway’s Born to Win — and on the horse show’s 100th anniversary.
“That had always been a dream of mine,” Lampe said, “to go home to Louisville, Kentucky, and win a class at that horse show.”
Lampe also rode Callaway’s Born to Win to six victories in the National Championship Five Gaited Ladies Class at the American Royal in Kansas City.
Another major accomplishment of her life was winning the Five Gaited Class at the Stephens College Commencement Horse Show. The victory was special to her because the horse she rode, Butterscotch Candy, was donated by some of her friends from Kentucky.
The story of how Lampe settled in mid-Missouri began at a cocktail party her parents hosted when she was a girl.
One of her parents’ friends asked Lampe where she wanted to go to college, and Lampe said she didn’t know. But when the same friend told her that Stephens College had horses, the question was settled. At that time, Lampe was already riding, and horses were an important part of her life.
The young Lampe also attended a summer school for horsemanship in Milan, Missouri, run by Annie Lawson Cowgill, a former teacher at Stephens college. Cowgill took Lampe and the other students on a field trip to Stephens, and Lampe said this also prompted her to attend the school.
About 12 years later, she graduated with an associate’s degree. She loved the school so much that she stayed on to get a bachelor’s degree.
“There was a group of us that loved it so much we wanted to stay,” Lampe said. “So they made it a four-year school. I say jokingly we made them do it.”
While she was at Stephens College, she met Dot Backer, who was teaching at William Woods University. It was Baker who recommended her for a teaching job at William Woods University.
Lampe loves every part of teaching, but watching her students succeed in their riding is a particular highlight.
“When I take students to horse shows and they have success — which is not always necessarily a blue ribbon, but when they have a successful ride — that’s a thrill for me,” she said.
Lampe also takes pride in the jobs her students get after graduation, and she plays an active role in that — making sure a student and an employer are a good match. She has had many students go on to win World Championships, either for themselves or for their clients.
Many of her students have gone on to teach riding.
“So, what I have taught them and what the other faculty members at William Woods have taught them — they are now sharing that with a new generation of riders,” Lampe said.
Equestrian clinics have also been a big part of Lampe’s life. She teaches them during winter and spring breaks at William Woods and occasionally over the summer.
The clinics first started after she took a leave of absence from the university in 1985 to start a riding program at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, California. When she returned to Missouri, riders from Los Angeles wanted to come back with her and take lessons. Thus, her clinics were born. Today, riders come from as far away as California and North Carolina to participate in them.
Amber Stearns was at Lampe’s clinic recently. She took her first lesson from Lampe during a youth camp at William Woods and has been learning from her off and on for 27 years. Stearns said Lampe has a lot of experience in many disciplines, including saddle seat, hunt seat and Western riding.
Stearns loves that she gets to ride different kinds of horses at the clinics and believes she learns something new every time she comes.
“I seriously feel like every time I come I become a better rider,” she said.
Stearns also said that Lampe truly loves all animals, not just the horses, each of which she knows individually. She remembers Lampe taking her and other students to feed the ducks on William Woods’ campus. Lampe also takes the time between lessons to lavish attention on Magic, the once feral cat who now lives at the barn.
“She is not just a riding instructor,” Stearns said. “She really loves the animals and I don’t always see that and I love that.”
Nancy Goebel was also at the clinic. She’s from Los Angeles and has been coming to Lampe’s clinics for the past 14 years.
“She is a wealth of knowledge and a very kind instructor,” Goebel said. “She see everything, corrects every mistake, but she does it nicely. And she compliments you when you get it right.”
But after all the wins, awards and years of work, Lampe isn’t done yet. She plans to keep lecturing, teaching clinics and, of course, showing horses.
Information from: Columbia Missourian, http://www.columbiamissourian.com