Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography
Heather Williams Steps Into the Spotlight
Heather Williams isn’t a familiar face in the hunter show ring, day in and day out. But it’s her work put in behind the scenes that helps many of the top hunter, jumper, and equitation riders and horses win at the biggest shows in the nation. As a rider and trainer at Beacon Hill Show Stables with Stacia Madden, Williams is an integral part of the team, having worked there since she turned professional at the age of 18. Now 33, she still rides in her old hunt coat and had to purchase a shadbelly on Wednesday morning to compete in the Challenge class.
“A lot of times I’m not here during this week because it’s also the USEF Talent Search Finals,” said Williams. “The stars just sort of aligned that I was able to be here, and I had the opportunity from the Sorokens to ride this great horse so I said I was going to take advantage and do it while I can.
“The majority of my professional career is really spent training,” she continued. “I don’t do a lot of competitive riding for myself; I do a lot of schooling jumpers and preparing horses. I would say that’s primarily what my riding entails, but I knew I was going to be here this week and it’s a rare occasion.”
Williams piloted DiCaprio 3, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Contender owned by Lillian Soroken, to victory after they scored 85.66 and 88.66 for a total of 174.32. Jared Depermentier and Brad Wolf’s Sebastian were second with scores of 85 and 87.66 for a 172.66 total. Vivian Yowan and Sazerac, owned by IMB of Jupiter LLC, finished third after they scored 86.41 and 86.16 for a 172.57 total.
Williams sat in third place after the first round, but their highest second-round score propelled them up the standings.
“Coming into the second round, I took a peek at the scores before I got on and I saw that the top riders were all really within one point of each other,” she said. “I knew if I had a good trip, I would have a real chance at moving up. I tried to stick to my plan. I know my horse really well, and I had a road map of how I wanted to ride the course and luckily it panned out exactly how I’d hoped.”
It was a sweet victory for Williams, who was the first person to ride DiCaprio 3 when he arrived in the barn two years ago.
“We brought him home to the barn from Capital Challenge actually, and I took one lap around the indoor ring, and I said, ‘Stacia, this horse has to stay!’” she recalled. “It’s full circle that I rode him the very first day he came to the barn and loved him so much. Now it’s two years later and I feel like I helped him stay in the barn and he helped me win this class. To win a class like this is always special, but to do it on a horse I have such a relationship with makes it even more special.”
She added, “I’m very grateful to Stacia Madden for giving me the opportunity to do this class and Max Amaya for always being such a supporter of my riding and myself since I was a young professional. I’m good friends with Patricia Griffith, so she was nice enough to help me today. Lydia Ulrich and T.J. O’Mara were also here so between the three of them, I was really lucky to have a great crew help me.”
For her victory, Williams was presented with the Bittersweet Trophy, presented by Rachel B. Kennedy.
Final Results: $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge, presented by John R. Ingram Fund
Round 1/Round 2/Final
1 DICAPRIO 3 HEATHER WILLIAMS
85.66 88.66 174.32
2 SEBASTIAN JARED DEPERMENTIER
85.00 87.66 172.66
3 SAZERAC VIVIAN YOWAN
86.41 86.16 172.57
4 EMILIO ASHLEY FOSTER
84.58 86.66 171.24
5 SHE’S ALL THAT JEF LAUWERS
84.91 86.33 171.24
6 TRUE ENOUGH MEGHAN KAUPP
84.16 86.33 170.49
7 FOR FUN MITCHELL ENDICOTT
84.91 85.50 170.41
8 MTM FASHION JENNIFER RITUCCI
85.83 82.83 168.66
9 LEMIEUX TAYLOR SHEARIN
83.58 83.66 167.24
10 LAYLA NADA WISE
85.08 80.91 165.99
11 BLUE MOON HALIE ROBINSON
83.91 80.33 164.24
12 BETTINA ELEANOR KUNSMAN
84.33 45.00 129.33