This week’s Sunday Spotlight shines on Bill Rube. As an accomplished equestrian and an advocate for tradition and inclusion in the equestrian industry, Bill is a true inspiration. Bill makes an impact on the equestrian world both professionally and personally, acting as the Executive Director of the Gleneayre Equestrian Program and recognizing riders across the country through his prestigious Style of Riding Award. Bill brought the Style of Riding Award to the World Equestrian Center – Ocala Winter Spectacular 2021, honoring one rider each week who best displays the American Style of riding in the ring and sportsmanship outside of the competition arena. This week, Bill made his own return to the show ring after an 8-year hiatus. He took time to chat with us about his first steps back in the show ring, his work in the industry and his passion for equestrian sports.
WEC: How did you get into riding?
Bill: I started riding western at 10 years old and I did not have my own horse until I got into college. When I did finally buy a horse, I started showing right off the bat and it immediately became a passion. I’ve loved riding ever since, I love the business and I’m very passionate about it.
WEC: Were there any horses that stood out to you in your early riding career?
Bill: My horse of a lifetime was named All About Me. He was amazing, we were like soulmates. He was a horse that really got under my skin. Unfortunately, he had an injury and we had to put him to sleep in 2004. After him, I got into young horses and started showing them on the line, bringing them along, then selling them.
WEC: Tell us about your current horse.
Bill: Alison Johnson, the head trainer at the Gleneayre Equestrian Program, helped me find Elliot, or Reason To Smile. He came to me during COVID. I had to be careful during the height of COVID, so I wasn’t doing much traveling or anything at the time. I had a great job with Gleneayre Equestrian Program, but I needed something to fill my cup, so I got Elliot.
When I went to try Elliot, there was a field where we jumped him over crazy jumps, and he was quiet from the start. He has a great brain. I named him Reason To Smile because I saw a quote the day that I tried him that said, “Be the reason that someone smiles.” I get very excited when I think about him and it truly makes me smile. He has really gotten under my skin and I’m very attached to him.
He came down to show at World Equestrian Center – Ocala in January and has been here since then. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to be here, to have this horse and to have people in my life that help make my dreams come true.
WEC: How did you start riding with Will Baker of Coast to Coast Equestrian?
Bill: I am the Executive Director of the Gleneayre Equestrian Program. Will came to give clinics to the kids and he interacted really well with them. I asked him to get on my horse and I have been riding with him since then. He is a very good teacher and he is very technical and articulate, which is great, even though I don’t understand it. If it wasn’t for Will, I wouldn’t be showing at this venue. He made it possible for me to come down and I am very thankful for that.
WEC: Tell us about your return to the show ring this week at World Equestrian Center – Ocala.
Bill: I ran into old friends, Ginger Parker and Jake Parker Wymard who own Aschombe Sport Horses, while at World Equestrian Center – Ocala. They have a fantastic horse named Chatham and they offered for me to show him. Ginger, Jake and Will encouraged me, so I got on and jumped Chatham around, then jumped him around again one more day, then went in the ring on Saturday after 8 years of not showing. My clothes all still fit – with Spanx – and I was lucky to get a brand new Antares saddle. We showed on Saturday and Sunday, and it was a lot of fun. I am 64 years old, so it’s exciting to be back in the show ring. We ended the weekend with a score of 85 in the Adult Amateur Hunters 50+ and 3rd place!
In my career, I like to support young professionals. I’ve been very fortunate to ride with the best professionals in the industry and to clinic with the best in the industry, so I like to support the up-and-coming professionals. I don’t do anything unless I’m all-in, I don’t know half measures. I feel very thankful that Jake Parker Wymard, an up-and-coming young professional, offered for me to ride his horse this week and supported my return to the show ring.
WEC: What inspired you to give the Style of Riding Award during the World Equestrian Center – Ocala Winter Spectacular?
Bill: I really like the tradition of the sport, so that is why I developed the Style of Riding Award. For me, this whole business is paying it forward. There are people who are nice both inside and outside of the ring and I want that recognized. The recipient doesn’t have to be the winner of the class, just someone who pays it forward. I don’t think we can keep what we have unless we give it away. I think that World Equestrian Center – Ocala is a really special venue and I want to help make it special with that award. The Style of Riding Award is presented during one of the three hunter derbies that take place each week on Friday.
The Style of Riding Award is given to the rider who best displays the American Style of riding in the ring and sportsmanship outside of the competition arena. The recipient serves as a role model for preserving the integrity and tradition of equestrian sport. They receive an elegant leather duffel bag and wear a white rose corsage on their lapel throughout the handy round to signify their achievement.
WEC: Tell us about your work with USHJA.
I worked as a volunteer for the USHJA and got involved with the Wheeler Museum because I am a huge proponent of the tradition and history of equestrian sports. I think that we need to take yesterday and combine it with today. I received the USHJA President’s Distinguished Service Award in 2012 and 2013, then the Volunteer of the Year award in 2014, as well as the Moran Family Excellence Award in 2016.
I decided to leave my career in finance and went to work for the USHJA as their Funds Development Director for their foundation. It was a great opportunity and I worked there for about two years before another opportunity presented itself with a wonderful woman named Lindsay Maxwell. She has a charitable fund and I worked for her helping to align her so she could donate her money to charitable causes. She is really supportive of accessibility and inclusion in horse shows.
WEC: How did you get involved with the Gleneayre Equestrian Program?
Lindsay moved out west and I stayed east, so I took a job with the Gleneayre Equestrian Program in New Jersey. The Gleneayre Equestrian Program is a non-profit for at-risk youth that has been in place since 1998 and provides a hands-on, experience-based learning environment for people in difficult situations, including children, families, and military personnel. They believe that the powerful connection between people and horses is transformational.
Through horsemanship, the Gleneayre Equestrian Program helps people to develop character, learn ethics and responsibility, grow physically and emotionally, and discover themselves. The Gleneayre Equestrian Program focuses on people and horses that are poorly served by more mainstream resources and programs. They are committed to children facing challenges at school and at home, to families struggling with the unique demands of military life, and to service members in need of support.
Rube also invited us to chat with his trainer, Will Baker of Coast to Coast Equestrian.
WEC: Tell us about your business.
Will: My farm, Coast to Coast Equestrian, is based out of West Milford, New Jersey, about 45 minutes from New York City. We do equitation, hunters, jumpers and we have a lesson program. We have a pretty even split between adults and juniors, and we do everything from first-time riders to grand prix and derby horses. I ride with my fiancé, Katie Riebold, who does the amateurs. We love coming to World Equestrian Center – Ohio and, now, World Equestrian Center – Ocala.
WEC: How did you get into riding?
Will: My dad coached a college equestrian team in Virginia where I grew up, so I started from there. I didn’t have much of a junior career, I didn’t really start horse showing until I was 18 years old. I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of fantastic mentors, like Bill, who have helped me along the way. I was lucky enough to live and work in Germany for a while and had some really good horses there. I worked for an Irish team member in Switzerland for a little bit, then worked for Kris Cheyne while I was living in Kansas.
WEC: Tell us about some of the horses that you are riding.
Will: We do a little bit of everything. My top jumper is a 9-year-old Westphalian mare named Candorra R, owned by Riverbrook Sport Horses LLC, who jumped her first grand prix yesterday at WEC. I ride Bill’s horse, Reason To Smile, in the derbies, and he is a really fun young horse to bring along. I started working with them about six months ago.
WEC: Tell us about your experience at World Equestrian Center.
Will: We love coming to show at WEC. The footing is amazing, the jumps are always beautiful, the rings are great and the hospitality is unmatched. Every time we come to WEC in Ocala or Ohio, everyone is always happy.
Bill also commented on his experience at World Equestrian Center:
I was so excited when I saw World Equestrian Center – Ocala opening this year. I’ve always been a huge fan of what Roby Roberts does and he has made this really affordable and inclusive for a lot of people who, otherwise, would not have been able to come to Florida to show for the winter.
When I showed as a youngster, there was grass roots level where you could show at an unrated show, then go to a rated show once or twice per month. We all comingled. It has gotten very segregated, but World Equestrian Center is bridging the gap between the grass roots riders and the top riders in the sport. It gives riders the opportunity to experience good jumps, good courses and good customer service. World Equestrian Center is truly amazing.
Thank you, Bill, and congratulations on your return to the show ring!