WWU alumni named Young Professionals of the Year
|2/7/2012||Mary Ann Beahon|
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||(573) 592-1127|
By Erin Crooks '12
William Woods University alumni Mary Marcum Orr and Evan Orr recently received the Young Professionals of the Year Award from the United Professional Horsemen's Association.
The Orrs own and operate High Caliber Stables in Kernersville, N.C. They specialize in serious training for seasoned riders looking to show, but also offer instruction to beginner saddle seat riders.
"It's an incredible honor for Evan and me to be named Young Professionals of the Year," Mary Orr said. "It's an indication that we're headed in the right direction within the industry and even though we accepted this award, I feel like it reflects on our barn and our staff."
The Young Professionals Committee was established to provide a professional organization for horsemen and women ages 35 and under. The committee is dedicated to promoting the equine industry and supporting the efforts of the UPHA.
Each year, a member in good standing is chosen to receive the Young Professionals of the Year Award. The winners of this award exemplify the objectives and initiatives of the UPHA and show dedication to their profession. The Orrs received their award at the UPHA's national convention Jan 7.
Both young trainers graduated from William Woods University in 2001with bachelors degrees in equestrian science. Evan Orr was the first male student accepted at William Woods University and was also a founding father of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity on WWU's campus.
Mary Orr earned her Master of Education degree at Columbia College in 2003, and did much of her graduate work with Laura Ward, assistant professor of equestrian studies at WWU.
"We feel that a lot of our success is due to our education at William Woods University," said Mary Orr. "I don't think we'd be where we are today without Gayle Lampe and Laura Ward, who have been a huge part of our lives."
"I am so proud of Mary and Evan that their peers within the UPHA chose them for this award," said Gayle Lampe, professor emeritus of equestrian science. It's no surprise to me either because of all the students I've trained, these two have always had the enthusiasm and work ethic to make it in the industry."
Originally from California, Mary Orr came to WWU as a western rider. As her adviser, Lampe introduced her to saddle seat "because I knew she had the enthusiasm to really love it."
The Orrs have kept close ties with William Woods since their graduation. They have returned both separately and together to host clinics for WWU students and horses, and Mary Orr spoke at WWU's EQS Academic Showcase in 2010.
"I rode with Mary and Evan at William Woods when they returned to give a clinic and it is very clear that they both have a deep understanding of how horses think and how to get them to give you their best," said Maria Nozzi, a 2011 WWU graduate.
Erika Campbell, a senior studio art major at WWU, agreed, "Mary and Evan Orr are some of the nicest, most well-rounded instructors I've ridden with. They are able to clearly take in the horse's build and the rider's abilities so that they know exactly what the pair is capable of."
In the past year the Orrs welcomed two William Woods University graduates to their staff at High Caliber Stables. Lauren Blue, a 1996 graduate, is now a riding instructor. Morgan Shindler Baumhoer, who graduated from WWU in December 2010 with a bachelor's degree in equestrian science, is Mary and Evan's assistant trainer.
"Morgan told us at age 10 that she would work for us some day, and she did! She is so special to us, and one day I hope to see her win the same award," said Mary Orr.
"When I was in middle school, I was very fortunate to be able to work with Mary one summer at William Woods," Baumhoer explained. "I knew right away that it was a dream of mine to work with Mary someday. I not only looked up to her as a wonderful role model, but as an amazing teacher."
Together the Orrs have trained several World Champion horses and riders, including two- time World Grand Champion and Triple Crown winner, WGC CH Our Charming Lady.
"When Our Charming Lady and I won our second 3-Gaited World Grand Championship, it was 10 years to the day that I had helped Kim Cowart, another WWU graduate and my then- employer, to win the same championship," said Mary Orr.
They received another award in 2010 when the Saddlebred Association of the Carolinas named High Caliber Stables the High Point Performance Barn of the Year.
But training horses is only a small part of what they do at High Caliber Stables. To run a successful business, Mary and Evan have embraced the many resources available to them: the internet, social networking sites, and the world of public relations.
High Caliber Stables has a weekly newsletter about what's happening that week at the barn and a Facebook page where colleagues, customers and their staff can share pictures, stories and information. In many ways, these things are key to their success.
"You've got to be conscious of how you are perceived in the community, and by your customers," said Evan Orr. "The weekly newsletter isn't just for our customers, but for friends and family so that they know what's going on at the barn, who's having a birthday that week and any new additions we might have."
The deep connection that riders and parents have with High Caliber Stables sets them apart from many other barns.
"This may be our job and our livelihood, but this is their hobby. We want our barn to be a place where they enjoy coming," explained Evan Orr. "It's open and welcoming, and they enjoy hanging out and watching others ride. It becomes a kind of large, dysfunctional family where everyone supports everyone."
Baumhoer said, "High Caliber Stables is so special because we're guided by the principle that riding not only develops equestrian skills but, more importantly, cultivates responsibility, relationships and the understanding of working toward and realizing achievements."