Alumna Susan Starr a trail blazer in equine industry
|12/10/2012||Mary Ann Beahon|
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||(573) 592-1127|
While most William Woods University equestrian alumni find themselves following traditional equestrian career paths—like owning a barn, training, teaching and riding professionally—Susan Starr, a 2000 graduate, utilized her WWU education to do something different, even futuristic.
In 2011, she founded an online business called RateMyRiding.com—a website that blends traditional instruction with technology through something Starr calls virtual coaching.
As part of virtual coaching, riders send their schooling and show videos or photos to one of Rate My Riding’s coaches and, based on the videos or photos, Rate My Riding’s coaches give the riders feedback (aka homework) on their performance.
“Rate My Riding helps those who are challenged to find quality instruction locally and affordably,” said Starr. “Never before have so many people had the opportunity to learn and grow in their riding abilities without loading up their horses and driving to lessons, clinics and shows. Riders from anywhere in the world can use RateMyRiding.com and be instantly connected to coaches that have been vetted for their integrity and ability to teach.”
Currently, RateMyRiding.com utilizes 10 coaches—all with their own teaching perspectives derived from great personal success. Together, they represent different disciplines, including dressage, hunter/jumper, saddle seat and western.
WWU Professor Emeritus Gayle Lampe, an internationally renowned judge, instructor and trainer, is one of those coaches. While attending WWU, Starr had several classes with Lampe and knew she would be a great fit for the program.
“It is so exciting to have Ms. Lampe on the team! When we were setting up the coaches’ bios, she sent me her resume. It’s absolutely unbelievable - her life on paper. We are extremely lucky to have such caring, talented and credentialed teachers like her who want to give back to the industry through this new venture!”
But Lampe and Starr aren’t the only ones from William Woods participating in the project.
Dani Moritz, a senior from Algonquin, Ill., has also been involved in the start up—first as an intern and now as Rate My Riding’s creative director and writer/producer.
“When an equestrian faculty member told me about the internship with Rate My Riding, it immediately peaked my interest,” she said. “I knew this would give me an opportunity to combine my love for horses and writing into one and, while I was at it, do something positive for the equine industry. Needless to say, I loved my internship and am enjoying working for Susan.”
Moritz has represented Rate My Riding at two WWU shows—the Western Fun Show and the Hunter/ Jumper Derby. At the shows, she took videos of riders who purchased riding sessions, helped them find suitable Rate My Riding coaches and uploaded their videos for evaluation.
“I loved that I was able to receive constructive criticism from such an advanced ride,” said Elyse Nickless, a junior from St. Louis, Mo. “[Rate My Riding Coach] Jamie Price’s input was an incredibly valuable resource to me, as it not only allowed me to become more aware of my strengths and weaknesses as a rider, but also provided me with an avenue to improve my weaknesses through helpful training exercises.”
Starr hopes that more students like Nickless will find Rate My Riding a helpful tool for learning how to become better riders and trainers. She looks forward to watching her project take off and to helping others in the equine industry.
“It feels like yesterday I was participating in the Ivy Ceremony at WWU and, now, this venture is something that I’m really passionate about and it has allowed me to meet so many great horse-people while giving back to an industry I love.”
Susan Starr (right) takes a photo with her classmate Sara McGranahan-Davisson in front of the equestrian facility in 1999.
Susan Starr and Streetwise in 2000, the year Starr graduated.
Susan Starr in 2012.
Susan Starr rides Sin City at the Music City Arabian Horse Show in 2011.