Savannah Welch Sets Her Sights on 2021 WIHS Children’s Hunter Finals


By Isabelle Larrabee, WIHS Intern

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2021–If you met Savannah Welch, 12, you may think she is just like any other 8th grader from Chapel Hill, N.C., but you’d be in for a surprise. Savannah is currently at the top of the WIHS Children’s Hunter leaderboard with Zeus, her Dutch Warmblood gelding, and is well on her way to qualifying for the 2021 WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship at the Washington International Horse Show in October.

Rider Spotlight

Name: Savannah Welch
Age: 12
Hometown: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Horse: Zeus
Division: WIHS Children’s Hunter
Trainer: Tony Albertson, The Vortex

How did you get interested in horses?
My mom rode when she was young and wanted to see if I would enjoy being around horses. I had my first riding lesson on my 4th birthday.

Besides hunters, do you do any other kinds of riding?
I don’t ride in any other disciplines, but we do incorporate dressage exercises when flatting.

Tell us about your horses.
Zeus was and still is my first horse. He’s an 18-year-old dark bay Dutch Warmblood owned by Sophia Strahan that I started leasing last July. Zeus took me from the 2’6”/2’9” ponies to now children’s hunter and is preparing me for the junior hunters. I bought Opie in January 2020 as a green pony to bring along. He’s an 8-year-old Palomino German Riding Pony imported in 2019.

How has your horse affected the way you view this sport?
Zeus has definitely taught me a lot about how to make my horses look their best and has given me a new appreciation for the work behind the scenes.

How has riding changed your life outside of the equestrian world?
Riding takes up a lot of my time at home, and I’ve had to learn to multitask and balance riding and school.

What is your favorite equestrian-related memory?
My favorite memory would be WIHS 2019. It was my first year qualifying and I even placed in the medium pony handy!

Who is your idol in the equestrian world and why?
I look up to many people in this community but the people I admire most are the people I get to work and ride with every day at the barn.

What is your idea of a perfect weekend?
A perfect weekend for me would be at a show with the whole barn. I always enjoy it when everybody can get together for the week.

What are your riding goals?
My goal would be moving up to the juniors, then I’d like to compete in grand prix classes.

What do you like best about competing at Washington?
My favorite part about competing at WIHS would be qualifying. It’s a major achievement to even qualify for such a big show out of everybody in the country.

What is your most memorable WIHS experience as a rider or spectator?
My favorite memory from WIHS would be riding over into the city (Washington, D.C.) for the first time. I had never been there before and neither had my pony at the time, so it was a new experience for both of us.

Savannah and Zeus competing in the Children’s Hunter class. Photo Anne Gittins Photography

About the Author: Isabelle Larrabee joined WIHS as an intern in May 2021. She loves to ride and compete, and is a trained vocalist! Learn more about Isabelle on the WIHS Internship page!

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WIHS is an official USEF Heritage Competition, and holds the highest rating,  CSI5*-W, awarded by the Fédération Equestre Internationale, as well as a US Equestrian 6* Jumpers and  Premier Hunters. It is recognized by the US Hunter Jumper Association, Maryland Horse Show Association, and Virginia Horse Show Association. WIHS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization.