Nov. 27, 2012
AUBURN - The Auburn equestrian team added four more signees to the 2013-14 signing class, head coach Greg Williams announced Tuesday.
Lena Hernig, Tory Hoft, Lacy Watson and Hannah Stephens have all signed national letters of intent to ride for the Tigers.
Lena Hernig is from Chelsea, Ala., and trains with her father, Jack Hernig.
"Lena is coming in at a good time to really break into the college system," Williams said. "We will be losing several riders to graduation just prior to, and after her freshman year, in the reining event. I look forward to having Lena here at Auburn because I believe she can develop well into those positions being vacated."
Lena started showing Pleasure horses at seven-years-old, competing within the Alabama Open Horse Association. She began to show reining horses in 2008 while continuing to show in Western Pleasure.
Between 2010 and 2012, Lena placed sixth in Youth Reining 14-18 at the All American Quarter Horse Congress and qualified for the Youth World Show in 2011. She consistently placed in the top-five at many AQHA and NRHA reining events, including the reserve championship at the Dixie Nationals in Youth Reining 14-18.
In 2009, Lena was a Futurity Winner at the Georgia Futurity, Top Ten in Novice Youth Western Pleasure at the Dixie Nationals and Top Ten in the Novice Youth Western Pleasure at the All American Quarter Horse Congress. Lena was the Secretary of the ALQHYA in 2009, followed by vice president in 2010 and president for 2011.
Tory Hoft is from Raleigh, N.C., and trains with Tony Albertson and Don Stewart. Hoft has been riding since she was 8-years-old.
"We first saw Tory in a clinic so we already knew how she could perform on a variety of horses," Williams said. "We followed her individual show career, and it is obvious she has the talent to contribute and has been tested against some of the toughest talent in the equitation classes. She is not afraid of hard work or riding against another team's toughest rider, so I believe she is ready to start practicing and working out with our team now."
In 2012, Hoft was successful competing in the Junior Hunters, Equitation, and Children's Jumpers. She won top ribbons in the Junior Hunters and Children's Jumpers in Kentucky, Atlanta, and at HITS Ocala.
At HITS Ocala Hoft competed in the R.W. Mutch Equitation Classic. She won the USET Medal at the NCHJA Annual Horse Show and HITS Culpeper, where she also won the Culpeper Equitation Classic. Hoft placed fourth in the E.J. Haun Memorial Medal Final and in the Tad Coffin/Zone 3 Junior Equitation Final, which she has qualified for the past three years.
Hoft qualified for and competed in the 2012 USET Finals, USEF Medal Finals and the ASPCA Maclay Finals. In 2011 Hoft competed and won ribbons in the Junior Hunters. She also qualified and competed in the THIS Medal Final at the Capital Challenge Horse Show. Outside of horses Hoft is involved in her church youth group and is a junior ambassador for JustWorld International.
Lacy Watson is from Goshen, Ohio, is currently completing her senior year at Goshen High School in conjunction with attending the University of Cincinnati for post-secondary college courses.
"Lacy has consistently won at the highest levels and handles competition well," Williams said. "She is not only a world champion through her own talents, but was raised in the horse business as well. Having grown up around a training operation she has ridden horses from every varying degree of talent and temperament. This can make her a very strong contender early.
"As coaches, we liked the fact that even as a top level ride, she completely buys into, and looks forward to, the team-first attitude at Auburn. I look forward to having her on the Plains."
Watson trains with her mother, Jamie Watson, who has been her trainer for many years. She began her show career showing at the All American Quarter Horse Congress in the Walk Trot division which has led her to many years of accomplishments including winning the All American Quarter Horse Congress seven times on five different horses in five events including Showmanship, Horsemanship, Equitation, Trail and Working Hunter.
In 2007 she won the All Around Youth Congress title. In 2009, Watson was the AQHYA World Champion in Equitation. Over Fences. In 2011, Watson was the AQHYA World Reserve Champion in Working Hunter, Most recently, she captured the 2012 AQHYA World Champion title in Western Horsemanship. Watson's dedication to showing also includes many Circuit Championship titles. She lives with her parents, Shane and Jamie Watson.
Hannah Stephens is a native of Fort Valley, Va., and trains with Sara Simons. Stephens has had a successful career showing multiple horses in the Paint Horse Association, Pinto Horse Association, and Virginia 4-H.
"Hannah is another rider coming in that has a lot of experience riding all type of horses," Williams said. "In addition to growing up riding on her place, Hannah has won at large National events, so she is well tested in the competition arena. I look forward to seeing her work out in practices on the Auburn horses. My belief is that she will eat up the transition to college riding."
The Virginia 4-H is one of the largest youth competitions in the country with over 550 exhibitors. In 2012, Stephens was World Champion Western Showmanship (14-18) at the Paint Horse Association Youth World Show. She also finished sixth in Western Horsemanship and ninth in Western Pleasure.
In 2012 Stephens was Reserve Champion in Western Showmanship, Champion Western Pleasure, and Champion Western Horsemanship at the Virginia 4-H show. In 2009 Stephens was the Reserve Champion Western Horsemanship and Reserve Champion Western Pleasure at the Virginia 4-H show. Her current American Paint Horse Association Honor Roll Rankings are fourth in Western Showmanship, eighth in Western Horsemanship, and third in Western Pleasure.