BY Sophie Hauptmann
After many years of hard work and renowned success as a rider and trainer, William “Bill” Schaub was inducted into the 2023 National Show Hunter Hall of Fame.
Receiving this honor was very emotional for Schaub as he got the opportunity to review his career with peers and mentors. Having a father that had a love for horses, Schaub found himself drawn to the sport at a very young age. He grew up on a farm and always had backyard horses to ride, referring to his childhood self as a “frustrated cowboy”. He quickly developed aspirations to start competing and did anything possible to get himself in the show ring.
“I was a young boy who wanted to go to horse shows, but couldn’t afford it,” says Schaub.
In order to pay for horse shows, he began teaching riding lessons when he was just fifteen years old and sought other means to earn
money, like working shifts at McDonald’s, and raising and selling bunnies.
Schaub never had any long-term plans of becoming professional, and says he just “fell into” the industry. After graduating high school, he was offered an assistant trainer position and continued simultaneously teaching lessons at another barn.
“In the mornings I would muck stalls and ride horses at one barn, and then went to a local barn to teach lessons in the afternoon,” says Schaub.
Despite the long days and hours from his first jobs, Schaub learned an incredible amount about general horse care and horsemanship, which he believes are important foundations for all riders. He also avidly observed other riders. When he went on the road as a working student with Trudy and Paul Maxwell at Roads End one summer, he attended numerous horse shows and saw various different programs, styles of riding, and methods of preparations for the show ring.
“I would watch people who were successful at horse shows prepare their horse and try to apply it to myself,” says Schaub.
Aside from spending many hours at the barn, Schaub took advantage of every opportunity he could get to be in the saddle. This helped with developing feel, as he needed to adapt to every horse’s different ride.
Every horse Schaub worked with had an impact on him.
“I learned from all of them, and continue to learn about them to this day,” says Schaub.
He advises all riders to get to know the horses on a personal level and treat them as individuals, as each horse is different and needs a
For instance, one of his most successful horses, Lyrik, needed a lot of flatwork in the mornings at shows which would then make her softer over fences. Another horse of his, Mind Games, was hot and quirky. The best way to prepare him for his classes was by trotting fences in the warm-up ring.
When he was nineteen years old, the farm he was working at as an assistant trainer closed down, leaving him and a bunch of clients – Ashley and Courtney Kennedy being two of them – with nowhere to go.
Schaub stepped up to a head trainer role, taking on all of the clients which marked the start of his illustrious career. Schaub made sure that he was always ‘one-step ahead’ of everything, and continued to learn more and more about this sport so he would have more to educate his students on.
In 1985, one of his clients bought a farm in Orlando, Florida, where Schaub operated out of and established Over the Hill Farms. He sublet the property from them until he eventually bought them out.
Not every rider has the ability to be a good teacher. However, for Schaub, transferring knowledge over to his students was never an issue. The most important thing he focused on was making his riders confident, by being “encouraging and not destroying”, and establishing trustful relationships. He is a big fan of doing pole work to create feeling, and uses gymnastics to work the horse and help his students with focusing on positioning.
Many of his students have gone on to be top riders in the country and successfully compete at hunter and equitation finals.
Schaub is very complimentary of what values the equestrian sport bring to us on a personal level.
“It’s a great sport to teach responsibility, accept challenges, ups and downs, and the fact that you’re not always going to win,” says Schaub.
Even though these traits the sport offers us are timeless, Schaub has seen some noticeable changes in the industry.
“Every year there are more classes and more rules,” says Schaub. “Everything used to be local, three day shows. Courses are more
Perhaps one of the biggest changes is the increase in cost, which has made it much more competitive for aspiring professionals to break into the industry.
As the sport continues to evolve, Schaub’s advice to future up and coming professionals is to devote their time to their horses and riding and to be hard workers. He emphasizes the importance of having good people skills, staying organized, and understanding how to handle horses.