COLUMBIA – Rock Bridge High School sophomore Grace Markel is the World Grand Champion of Champions in saddle seat horseback riding.

Markel won the championship in Louisville this past August.

“I know it’s been my dream for a very long time,” Markel said. “I just can’t believe it finally happened.” 

Congratulations to Rock Bridge’s Grace Markel! She is the World Grand Champion of Champions in saddle seat horseback riding!!! There’s so much talent in this community! #RockBridgeRocks pic.twitter.com/B6hecYfJMa

— Jacob Sirna (@JacobSirna) August 30, 2021

Markel’s success on the national level didn’t come out of nowhere, nor by herself. Markel said she has trained with a group of riders at High Spirits Farm in Boone County for most of her life.

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“This sport is about focus,” James Lowry said. Lowry trains Markel at High Spirits Farm. “She learned to focus in on riding and letting all the other stuff out the door.”

“We have so many ups and downs while training and just we go through so much to get to this moment and when you’re there it’s just so fun,” Markel said.

“We train the pair to be successful on the national level… and without being arrogant, we do it very well,” Lowry said.

They do it very well. Markel is now the World Grand Champion of Champions in saddle seat horseback riding.

“I go back and watch my videos and everything and it just still hasn’t processed,” Markel said.


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