Findlay, OH – Few people have the opportunity to join a program at its onset and cultivate it to the point where it becomes nationally renowned. Cindy Morehead did just that for the University of Findlay Western Equestrian program and after 40 years with the University, Morehead has decided to step down from her position. Replacing Morehead will be Spencer Zimmerman, a 2011 Findlay graduate and an assistant coach under Morehead for the past three seasons.
"I have been very fortunate for the opportunity to be a part of something I love", said Morehead. "Thank you to the University of Findlay, the athletic department, the Western Equestrian Program, the IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association), assistant coaches, graduate assistants, team members, and horses for making everything possible".
The Western Equestrian program at Findlay was the vision of long time board of trustees member, Dr. C. Richard Beckett and horse trainer Dale Wilkinson, after whom Findlay's indoor arena is named. In the fall 1976, that vision became reality and Cindy Morehead was hired as an instructor for the program in the spring of 1977.
The Western Equestrian team vaulted into the national spotlight with its first IHSA national championship in 2001 and in 2005, Morehead was named as the head coach. She led the Oilers to national championships in four of the next six seasons (2005, 2007, 2009, 2010).
Overall in her time as head coach at Findlay, Morehead, a recent inductee into the Hancock County Sports Hall of Fame, coached four national championship teams, four reserve national champions, four AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) national high point riders, 13 regional championship teams, and 13 regional high point riders.
Athletics Director Brandi Laurita commented on Morehead's retirement, saying, "Coach Morehead has built a tradition of excellence with the Western Equestrian team. She has been an invaluable asset to our department and our university and she will be dearly missed."
Inheriting the program will be a very capable replacement in Spencer Zimmerman. He is a 2011 graduate of Findlay and was a two-time National Champion in his time with the Oilers. Zimmerman also serves as an instructor in the Western Equestrian Studies Program and still competes at many major shows including the All-American Quarter Horse Congress and AQHA World Show.
About Zimmerman, Morehead said, "I am so happy to have Spencer Zimmerman be the next head coach. Spencer was an individual IHSA Champion as well as a member of two National Championship teams. He has been my assistant for the past few yeras and I feel the team will be in the best possible hands to continue its excellent tradition."