Meet A Dedicated New England Horseman
It is difficult to say which role suits Will George the best—a proud father, an accomplished teacher, or the familiar voice heard announcing
at area horse shows
Will grew up in Spencer, Mass., on his family’s Gold Nugget Farm. With 110 acres of land and up to 30 horses residing at the farm, horses were certainly a way of life for Will and his older brothers Dixon and John, his sisters Janyce and Liz, and his younger brother James. He started taking hunt seat lessons from his father, Francis, shortly after he was introduced to horses at age five. His early lessons continued aboard Miss Muffet, a pony that he began riding when he was eight years old.
Riding, training and competing at area shows continued to be a part of everyday life for George. In addition to training with his father, Will actively participated in clinics given by Gordon Wright, an instructor for George Morris, who visited the farm regularly to give clinics. Will cites his father, along with George Morris and Gordon Wright, as major influences on his riding career.
As a teenager, Will followed in his older brother’s footsteps and started teaching hunt seat lessons at Gold Nugget Farm. He continued to teach on nights and weekends throughout high school and college. After earning his bachelor of science degree, he enrolled in Suffolk University’s Law School and then served as an Assistant District Attorney in Worcester County for 20 years before becoming an Assistant Clerk Magistrate at the Dudley District Court, a challenging role which he continues to enjoy today.
While he dealt with judicial matters during the day, Will continued to instruct a small group of students on a regular basis and found the time to announce at horse shows as well. He talks about his experience as an announcer: “I enjoy the challenge of keeping the show moving seamlessly for the exhibitors,” Will explains. “When you announce, you are the voice of the show. Good announcers not only have the voice for the job, they have the knowledge of how to run a horse show.”
Will accepted his first announcing job when he was 18 years old. At one point, he was announcing at between 15 and 20 shows per year. Exhibitors at the Woodstock Fair Horse Show have come to know and appreciate his style. For the last 26 years, he has worked as the announcer at this popular event. Other stops on the circuit have included the Tri-State Horsemen’s Association, Cape Cod Hunter, Yankee Clipper, and Fieldstone Farm horse shows.
When he wasn’t behind the microphone announcing, Will was in the saddle competing. His early experiences working with Thoroughbreds and Thoroughbred crosses left him admiring their athletic ability. He rode in equitation classes as a youngster and then switched to jumpers.
At age 18 while riding the 19-year-old Thoroughbred Drum Lassie, he won the Open Jumper year-end award for the Mass Horsemen’s Council. His most memorable riding moment was aboard a Thoroughbred gelding named Brimstone. He won the Puissance class offered at a Heritage Farm show in Easthampton, Mass., when he successfully cleared a five-foot oxer. “It was a big jump,” he remembers with a smile, “the highest I had ever jumped.”
Will’s other contributions to the horse world include serving as president and board member for the Worcester County 4-H Center. He was also on the board of the Massachusetts Horsemen’s Council and is show manager and secretary for the Central Massachusetts Horse Show Series at Camp Marshall in Spencer, Mass.
A Different Type of Role
Will took a brief hiatus from teaching when his two daughters were born, to spend more time with his family. When his father bought Lindsay and Kristen ponies at ages 10 and eight, he caught the teaching bug once again, and quickly found himself in the lesson arena, where he proudly taught both of his daughters to ride. Lindsay and Kristen both went on to have successful careers in the show ring, amassing numerous year-end awards before setting out on their own to start careers in the financial and human resources fields.
Teaching is a role that has always come naturally to Will. In his lessons he tries to create a positive, relaxed environment. “As a teacher, I try to make the lessons fun for the riders,” he reflects. “I help the riders understand what is being asked of them and why,” he continues. Trust is also a key component that Will emphasizes. “Riders must be willing to trust themselves to do things,” he says.
Will also strongly believes that riding should be more affordable—a fact that is not always the reality. He believes that everyone who is interested in horses should have the opportunity to learn to ride and compete. To that end, he keeps his fees reasonable, noting that the pure enjoyment that he gets from teaching is a reward in and of itself.
Coming Full Circle
After his father gave him a piece of land on Gold Nugget Farm in 1986, Will put his knowledge of woodworking and love of carpentry to the test and built the house where he and his wife, Lee, reside today. Since then, Will has cut back his teaching schedule in order to spend more time with his family. He is extremely proud of his two daughters who have become, in his words, “self-assured, confident young women.” When time allows, he and Lee go pleasure riding together aboard their two horses, Key Largo and Skip’s Up-n-Over. He treasures the time that he spends with his wife, noting “I would not be where I am today without her.”
He continues to give lessons two days a week, carrying on the family tradition that was started decades ago when he and his brother first ventured into the world of horses on this very same farm. Horses will continue to be a part of Will’s everyday life in one form or another. The New England equestrian community is fortunate to have the knowledge and devotion of a true horseman whose contributions to the horse community are immeasurable.