After an exhaustive national search, Trinity Sudweeks Seely CdeP 1999 has been named the new director of the Thacher Horse Program. She is the 12th person, the third alum, and the third woman to hold this title. And the School couldn’t be happier about it.
“In her short time on campus,” said Head of School Blossom Beatty Pidduck, “Trinity has already made a hugely positive impact on the program and our riders. This was evident when her appointment was announced at Assembly. The freshmen and the upper class riders immediately got to their feet and gave Trinity a long and joyful standing ovation. It was a wonderful moment.”
For every other position at Thacher that needs filling, there are placement agencies, job boards, recruitment fairs, and other well-worn recruitment avenues that we can tap for candidates who currently hold a similar position elsewhere: science teacher, dean of students, soccer coach, etc. But there isn’t anything anywhere else like the Thacher Horse Program, so there is no obvious place to look for qualified candidates.
First and foremost, this is a teaching position; the job involves working with high school students to help them learn to ride safely, to take responsibility for the care of a horse, and to have some fun along the way. There is also the unceasing task of maintaining a herd of more than 120 horses that are ridden hard and often. There are facilities—trails and barns, pastures and fences—to be managed and maintained. The same person who can manage all of that will also be called upon to perform many related roles, including serving as the lead ambassador of the program, introducing the Horse Program to new families every year, making sure that program meshes smoothly with the School’s other activities, and welcoming back alums who return to campus looking forward to some time in the saddle. Finding a single person who can understand much less rise to all of those demands is no easy task.
“We are very fortunate,” said Assistant Head of School Jeff Hooper, “to have found somebody with both Trinity’s extensive qualifications and her firsthand grasp of the power and purpose of this unique program.” The fact that she is one of our own is more than a bonus; it’s proof that she has a deep understanding of and regard for this cornerstone of the Thacher experience.
On January 1, 2020, Trinity officially took over for Cam Schryver, who has served as interim director of the program since last June. In the two years between Cam's retirement and his return as interim director, Richard Winters had served ably as director of the Horse Program before deciding to return full time to his horsemanship clinic business.
Trinity and her husband, Jeff, joined the Horse Program staff in the fall, bringing their many years of experience managing large ranch operations together. The Seelys live on campus with three sons, one of whom is a Thacher freshman. Trinity’s daughter, Kathryn, attends college in Utah.
“The one thing that I took from the Horse Program as a student,” said Trinity, “was that I could do hard things. Thacher taught you that. What a way for me to give back to the community and the program that has meant so much to me in my life.”
Trinity’s deep knowledge of horses and ranching was established long before she arrived at Thacher as a student. She was raised on a ranch in the Chilcotin of British Columbia, where she began testing her mettle at an early age in riding competitions in which she held her own against the girls and boys in the area. Some of those boys, in fact, were from the neighboring ranch (a mere two-hours ride away). They were the Fosters (Josh CdeP 1995, Ryan CdeP 1996, and Jake CdeP 1999) and their father happened to be the former director of the Thacher Horse Program, Walt Foster Jr. Trinity and Jake ended up as Thacher classmates when she showed up as a junior and she quickly made a second home for herself at the barns.
She hasn’t strayed much from the ranching life since then. For the past few years, Trinity and Jeff worked for a fifth-generation family ranch in north-central Montana near Cascade where they were raising their family. In addition to her ranch work, Trinity has built a career as a recording artist, traveling widely writing and singing songs that celebrate the West and ranch culture.
As she takes on her new roles, Trinity is well supported by a seasoned and savvy Horse Program staff.
“I am so grateful for the expertise we have,” said Trinity. “So many wonderful qualities and strengths that I can draw from. The director of the Horse Program is a job like no other. There’s no way I could step in and do this job by myself. It takes a team.” To help support the transition, Cam will stay on in a consulting role for the remainder of this school year.
“Sometimes,” said Cam, “good fortune just falls in your lap. When Trinity asked me to write a letter in support of her candidacy for the job, it was a no brainer. There’s nobody else who combines her knowledge of the School and this program, her skill with horses and people, and her ability to combine it all with just the right amount of fun.”
When Trinity’s former neighbor Walt Foster Jr. ran the Thacher Horse Program, he lived in the house adjacent to the barns that was most recently occupied by the Swans. Today, that’s where Trinity and her family live, which contributes no doubt to her strong sense of having come full circle. “I’m so excited and hopeful and grateful to be a part of a program that has the history and foundation that this does,” says Trinity. “Knowing firsthand what it did for me in my life, and understanding that I have the opportunity to share that with other kids—it’s a really special responsibility.”