Before I came to William Woods University I had no idea what to expect of the riding program here and what my skill level would be compared to others. When my first riding class came around however, I found out I was one of the more advanced freshmen riders. My new instructor commented on my position and skills, praising whoever my previous instructor was. This happened to be Judy Watson, who in every lesson exposed me to different training methods and riding techniques. Judy included everything in her teaching methods and was very personalized and devoted to her students doing well in what the particular student wanted out of his or her riding. Now when I come home for breaks i am in contact with her and even try to squeze in a lesson or two. She is an amazing trainer, and I accredit my success so far in college riding to her diverse and personalized methods.

Madeline Ederer
(freshman majoring in Equine Science at William Woods University)
Adult pleasure rider

I began riding 10 years ago to learn something new and have fun with my daughter. Three years ago we bought our first horse and I began private lessons with Judy. Since then I have enjoyed many sessions with positive (but not sugar-coated) feedback and challenging instruction that is always within my comfort zone.

My 18 year old gelding is a retired school horse who endured years of back-to-back lessons. Our lessons with Judy often focus on his physical comfort and mental outlook as well as my own, and what I can do with him to strengthen our work as a team. Since I am a novice horse owner, I also rely on Judy for good no-nonsense advice about horse care as well as riding.


I would like to highly recommend Judy Watson as both a highly competent and compassionate riding instructor for beginning adults. My own experience and observation indicate that she can work with both motivated riders and pleasure riders, on an equally satisfactory basis. When I began lessons with Judy two years ago, I had just bought a horse and wanted to begin riding again for the first time in over 30 years. Although I had ridden as a teenager and loved horses, I had not really ever been properly trained, so in addition to being older and without the proper muscular development, my basic skills and horse knowledge were totally lacking. Judy was able in a short period of time to bring my level of riding skills up to the point where I could ride proficiently. After one year I began to compete in horse shows and in horse trials, or eventing, at the Beginning Novice level. She gave me both the tools to help develop my riding competence, and helped me to develop the necessary confidence to use them.

Judy has not only been helpful in transmitting her own expertise, but additionally she has encouraged her students to seek specialists at the top of their disciplines in order to further enhance riding skills. For dressage, she encouraged lessons for myself and my daughter with Rebecca Langsworth, and for jumping with Jimmy Wofford.

The aspect that I like and appreciate most about Judy, however, is her deep love and respect for the horse. She truly understands and treats each horse as an individual and helps the rider to better appreciate his/her qualities. She is compassionate and caring for both the horse and the rider, and is able to help the two to develop together and progress as a unit. She transmits her enthusiasm to her students for every accomplishment achieved during each lesson. I have truly enjoyed working with her over these past two years.

Sherry Stephenson
Southdown Barn
Great Falls, Virginia

"Nurturing, insightful, devoted, wise, Judy Watson is one of those rare indiviuals parents dream to find as a coach for their child. Judy first met my daughter when she was eight-years-old and painfully shy but already desperately in love with horses. Judy coaxed her, reassured her, understood her sensitive and intellectual nature and helped that child blossom into a truly remarkable person as well as rider. I have watched Judy teach a number of children over the years and have marveled at how she adapts her technique and her approach to completely suit the wide variety of personality and talent presented her. She is demanding with students who thrive on that and gentle with those like my daughter who need affectionate encouragement and obtainable challenges.

"My daughter is now a poised, outgoing teenager. She also happens to be a high-level rider, winning the Virginia Region Novice Eventing title this summer to be one of four riders to represent the state in the USPC National Championships in Kentucky. What is most important to me as her mother, though, is that she is HAPPY and LOVES what she is doing, respects her own achievements and abilities and very much attributes them to the partnership she has with her horse. One of the main lessons Judy imparts is appreciating the horse as being a friend, part of a team, and deserving of the best care possible. As a teacher and mentor, Judy is a true gift to any young person."

Laura B.