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USET Foundation Names Four New Board Members

Gladstone, NJ - February 11, 2008 - The USET Foundation is pleased to announce that four new board members have been named to the Board of Trustees. They include Frank Merrill of Purcell, OK, Melanie Smith Taylor of Memphis, TN, Peter Welles of Wayzata, MN, and Abigail Wexner of Columbus, OH.

Frank Merrill has been involved in the American Quarter Horse industry for more than 40 years. With his wife, Robin, the Merrills operated Windward Stud Ltd. in Purcell, OK, until October 2006 when the ranch sold. Currently, Merrill serves as CO-CEO of Cowan Select Horses LLC at Windward Stud Ltd.

He has bred, owned and raised American Quarter Horse world, and stakes champions and has participated in almost every AQHA discipline including racing, halter, roping, cutting, reining and other western and English events. In addition, Frank owned and exhibited two American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame horses, Miss Jim 45 and Royal Santana.

Frank and Robin have three children: Tyler who works for Western States Ranches in Dublin, Texas, and Megan and McKenzie both live in Weatherford, TX.

Melanie Smith Taylor of Memphis, TN, helped the U.S. win Team Gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics aboard Calypso. The American Grand Prix Association named her Rider of the Year in 1978. In 1979, she was a member of the Gold Medal Team at the Pan American Games in Puerto Rico. In 1982, Smith Taylor and Calypso won the World Cup; she was named the U.S. Olympic Committee Sportswoman of the Year and was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

Smith Taylor retired from competition in 1987, but continues in the sport as trainer, television broadcaster, course designer, and judge. In 2007, she served as Chef d'Equipe for the 2007 USEF Show Jumping Developing/Young Rider Tour. Smith Taylor guided the riders to two Team Gold Medals at Hamina, Finland and Falsterbo, Sweden. She also helped U.S. Show Jumping Chef d'Equipe George H. Morris and was the chef at the Hickstead, England, leg of the Samsung Super League where the U.S. team won the Gold Medal, and at Dublin, Ireland, where the U.S. won Silver. The Show Jumping Hall of Fame inducted Smith Taylor in 1998.

A long time "horse show dad," Peter Welles has been active in promoting and enhancing equestrian sport in the United States. He currently serves as a member of the United States Equestrian Team Foundation's National Advisory and Development Committees. He's also an active Grand Prix horse owner with mounts ridden by his son Andrew and by Olympian Chris Kappler.

His nonprofit involvement includes serving as President of the Kensington Conservancy, an Ontario-based land trust and as a Board Member of the Land Trust Alliance. He is also a Trustee of the Cricket Island Foundation and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Horse Show Association of America.

Former non-profit involvement includes having served as a Trustee of the Minnesota Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, including two years as Chair. Mr. Welles also served on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Land Trust, as Chair of the Blake School Parent Association and as a member of the United States Ski Team's Cross Country Competition Committee.

Mr. Welles is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has completed Harvard University's Initiative for Social Enterprise program, "Governing for Nonprofit Excellence."

Abigial S. Wexner, lawyer and community activist, is involved in philanthropic work nationally and locally, with a particular focus on children's issues. Mrs. Wexner is the Founder and Chair of the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence. In 1998, Mrs. Wexner created The New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day, an show jumping event designed to raise money annually for the Coalition. Since its inception, The Classic has raised over $15 million to benefit the Coalition.

Mrs. Wexner has competed in the equestrian arena and has young horses in training with top professionals such as Jeffery Welles and Beezie Madden. Mrs. Wexner is the owner of Authentic, Madden's Team Gold Medal mount in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, as well as numerous other up and coming Grand Prix horses.

Prior to moving to Columbus, OH, she practiced law from 1987 to 1992 with the London and New York offices of Davis, Polk & Wardwell. She is a graduate of the Dwight School, New York City; Barnard College at Columbia University, Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa; and New York University School of Law.

Mrs. Wexner is married to Leslie H. Wexner, chairman and founder of Limited Brands. They are the parents of four children, ranging in age from nine to thirteen years of age.

The United States Equestrian Team Foundation (http://www.uset.org) is the non-profit organization that supports the competition, training, coaching, travel and educational needs of America's elite and developing international, high-performance horses and athletes in partnership with the United States Equestrian Federation.

For more information on the USET Foundation, please call (908) 234-1251, or visit USET ONLINE at http://www.uset.org.



Photo Credit: From top left, clockwise: Frank Merrill, Melanie Smith Taylor, Peter Welles, and Abigail Wexner. Photos from top left, clockwise: Courtesy of the AQHA, Mike Maple, Kenneth Kraus, and Abigail Wexner. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.

 

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