The Great Southwest Equestrian Center played host to an EAP regional training session of twelve riders, Olympian and lead clinician Joe Fargis, and expert stable manager Colleen Reed, June 22-26. Fargis focused on teaching proper contact and suppleness of the aids to the young riders."Your horse should be comfortable with your hand," stated Fargis. "It should be steady, soft and connected. You can't go wrong with a straight line from the mouth to your elbow. It is classic and correct."
Several days later, 12 eager young riders gathered at Whip N Spur in Wilsonville, OR, for the mid-summer EAP regional training session held July 1-5. Led by head clinician Julie Winkel and stable manager Nanci Snyder, riders were instructed on flatwork, coursework and an intensive stable management curriculum. Despite a local heatwave, riders persevered and under the tutelage of Julie Winkel, improved greatly over the course of the four-day clinic. Winkel, who has been a USEF "R" licensed Hunter and Hunter Seat Equitation judge since 1984, and is also a USHJA Certified Trainer, imparted several words of wisdom to the young riders.
"Horses are not vehicles for our own ego," said Winkel. Her instruction focused on horsemanship and the partnership between horse and rider, implying that the blue ribbon is not always the goal. "If we have a better horse at the end of the lesson, show, or clinic, then we've done our job!"
Riders also took a special trip to tour Wild Turkey Farm, a world-class sport horse breeding and training facility in Wilsonville, OR.
Midway across the country, 21 young riders gathered in Roscoe, IL, July 13-17, at Ledges Sporting Horses for a four-day regional training session with Olympic medalist and head clinician Chris Kappler and head stable manager Anne Thornbury.
Thornbury was also the lead stable manager at the July 26-30, regional training session at The Jaeckle Centre in Thompson's Station, TN, where she worked alongside veteran show jumper, USHJA Certified Trainer and lead clinician Candice King to instruct a group of 11 up-and-coming riders.
King, who has competed at the highest level of show jumping in the United States and abroad, provided sound advice to the EAP athletes, encouraging them to "ride in the moment" and to watch, study and learn whenever they have the opportunity. King noted that she used to watch the top show jumpers in the schooling area and that she would go to competitions in her area even if she wasn't showing to watch those riders compete. King also encouraged the riders to take a position as a working student and to "never stop learning."
"Always be your horse's advocate, educate yourself to be the best horseman you can be and never stop learning!" echoed Thornbury.
Thornbury, who has acted as lead stable manager for three of the 2015 regional training sessions thus far, had high praise for all of the students she has taught in the Emerging Athletes Program this year. "I have been very fortunate to have had the privilege to work with three great groups of riders," she stated. "From ages 12-21 and from varying backgrounds, they have all been eager to learn and willing to work hard, literally from dawn until dusk. In today's world of 'full care' stables it's refreshing to me to see such a nice group of young people that are still so interested in learning about all aspects of horse care as well as the riding. No top rider ever made it to the top purely on their riding skills!"
For more information regarding auditing and for the full schedule of clinics, please visit www.ushja.org/EAP.