I can't think of any way our first Emerging Dressage Athletes clinic could have been better; even the weather miraculously cooperated. The clinic was Friday and Saturday and was capped off by a mini Youth Dressage Festival on Sunday combining equitation, a written exam, and a dressage test. For the clinic, as usual, Lendon Gray overextended herself and accepted more youths, which was fantastic; so she and I alternated, each teaching every other participant. When she was teaching, she'd give me something specific to focus on, or I'd give my two cents on something she didn't mention or couldn't see. This gave us the ability to concentrate on more than one thing at a time or say the same thing in different words that may impact the student differently.
I think it's an ultra exceptional opportunity for us to see and help young people without means particularly because several kids were lent horses to ride in the clinic. This is an unheard of opportunity.
I was very happy because the participants came in demonstrating the values we wish to instill including sportsmanship... not wanting to win because someone else does badly but rooting for them to do well, just striving to be better.
Another outlook that I think this program helps instill is that the horse comes before the sport. We all began dressage because of our love for the horse, but then sometimes love of the sport takes over. We all need to retain the essence that the love and care for the horse has precedence over competition.
Kim Boyer, who generously donated the Michigan facility of Hampton Green Farm, the staff to run the weekend, and endless hours of preparation, commented, "Putting on this weekend would not have been possible without the help of our show staff and volunteers. Lyn Kendall, the Show Manager, did a super job organizing and running the Festival, and Show Secretary Maureen Sharp, and Marilyn Fahringer managed the office as if it were major rated show. The parents all pitched in, down to one of the Dad's who has discovered he has a second career as a Dressage show announcer! It was so much fun for all of us, and there is already talk about next year."