New in 2010 the USEF has developed the Dressage Talent Search Program as a means to identify combinations that have world-class potential. Up-and-coming dressage riders have had the opportunity to participate in clinics with USEF Developing Dressage Coach Debbie McDonald. Observation days are held one day prior to the USEF Developing Rider Training Sessions in which applicant riders present their horses in groups of up to three for 30 minute evaluations. McDonald then selects a limited number of horse/rider combinations from all the pairs observed that day and they are invited to participate in the USEF training session on the subsequent two days (with McDonald).
This program has been hugely successful and beneficial to all those who participated in the Talent Searches held in Thousand Oaks, CA, June 3-6 and in Gladstone, NJ on June 11. Held at Michael and Linda Fowler’s Epona Farms, the first Talent Search included 12 riders. McDonald was graciously able expand the length of the clinic, allowing for a larger number of riders to participate in two day sessions. This was a unique opportunity for the riders and gave McDonald more time to evaluate each horse/rider combination. High Performance rider Leslie Morse also took advantage of McDonald’s expert guidance and participated in the clinic.
At the USET Headquarters, Hamilton Farm, 10 riders participated in an observation session on June 11. With impressive performances from multiple riders McDonald selected four riders to attend the clinic on the following two days. The remaining six riders were invited to audit the clinic. Over the two days all riders experienced improvements in their horses and riding techniques, overall both the riders and McDonald felt it was an overwhelmingly positive atmosphere and valuable experience.
“I am so excited about the Talent Search program. It gives us the opportunity to see combinations that are not on a list yet,” said McDonald. “Hopefully, through this program, we can find up and coming talent and give them support and guidance. I encourage anyone that thinks they have a special horse to bring them to a Talent Search.”
The next observation day will take place July 9 in Gladstone, NJ for the McDonald clinic held July 10-11.