For six-time Olympic Dressage competitor and trainer Robert Dover described the last week of 2011 “one of the highlights of my professional career.” Combining forces with fellow USA Dressage Olympians Lendon Gray and Courtney Dye in the final clinic of the 2011 Emerging Dressage Athletes Program, Dover introduced the inaugural Robert Dover Horsemanship Week, modeled after the successful program for Young Jumper Riders Emerging Athlete Program and the annual George Morris Horsemanship Week. It was not just a highlight for Dover, but for all other participants: riders, auditors, parents, lecturers, trainers and sponsors and host families. From the superstars of American Young Riders ranks to the emerging talent hand picked by Gray from clinics and shows throughout the USA, America’s future stars and medalists were given the attention they deserve and need in the inaugural program developed to support the future of the US Dressage program. And what a week it was!
American Young Rider Superstars Gain New Insights, Guidance and Support
Attend any Young Rider competition in Europe and at the sidelines are some of the top riders, trainers, and officials of Dressage sport watching carefully, coaching and developing the talent they know will be needed to maintain their status in the top rankings of their Olympic and World Equestrian Games Teams. With so much focus and emphasis placed on the American high performance teams and competition, there has been a need to build the same kind of foundation in America for the youth. Given the size of the country, the demanding schedules placed on our High Performance competitors, the Young Rider program has lacked just that, a program designed for creating opportunities and nurturing the young talent who are passionate and dedicated to excelling in the Dressage discipline.
Seventeen young athletes were invited to participate December 26-31, based on their achievements, applications and participation in clinics throughout the country where EDAP Talent scouts carefully selected those who were invited to attend a week long session at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All their travel costs were covered, host families provided housing and meals, quality horses were provided for those unable to bring their own, lectures, training sessions, clothing, saddle pads and hats were given by the multiple sponsors who came on board to help make the inaugural event the success that it was.
National Young Rider Gold and Silver medalists Isabelle Leibler 16, and Brandi Roenick travelled far over the holiday week invited on their achievements in 2011. Leibler who lives and trains in Florida had just returned from the World Cup for Young Riders, where as the youngest US rider to compete at the International event in Frankfort, Germany she finished second in the B division, following a thrilling and enlightening trip including an extended stay at Schafhof, the farm of Ann Katrin Linsenhof, Klaus-Martin Rath and Matthias Rath and Totilas. Giving her horse Watson deserved rest he earned after the trip, the NAJYRC Double Gold Medalist and USEF National Young Rider Champion, was on hand to audit the multiple sessions held throughout the week. "I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the Emerging Dressage Athlete Program, ” Leibler commented. “The entire week added a whole different depth to my education as a rider, and I look forward to seeing the program grow and prosper in the future."
Brandi Roenick spends most of the winter in California training with Steffen Peters competing on the California circuit. Roenick comes from a sports oriented family background grounded in Dressage and Hockey. Her Dad, Jeremy Roenick is a retired NHL Hockey star and is now a sports commentator, and her Mom, Tracy an FEI Dressage rider, who along with Steffen Peters has helped her rise to the top of her Young Rider game. But it was at the training sessions, lectures and Wellington experience which added a new dimension to Roenick’s budding career.
“The EDAP was definitely an amazing experience. It changed how I rode in a very short time. I love a good challenge and I love achieving a goal,” Roenick said. “In Florida they challenged me to see what I could really do with challenging horses. I felt that I had successfully reached what everyone wanted to see and how I wanted it to feel. Nothing feels better than to be given a good hard challenge and coming out of it successfully. “The EDAP has opened another door for me in my riding career. I’m excited to see where I go now in my riding. I will not stop until I get it right.” At the Dressage Getaway held two week after she returned to California, she did get it right, scoring a 74% in her Freestyle with her mare Pretty Lady.
Rachel Chowanec was the USEF Reserve National Junior Champion following a stellar season on 13-year-old PRE (Pura Raza Española or Pure Spanish Horse) gelding Embrujado XI, affectionately known as “Mouse”. A Lendon Gray protégé, Chowanec has been riding with her mentor since the age of 9-years-old, with a solid seat which has earned her many wins on the Florida circuit and accolades including the Trilogy Best Seat Award. Her experience in the saddle and in competition has earned her accolades under tough European judges coming to the United States each year. At the EDAP/Robert Dover Horsemastership Week, Chowanec was able to share her experiences with up and coming hopefuls and to fine-tune her riding skills throughout the week in preparation for the busy season about to begin. “I have never learned so much in such a little time! Having almost everyone telling me the same thing made a difference,” Chowanec explained, “such as bring the shoulders around first in the
Pirouette, or use your inside leg in the shoulder in and half pass. It all seems so simple but to have it repeated for a week seems to help incredibly!”
Allison Cyprus, 13, TX, National Pony Rider Champion, Bronwyn Cordiak, 14, TX, and Marlena Kurz, 16, TX, Dressage Seat Medal Final winners, and Rachel Robinson, 15. FL, overall winner 2011 Youth Dressage Festival rounded out the elite list of riders invited to participate setting the example for the others who came invited after observation clinics and applications submitted. Those riders included Robert Leuck, 14, NY, Maddie Guthrie, 13, IL, Kerrigan Gluch, 15, MI
and Koryn Staehling, 20, NY.
Participating as official auditors for the the riding sessions they participated in all other activities: Megan Heeder, 18, MI: Emilly Gillispie, 16, OH: Eleni Econopoly, 15, NY; Jessica Hainsowrth, 15, NY; Kylie Heitman, 16, MI; Chelsea Reed, 16, FL; and Ayden Uhlir, 16, TX.
Bronwyn Cordiak spoke for all participants when she said “I wanted to tell you how honored I am to have been able to attend the clinic with all of the incredible trainers, speakers and other riders. I loved meeting everyone and feel like I made a lot of new friends and learned so much. I am rewriting all the lectures into a different notebook so I can go back and look at my notes over and over. This clinic week made me sure that I want to make horses and competing a part of my life. I am so excited for the show year ahead!”
Stay tuned all week on DressageDaily, as we continue to add impressions, tips, highlights and reports from several of the participants in the inaugural EDAP/RD Horsemastership Week.