At a time when most people are finishing last-minute shopping and getting ready to travel for the Christmas holiday, a group of young dressage riders are making final preparations of a very different kind. Soon after opening presents on Christmas Day, eighteen talented equestrians from across the country will attend the Emerging Dressage Athlete Program (EDAP)'s inaugural Robert Dover Horsemastership Clinic, to be held December 26 - 30 in Wellington, FL on the new Global Dressage Festival grounds. Modeled after the highly successful and popular George Morris Horsemastership Clinics (held annually for the hunter/jumper disciplines) this EDAP initiative will be the first event of its kind in the United States with the purpose of developing future athletes and stars for the sport of dressage, and will be generously sponsored by online horse show network HorseShow.com.
The Emerging Dressage Athlete Program (EDAP) was developed by Olympians Lendon Gray, Robert Dover, and Courtney King-Dye, who are combining their talents and expertise in a joint effort to find, help educate, and develop talented youth to become the international dressage riders and trainers of the future. The program, for dressage competitors under the age of 21, is meant as a stepping-stone from participating at the grassroots level to climbing the long ladder on the way to representing the United States in international competitions and/or becoming a successful professional.
The inaugural Robert Dover Horsemastership Clinic Sponsored by HorseShow.com is a culmination of the EDAP effort to find and nurture young dressage talent while emphasizing hands-on horsemanship skills. Eleven riders and seven auditors from across the country, ranging in age from 12 to 20, have been invited based upon their participation and success in regional clinics and national competitions such as the NAJYRC and USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals. With most participants mounted on borrowed horses and traveling from across the country, these young riders will enjoy six days of a concentrated format of instruction from some of the sport's best athletes and coaches, including Robert Dover, Lendon Gray, Courtney King-Dye, Anne Gribbons, Kathy Connelly, and Katherine Bateson-Chandler. In addition to this intensive riding regimen, participants will attend demonstrations and lectures presented by some of the sport's leading riders, industry experts, and professionals.
Riders selected for the first Robert Dover Horsemastership Week from observation at the regional clinics include Robert Leuck, 14, and Koryn Staehling, 20, both from New York; Maddie Guthrie, 13, of Illinois; and Kerrigan Gluch, 15, from Michigan. In addition, seven riders have been invited based upon competitive success, including Isabelle Leibler, 16, of Florida (National and North American Young Rider Champion); Brandi Roenick, 17, from Arizona (National Young Rider Reserve Champion); Connecticut's Rachel Chowanec, 17 (Reserve National Junior Champion); 15-year-old Rachel Robinson of Florida (overall winner 2011 Youth Dressage Festival; and three riders from Texas, including Allison Cyprus, 13 (National Pony Rider Champion), and Dressage Seat Medal Finals winners Bronwyn Cordiak, 14, and Marlena Kurz, 16. Seven additional aspiring dressage stars will attend the clinic as official auditors, where they will audit the riding sessions while actively participating in all other educational activities. These include Megan Heeder, 18, and Kylie Heitman, 16, from Michigan; 16-year-old Emilly Gillispie of Ohio; New York's Eleni Econopoly and Jessica Hainsowrth, both 15; Chelsea Reed, 16, of Florida; and Ayden Uhlir, 16, traveling from Texas.
"America's long-term success hinges upon our young riders having a world-class education, not only in dressage but in overall horsemanship, and this is why we have developed this program," explained six-time Olympian Robert Dover. "I am honored to be conducting this special 'Horsemastership' week, along with many of our top professionals, where our fantastic kids will have the chance to work with and learn from great trainers, veterinarians, farriers, sports psychologists and even personal trainers! "
Through its revolutionary online video competition format, HorseShow.com offers riders a way to assess their readiness for competition, receive expert feedback, further educate themselves, and improve their skills. HorseShow.com's online dressage competitions offer classes for a variety of tests which are judged by renowned USEF and FEI officials. "We are pleased to sponsor this inaugural Robert Dover Horsemastership Clinic," said Jeff Sloan, CEO and founder of HorseShow.com. "Encouraging and developing our nation's next generation of riders is critical for the future of the horse sports we love, and HorseShow.com is proud to support this effort."
"We are thrilled at the community's great support for the program and want to especially thank HorseShow.com for generously coming on as our Presenting Sponsor," noted Dover. "We look forward to an exciting, educational and fun week for all involved."
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