The Emerging Dressage Athlete Program sponsored by horseshow.com and organized by Dressage4kids, Inc., has gotten off to a strong start in its inaugural year. Clinics have been held in Michigan, New York and Texas, with a megaclinic – the Robert Dover Horsemastership Week - to be held in Wellington FL from Dec. 26 – 31. The Emerging Dressage Athlete Program is for dressage competitors under the age of 21. It is meant be a stepping-stone from participating at the grassroots level to climbing the long ladder on the way to representing the U.S. in international competition and/or becoming a successful professional. Through this program, dedicated, talented dressage youth are being sought out in all parts of the U.S. through clinics as well as by talent spotters.
Riders for the Mega-Clinic held right after the Christmas Holiday are:
Riders selectedfor the first Robert Dover Horsemastership Week from observation at the regional clinics are:
*Robert Leuck, 14, NY
*Maddie Guthrie, 13, IL
*Kerrigan Gluch, 15, MI
*Koryn Staehling, 20, NY.
Riders selected from recommendations are:
*Isabelle Leibler, 16, FL, National and North American Young Rider Champion
*Brandi Roenick, 17, AR, National Young Rider Reserve Champion
*Rachel Chowanec, 17, CT, Reserve National Junior Champion
*Allison Cyprus, 13, TX, National Pony Rider Champion
*Bronwyn Cordiak, 14, TX, and Marlena Kurz, 16, TX, Dressage Seat Medal Final winners
*Rachel Robinson, 15. FL, overall winner 2011 Youth Dressage Festival
Dressage4kids, Inc is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization incorporated to provide educational and competitive opportunities for youth riders and adults who support them. D4K founder and president Lendon Gray, named to two U.S. Olympic dressage teams, developed the plan for the Emerging Dressage Athlete Program two years ago after seeing the incredible success of the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association’s Emerging Athlete Program. She asked six-time U.S. Olympic rider Robert Dover to join her in the endeavor, but he had a conflict as coach of the Canadian Dressage Team through 2010. This year, Dover and Gray asked Courtney Dye, a U.S. Olympic rider in 2008, to join the effort. These three Olympians are combining their individual efforts to find, educate and develop talented youth to become the international riders and trainers of the future.
Gray taught the 2011 regional clinics. “It was so exciting to discover some riders who are generally off the radar, riders with talent and determination who just haven’t had the chances to be successful in competition," Gray said. "There is some amazing talent among the youth in America. We just have to have a way to help them progress.”
The following are participating as official auditors. They will audit the riding sessions but will participate 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.
"I am so thrilled to be associated with the Emerging Dressage Athlete Program," said Dover. "I believe it will be the finest program for our youth ever produced and bring about the depth we need in our up-and-coming stars to ensure America will always have top medal-winning teams in the future."
These riders will have riding instruction from top riders and coaches Robert Dover, Anne Gribbons, Courtney Dye, Kathy Connelly, Lendon Gray, and Katherine Bateson Chandler. All participants will start each day doing a workout with physical trainer Bob Gutowitz. They will have lectures from international veterinarian Rick Mitchell, sports psychologist Jenny Susser, equine nutritionist Gabrielle Sutton, farrier Arnie Gervasio, equine therapist Arlene White, journalist Allison Brunelli, marketing and media expert Mary Phelps of DressageDaily.com, among others. There will also be a stable tour, tour of a vet clinic, and an afternoon watching top international riders schooling.
Potential riders under 21 are encouraged to apply for the Emerging Dressage Athlete Program at any time by filling out an application and sending in a short video of themselves riding. The application form may be found at www.dressage4kids.com. From these applications, when a suitable group has been found in an area, a clinic is set up. The selectors look for riders with correct and effective positions, correct timing of aids, a feel for rhythm, tempo, relaxation, balance, and throughness of the horse. During the clinic lessons, the instructors evaluate and try to improve the riders’ position, use of aids, knowledge, and suitability for competitive dressage. From these clinics riders are ranked, and the highest-ranked riders are invited to the National Horsemastership Week. All clinics include lectures and demonstrations on related subjects.