Lexington, KY - USEF Developing Dressage Clinics wrapped up for the Spring season last week in Loxahatchee, FL at Walter and Mary Anne McPhail's High Meadow Farm. The clinic schedule began in Thousand Oaks, CA at Michael and Linda Fowler's Epona Farms, January 7-8, and included clinics at High Meadow Farm, January 31-February 1 and April 3-4 and an additional clinic at Epona Farms, March 16-17. Focusing on the development of dressage talent in the U.S., these clinics are led by USEF Developing Dressage Coach Debbie McDonald and have been made possible by a gift from USET Foundation Trustee Akiko Yamazaki/Red Husky Foundation.
The first clinic in Florida included seven athlete/horse combinations: Susan Dutta with Currency DC, Silva Martin with Aesthete, Sharon McCucker with Wrigley, Caroline Roffman with Pie, Tami Batts with Ranko, John Lee Amber with Shakespeare RSF and Whit Watkins with Cipriani. In March on the West coast, combinations included Olympian Leslie Morse with her up-and-coming horses Excalibur and Ruby, Carolyn Adams with Winterprinz, David Blake with Royal Prinz and Lord Albert, Rebecca Rigdon with Solei and Adje, Brian Hafner with Lombardo LHF and Mette Rosencrantz with Finally. Back in Florida in April, McDonald saw six riders with seven horses: Caroline Roffman with Pie and Her Highness, JJ Tate with Faberge, Olivia LaGoy-Weltz with Riffalino, Devon Kane with Destiny, Chris Schruefer with De Facto and Stacey Parvey-Larson with Bendietto.
"I have now done four USEF Developing Dressage Clinic's, two on the West coast and two on the East coast. I have been extremely happy with the riders that have come to them," said McDonald. "On both coasts I have had several riders that participated in both clinics. For me this is the best, I can see the improvements and we can talk about the progress and the future. In Florida I also had some new riders; I see so much potential in several of these riders. For me the clinics are truly giving some of these riders training, not all of them have trainers or someone on the ground to be their eyes. We all know how hard it is to do this sport without someone. Some have to travel great distances to get to these clinics, but we are reaching out and touching a few."
Over two days, McDonald is able to work individually with each athlete/horse combination, striving to elevate performances and enhance training practices. Additionally, McDonald is available to speak to and provide advice to each rider on their training and competition plans.
"Debbie was a wonderful teacher who truly helped me to improve my horses each lesson," said Roffman. "I am not only inspired by her, but have some great new tools and plenty of homework! I will be the first to sign up for her lessons in the future."
In October, the clinic schedule will expand to include two Training Camps, allowing selected riders to work intensively with McDonald over five-days.
"These camps are going to be informative, educational and fun," said McDonald. "It will give the riders a chance to focus on just themselves. A luxury they don't normally get to do."
The first Training Camp will take place October 9-13 at the USET Foundation headquarters in Gladstone, NJ and the second, October 23-27 at Epona Farms. In addition, McDonald will be available to assist competitors at the USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championships presented by the Dutta Corporation and PSI and hold two clinics in September.