The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and its High Performance Dressage Committee have awarded training grants to participants of the 2013 USEF Developing Dressage Program. The grants have been made possible by a generous gift from Akiko Yamazaki and Red Husky Foundation through the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation. These grant recipients were chosen following review of their performances in 2013 observation and training sessions, and after a review of their training and competitions plans for 2013 and 2014. USEF Developing Coach, Debbie McDonald, and USEF Developing Coach Advisors, Lendon Gray, Scott Hassler, Jeremy Steinberg, and Anne Gribbons. Here’s what the athletes shared:
Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Florida) on Patricia Stempel’s Danilo, a 2004 Hanoverian gelding, shared, “I have used some of this grant to have Johann Hinnemann's coaching at the Festival of Champions. I plan to use the rest of it to have coaching from Robert Dover and Debbie McDonald during the remainder of 2013. I can only give Akiko a big THANK YOU for all she has contributed for our riders to further our training and competition skills to make for the best teams for the USA!”
Kimberly Herslow (Stockton, New Jersey) on Kiroli Enterprises LLC’s Rosmarin, a 2005 Hanoverian gelding, shared, “I plan to use the grant specifically for my training with Lars Petersen through this coming season in Florida. Our goal is to facilitate the transition for Reno and I to Grand Prix. The timing of the award is perfect, and we are so grateful to have been chosen as one of the recipients. I want to personally thank the USEF and Akiko Yamazaki for their support to continue to promote American Dressage and the upcoming horses and riders to the highest level of the sport.”
Jami Kment (Palmyra, Nebraska) on her own Zania, a 2004 Dutch Warmblood mare, shared, “When I received word that Zania and I were one of the USEF Developing Grant recipients it literally brought tears to my eyes. This generous grant, so graciously offered is a huge blessing. Zania is an amazing mare and we face the challenges that come along with living in Nebraska, nothing is close by. We have both worked hard and sacrificed much to get to where we are today, (Zania thinks that she spends way too much time in the trailer). This grant will allow us to travel to Florida this winter, where I can concentrate on our training with my coach Kathy Connelly. Using this money wisely, we will also be able to travel to Massachusetts this summer for another extended time of training. Our plan is to continue to develop Zania to her fullest potential as a top Grand Prix contender. I am incredibly thankful to the High Performance Committee, Akkio Yamazaki, and Debbie McDonald for believing that we are worth investing in. We plan on making you proud!”
Brian Hafner (Penngrove, California) on his own and Dr. Rebecca Hafner’s Lombardo LHF, a 1999 Hanoverian gelding, shared, “I am very honored to receive a grant from the USEF Developing Rider Program. As a young professional it is very hard to balance: trying to make a living teaching, and riding, while also continuing my own education. This grant helps make my goal of continuing my education and training with my horse Lombardo more attainable. This grant has already allowed us to work intensively with Johann Hinnemann at the USEF Festival of Champions. I will ride in a clinic with him later this fall. This grant will also allow us more consistent help and eyes on the ground from my coaches. I am very thankful to the USEF developing dressage program and Akiko Yamazaki for her generous donations to the program. I would also like to thank Debbie McDonald and all of the USEF coaches. The support from this team has been unbelievable and I am excited for the future!”
Silva Martin (Unionville, Pennsylvania) on Rosa Cha W Syndicate’s Rosa Cha W, a 2004 Warmblood mare, shared, “First I would like to thank Akiko Yamazaki and Red Husky Foundation for making these grants possible. I would also like to thank the selectors for their confidence in me and Rosa Cha in awarding us this opportunity. I do not have consistent help at home so this grant is critical in affording me the ability to train and compete in Wellington for the season with Debbie McDonald and Michael Barisone. My goal will be to strengthen Rosa at Small Tour and build upon this foundation with her debut to Grand Prix in 2015. I will work as hard as possible to affirm the selector's confidence in choosing us!”
Nora Batchelder (Williston, Florida) on her own Bahai, a 2004 Hanoverian mare, shared, “First of all, thank you so much to the USEF High Performance Committee, the USEF Developing Dressage Program, and the generous sponsors that make these Developing Grants possible. My very much appreciated grant will be used to work with Debbie McDonald and Shelly Francis toward finishing the grand prix work on Bahai, a Harmony’s Barocelli/Rotspon mare, and get her to the Developing Horse Grand Prix next year and hopefully the CDI Grand Prix soon after. The goal is not just to get Bahai there, but the chance to learn more about how to train horses to that level from these prolific High Performance Grand Prix trainers. I have trained several horses to be nice, national level grand prix horses, but I want to make that giant leap to learn how to train CDI grand prix horses that perform with maximum expression and finesse. Our 2013-2014 grant plan has already been in motion. The plan for this year was to get Bahai in the show ring, especially at some bigger shows, like regionals and nationals. Bahai had not been shown much before this year, as we took our time starting out, actually competing in the rated jumpers when she was five and six, as she hadn’t yet learned to enjoy dressage. In the spring, our plan started with qualifying for the Markel Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Championships. We went to the Hassler Dressage Training Session in July to work with Debbie McDonald in preparation for the championships. Then, in August it was on to the championships at Lamplight where we were fortunate to get to work with Debbie several more times and finish in the top six. The next step was to compete at the Great American Insurance Group Region 3 Championships in October at the site of the 1996 Olympic Games. Bahai dealt with the large venue very well, winning her huge, 35 horse, Open Prix St. Georges Championship with a 71.908%. So, the next step is tackling the big Kentucky Horse Park venue for the inaugural US Dressage Finals, where Bahai will compete in the Prix St. Georges and Intermediare I. Then it will be back to work with Debbie and Shelly toward getting in the Developing Grand Prix ring in spring 2014. None of this would be possible without the Developing Horse Program, so thank you again to the program and the generous sponsors who make these dream-realizing grants a possibility for riders like me.”
Sarah Lockman (Rancho Cucamonga, California) on Pamela Munson’s Vinterpol, a 2002 North American Dutch Warmblood stallion, shared:
Sarah Lockman (25 years old from Highland, CA) and Vinterpol (11 year old KWPN Gelding Bred by Natalie Bryant and DG Bar Ranch, American bred), owned by Pamela Munson (of Burbank, CA) were recipients of the 2013 Developing Dressage grant. Sarah was overjoyed to first, be accepted into this program and receive such valuable training time with Debbie McDonald who is an incredible coach/mentor. Then to hear that she was selected as one of the few to receive the Developing Dressage grants was like a dream come true. Sarah and Vinterpol will be using this grant money for training this fall/winter to work towards the Grand Prix level with some of the first class trainers/coaches that are available in Southern California including Guenter Sidel, Debbie McDonald, Kathy Pavlich, Judy Harvey, and Burt Rutten. Sarah and Vinterpol have also been recently accepted into the High Performance Dressage Observation and Strategic Planning Sessions in preparation for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games where she will be working with Robert Dover in clinics once this fall and twice in the spring. Sarah and Vinterpol look forward to the packed winter of training as it is always so exciting to see the development of the team as the training progresses. Sarah would like to thank Akiko Yamazaki and her Red Husky Foundation through the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation for making this possible, as well as the selectors Debbie McDonald, Jeremy Steinberg, Scott Hassler, Anne Gribbons and Lendon Gray. Sarah wants to thank these programs for believing in Vinterpol and herself as this is such an incredible opportunity to train to be a contender in the high performance competitions that would not be possible otherwise.
Jessica Jo (JJ) Tate (Wellington, Florida) on Elizabeth Guarisco’s Faberge, a 2003 Westphalian gelding, shared, "I'd like to start with a huge thank you to Akiko Yamazaki for creating this wonderful opportunity for up and coming talented pairs! Also a big thank you to everyone on the USEF Dressage High Performance Committee who selected me and Faberge to receive this amazing grant. I am truly honored to be included in this great group of riders and horses. I plan to continue working with Scott Hassler on a weekly basis and during the Florida season, and also Debbie McDonald will come as often as she can. I normally ride with Steffen Peters when he comes to town, so that will be terrific as well. I am also hoping to take advantage of Robert Dover being down the street, and hope to get over for lessons there too. Fiji is a special horse, but also one who needs nice easy days too, so I'm hoping to find a nice mix of high performance lessons and shows, while sharing him with his wonderful owner, Elizabeth Guarisco. I'd like to give a huge thanks to her as well, as she has let me take the horse we found for her, and let me follow my dreams on him! I'm very blessed!"