USEF Dressage Seat Medal Program is Not Just About Sitting Pretty

Emma Patterson of Houston, Texas brought her own Welsh Cob pony Wynshire’s Valiant to win the 13 and under division at the 2012 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final presented by Dressage Today®79.000%
Emma Patterson of Houston, Texas brought her own Welsh Cob pony Wynshire’s Valiant to win the 13 and under division at the 2012 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final presented by Dressage Today®79.000%

The USEF Dressage Seat Medal presented by Dressage Today® is a program and championship established in 2009 which celebrates excellence in equitation and strives to develop a solid foundation for future success in the international dressage arena. “The medal seat final is on a good track in encouraging riders and their support teams; parents and trainers to put a stress on their seats and ability to sit well,” commented USEF Youth Coach Jeremy Steinberg, who was also competing in the Young Horse Division at Lamplight this year. Also watching each competitor closely was Olympian Debbie McDonald the USEF Developing coach who added “It is no secret that this is an area that we need to improve in our sport. We need young riders and trainers capable of bringing up well-trained horses. If we can continue to generate the excitement and importance of this division I think we will see this happen.”

Jan Ebeling was on hand to coach his student Genay Vaughn of Elk Grove, CA Junior Young Rider Veteran who believes in the importance of the equitation program and won the 14 and older division with 81.000
Jan Ebeling was on hand to coach his student Genay Vaughn of Elk Grove, CA Junior Young Rider Veteran who believes in the importance of the equitation program and won the 14 and older division with 81.000

The 2012 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals Championships at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois was held in conjunction with the 2012 Markel/USEF National Dressage Championships for Young Horses and Developing Horse for The Prix St. Georges and Grand Prix. With USEF Youth Coach Jeremy Steinberg and USEF Developing Coach Debbie McDonald present along with other top Olympians and trainers for a full week in August focused on the future of American Dressage. The Dressage Seat Medal program is where it all begins for laying down the foundation of a good seat and hands in our aspiring young riders. It was tough to pick a winner from the sidelines as the quality was at it’s best this year.

“I think this is an area where a riders position and feel can be rewarded,” added McDonald, excited about the program and opportunity to discuss it with DressageDaily. “We all know that without a good position and good feel, it is impossible to produce a balanced, supple, and relaxed horse.” Impressed by the number of participants including some who have already done Young Riders, McDonald noted that these competitors “Still felt this was an important division and wanted to show off their talents.”

USEF Youth coach Jeremy Steinberg and KGF Harmony competed at the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Championships 2012
USEF Youth coach Jeremy Steinberg and KGF Harmony competed at the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Championships 2012

The USEF Showjumping Medal program has been a longtime established Championship covering different regions in the USA is the stepping-stone for many of America’s top young talent into the showjumping world. It is the norm that many of the equitation horses are borrowed or leased specifically for this championship. Following the World Championship format where the top placed four horse and rider combinations switch horses to determine the final phase of the championships, this is a format both USEF Dressage coaches would like to see the Dressage Medal program evolve into. “The fact that some of the Dressage equitation competitors had to ride borrowed horses shows their ability to get on a strange horse figure out what they had to work with and got the job done. A big Thank you also needs to go out to the people that donated those horses. I would love to see a class in the future where the top five or so would switch horses for the final work off.” Steinberg agrees this is a direction that would make the program more beneficial to future generations. “I'd LOVE to see the youth at the medal seat final all have to trade and swap horses. To see them on different horses, in different saddles, with different reins, with different movers under you are really able to see a riders seat at work. The results or winner of the championships could be an accumulation of the judges seeing them in this manner. That way you can have faith that a rider hasn’t learned just to sit pretty on top of his or her own horse, but to really be able to sit well on any horse.”

Emma Patterson met Jan Ebeling at the 2012 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals following the Olympics where Emma attended and saw Jan compete.
Emma Patterson met Jan Ebeling at the 2012 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals following the Olympics where Emma attended and saw Jan compete.

“We talk about a riders seat, but we also have to recognize this includes a riders ability to keep their hands quiet, their heels down, their bodies still and on top of all that, still be loose and strong all at the same time.” Added Steinberg. “They have to learn that being a good rider means you can be strong or passive at any moments notice. You have to be able to go from full power to full relaxation both in your horse, but ALSO yourself. Talking about the riders ‘seat’ is really talking about the rider’s ability to ‘sit independently’ and that is where the stress needs to be placed when we are teaching and working with a riders seat.

One of my biggest complaints while traveling the country whether as the USEF Youth Coach or doing private clinics is the lack of a really good independent seat not just in our kids, but also in adults. When I was really learning to ride, not a week went by that my trainer Dietrich von Hopffgarten didn't make me ride without stirrups whether I was in a lesson or not,” recalls Steinberg. “I don't see that a lot these days when I travel. We should be seeing it more than we are and encouraging it more than we are and the Medal Seat Finals is a really good push in that direction.”
The 2013 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals presented by Dressage Today® will take place at the Stanley Park Fairgrounds in Estes Park, CO, August 15-18.

The 2012 Dressage Seat Medal Finals were held August 24-26 at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, IL. Genay Vaughn from Elk Grove, CA was crowned the 2012 Dressage Seat Medal Final Champion (14-18 division) while Emma Patterson of Houston, TX reigned supreme in the 13 & under division.
Results
13 & Under Division
1.Emma Patterson (Houston, TX) & Wynshire’s Valiant—79.000%
2.Madeline Joy (Enumclaw, WA) & Diamonds N Roses—78.000%
3.Tillie Jones (Lincoln, NE) & MGRM Darby O’Gill—76.000%
4.Melanie Doughty (Cocoa Beach, FL) & Bella Luna GP—72.000%
5.Danielle Grosse (Mt. Pleasant, SC) & Pilikua Koa—69.000%
6.Maximilian Brockway (Enumclaw, WA) & Moonlight Sonata—68.000%
7.Katherine Esterline (Williamston, MI) & Hideaways Erin Prophet—63.000%
8.Madeleine Ramon (San Antonio, TX) & Olnia Beauty GP—61.000%

14-18 Division
1.Genay Vaughn (Elk Grove, CA) & Anakin—81.000%
2.Rachel Robinson (Orlando, FL) & Ucarius—80.000%
3.Molly Mead (Johns Island, SC) & Tiramisu—78.000%
4.Jennifer Salinger (Bannockburn, IL) & Leopold—76.000%
5.Kalie Beckers (Independence, LA) & Bienvenu ZSH—75.000%
6.Mallory Kent (Birmingham, AL) & Okidokie—72.000%
7.Rebecca Blake (Auburn, WA) & Raymond—71.000%
8.Kaitlin McCowin (Enumclaw, WA) & Star Spangle Banner—70.000%




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