Lexington, KY. - The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) wrapped up a successful launch of its Show Jumping Developing Rider, Young Horse, and Breeding Evaluation Clinic Pilot Program on Tuesday, August 4, at Spy Coast Farm in Lexington, Ky. Held during the BWP Keuring, this invitation-only clinic featured Belgium's Head Stallion Judge Boudewijn Schepers and offered a unique opportunity to learn from industry experts on young horse selection and development. A diverse group of 15 developing riders, young horse professionals, and breeders took part in the one-day session.
The architect of the program, USEF Show Jumping Development Chef d'Equipe/Technical Advisor DiAnn Langer, explains, "We started with the simple fact that we could develop our young riders, but they will still also need to have a parallel track for developing young horses. Our older generations have all developed their own horses; in contrast, our current generation of young riders have developed very few of their own horses. As breeders, we know that there is going to be a shortage of horses in the coming years, therefore we are trying to encourage these developing riders to have the desire to and learn how to develop young horses through educational programs such as this."
The participants began the day with some introductory discussions with clinicians Langer, Schepers, Spy Coast Farm owner Lisa Lourie, Spy Coast Farm Young Horse Trainer Willie Tynan, and Executive Director of the North American Studbook Jean Yves Tola, followed by a BWP Keuring.
"DiAnn and I both have a real desire to see our emerging athletes training up young horses," stated Lourie, who co-produces the Spy Coast Young Horse Show series with Tola. "DiAnn decided to augment the Keuring with demonstrations of how we conduct the young horse show series and the clinic was really a utilization of all the resources that we have. The participants were a good cross-section of riders, trainers, and breeders. It was a really good session with some good networking opportunities."
The participants spent the afternoon discussing pertinent topics such as pedigrees, conformation, microchipping, registration, and verification of age. Completing the day was a Spy Coast Farm Young Horse Show demonstration with free-jumping and a session with Tynan on the early stages of starting a horse, including hands-on instruction on long-lining.
Providing a well-rounded education on the process of breeding and developing young horses, the clinicians spoke specifically to the need to microchip and record horses. USEF Horse Recording & ID Task Force member and breeder Summer Stoffel explained, "It is very important that we are able to record and track what our horses do in the sport because then we can judge our breeding program, how successful it is, what decisions need to be made, and how we can best support the riders in the country by what we produce. In the United States, breeding and competing are two totally separate worlds - I hear all the time from breeders that they want to make the community more aware [of the horses being bred in the U.S.]. Programs like this bring awareness to the new generation of breeders and perhaps to people who are interested in breeding and developing young horses."
Participants included up-and-coming professional Denise Wilson, who recently represented the U.S. at CSIO3* Lisbon. Wilson stated, "I have a personal interest because I breed and have a few mares at home, so it is really fun and interesting for me. I think this is a very valuable program to bridge the gap between young riders and young horses and being able to develop with each other, so in the future we have not only competent riders, but we can develop young horses and we don't have to outsource for them. I like the validation that we have these great breeders in the U.S. and the next time I look for a young prospect I am for sure going to go around because there is quality right here in the U.S."
Michael Tokaruk, who recently participated in George Morris' Gladstone Program, was also inspired by the program's extensive educational offerings. "I think it's a wonderful program to try to bring young riders and professionals, like myself, to this aspect of the sport - where [U.S. young horses] come from, how they get started, and where they are going to come from in the future. The sport is getting more and more expensive, and we have to find more affordable avenues to acquire and develop horses and this program is a great way to do that. The whole program has been really valuable to me, and for me to be able to share with the owners I do have that are interested in breeding, that gives me better horses to ride in the future."
"We are extremely grateful to Spy Coast Farm and the clinicians who made this possible," said Lizzy Chesson, USEF Managing Director of Show Jumping. "USEF is thrilled to support this pilot program and we look forward to developing this program further, as it is of great importance that we enhance the pipeline for sport horses in the U.S."
Visit usef.org for more information