Lexington, KY-The 2014 Emerging Athletes Program, presented by Dover Saddlery, began its sixth year with three of nine Regional Training Sessions. The early-summer Training Sessions took place across the country in Canby, OR, Conyers, GA and Long Valley, NJ, and were led by renowned clinicians, expert stable managers and attended by some of the country's top emerging riders.
The 2014 EAP season kicked off with the first Training Session on June 4-8 in Canby, OR. Hosted at Oz Inc., lead clinician Cynthia Hankins and stable manager Nanci Snyder instructed a group of 19 eager riders on flatwork, course work as well as grooming, horsemanship and barn management skills. Hankins, a USEF R-rated judge in both Hunter and Hunter Seat Equitation, stressed the importance of flatwork, equitation and communication with the horse during the first clinic.
"The basis of our basics is flatwork," said Hankins. "When you are on course, how many seconds are you in the air? Much more time is spent on the flat [in between fences]." Hankins also stressed the importance of correct equitation by saying, "If you are out of position, you run the risk of not effectively communicating with your horse."
Communication between horse and rider was also the theme of the second Regional Training Session held June 8-12 at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, GA. Hosted by The Classic Company, and led by head clinician and five-time Olympian Anne Kursinski and stable manager Anne Thornbury, the group of 24 riders intently followed Kursinski's instruction and sound advice.
"If you want the horse to focus, then you have to focus. You are getting them to be with you. That is what the warm up is about. It is not just about jumping warm up jumps," said Kursinski. Kursinski also imparted a bit of wisdom on the young riders by telling them, "No drugs, no draw reins! Just ride and listen to your horse."
Prominent clinician, judge and breeder Julie Winkel and stable manager Colleen Reed finished out the last of the early-summer Training Sessions at Centenary College in Long Valley, NJ. Held June 16-20, the clinic was attended by 21 of the region's up-and-coming riders, including 2013 Children's Jumper North Regional Champion Ava Stearns.
Stearns, who received a complimentary spot to an EAP Regional Training Session of her choice upon winning the North Regional Children's Jumper Championships, was the first of four Regional Children's Jumper Championship winners to attend a 2014 EAP Training Session.
"I am really excited to be able to be a part of the 2014 EAP! It's nice to win great prizes at shows, but winning an opportunity is even better," said Stearns, upon winning the 2013 Children's Jumper North Regional Championship.
"The four days spent at Centenary were magical for Julie, Colleen and me," said EAP Task Force Chair Sally Ike, who attended the Training Session in Long Valley, NJ. "Julie and Colleen both did an incredible job teaching and expanding the knowledge of 21 talented young riders," she continued. "A testament to Julie's teaching particularly is how the kids rode their course on the last day of the clinic and how well the horses went. I walked it on Thursday evening with Julie and thought 'This is really hard. We're going to have some real problems tomorrow.' I couldn't have been proven more wrong! All the lessons Julie had taught through the week were tested in Conrad Homfeld's course, and all passed with flying colors! It was amazing!"
The remaining six EAP Regional Training Sessions will take place over the course of the summer months ending in Newburgh, NY on August 15. Auditing of EAP Regional Training Sessions is available and cost varies by clinic location. For more information regarding auditing, please visit the EAP page of the USHJA website.
About the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program (EAP)
Riders accepted into the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program begin their journey by participating in one of the multiple Regional Training Sessions offered throughout the summer months of June, July and August. During the extensive four-day training sessions, riders have the opportunity to work with top riding clinicians and some of the country's leading stable managers. Riders and horses participating in Regionals are instructed on flatwork, gymnastics, related distances and course work, as well as an experience an intensive stable-management curriculum that incorporates proper care and grooming, horsemanship skills and barn management. Riders also complete a written test as part of their evaluation for the National Training Session. Of the Regional Training Sessions, 16 riders are invited to participate in the National Training Session. Since the Program's inception in 2009, EAP National winners have gone on to accomplish numerous championships in the Hunter, Jumper and Equitation show rings.
The 2014 USHJA Emerging Athletes Program is supported in part by a generous grant from the United States Equestrian Federation.
USHJA extends its thanks and gratitude to the gracious hosts of the early-summer Regional Training Sessions: Jeff and Shelley Campf and the entire Oz Incorporated staff and volunteers, Bob Bell and The Classic Company as well as Natasha Klingenstein, Tim Cleary and the entire Centenary College staff.
To learn more about the Emerging Athletes Program, please visit www.ushja.org or contact Meghan Carney at (859) 225-6721.