Emerging Dressage Athlete’s third annual Robert Dover Horsemastership Week will be upon us in one month! You have all heard me talk about this program several times. I credit it with helping me to make a lot of changes which helped me to build my personal commitment to dressage and my goals. I have spoken about making friends, about learning so much about the industry and how it works. I have learned from this clinic about the countless of potential careers in our industry and how we are not lone solitary riders but networks of teams producing a few minutes of harmony and beauty. I haven’t spent much time talking about the hard work that all the volunteers but into this program. Lendon works tirelessly to help find and encourage young raw talent. I remember my first clinic with her in Texas. When I got selected as an auditor I felt so honored. I felt all of the years of hard work were finally being noticed. That someone saw I had potential gave me motivation. I mean sure my parents thought so, and my trainers told my parents so but that is kind of the job of parents and trainers. They try to encourage you. Here was someone who didn’t seem like the type to give false praise telling me I was doing something ‘perfectly.’
I want to thank all of the presenters, lecturers, sponsors and trainers in advance for all of their time and energy. But I also want to ask all of you to think how you might be able to help. In this individual sport it is often easy to as Jeremy calls it, “become insular.” We think about our horses, our injuries, our tests and we don’t take time to think of the big picture; our industry as a whole. In order for more breeders to put out dressage horses, in order for trainers to select horses for dressage and not more lucrative ventures, in order for young riders to skip the thrill of jumping fences and ride endless circles, in order for the media to see us as something other than horse dancers we need to work on our industry as a whole. And like most things it will take time, energy and be the results of lots of people doing lots of little things that will make our industry grow. When I was little my mother explained teamwork to me this way. Put a lot of different toys in the bath tub and then turn on the water very slowly. Watch what happens as all the little molecules of water begin to become more and more. All of the toys rise and begin to be lifted; together. The more little drops of water that fill the tub, the higher all of the toys rise. So we in the dressage industry are the toys but we are also the water for each other.
So how do we help to develop future dressage enthusiasts who will need trainers, breeders, farriers, vets and other support teams? We encourage young people to build their love of the sport. EDAP and the USEF Youth clinics, the HSEA program, the International Dream Rider program, the USDF shining star program and many others all support this type of participation. So think about what you can do to help these programs. EDAP and the RDHMW always needs supplies, funds for costs and most importantly as time draws near; horses for the selected riders to use at the clinic in Wellington. Most of these young riders are selected through local clinics. They have talent and ability that Lendon, Robert, Courtney or other clinicians see as something that could be developed; just like they did in me. Many don’t have the access to top quality horses and they look forward to coming to EDAP for the experience of riding a horse they wouldn’t get to ride at home. All the riders want to get up and shine in front of their heroes. It is really scary to get on a completely unknown horse for the first time and then walk directly into a lesson with Jan Ebeling or Tina Konyot! I know I have done it. I was so excited for my chance to show them something, to have them remember me. I bet Tina does because I cried when I couldn’t even get my mount to trot or canter. He was so freaked out, his tail was spinning in circles, his eyes were rolled back in his head and he was covered in lather after a matter of minutes from anxiety sweat. I am so blessed and thankful that Rick Silva jumped in and got me another horse the next day. However, I will not forget how horrible I felt with my ‘failure’ in front of Tina. So what I am asking you readers today, if you are in Wellington or know someone in the Wellington area that might have an FEI horse that these 10 amazing riders could borrow from Jan 1-7 please contact Lendon Gray. You can find her on FB! Also if you or your company can donate money, time, lunch, or anything else that will help make this once in a lifetime event so memorable that it becomes for all the riders and auditors the ‘game changer’ that Robert Dover called it when it began 3 years ago; then please help any way you can. I know it was a game changer for me.