I wanted to share with you some important informational links on programs that have been a key to my dressage development. I encourage everyone to explore the opportunities offered by these amazing programs. Do not let the ‘parameters’ or the seeming requirements of the applications deter you from applying. Many of the decisions on selection for these programs are not about the quality of your horse, or the level you are currently competing at! These programs often look only to your potential or need for support in training etc. Go for it! The worst thing that could happen is they say no. Even then you get practice and experience with applications, which as I recently learned is a big part of going to college!
The Emerging Dressage Athlete program which was began byLendon Gray, Robert Dover and Courtney King-Dye is a huge foundational growth opportunity. You submit an application and if enough riders in your area apply, a weekend clinic withLendon is coordinated. From those clinics 10 riders and 10 auditors are selected for the Robert Dover Horse Mastership Clinic in Wellington, Florida over the Christmas break. The application fee is minimal and if selected horses, accommodations, stabling and fees was 250.00. You have to get to the facility, do some meals and pay for family lodging but otherwise costs are covered. You get daily training from Olympic level trainers and workshops which teach everything from focus and visualization to how to handle the media. This program changed my life.http://www.usdf.org/education/clinics/jryr/index.asp
USEF National Youth Dressage and USDF president George Williams hold clinics around the country. This branches into the USEF Elite Youth Clinics. You have to submit an application to ride and the fee is 300$ if selected but again the level of training and exposure gives you the possibility of being selected for the elite clinic participation. This is a feeder to the NAJYRC and Long Term Strategic Planning program. I participated in this program twice with George Williams but didn’t last year because it was with Jeremy and he is already my coach! The Elite program has a similar purpose to EDAP except that Elite series has the additional step of the LTSP.http://www.youngriders.org/
NAJYRC is the premier competition for youths ages 14-21 in North America. There are two divisions junior and young rider and they have different levels of difficulty. Junior level is equivalent to fourth and Young Riders is PSG. The costs can be prohibitive as you have a certain number of qualifying shows and the competition is held in Lexington, KY at the KHP. The pamphlet link above has a general guideline for parents on that. Fundraising in the region can help defer those costs. If you are interested in participating and gaining the benefits of team fundraising call the NAJYRC Chef Jodi McMaster or email her. Her information is on the Region 6 Youth Dressage Form. If you have dreams of competing for the US Internationally, this is where you gain recognition and experience of performing at an FEI top performance level. You can see video links of rides and interviews on the usefnetwork.com website.
Also, check your breed association and local GMO for possible scholarship and academic opportunities. I have gotten to attend the national convention and the Robert Dover clinic because of money I was granted from the KWPN (Dutch Warmbloodsociety), my local dressage chapter and the USDF.
The USEF high school equestrian athlete program is also a great way to keep track of your training achievements and to be part of a larger group of other high school athletes. https://www.usef.org/highschool/ I love the letter jacket I earned the privilege to wear by being a four year participant. So many of us ride instead of participating in a high school sponsored sport and we miss out on the inclusion and this program makes you part of a support group. The t-shirts are really great too. I wear mine all the time because of the fit, they look great on.
Finally, I would encourage everyone to stay connected. Your biggest support base is each other. I could not have gone to EDAP if enough Region 9 riders hadn’t applied for the clinic to bring Lendon to Texas. I couldn’t have afforded to attend NAJYRC without team fundraising. I would not have won a team bronze and team silver in the Junior and Young rider division without a strong team that worked together to build support emotionally and financially. Today my friendships with Brandi and Genay have helped me dramatically to achieve my goals. So make friends support each other. Friend me onfacebook! I would love to keep up with your endeavors. Read my blog at http://dressagespot.blogspot.com/ to (hopefully) gain some insight into journaling, training and competing!