Friday, January 17, 2014
A Feast of Dressage: Four Days in Florida
This year, we have the good fortune to enjoy back-to-back USDF educational events in "Wellie World," aka the Wellington, Florida, area.
This weekend is the every-other-year Young Rider Graduate Program, co-hosted by the USDF and the United States Equestrian Federation. It's followed immediately by the annual two-day Succeed/USDF FEI-Level Trainers' Conference.
I'll be blogging during the course of both events, bringing you photos and highlights from both programs. To get things started, here's a little bit of background information about the programs' focus and this year's headliners.
Some years ago, the USDF in conjunction with the USEF realized a need for an educational bridge between the FEI Young Rider ranks and the world of dressage professionals and open competition. Kids were finding themselves equipped with riding skills but woefully ignorant of knowledge of business, insurance, legal issues, client and sponsor dealings, and the like.
Selected Young Rider Graduate Program applicants receive two days chock-full of lectures from leading experts on the above topics as well as from the people they probably admire the most: well-known dressage pros. This weekend's lineup includes such marquee names as Catherine Haddad Staller, Lilo Fore, Janet Foy, and Lendon Gray. As an added bonus, the young pros or aspiring pros get to have dinner with some equally lofty luminaries, including Olympian and current national dressage chef d'equipe Robert Dover.
Then on Monday, we're off to the beautiful High Meadow Farm in Loxahatchee for the Succeed/USDF FEI-Level Trainers' Conference. Last year's event, with Olympian Steffen Peters and US national dressage young-horse coach Scott Hassler, was such a smash hit that the dynamic duo of S&S is back this year.
The Trainers' Conference, as its name suggests, is a type of symposium conducted for trainers of horses working at the FEI levels. The clinicians encourage dialog and questions from the participants as well as from the demonstration riders. Together the demo riders and horses at these conferences constitute some of US dressage's best and brightest, and it's a real treat to see how even these excellent pairs improve under expert coaching.
I hope I've whetted your appetite for what are sure to be four memorable days of fabulous learning. Stay tuned for day 1 highlights from the USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program.