The 2013 Emerging Athletes Program,presented by Dover Saddlery, continues to enjoy accolades from participants and instructors. The Whip N Spur Farm in Wilsonville, OR, was the site of the June 27-30, 2013 EAP Regional Clinic. The four-day clinic saw 16 eager riders participating under the tutelage of two of the equestrian community's top experts, lead clinician Kip Rosenthal of Brewster, NY and stable manager Anne Thornbury from Goshen, OH.
Participants of the Regional Clinics are instructed on flatwork, gymnastics, related distances and course work and an intensive stable-management curriculum. Demonstrations from specialist such as USHJA Contributing Sponsor, Nutrena on proper nutrition and conditioning were also a part of the clinics.
Lead clinician Kip Rosenthal began the first day by telling riders a simple truth, “Strive for excellence, perfection is a myth.” The next three days proved to students the reality of that statement and the means by which to grow as horsemen.
One of the exercises Rosenthal used was referred to as Pushing a Rope. The point was explained as,”You shouldn’t be pushing a rope versus having a connection. Pushing a rope is not successful and gets squiggly. A real connection is what you want.” It didn’t take many attempts for the group to fully grasp the exercise’s lesson.
Joining Rosenthal in Oregon was EAP’s Stable Management expert Anne Thornbury who led students through proper care for their horses, how a clean stall benefits both horse and rider and numerous tips on everything from feed to tack.
“I tell all the kids that I’ve never met a horse that stood in line to sign up for the job as show horse! We have put them [the horse] in this situation and as their custodians we must always put their needs before ours. We should be thankful everyday that they put up with all of this nonsense. If one rider goes home and treats their horse better, that would be a start to accomplishing the mission. Treating one horse better won’t change the world but it might change the world for that one horse!”
Also on hand was Meghan Carney, Director of Jumper Programs for USHJA. Carney sat in on the nutritional seminar provided by Kristin Allen from Nutrena and afterwards asked the students what they gained. “All thought learning how to body score was fantastic and loved the hands-on of learning how to weight tape and body score. They learned that high protein equaling high energy is a myth and that if you feed rice bran you need to be conscious of the calcium phosphorus balance.”
An added bonus for participants came when World Cup champion and Olympic veteran Rich Fellers dropped in for an open Q & A.
Once again the course layouts of the legendary Conrad Homfeld were built for one of the beautiful outdoor arenas. Rosenthal provided riders with a key lesson to remember on and off course,”It’s very important when the horse does something right, you relax the pressure of the aid which is their reward. Horses don’t learn from the correction, they learn from the reward.”
Thornbury summarized the session, “The program [EAP] this year has made an opportunity available to young horsemen and horsewomen to not only improve their riding skills from the instruction they receive from the Olympic level clinicians, but to improve their level of all around horse care and fitness as well as stable/business skills. The only way to succeed in this business long term is to be well educated in all aspects of riding, teaching, hands-on care, stable management, and office skills. Whoever said ‘It takes a village’ is right, just being good at riding won’t get you very far for very long.”
Rosenthal added, “As the riding clinician, I felt the kids improved exponentially, gained tremendous confidence, and had a great time! They were like a group of sponges…so interested in learning and improving. The host farm, Whip and Spur, gave their all to present a wonderful facility for these kids. Additionally, Rich Fellers, who this year won the World Cup, spent one afternoon providing a question and answer seminar where the riders could learn from one of the best riders in the world! I think it was an amazing experience for all the riders. I’m sure they left with a “trunk full” of information that they will be able to use as they continue to advance their riding careers.”
On the other coast at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA, clinician Karen Healey and stable manager Nanci Synder welcomed 24 students to EAP, July 8-11. Healey’s reputation of having an eye for talent and the ability to develop it into winners such as Olympic veteran Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, makes her a favorite among riders.
Following the standard curriculum for the sessions, riders were divided into smaller groups, each rode once a day then audited another group and acted as jump crew for Healey, providing them better insight of their lessons.
Lesson One from Healey, “Adversity is a good thing. When everything goes right, it’s a nice rehearsal, when things go wrong, you learn something. These clinics are about education, I want you to learn something.”
Sadie Smith of Anchorage, AK said of the instruction, “Karen’s clinic had a lot of difficult questions, but not once did one of the questions make you feel incapable. All three days were positive and incredibly productive. While the task might have been difficult, Karen always approached it with a can-do attitude that was contagious to all the riders. Each day I came out feeling like my riding had really improved from the day before, and I could feel the positive change in the horse I was riding.”
EAP’s Stable Management expert Synder shared many methods for horse and stable care that she’s acquired from years of experience. “This was a great group, showing a high level of horsemanship and horse care. The turn-out and condition of horses was exceptional.” she said.
Traveling from Charlotte, VT, Nicolas Horgan said this of the program, “EAP was not only a time where I was able to receive phenomenal instruction both in and out of the ring, but a chance for me to meet other equestrians who share the same level of passion and commitment for this remarkable sport. Karen Healey’s instruction in the ring was precise, detailed and personalized to each rider and their horse. Nanci Snyder was a wealth of information who was able to teach us from her own personnel experiences as a stable manager working for many top notch facilities.”
Healey added, “I think the program is invaluable in giving riders, who don’t necessarily have the means to participate at top shows, insight into how top trainers prepare and care for their horses. The group of riders that Nancy and I taught at Mt Holyoke were like sponges in their desire to soak up the information they were given.”