Winter is the best time for education and today’s USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) Symposium attendees definitely got a healthy dose of knowledge. Headlined by the legendary Chris Ryan, the morning classroom session took place at the Ocala Jockey Club in Ocala, Fla.
Ryan, who found and produced Olympic silver medalist, McKinlaigh as well as numerous other top eventers, sees hundreds of young horses each year as one of the foundation selectors of the Goresbridge “Go For Gold Elite Event Horse Sale” held every November in Ireland. Ryan has developed a keen eye for young stock and shared his experience with the judges, breeders and young horse enthusiasts in attendance.
Ryan’s presentation focused on nature vs. nurture and the importance of genetics and the performance link. He outlined his qualities for the potential CCI4* eventer and emphasized the importance of Thoroughbred blood.
A full recap of Ryan’s presentation will be in the upcoming issue of Eventing USA but a few of the great quotes he shared today include:
After reviewing the results and breeding of the 2016 USEA Future Event Horse Championships, the Symposium relocated to Longwood for a more interactive experience. The afternoon session began with a mock 4-year-old undersaddle class, the newest addition to the FEH program. Why did the FEH committee decide to add a 4-year-old division? They believe that some 4-year-olds are not developed enough for the Young Event Horse (YEH) 4-year-old class or some owners don’t want to push their horses that much. It is also a more affordable option, since the horse can be prepared at home by an amateur. Susan Graham-White doesn't want to take away those that are ready and prepared for the YEH – just offer another option.
Attendees meet the horses participating in the mock 4-year-old undersaddle class. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Today's mock class allowed FEH judges as well as potential participants the opportunity to get a feel for the new score sheet and format. The three horses were ridden while Graham-White and Robin Walker shared their evaluations allowed. After having their saddles removed, the trio had their conformation evaluated with opinions shared by audience members alongside Graham-White and Walker’s remarks.
The judges then split off to practice FEH judging on a yearling, 2-year-old and 3-year-old, while the rest of the participants were able to learn more about conformation, movement and overall type from Walker and Ryan. The breeding of each of the demo horses was also shared in order to give Symposium goers the opportunity to see how the breeding relates to movement, type and potential – tying back into Ryan’s morning explanation of genetics and performance. The demo horses offered a wide variety of prospects and conformational traits that gave the attendees a range of information.
The Young Horse Symposium will continue on Wednesday with the Young Event Horse day featuring Chris Burton. Burton is currently teaching the Instructor Certification Program’s Symposium which ran today and continues tomorrow.
The USEA would also like to thank symposium partner and sponsor, the Retired Racehorse Project. To purchase tickets for Tuesday night's relaxed social BBQ dinner hosted by the Retired Racehorse Project and the Ocala Jockey club, go here.