Jan 15, 2013

Area II January Report

Area II is proud to have the largest number of members and more starters than any other Area. In this report I would like to focus on four developments which I think are somewhat unique or will be of interest to USEA members more generally.

Area Championships: This is the first time in many years we held our Area Championships for all levels at one venue. Morven Park hosted the Championships in October and they were overwhelmed with entries. Based on the last few years they were told to expect no more than 50 entries, but they started nearly 190, and it is the first time in recent memory where we had more than two riders in the upper levels. The divisions were very, very competitive and came down to the show jumping. However, the one-day format proved to be somewhat problematic to finish on show jumping, and changes will be made in 2013 including a two-day format and to improving the celebratory nature for the winners.

The 2012 Area II Champions were:
Advanced: Madeline / Holly Payne (NJ) (9 starters)
Intermediate: Santino / Holly Payne (NJ) (12 starters)
Preliminary Czechmate / Lauren Kieffer (VA) (22 starters)
Preliminary Junior/Young Rider: Season O' Reason / Sara Vitkus (VA) (9 starters)
Training Cooley Cross Border / Kim Severson (VA) (30 starters)
Training Junior: North Astor Beau / Katie Bibeau (PA) (17 starters)
Novice Junior Nickels and Dimes / Skyler Decker (MD) (25 starters)
Novice Chopard / Matthew Flynn (NJ) (30 starters)
Beginner Novice: Serendipity / Kristin Bachman (VA) (20 starters)
Beginner Novice Junior: Exclusively Sunny / Laura Strauch (MD) (12 starters)

North American Junior/Young Riders Championships (NAJYRC) Coaching: As the tenure of the current coordinators and coaches for Area II came to a close, the Area decided on a very transparent process to pick the next coach. We advertised extensively including through emails, contacting PRO and the Professional Horseman’s Council, and posting the announcement on several websites. The quality of the applicants was unprecedented. Of the ten or so applicants, we had two former Olympians, a Pan Am gold medalist, and three riders who went to Europe to vie for a spot on USA’s Olympic team. A committee was formed and each applicant was asked to answer a number of written questions which were followed with phone interviews. The decision was very difficult, but they ultimately chose Sinead Halpin. This is an excellent choice and she will be helped by the co-coordinators Pam Medlin and Meg Kepferle. They are all energized and have been receiving a great response from potential riders and are extremely enthusiastic about Area II’s prospects in 2013.

Young Rider Advancement Program (YRAP):Starting in 2011, Area II put a lot of effort into reinvigorating the YRAP under Chris Donovan’s guidance. Last year we expanded our efforts with more team competitions, and we even had 15 teams competing at Virginia Horse Trials in May. In addition, eight events supported “Behind the Scenes” activities providing great learning opportunities including course walks with the course designer/builders, shadowing the Technical Delegate, timing in show jumping, or fence judging at the Intermediate and Advanced “tough combinations.” But the most successful program was a camp we held in New Jersey in conjunction with the U.S. Pony Club (USPC). We had around 90 riders with nearly half participating in the YRAP instruction by four upper level riders and a USPC A-level examiner providing ground school instruction. The camp received great reviews from the young riders and their parents.

This year we have started a new pilot program to complement our other activities. The Area II NAJYRC coach selection committee was impressed by our candidates and suggested that we take advantage of their interest and try to develop a program with more continuity by identifying YRAP coaches—they selected Skyeler Icke-Voss and Lynn Symansky. These instructors have put together a program for our YRAP riders with clinics, course walks, and camps, with a year-end goal of a team competition at the Waredaca Novice and Training Three-Days. The pilot program is designed to provide continuity rather than just ad-hoc clinics and to smooth the transition from kids starting out their eventing careers to young riders competing at the one-star level and higher. The ultimate goal is to provide a more structured feeder program for the Area II younger riders (YRAP), which will in turn produce more educated and experienced riders to choose from when fielding teams at the NAJYRC level. David O’Connor has commented that this “would fit in perfect and the type of programs that will pay off in the long run for all of us” as it represents an excellent and innovative approach for our youngest riders. The first clinic on January 5-6 was over subscribed, and by all accounts it was a great success. Go to the YRAP area on the Area II webpage to read about the exciting activities for 2013 and check out our Facebook page where we share the success of our members and their goals.

Adult Rider Novice and Training Three-Days: This year the Adult Riders again sponsored the SmartPak USEA Training Three-Day with Robert and Gretchen Butts at Waredaca. Adding the Novice Three-Day to the already very successful Training Three-Day proved to be a very favorable addition to the Classic competition! The response was great with over 20 Novice riders participating allowing us to break them into Senior and Junior divisions. Stephen Bradley was again our main Educational Clinician along with such notables as Tremaine Cooper, Max Corcoran, Stueart Pittman, Valerie Vizcarrondo, Phyllis Dawson, Natalie Hollis, and Melissa Hunsberger. Of course the steeplechase is the most exciting phase, and the riding was excellent with many riders showing improvement in skills and in the forward thinking of their horses, partly as a result of the clinics held earlier in the week. The stabling was moved this year to accommodate the added competitors and this was praised by all. Waredaca also put in a new “camp house” recreational and meeting area along with the recent year's addition of the large permanent dressage arenas which are really grand. Brian O’Connor was our announcer as always and brought that right touch of excitement and insight for the weekend! We are looking forward to 2013!


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