Jun 19, 2024

Building a Foundation for a Stronger Future During Day 2 of the USEA EA21 Central Clinic

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
Abigail Williams and Class tackled the angled exercise set up by EA21 coach Bec Braitling on day two of the USEA EA21 Central Clinic. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photos

Kansas City, Mo.—June 19—Upon completion of the flatwork session during the first day of the USEA Emerging Athletes U21 (EA21) Central Clinic, EA21 coach Bec Braitling allowed the 12 participants to play a heavy hand in designing the show jumping course for day two.

“I let them draw it out on paper, and then we came out and built it, and I think it actually worked out quite well,” said a very proud Braitling.

“We thought about incorporating as much sort of cross-country as we could with the show jumps material that we had,” she continued. “The group voted on having a triple combination for sure, and then we worked on adding other important things like a rollback outside, a long approach, a long outside line; all those things that we sort of see in today’s course design. There were a ton of options, and I am really proud of them for coming up with a good, solid, educational course.”

On Wednesday, those riders got to put their course to the test in three groups of four as their riding exercise during the final day of the EA21 Central Clinic.

With horses ranging from 5 years old to seasoned four-star horses and riders preparing for mid-season move-ups to the Modified, Preliminary, CCI1*, and CCI2* levels, Braitling wanted to make sure that her lesson plan for the day could be unique to each horse and rider pair, allowing them to expand on what they gleaned during the first day’s flatwork session, while also making sure the riders had a solid understanding of the fundamentals of riding at the upper levels.

EA21 Coach Bec Braitling talked a lot about pace during the second day of the EA21 Central Clinic

“We have a great, big space to work with here [at Longview Horse Park in Kansas City, Missouri],” said Braitling. “A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to practice in such a big space, so I felt it was nice to sort of replicate a competition-like environment here. That allowed us to really focus on the elements of rider responsibility like being able to change the balance, understanding speed, and lengthening and shortening, but also while keeping the pace that was required for the fences.”

Pace was the word of the day throughout all three sessions as Braitling tasked the riders with the goal of establishing the proper pace that is relevant to the height that they were jumping. It sounded simple enough, but it wound up being a task that challenged riders and allowed them to really tune into their understanding of their own horse and the course before them.

“I wanted these riders to not only think about what they learned yesterday but to also be able to make decisions while at speed,” said Braitling. She utilized the day’s course design in a way that truly required riders to be thinking while making their way around the track by incorporating tight rollbacks, angles, poles set up as bounce lines, jumps that created an angle reminiscent of a cross-country corner, and combinations into the tracks she assigned the riders.

One of the most exciting and multifunctional parts of the course design was a set of three simple verticals in the middle of the ring, just slightly offset from one another. Placed in this fashion, Braitling used the verticals not only as a serpentine exercise during the horse and riders’ warm up but also as a way to set up two different angled line options. The large serpentines created bends that helped riders to find a true sense of balance on their horses, but the angles, which Braitling incorporated into the courses, required tactful riding.

Each rider brought their own strengths and weaknesses to the day’s show jumping session with very few of the pairs having matching challenges throughout the day.

“These are hard lessons that everyone needs to learn,” said Braitling as she sent a rider around the course to execute it again after encountering some difficulty at a larger oxer on the track. “Every single rider at the top of the sport has experienced these same hard lessons that you are today.”

While not one single rider had a flawless day, each pair finished the session on a high note. Braitling ensured that every exercise was accomplishable for the various skill levels of this year’s participants.

“In the three years I have been leading the Central Clinic, I have just seen the biggest improvement in the standard of riding in the level of riders and horses,” noted Braitling. “I think the most exciting thing is that these kids today, especially this last group that are really established at Preliminary, when you ask them to do things that are really quite difficult, they understand how to answer the questions. That, to me, is a really exciting thought.”

Scarlett Peinado and her catch-ride Huey tackling the corner

Scarlett Peinado (Cochranville, Pennsylvania) has been attending the EA21 Central Clinic since its inception three years ago and has enjoyed the opportunity to ride with Braitling and participate in the EA21 program each year.

“It has been so great. Every year I've had a different horse, so it's nice that [Bec’s] gotten to see me on completely different rides,” said Peinado. “This program has really helped improve my riding because I'm working on something different every year, and it's great to hear things that I don't hear every day from my trainers.”

This year, Peinado was unable to bring one of her own horses to the clinic and had to get creative in order to find a way to participate after being selected.

“I asked the clinic coordinator if she knew anyone who might have a horse I could use, but when that didn’t lead to anything I knew I wasn’t going to give up there!” said Peinado. She put a callout on Facebook hoping to connect with someone local to the area and was quickly connected with Mallory Stiver of Stilwell, Kansas, who generously allowed Peinado the use of her 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Hugo Boss (Artax x Goodie Good Girl), or “Huey.”

“Huey is apparently a legend in this area for being such a good catch-ride horse,” said Peinado. “I am so grateful to have had the chance to ride him. It couldn’t have worked out better.”

After getting to know one another better during the flatwork on Tuesday, Peinado was thrilled with her ride on Huey today.

“He really knew his job, and he was more of a kick ride than I was expecting. It was nice to be able to put my leg on and push him up to the fences. He made me feel so confident!”

Abigail Williams and Brett Youssi were both first-timer participants in the EA21 program and drove from Colorado and Texas, respectively, to take part in this year’s Central Clinic.

“It's really incredible being around all of these super motivated riders,” said Williams at the end of the clinic. “It's really inspirational. I had a really good time. My horse Class just soared through everything and helped me when I needed it, so I could really learn and just try to ride the best I could. Now that I know I really want to pursue riding, I figured I needed to apply to take part in EA21 so I could come and learn more about the sport.”

Brett Youssi was excited to take part in the EA21 Regional Clinics for the first time

Youssi has ambitions of being a coach himself one day and felt like participating in the Central Clinic was the right step toward his career aspirations.

“I really wanted an opportunity to further my riding career, and this seemed like the right program for that. I learned a lot. Bec had a whole lecture on how she plans her lessons which I found really helpful. This is something I want to do for the rest of my life. Who knows about [the selection for] the EA21 National Camp, but that is also something I am really interested in!”

The Participants

Central | Longview Horse Park | Kansas City, Missouri

  • Camryn Chung
  • Ava Davis
  • Sierra Fishell
  • Addison Hagan
  • Megan Hopkins
  • Scarlett Peinado
  • Finley Powell
  • Willow Schwartz
  • Eva Taylor
  • Sierra Thomas
  • Abigail Williams
  • Brett Youssi
  • Waitlist: Ava Staton, Katherine Hyndman, Annabelle Friend

Don't forget to follow the USEA’s coverage on social media!

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

About the USEA Emerging Athlete U21 Program (EA21)

The purpose of the USEA Emerging Athletes U21 Program (EA21) is to identify and provide consistent quality instruction to the next generation of elite event riders. The aim is to create a pipeline for potential team riders by identifying and developing young talent, improving horsemanship and riding skills, and training and improving skills and consistency.

The USEA Emerging Athletes U21 Program was launched in 2022 with a model of five summertime regional clinics taught by selected USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) instructors, leading to a winter national camp consisting of selected Young Riders from the regional clinics. Athletes who are 21 years or younger, are current members of their USEA Young Rider Area program, and are established at the Training Level or higher, are eligible to apply for the EA21 program. Click here to learn more about the USEA EA21 Program.

The USEA would like to thank ARMA, Kerrits, PulseVet, Ride iQ, Sidelines Magazine, Schneiders Saddlery and #WeRideTogetherfor sponsoring the USEA Emerging Athletes U21 Program.

Jul 14, 2024 Eventing News

More than Just a Number: Your Competition Entry Matters

In eventing, as across equestrian disciplines, every rider entry holds significant importance, extending far beyond the individual competitor. For the eventing community specifically, each entry plays a vital role in promoting inclusivity, ensuring financial viability, and maintaining the high standards set by USEA-recognized events.

Jul 13, 2024 Eventing News

Road to the AEC: Chalman and 'War Horse' Classic Greeley Are Headed to Kentucky

I have been working towards my goal of qualifying for AEC for quite some time now. I made the switch from hunters to eventing about eight years ago because I loved the adrenaline rush of cross-country. Although my family wasn’t able to buy a horse that had “been there, done that,” they have shown so much support for me in this dream.

Jul 12, 2024 Classic Series

Keyser, Caflisch, and Romero Add USEA Classic Series Wins to their Resume at Coconino H.T.

The Summer Coconino H.T. and Western Underground Inc. T, N, BN 3 Day Event is a staple on the Area X calendar for its fun environment and, of course, its Classic Series divisions. Competitors from all over flock to Flagstaff, Arizona, to check the box on one of their eventing goals. This year, the event at Coconino offered three long-format divisions and saw two first time winners and one Classic Series veteran rise to the top.

Jul 12, 2024 Adult Riders

Adult Riders All Over the U.S. Forge New Friendships Thanks to USEA Adult Team Challenges

One of the exciting ways that members of the USEA Adult Rider program can come together throughout the year is by participating in a USEA Adult Team Challenge! Adult Team Challenges give adult riders from across the country a chance to compete in a friendly team competition. Read up on some of the Adult Team Challenges that have taken place across the country so far below.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA

Official Horse Boot of the USEA

Official Shockwave of the USEA

Official Horse Wear of the USEA