Last year David Taylor of Keymar, Maryland realized he wanted to be more than just a competitive eventer. He wanted to give back to the sport but at the time he wasn’t sure how. It wasn't until he read an article on the United States Eventing Association (USEA) website about becoming a cross-country course designer that it finally clicked.
“Cross-country course design has always been intriguing to me, trying to understand why questions are being asked,” said Taylor, an Intermediate level eventer. “I think all riders need to understand this phase better and try to learn why jumps are where they are and why a course takes the shape that it does. This intrigued me beyond anything and was something I really wanted to look more into.”
Taylor signed up for the USEA’s B & C Jumping/Course Design Training Program last February and is now certified to design cross-country courses up to Training level. After the training session, he began apprenticing with whomever he could to further his education. Virginia Horse Trials (VHT) organizer Andy Bowles noticed Taylor’s diligence and invited to him to be the newest participant of VHT’s Course Designer Mentor Program.
“David is eager to gain as much knowledge as possible and is willing to put himself out there and work for it. He has a lot of drive and a lot of passion which makes him a good fit for our program,” Bowles said.
Bowles introduced the Course Designer Mentor Program in 2015 to encourage the development of the sport and provide a valuable educational opportunity for someone pursuing a career in cross-country course design.
“Part of our role as event organizers is to support bringing in new designers and help train them,” Bowles said. “It is an important process to help young designers learn from senior designers. By doing that we develop the pool of designers in this country.”
As the newest member of the VHT design team, Taylor was given the responsibility of designing the Beginner Novice and Novice courses for the October horse trials with guidance from course designer John Michael Durr. He also shadowed Bowles, Durr, and FEI course designer Captain Mark Phillips as they set the one-star and two-star courses.
“David is showing real potential as a designer. He has a good eye and is eager to learn. At Virginia he was very studious and an asset to the team,” Durr said.
Taylor’s philosophy while designing his courses for VHT was to provide a fun and safe test for all horses and riders at the level whether they were competing in their first recognized event or getting ready to move up.
“My goal was to design something that I can get everyone safely around but challenging enough that they would enjoy it. Show them something they may not have seen but don’t ask them a question they don’t know how to answer. It’s supposed to be educational for them. At the lower levels that’s really what it’s about,” Taylor said.
The experience of designing and setting his first proper courses and participating in the Mentor Program has been no less than “intense” and Taylor said he gained a tremendous amount of respect for course designers and the work they do.
Taylor is working towards earning his USEF “r” Eventing Course Designer license which would certify him to design through Preliminary. He will meet several of the requirements through the VHT Mentor Program and looks forward to continuing his education.
“I cannot adequately express my sincere appreciation to Andy for becoming the cornerstone of my course designing career,” Taylor said. “Additionally many thanks to John Michael for sharing his experience with me and his guidance in proper design, and to Captain Mark Phillips for the valuable time spent with a course design greenhorn.”
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the renewed partnership with Rebecca Farm. Rebecca Farm will return as a Gold Level Sponsor of the 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention and will be the exclusive sponsor for the Annual Meeting continental breakfast. This year’s Annual Meeting & Convention will take place at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque in Albuquerque, New Mexico on December 9-12, 2021.
With the new competition season kicking off officially on December 1, it’s time to brush up on the USEF Rules For Eventing ! There are five new rules and amendments that will take effect at the start of the new season regarding competition approvals, officials, and more. To access the full 2022 USEF Rulebook, click here.
The last of the Area Championships took place this past weekend in Tucson, Arizona at the Southern Arizona Fall Horse Trials & Area X Championships. Riders from Area X came from all over in hopes of snagging the coveted champion title, but four riders rode to the top of their fields. The USEA caught up with each champion to relive their performances in Tucson.
“This week was just as much about Paige as it was Favian and I because, without her, we are nothing,” said Valerie Vizcarrondo Pride of Blue Clover Eventing in a social media post after her five-star completion at the Maryland 5 Star. Described as Favian’s hero, Paige Ansaldi is a five-star groom at Blue Clover Eventing, a full-time student at the University of Maryland, a team member of the University of Maryland eventing team, and an active competitor herself.