Jan 18, 2024

Eventing Legends and Industry Experts Set to Lead the 2024 ECP Symposium

By Kaleigh Collett - USEA Staff
USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

The 2024 ECP Symposium is less than two weeks away, and the star-studded list of faculty and special guests set to lead the three-day immersive educational experience is sure to make this an unforgettable event. On Jan. 30–Feb. 1, current eventing coaches, riders, parents, owners, and avid supporters of the sport will convene in Ocala, Florida, at the Florida Horse Park to experience some of the key elements of the USEA’s revamped program for developing coaches and evaluate riders of all levels. Click here to register to attend today!

In recent years, the interactive group teaching model has become an extremely popular format for the ECP Symposium, and this year, the ECP Committee has new plans to further enhance the model for attendees. Participants will again be divided into groups with assigned faculty to evaluate riders at various levels in all three phases, and each group will be asked to present their observations of what should be addressed and how best to improve each horse and rider pair.

New this year, prepare to have your observation skills honed! Each group presentation will highlight the exact principles or techniques they observed as needing improvement and demonstrate the exercises and concepts which address those issues. Other groups will be invited to contribute their own observations and suggestions to broaden the discussion around each horse/rider combination. Participants will play an active role in prioritizing learning segments for various horse and rider pairs to support the most successful path forward in their training.

Several top ECP faculty will be on hand to help facilitate the group learning portion of the Symposium. Among the Level V and IV ECP Certified Coaches who will help mentor and facilitate the process are:

  • Emily Beshear, a five-star eventer with experience coaching riders from Starter through Advanced, including EA21 athletes and Young Rider teams.
  • Jan Byyny, a top-ranked international rider who’s represented the U.S. at Pan American and World Equestrian Games, and now focuses her time on running her own Surefire Farm.
  • Mary D’Arcy, an ECP Assessor and Faculty member with experience coaching through the Olympic level.
  • David O’Connor, Olympic gold medalist, Director of Coaching for the USEA EA21 Program, and USEF Chief of Sport
  • Karen O’Connor, an ECP Assessor and Faculty member who has represented the U.S. at the Olympics, World Equestrian Games and Pan American Games, while also being named the U.S. Equestrian Female Athlete of the Year 10 times.
  • Jennifer Howlett Rousseau, as ECP coach that trains riders from the Starter to three-star level, the USEA Vice President of Education, and the champion of the subcommittee that created The USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels.
  • Robin Walker, a founding force behind the USEA ECP and an active competitor in both eventing and Grand Prix show jumping.

The ECP Symposium will also feature several exciting guest speakers. Peter Gray, a Level V ECP Certified Coach, will kick off the fun on Tuesday with an interactive dressage judging exercise. Gray will provide real-time movement by movement commentary on ridden dressage tests from the judge’s perspective, giving attendees unique insight before they tackle their group learning exercises in the afternoon. Throughout his career, Gray competed at some of the most prestigious international events in North America and Europe, including two Olympic Games, the World Championships, and the Pan American Games, and he now serves as an FEI Level IV Eventing Judge, the highest certification for international officials, and recently served on the Ground Jury at the 2022 Eventing World Championships at Pratoni del Vivaro in Italy.

On Wednesday, crowd-favorite sports psychologist Dr. Paul Haefner will return to the Symposium to present a special segment on self-care for the professional, focusing on ways coaches can ensure that their own mental and physical wellbeing are being prioritized. Dr. Haefner will provide attendees with coping mechanisms and tips on dealing with the daily stressors that may arise in their line of work. Dr. Haefner will also be available for individual consultations all three days of the event, at no charge. If you would like to preschedule a consultation, please contact Dr. Haefner via email at [email protected].

During the event, the USEF Developing Riders will also be utilizing the Florida Horse Park for a training session and attendees will have the opportunity to audit some of their training time. Symposium attendees will be in for a treat on Wednesday afternoon, as the Developing Riders will lead a panel discussion for all to enjoy on their current training programs and their educational journeys as they climbed the levels of the sport. A Q&A session will follow to allow eager attendees to pick the brains of these successful upper-level competitors.

Finally, equine legal expert and USEA Board of Governors member Yvonne Ocrant, will discuss the basics of what coaches need to know about equine and business liability on Thursday morning. Ocrant’s equine law experience is extensive and includes handling litigation and transactions involving the Equine Activity Liability Act, assisting industry professionals to litigate and resolve claims of personal injury, property damage and other losses, drafting contracts for horse purchases, sales and leases, creating liability releases for individuals and entities sponsoring or participating in equine activities, and developing multi-owner syndicates for horses in numerous disciplines. Ocrant will break down complex equine liability laws and coverage to help attendees ensure that they are properly protected in their businesses.

Registration for the 2024 ECP Symposium at the Florida Horse Park on Jan. 30–Feb. 1 is open now! Current ECP Certified Coaches and/or USEF Licensed Officials can attend the event for the discounted daily fee of $50 per day or the full event fee of $125. The general public is also welcome to attend, and their rates are $80 per day or $215 for the full event. If you are planning on bringing your child or a student under the age of twelve, their attendance is free of charge. Advanced registration is greatly appreciated, so click here to register now. On-site registration will also be available.

If you have any questions about the ECP Symposium or the Eventing Coaches Program, please contact Nancy Knight, Senior Director of Education, at [email protected].

About the USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP)

Coaches are essential to the training of riders and horses for safe and educated participation in the sport of eventing. The USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP), formerly known as the Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP), was initiated in 2002 to educate all levels of eventing coaches with crucial training principles upon which they can continue to build throughout their teaching careers. ECP offers educational workshops and assessments by which both regular coaches, Level I through Level V, Young Event Horse (YEH) coaches, and Young Event Horse professional horse trainers can become ECP certified. Additional information about ECP’s goals, benefits, workshops, and assessments as well as names and contact information for current ECP certified coaches, YEH coaches, and YEH professional horse trainers are available on the USEA website. Click here to learn more about the USEA Eventing Coaches Program.

The USEA would like to thank Parker Equine Insurance, the United States Pony Clubs, and Strider for their support of the Eventing Coaches Program.

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