Jun 18, 2021

Ever So Sweet Scholarship Recipient Announced: Inaugural Scholarship Awarded to Helen Casteel

By Erin Tomson - Edited Press Release

Strides for Equality Equestrians and the United States Eventing Association Foundation are proud to announce the first recipient of the Ever So Sweet Scholarship. The scholarship, which is the first of its kind, provides a fully-funded opportunity for riders from diverse backgrounds to train with upper-level professionals. Helen Casteel of Maryland is the first recipient of the bi-annual scholarship.

Edy Rameika, Sara Kozumplik Murphy, and Brian Murphy are providing the sponsored internship for Helen and her horse, Unapproachable (barn name: Abel), to train with Sara and Brian at Overlook Farm Equestrian Center in Berryville, VA, for three months. The scholarship covers expenses for full board and training costs for Abel, several lessons per week, housing for Helen, a stipend to cover living expenses, competition fees, and coaching at competitions. Helen has been partnered with Abel, a 13-year-old OTTB, for seven years. He was a “young six” when she got him, and they have worked hard together to successfully event at the Novice level. Helen and Abel competed at the American Eventing Championships in 2019. Helen’s immediate goals include moving up to Training level, which she is hopeful will be attainable because of the ESS scholarship.

Helen will also have the unique opportunity to learn to manage and care for upper-level horses and will be participating as part of the team in all aspects of running a large, competitive barn. She said the horse care and management part of being in a high-performance program is one of the parts she is looking forward to the most. She is eager to learn about the therapies and maintenance the horses receive to keep them healthy and sound. Helen also wants to learn the art and science that goes into choosing a good horse - for example, what do top riders look for when they are shopping, and how does one choose the best equine partner for their level and circumstances?

Helen’s goals also include playing an active role in fostering a more inclusive environment within the sport. The scholarship will provide Helen with the opportunity to make professional connections, which will not only help her as an individual but will contribute to improving access and opportunities for other BIPOC riders. Helen is eager to promote inclusion and access and stated, “Though I personally have been fortunate in my circumstance, I still feel that as a Black woman, I can contribute to the conversation and the solution. The opportunities to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the equine world and sport can fall into two buckets -- exposure and opportunity.”

Helen will be an ambassador for the ESS scholarship, which is part of the Professional Pathways programs SEE is developing. “If we continue to actively prioritize inclusion and highlight participation of people of color and LGBTQ+ peoples, we will see the profile of not just Eventing, but all equestrian sports rise,” Helen wrote in her application essay. You can follow along for updates on our website at https://www.stridesforequality.org/ and our Facebook and Instagram pages.

For more information, please contact:
Erin Tomson, Ph.D.
Strides for Equality Equestrians
509.332.9486 / [email protected]

Strides for Equality Equestrians (SEE), founded in 2020 as an allyship program for the equestrian community, seeks to address the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in equestrian sports. SEE promotes a more inclusive culture by listening to and addressing the concerns of Black, Indigenous, and people of color within the community while educating equestrians about effective allyship. For more information, please visit www.stridesforequality.org.

Jan 27, 2023 ATC

Introducing the New Modified Rider Division at the 2023 AEC

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the addition of the Modified Rider division beginning at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds. The USEA AEC will move back to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky August 29–September 3, 2023.

Jan 26, 2023 Young Event Horse

Get a Taste of Eventing with the New Event Horse Program

Are you interested in competing in the sport of eventing but aren’t quite sure how to get started? Do you have a horse that is looking for a new career? Consider participating in a USEA New Event Horse (NEH) competition in 2023! The USEA NEH Program was created to be an introduction to the sport of eventing for both horse and rider, and the 2023 NEH Calendar is now available here.

Jan 25, 2023 Profile

Dondante Steps Into The Spotlight with 2022 Standlee USEA Horse of the Year Title

Will Coleman had a huge 2022 with his string of horses, including a team silver medal at the FEI World Eventing Championship in Italy on Off The Record and top four-star placings with Chin Tonic HS, but it was Dondante whose consistency paid off to earn the Standlee Premium Western Forage USEA Horse of the Year title.

Jan 24, 2023 Volunteers

The VIP Volunteer: Julie Murray

Julie Murray has loved horses since she could breathe, so when her daughters showed an interest in Pony Club and then eventing, she was thrilled to go along for the ride.

Murray started volunteering at the Fallbrook Pony Club near her home in Fallbrook, California, serving as an intermediate district commissioner.

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