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.

Oct 04, 2022 Hall of Fame

Connections of Great Event Horse Eagle Lion Offered Invitation to USEA Eventing Hall of Fame

This year a new class will be joining the 47 eventing legends currently in the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Eventing Hall of Fame. Induction into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor awarded within the sport of eventing in the United States. Those invited to join the USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame have truly made a difference in the sport of eventing. Hall of Fame members have included past Association presidents, volunteers, riders, founders, course designers, officials, organizers, horses, horse owners, and coaches.

Oct 03, 2022 Convention

Announcing the Keynote Speaker for the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention: Dr. Sue Dyson

Have you ever wondered why your horse isn’t performing at their best? Get ready to learn about the many facets that can contribute to lameness and poor performance in sport horses from equine orthopedics expert, Dr. Sue Dyson! The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce that Dr. Dyson will be the keynote speaker at the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention in Savannah, GA this December 7-11.

Oct 02, 2022 Profile

Change of Rein: Rosie Smith's Journey from Reining to the #2022AEC

Rosie Smith’s rose gold accented helmet matched her perfectly tidy bun of red hair as she took the third spot in the USEA Training Rider Championship at the 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nurena Feeds. Every little detail came together while aboard her trusted partner of nine years: the 20-year-old Connemara Irish Draught named Seamus (by Corrcullen, RID). But Smith’s first jump, back when she was only 15 years old, wasn’t with an English saddle.

Oct 01, 2022 Volunteers

The VIP Volunteer: Lisa Pragg

Lisa Pragg is a busy woman, but between her normal day job and competing her own 19-year-old Thoroughbred Impeccable she still prioritizes time to volunteer - both at horse trials and as a volunteer firefighter. Pragg understands the importance that volunteers play in the eventing community and makes sure to give whatever time she can back as a fair gesture.

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