Ema Klugman trusts the process. On self-produced horses, including her longtime four-star mount Bendigo, the 23-year old Maryland-based four-star rider has racked up impressive finishes at some of the U.S.'s most challenging international competitions.
“You have to do it the right way on a few horses before you really learn to do this properly,” Klugman tells STRIDER.
Born in Italy, Klugman learned to ride in Nairobi, Kenya and joined Pony Club shortly after her family relocated to the United States from their native Australia. She has since earned her traditional “A” rating in United States Pony Club and has gone on to complete her Show Jumping & Dressage “A” certifications. Named to Eventing Australia’s High Performance Eventing Generation NEXT Squad, Klugman finished off the 2020 season with wins in the CCI3*-L at the Virginia Horse Trials and the Waredaca Training Three-Day on her two promising young horses.
Klugman is a popular clinician whose students benefit from her emphasis on clarity and process. She is committed to sharing her knowledge and helping her students to make informed decisions about their training and riding. “In a clinic setting, I may never see those riders again. I want my students to understand any given exercise and the reasons I’ve asked them to do it.”
Klugman attributes her comprehensive and explanatory style of teaching to much of the prep-work required for success in the upper-level Pony Club ratings.
“The teaching part of the USPC exam is often the most-failed part. They aim to produce people who can very clearly get their point across. I was so lucky to do a lot of prep-work with Kevin Bowie, she’s basically the Pony Club Guru and is a master at making people explain why they make certain decisions from a training point of view. That’s exactly what those A-Level tests are all about- it’s supposed to be a trainer-to-trainer discussion about what you’re doing with the horse and your riding.”
“I want to create riders who can think independently and be self-sufficient. It’s a disservice to people when it’s not explained why they should do something differently. I don’t want my students to become riders who don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s important to know and understand why you use the tack you’re using, for example.”
“Through Pony Club I’ve done a bit of teaching all over, including Alaska and New Zealand. I’m very open to traveling, new experiences, and meeting new people. I love going to new places to see how people ride and what different programs are like.”
“You end up meeting so many types of people and horses with different goals and aspirations. You often have the 12-year-old kid who can’t see a distance on a feral pony and is gunning for the Olympics in the same group as an Adult Amateur who wants to learn to make it work on the horse they have and whose end-goal is a safe Beginner Novice round. I like that variety.”
“I try to keep lessons friendly and fun . . . I find people are very willing to try things in clinics. They know that it’s one or two days of a new instructor with a different style or approach. They’re aware of that and quite open-minded which is great, so I try to be respectful of that when I am teaching. I know what I’m saying might be different from what their regular coach tells them.”
“I always tell people, ‘It might get worse before it gets better, it’s just training.’ You can try something new today and if it doesn’t work you can go back to doing what you were doing before, but at least you’ve tried it then. It’s about coming up with different tools that work well for your toolbox.”
“Some people think of a clinic as a test, or even a show. But really, we’re all just having a riding lesson. There shouldn’t be any pressure.”
“Whenever you watch horses go, you learn about horses. I think a lot about different ways to train, so I find that teaching clinics helps me to ride better.”
Klugman hopes to continue to pay it forward by sharing much of what she has learned throughout her career with horse and rider combinations of all levels. As a longtime student of the late Packy McGaughan and rider for Marilyn Little for four years, Klugman draws from some of the top influences in the sport.
“I’ve taken on some of the style of all of the coaches who have helped me. As a student you get so used to a certain way that something is explained you begin to adopt some aspects of that coach’s teaching style.”
“I can thank [McGaughan] for the style and some of the exercises. His was a very intellectual approach to the sport and the development of horses and riders, and I try to honor that. [Little] is the best at explaining any concept. She’s so clear and good at getting results from people. She can read a horse and know what to do to improve it, and she has an absolute commitment to excellence. I have really tried to mirror that.”
“I want to spread the good training. I know how hard it is for barns to have access to good people.”
Founded in 2019, the MARS Bromont Rising U25 Program was initially created to assist up-and-coming riders under the age of 25 in North America who had not yet competed in a destination event, such as the program’s namesake the MARS Bromont CCI in Lac Brume, Quebec, Canada, or been recognized by the USEF programs intended for emerging athletes.. Spearheaded by the late Steve Blauner and Sue Ockendon, the program sought to give back to the sport by helping the next generation of riders get more experience under their belt with the help of the financial assistance provided by the program, and the two days of included instruction from leading coaches around the world.
Strides for Equality Equestrians (SEE) is excited to kick off a two-year anniversary celebration, happening all throughout the month of October in the form of “SEE Month”. SEE’s goal during October is to raise awareness about our mission of opening doors for equestrians from diverse backgrounds while also fundraising to continue our work and future projects.
And just like that, it is time for the Morven Park International! The prestigious event will take place Thursday, October 6, and run through Sunday, October 10 in Leesburg, Virginia. This is the event’s second year offering the CCI4*-L division, in addition to their CCI4*-S, CCI3*-S, and CCI2*-S divisions. That’s not all! The historic grounds at Morven Park will also host national divisions at the Novice, Training, and Preliminary levels.
Specifics of the "Fun & Education Formula" were provided to all at the Jim Wofford Clinic held on August 20 & 21 at the Horse Park in Woodside, northern California. Eager riders, auditors, and volunteers gathered for a much anticipated two-day clinic with the master bright and early Saturday morning.