Feb 22, 2022

Get to Know the USEA Foundation Grants: The Seema Sonnad Junior Rider Grant

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
Ryan Keefe, winner of the 2018 Seema Sonnad Junior Rider Grant. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Did you know that the USEA Foundation currently administers 15 grants and scholarships designed to help event riders reach their goals? From funds used to assist juniors have access to additional training to aiding up-and-coming riders fund international competition to helping adult amateurs gain education, the current grant opportunities offered by the USEA Foundation has something for almost everyone.

One of these available grants is the Seema Sonnad Junior Rider Grant. Introduced in 2015, this $5,000 grant is available annually to a Junior rider who is age 18 or under, competing successfully at the Preliminary/CCI2* level, and working towards representing his or her Area in CCI3* team competition in the following year. Grant funds may be used for expenses related to equestrian education, coaching, training, and competing.

The Seema Sonnad Junior Rider Grant was created in honor of the late Seema Sonnad who passed away in May of 2015. Sonnad was devoted to her love of horses and competed up to the Intermediate level herself as well as taking part in owner syndicates for riders Sally Cousins and Caitlin Silliman. Over the years, Sonnad personally sponsored and mentored countless young riders as well as served as an energetic volunteer who event organizers could always count on to help out wherever she was needed. This grant continues Sonnad's mission to mentor young people and carries on her contributions to the sport of eventing throughout her life.

What You Need to Know

Applications are due on October 15th for the current year. An independent panel will review the competition results of all eligible riders and will select the recipient following the final CCI2* competition of the year. The Seema Sonnad Junior Rider Grant is awarded at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention in December each year.

Riders receiving grants must keep complete accounting records and receipts for all funds used. Funds must be used within two calendar years following the awarding of the grant and receipts must be submitted to the USEA Foundation by November 30. The recipient will be expected to write a report detailing the educational experiences and benefits made possible by the grant for inclusion in the USEA’s Eventing USA magazine and/or for posting on the website. This report may also be given in person at the USEA Foundation meeting held during the Annual Meeting.

What Are Previous Recipients of the Seema Sonnad Junior Rider Grant Up To?

2015 - Alexandra Tett: Moved up to the CCI4* level in 2019 and had a 10th place finish aboard Hawk’s Cay at Morven Park. In 2021, Tett competed at the Preliminary, Intermediate, and CCI3* levels.

2016 - Mia Farley: Had a top 20 finish in the CCI3*-L at the inaugural Maryland 5 Star aboard Phelps in 2021 as well as a third-place finish in the 2021 Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships riding Invictus. Farley has competed up through the four-star level.

2017 - Ryan Keefe: At her four-star debut in 2019, Keefe had a top 10 finish with Flintstar at the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event.

2018 - McKinsey Wickman: In 2020, Wickman placed second with Chabadu in the VHT International CCI2*-S.

2019 - Elizabeth Henry: Henry made her three-star debut at the Hagyard Midsouth Three-Day Event riding Charlotte La Bouff and placed ninth.

2021- Rebecca Roth: Roth had a great 2021 season aboard Chapter Two with seven top-five placings at the Preliminary and CCI2* level which ultimately landed her as the grant recipient for the 2022 season. The pair kicked off their 2022 season with a win in their Preliminary division at Ocala I.

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