May 27, 2016

It Takes A Village: Introducing Coaching Allowed Division at Southern Eighths

Amanda Miller's students getting some assistance in the dressage. Photo Courtesy of Amanda Miller and Cindy DePorter.

The Heart of the Carolinas Three-Day Event and Horse Trials at Southern 8ths Farm in Chesterfield, S.C. was the first horse trials in the country to offer the newly developed Coaching Allowed Division (CAT) at its May horse trials. Though the division was small, the riders’ efforts were mighty, and educational benefits of the new class were evident.

HOTC co-organizer Cindy Deporter is on the USEA Membership Committee that created the concept of the CAT. “We had many healthy discussion about it with all of us feeling like it was the correct way to move forward. The idea of course was to encourage the Beginner Rider into our sport and help the more timid rider to be able to make the move up to Novice with assistance,” Deporter said.

The public had mixed opinions about the CAT, but Deporter recalled the positive support of having a coach providing encouragement and direction on the sidelines during her upbringing riding Tennessee Walking Horses. When she started eventing in1977, dressage tests could be called for riders, so she wholeheartedly supports this division.

“Throughout the weekend when this division started to ride, everyone was into it--the coach, officials, the owner of the farm and my fellow organizing team,” Deporter said. “I personally took a tremendous amount of satisfaction when the rider cleared the jump and then finished the test whether it was dressage, cross-country, or show jumping. The smiles on the competitor’s face made it all worthwhile!”

HOTC is dedicated to education, horsemanship, and developing the partnership between horse and rider. The CAT is one more opportunity to grow the sport and provide a positive learning experience for participants, no matter their level.

The CAT is being piloted this year, and if the feedback from events that host it remain positive, this Test will be added to the Test section of the USEF Rules for Eventing. Guidelines for running the CAT can be obtained from Jennifer Hardwick at the USEA office.

All three of the CAT riders at Heart of the Carolinas were students of Amanda Miller, an Intermediate level eventer and USEF Licensed Official. She recounts the experience for herself and her students in the paragraphs that follow.

It Takes a Village
By Amanda Miller

This year a new division transpired at Heart of the Carolinas, a division to help eventing newcomers into the world of recognized competition with a little help from their coach, friends, families, and even officials!

On May 7-8, HOTC at Southern 8ths Farm offered the first USEA Coaching Allowed Test in the country. This division allows riders to be coached throughout all three phases, skip fences they are not sure about, receive direction in their dressage test, and supported by everyone.

I encouraged three of my students to participate in this new division that I wasn't even sure about. They all weren't quite ready for the Beginner Novice division on their own, but with coaching I thought it would be perfect. The division allowed them to finish the event with learning along the way. They did the same dressage test and courses as the Beginner Novice horse trials division.

They each completed their dressage test, supporting each other along the way. In the rules, it doesn't say how many coaches you can have, so I had all the fences covered on cross-country with parents and friends! I helped warm them up and get them to the start box. The first couple of fences proved challenging, but it was great seeing everyone chime in! Even the officials helped them get over the second jump.

Photo Courtesy of Amanda Miller and Cindy DePorter.

Everyone wanted them to succeed. When my students passed thru the finish flags I knew it was all worth it. Our crew came together to talk about the course and how everyone did and our riders were beaming, feeling accomplished.

The next morning was show jumping. Our girls were on a mission. With big atmosphere and a challenging course, they knew what they had to do. I could coach from the sidelines and the crowd helped them get past the finish flags. They all conquered the event with ribbons and victory gallops! They were all able to grow from this experience and set them up for future competitions.

Thanks to Southern Eighths for taking on this new division. I believe we need to see it offered more. Coaching isn't even allowed at schooling events, so what a great opportunity!

Congrats to Emma Boswell, Lexi Field, and Emily Worth for making history and soaring to new heights. I'm so lucky to coach you! Also, thanks to our “village” to make this possible for them.

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