Nov 29, 2023

Join the Eventing Coaches Program Mini-Symposium at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention!

By Jennifer Howlett Rousseau - ECP Faculty Member

Coaches, riders, officials, parents, owners, supporters:

Join the Eventing Coaches Program on Dec. 9 at 9:30 a.m. at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention for a 90-minute, deep dive into the training and coaching of riders and horses for the sport of eventing. The interactive program will focus on developing an “eye” for discerning the current skill set of a horse/rider combination, identifying what issues need addressing, what underlying problems may be contributing to the issues, and prioritizing next steps.

The exercise will mirror, in a virtual way, the new format of the USEA Educational Symposium, as presented over the past two years. Attendees at the open forum meeting will be broken into round table working groups and asked to evaluate riders and horses in several video clips. After each video, the groups will discuss and identify:

  1. Current skills and/or level
  2. Issues, areas for improvement
  3. Underlying causes if any
  4. Prioritization of next steps

Participation can range from auditing to actively engaging in the discussion—everyone is welcome. As each session of video evaluation and discussion concludes, the event moderators will call on groups to share their ideas, looking for both common themes and innovative ideas.

There is an old expression which says, “the eye of the master maketh the horse,” which refers to the horse keeper’s ability to maintain the health, weight, and condition of the horse. The theme of the 2024 Eventing Coaches Program could be similarly described as, “the eye of the coach maketh the rider”. Through this event at the annual meeting, through the Educational Symposium, and throughout the 2024 workshops, we will be focused on honing the evaluation skills of our coaches at all levels, and on identifying the correct, incremental steps of progression needed for each individual horse/rider combination. Since no two combinations are exactly alike, it is imperative that coaches at every level can accurately evaluate what is in front of them and meet that horse/rider combination where they are now.

When we first introduced the working group format for the Educational Symposium in 2022, we were hopeful it would ignite a spark among eventing coaches to continue to improve their teaching skills and augment their knowledge by offering a safe place to discuss and debate training techniques and increments of progression among peers and participants with a vast variety of knowledge, expertise, and specialization. In fact, harnessing the hive mind of our collective experiences has been an incredibly enriching experience, by all accounts, for all levels of coaches, riders, officials, parents, and supporters.

After two years of using this format at the Educational Symposium, it is evident that the upper-level coaches, riders, and officials often benefit from the wisdom and experience of our “in the trenches” lower-level coaches in discerning the pathway forward for beginning riders and riders new to our sport.

Similarly, our lower-level coaches appreciate the opportunity to hone their skills as they evaluate and dissect the riding and training of more advanced riders and horses in a collegial setting with experienced coaches, riders, and officials. Riders are often surprised and enlightened about their own struggles and successes when asked to view different situations from the training progression perspective, and even attending officials have commented that the number of ways different training problems might be solved to achieve the same goals has been eye-opening. It really is a win-win for all levels.

The 2024 Educational Symposium will be held at the Florida Horse Park this year Jan. 30—Feb. 1. In addition to our interactive, group coaching experience that has been so well-received these past two years, we have some awesome additional sessions planned. These include the ever-popular Dr. Paul Heffner with a special segment this year aimed at self-care for professionals (who we all know are often over-worked!), and the brilliant Peter Gray who is planning an interactive segment which lets us into the mindset of the dressage judge during the riding of the test, as well as several other guest presentations in the works.

Not able to make this year’s USEA ECP Educational Symposium? Debating whether you should attend? Interested in finding out more about the Eventing Coaches Program? Excited about sharing your perspective on coaching for the sport of eventing? Looking forward to actively participating in a session at the Convention as opposed to just sitting and listening? Would you like to contribute to the health and welfare of our sport by supporting excellence in coaching riders and training horses through the ECP program? There are these and many other good reasons to join us in St. Louis and be part of our innovative and exciting presentation, on behalf of the Eventing Coaches Program and USEA Eventing. Hope to see you there!

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