Apr 16, 2024

MARS Bromont Rising Returns for June 2024

By Bromont Horse Trials - Edited Press Release
Maya Clarkson and Maks Mojo C finished second in the CCI3*-L (combined U25) at the MARS Bromont CCI 2023. Michelle Dunn photo

The MARS Bromont Rising U25 scholarship program, administered by the USEA Foundation, is pleased to announce that up to 10 grants of up to $2,500 each will once again be available for talented young riders aged 25 and under, who are aiming to compete in the MARS Bromont (Quebec, Canada) U25CCI divisions in June, 2024. Highlighting this year’s program is the return of three-time German Olympic team member Bettina Hoy, as a guest coach for 2024.

The brainchild of organizer Sue Ockendon and the late Steve Blauner; the scholarship program was first offered in 2019 for riders competing at Bromont, and expanded to include Galway Downs on the west coast for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Event horse owner Blauner had the vision of supporting young eventers from the U.S. and Canada who were not yet under the radar of national U25 training programs. Ockendon had long had the dream of offering financial support to recognize and support the youth of the sport who are the future of eventing in North America. A complete training program was devised to help the riders prepare themselves and their horses for the competition.

A complete training program was devised to help the riders prepare themselves and their horses for competition. The grants assist with travel and entry expenses, but the program also includes classroom sessions with course designers, high performance riders and a dressage test analysis by an 5* FEI judge. Coaching and course walks during the events are also available, in conjunction with riders own coaches.

Program director, Olympian and FEI judge, Peter Gray acts as a clinician at the event, including his “centerline workshop” on how to make the most of your warm-up and exactly what the judges are looking for movement by movement.

“I’m thrilled the MARS Bromont Rising grants will be offered once again at Bromont this year,” Gray remarked. “Bromont is such a unique destination with its challenging terrain and world-class courses designed by renowned Derek DiGrazia, and having guest coaches like Bettina Hoy back on board is an incredible opportunity for the athletes.”

Three-time German Olympian and former international coach for Holland, Hoy speaks extremely highly of the program.

“Programs like Bromont Rising, the USEF and USEA’s Developing Rider Programs, Australia’s Next GEN squads, and in Germany the Stiftung Deutscher Spitzensport-supported mentorship program are very valuable, particularly if students are willing to take them on in an immersive way,” Hoy remarked. “Education goes way beyond riding instruction. In future workshops, I would like to add seminars on horse management – how to plan your season, how to structure your fitness program, and proper aftercare to really complete the cycle of looking at the big picture. And of course we need to discuss social license and the use of social media today.”

Following last year’s event, Hoy gave her impressions on the week and in particular the strength of the facility as a preparation ground for the next generation of serious young riders.

“I was very, very impressed by Bromont, full stop. Everyone has put a huge effort into fantastic courses. You know where you are fitness wise, as well as in the education of horse and rider. I think it’s very important that this event stays up to height so we can educate riders about that as well as fitness and technicality.”

American young rider Maya Clarkson (23, Middleburg, VA) received a grant in 2023 and benefited tremendously from the experience. Clarkson rides with American veteran Lauren Nicholson, who has also worked with Bettina Hoy in the past. Nicholson was excited for her student to experience both the ‘team’ atmosphere of the program, as well as learning from outside professionals.

One of the highlights of the week for Clarkson was having direct access to, and input from Bromont's cross-country course designer Derek DiGrazia (USA), who designed at the Tokyo Olympics and designs for two of the most prestigious CCI5*s in the world: Kentucky (USA) and Burghley (United Kingdom.)

“Being able to have access to Derek DiGrazia was incredible,” commented Clarkson. “I really got a lot out of learning about his philosophy and intentions. He talked a lot about reading the footing and in particular the ground itself. The footing is amazing and the ground has rolls and is really varied. You need to be balanced in your galloping. If you don’t take care of that you could easily have a trip that could create a bad jump. I found myself really riding every stride much more, especially while galloping between the jumps. It has really changed how I ride.”

Clarkson, who finished second overall in the combined U25/CCI3*-L division behind US Olympian Boyd Martin, also mentioned that receiving a prestigious grant such as this has helped legitimize her work and goal of riding at the upper levels.

“Because I applied and received a Bromont Rising grant in 2023, I think it’s even helped my parents understand that there are people out there who will support a rider like me — that it’s worth investing in someone like me who has not been a rider since being a toddler. They are incredibly supportive but it showed them others are out there too!”

Canadian and U.S. U25 riders competing in the CCIU252*-L and CCIU253*-L are eligible to apply. Grant applications are open now here and will close May 6, 2024.

(Grant application forms, hotel information, omnibus forms etc. can be found on the respective websites)

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