Mar 30, 2024

Observing an ECP Workshop and Gaining Some Inspiration

Kate Chadderton learned a lot from attending the ECP Assessment at Destination Farm. Photo courtesy of Natalie Hollis

For the past couple of years I’ve been moving through a confusing and disconcerting season of my career. I’ve spent my whole life fit (unless injured) and extremely active competing and training horses. A couple of years ago that all started to change with the slow onset of an illness that has taken away a lot of my ability to compete or ride at any level effectively.

Hopefully in time those abilities will return and everything will return to normal! In the meantime I’ve been trying to find where I fit in the sport that is my passion, career, and livelihood. Through that process I familiarized myself with the Eventing Coaches Program (ECP). I love selling horses, so that part of my career was easy to expand. However, teaching had never been my lifeblood, and I wanted to be more structured with how I took on that part of my business

In Australia (for readers who don’t know, I’m Australian) we have a structured certification process that every trainer must complete before being allowed to teach. Here, in the U.S., anyone can hang out a shingle (and soooo many people do!) and claim to be a trainer regardless of their experience and qualifications. This always struck me as a bit cavalier, however, "when in Rome."

Getting back to the reason I started looking into ECP, I was very impressed with the structure and thought processes put into it. Then I researched who put the curriculum together. Wow. Some of the most notable riders and trainers of the past 50 years have put their brain trust together to develop a well-thought out, durable process of ensuring qualified riders can become very effective qualified trainers. This brain trust is going to ensure the longevity of the sport by continuing to provide education to the people who are willing to teach. And the anticipation is that the future qualified trainers continue this legacy.

I’m a very experienced coach of 25 years, training riders through to Advanced (not including the years as a kid when I taught the other local kids how to get from one side of the jump to the other!). I’ve taught people in my program, I’ve taught one-off lessons, I’ve taught many clinics; however I was unusually nervous attending my first workshop on March 11-13.

I’ll digress for a second: you must attend a dressage and a jumping workshop in order to be eligible for assessment. Not knowing what to expect from the workshop, I left home early (dropping my poor, sweet 4-year-old daughter at my poor, sweet nanny’s at 5:15 a.m.) so I’d be half an hour early. Fate decided that my three-hour drive would be 4 hours and 7 minutes which meant I arrived 7 minutes late, which heightened my stress level from a 9/10 to a 283/10! However Natalie Hollis (whose Destination Farm in Dickerson, Maryland, hosted the dressage workshop) made sure the 7 minutes did not devastate the day, and the workshop got off to an easy start

Phyllis Dawson was not only the workshop trainer but she’s also an assessor. If you aren’t familiar with her extraordinary life’s achievements, do yourself the favor of a quick Google search. An incredibly impressive lady who was winning Advanced competitions around the world before I was even born. My biggest expectation of the workshop and assessments was that there would be a "checklist" of the skills one must prove to the level at which you’re applying.

The constant theme however was to just teach your regular lesson (wonderful trial riders volunteered at all levels, and a massive thank you to all of them!) and accurate feedback was provided. Each applicant was required to observe and give feedback on the other applicants quality and content of teaching. This allowed for learning from all applicants and helped alleviate stress. The other applicants were varying levels (I’m applying for level IV), and I actually learned a LOT from watching their lessons. Their enthusiasm and thoughtfulness was invigorating to witness.

The quality Phyllis expected was high and her feedback was accurate and invaluable. She was kind but effective in her delivery, and it’s super clear that a lot of highly educated people have developed this curriculum for the betterment of our sport. I truly believe any trainer worth their salt ought to be doing this program. The workshops are a necessity prior to assessment, regardless of your level. I’m a very confident and experienced instructor and learned a massive amount from my first workshop. I really look forward to my next workshop in April, then heavily anticipate my assessment with a healthy mix of nerves and preparedness

I genuinely hope this program becomes a required qualification for all event trainers in order to practice as a trainer.

Thank you USEA and the ECP for encouraging a standardized qualification with some actual teeth behind it. And thanks to Destination Farm for hosting.

Kate Chadderton grew up on a cattle farm in Queensland, Australia. An avid member of the Australian Pony Club Association, Chadderton was inspired to pursue eventing after the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She trained with Boyd Martin while he was in Australia, as well as Heath and Rozzie Ryan, before she came to the U.S. in 2008 where she continued to train with Martin, as well as Phillip Dutton.

Chadderton's competed to the five-star level and is currently based in Cochranville, Pennsylvania, and Aiken, South Carolina, where she teaches students and has a sales program.

About the USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP)

Coaches are essential to the training of riders and horses for safe and educated participation in the sport of eventing. The USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP), formerly known as the Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP), was initiated in 2002 to educate all levels of eventing coaches with crucial training principles upon which they can continue to build throughout their teaching careers. ECP offers educational workshops and assessments by which both regular coaches, Level I through Level V, Young Event Horse (YEH) coaches, and Young Event Horse professional horse trainers can become ECP certified. Additional information about ECP’s goals, benefits, workshops, and assessments as well as names and contact information for current ECP certified coaches, YEH coaches, and YEH professional horse trainers are available on the USEA website. Click here to learn more about the USEA Eventing Coaches Program.

The USEA would like to thank Parker Equine Insurance, the United States Pony Clubs, and Strider for their support of the Eventing Coaches Program.

Apr 13, 2024 Profile

Now On Course: AEC Dreaming After a 30-Year Hiatus with Kelly O'Brien

Kelly O’Brien has her eye on a prize. “Pretty much the rest of this season will be targeted towards getting fired up for the AEC,” says O’Brien, 54. She and B E Never Say Never, a 19-year-old Dutch Warmblood, have qualified for the 2024 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds already, thanks to decisively winning all three of their 2024 outings thus far.

Apr 12, 2024 USEA Foundation

Applications for The Event at Rebecca Farm Travel Grant Due June 1

The Event at Rebecca Farm (Kalispell, Montana) is renowned amongst members of the eventing community for its exceptional competition venue, genuine hospitality, and stunning backdrops. The Broussard Family Charitable Foundation and USEA Foundation are excited to share that travel grants to this iconic venue are returning once again for 2024 to assist riders traveling to Montana to compete in the CCI3* and CCI4* divisions at this year’s competition which takes place July 17-21.

Apr 12, 2024 Resources

Heads Up Competitors! Important Information Surrounding Entry Form and Liability Waiver Requirements for USEA/USEF Eventing Competitions

When aiming to compete in a United States Eventing Association (USEA) recognized competition (national competition or international competition), licensed or endorsed by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), understanding and fulfilling the specific requirements for entry forms and liability waivers is crucial.

Apr 12, 2024 Emerging Athletes U21

USEA Names Athletes for 2024 EA21 Regional Programs

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the athletes selected for the 2024 USEA Emerging Athlete U21 Program (EA21). USEA Young Rider program members aged 21 and under are eligible for the program. The purpose of the USEA EA21 Program is to identify and provide consistent quality instruction to the next generation of elite event riders.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Real Estate Partner of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA

Official Horse Boot of the USEA