Jan 10, 2024

Preparing for the 2024 ECP Symposium with a Mini-Symposium Experience at the 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA Vice President of Education and Co-Chair of the USEA Eventing Coaches Program Committee, Jennifer Rousseau, at the 2023 USEA ECP Symposium. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

As attendees of the 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention filled the room of the USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) Mini-Symposium, ECP instructors began bringing chairs in from the hallway to make sure every participant had a chair in one of the most exciting and interactive sessions at this year’s Convention, held Dec. 7-10 in St. Louis, Missouri.

The ECP was established in 2002, formerly known as the USEA Instructors Certification Program (ICP), with the hopes of equalizing eventing education across the country and confirming the skills of those essential coaches who are leading the riders of our sport today. This continuously developing program has truly blossomed over the last five years with the birth of the USEA Eventing Handbook by the levels and the revamping of the ECP Symposium in 2022. And the growth doesn’t stop there.

At the start of the Mini-Symposium, USEA Vice President of Education and Co-Chair of the USEA Eventing Coaches Program Committee, Jennifer Howlett Rousseau, shared the names of the USEA ECP Area Representatives and initiatives that they are working on. The current Area ECP Representatives are:

  • Area I | Bevin O’Reilly Dugan
  • Area II | Susie Beale
  • Area III | Brittany Ezzard
  • Area IV | Liz Lund and Brigitte Kettell
  • Area V | Lynda Lewis
  • Area VI | Bec Braitling
  • Area VII | Kate Peete Walker Bystrom
  • Area VIII | Cathy Wieschoff
  • Area IX | Laura Backus
  • Area X | Shawn Ortiz

These Area Representatives are working towards creating a list of active coaches who attend both recognized and unrecognized events with the goal of recognizing them for their contributions as coaches and receiving their input on how the ECP can better support them.

They will all disseminate information about the ECP to these coaches including educational activities, workshops, symposiums, and assessments. In addition, they will help facilitate continuing educational activities in their area and promote one of the newest developments from the ECP—the ECP Ambassador Program.

The ECP Ambassador Program seeks to connect ECP Coaches at competitions to the attending competitors who might be seeking advice or help during or beyond the competition. This program will identify active ECP coaches at every competition and create visibility that will not only benefit riders looking for assistance but will also provide recognition for ECP Coaches. This program does not intend for these Coaches to serve as “catch-coaches,” at competitions, but rather helps riders connect with a resource for things like course walks, tack questions, rules questions, stud questions, etc.

Then, in true ECP fashion, it was time for the hands-on work to begin. One ECP Coach was assigned to each table in the room for an exercise that would prepare participants for what they would experience if they were to attend the 2024 ECP Symposium which takes place in Ocala, Florida, from Jan. 30—Feb. 1.

“This exercise is about working together to come to a consensus about what we are seeing, and then—the important part—prioritizing what needs to be done,” said Rousseau as she keyed up a video of a rider performing a Beginner Novice level dressage test. Participants were tasked with reviewing the ride and then, as a group alongside their ECP Coach, brainstorming what three skills or tasks the rider should work on and how they could effectively teach the rider those skills.

“Riders do not retain more than two or three things in each lesson,” Rousseau reflected. “So you have to identify those two, maybe three things that you want the rider to go home and practice during each session.”

Attendees of the Mini-Symposium event at Convention had the opportunity to work with an ECP Coach to create the outline of a lesson plan for a demo rider. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

The groups were given some time to discuss amongst themselves and determine what their three areas of focus would be. It might come as a surprise to most to know that the majority of the room narrowed down to the same three discussion points, but that was no shock to the members of the ECP. After all, the purpose of the program is to streamline coaching so that riders of all levels, all across the country, are receiving consistent, safe, and equal feedback from their coaches.

If you are interested in getting the full ECP Symposium experience, the ECP Committee invites you to join them in Ocala, Florida, at the Florida Horse Park from Jan. 30—Feb. 1 for the 2024 ECP Symposium. An ECP Faculty Day will take place one day prior on Jan. 29. In addition to the hands-on coaching experience, participants will also be treated to guest lectures by Sports Psychologist Dr. Paul Haefner and Olympian, coach, and FEI Judge Peter Gray.

To learn more about the 2024 ECP Activity Calendar, please click here.

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.

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