I was fortunate and grateful to be selected as one of the recipients of the Galway Downs Mars Bromont Rising Program Grant. My home base is Carnation, Washington, and I frequently travel to events outside Area VII, which is an ongoing logistical and financial challenge. The financial benefits of this grant were incredibly helpful, and of course most welcome, but the other benefits of the grant went far beyond the financial aspects. The amazing opportunity to spend time and learn from eventing legends such as Bettina Hoy, Peter Grey, and Marilyn Payne was incredibly beneficial to me at this point in my young professional career. I have a burning desire and hunger to continually receive diverse and high-level coaching experiences, in addition to my longstanding local team of coaches in the Northwest.
November Galway Downs has long been a fixture on my calendar of annual events since my first year competing there in 2012 at age 13. Robert Kellerhouse and his team always put together a fantastic weekend, with plenty of heart and soul, and of course the utmost care for all competing riders.
This year Galway served as the perfect venue for all grant recipients to receive lessons from Bettina, as well as course walks. This was my first-time meeting Bettina, and I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit I was a little nervous and humbled by the opportunity to work with her. Our first interaction was a flat lesson on my younger horse, Tarantino 54. Bettina was instantly masterful at assessing where we currently are as a pair, and carefully choosing ways to improve our performance without changing too much before the competition. Tarantino 54 tends to be tight over his topline, and Bettina gave me excellent tools to help him relax in his frame and make the most of his extraordinary natural talents. Quidproquo is a completely different kind of ride, and more difficult for me. Bettina helped me focus on getting his hind end sharper in our leg yield and half-pass movements. I left both lessons feeling better prepared and inspired after working with such a legendary woman. Despite her busy schedule over the weekend, Bettina made time to walk my four-star course with me one-on-one. She shared her impressions of each combination and we discussed options for ways each could be approached. She was very interested in my perspectives and asked for my input as to how Quidproquo generally goes, in order to help me get more specific help with our cross-country challenges.
My favorite part of the experience was sitting down with Peter, Marilyn, and Bettina prior to the start of Galway, to discuss each movement in the four-star dressage test. I’ve never been able to spend one-on-one time with top international judges and riders to discuss a dressage test and learn what they are specifically looking for in each movement. Obviously, we all know based on the tests what to do, but I was able to gain new knowledge about the details and intricacies judges are looking for. When I entered the dressage ring on each horse, I felt more confident and relaxed. The pre-test discussion was an amazingly valuable experience.
Bettina and I also discussed the challenges of my small stature and ways I can make improvements. She is also small and has had to work very hard to gain core strength to help her riding. Bettina encouraged me to shift to cross-training. I already work with a trainer at home, but after speaking with Bettina it became clear that I need to make changes to my conditioning program, especially as I pursue my international competition goals. Quidproquo is a large, strong horse, and I have a difficult time with our cross-country time penalties because I have to bring him back so much before each combination. Bettina and I spent a great deal of time discussing this particular challenge. My takeaway is that I need to focus most of my strengthening on my core and upper body.
Bettina was very engaging and to the point, and also genuinely interested in speaking with me about my career goals. We discussed conditioning, events, travel, other professionals with whom to work, ways to generate financial support, and overall strategies to help pave a successful career path. Her authentic interest in my future was not something I expected when I applied for this grant, but the time spent with her was inspirational to me.
Since the age of six, I have maintained a burning passion for eventing. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to receive support from many mentors, trainers, coaches, and family, all of whom have believed in me and have done all they can to support my career. The MARS Bromont Rising U25 Program has taken this personal support to another level. Regardless of what happens in my future, I will be forever grateful and humbled to have had the exposure to Bettina Hoy, Peter Grey, Sue Ockendon, Jim Wildasin, Marilyn Payne, and of course Robert Kellerhouse as welcoming and supportive host of a wonderful annual event. Last, but certainly not least, none of the wonderful MARS Bromont Rising U25 benefits would have been possible without the USEA Foundation, and I consider myself so fortunate to be involved with such a fantastic organization.
THANK YOU to everyone who has already entered the USEF/USEA Recognized CDCTA Spring Horse Trials scheduled for Sunday, April 9 in Berryville, VA. We will continue to take late entries through Friday, March 24 using USEA’s Xentry system. If you still want to come compete, please enter! The late fee has been waived through Friday, March 24.
The U.S. Equestrian Federation announces the appointment of long-term US Equestrian employee Hallye Griffin as Director of FEI Sport. Griffin will assume the duties of former Director of FEI/High-Performance Sport, Graeme Thom, who has chosen to step away from his role to attend to personal matters.
The United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) is thrilled to announce that Sidelines Magazine will not only be returning as a “Media Partner of U.S. Eventing,” but they will also be supporting the Association as a “Contributing Level Sponsor of the USEA Emerging Athletes U21 Program” and a “Prize Level Sponsor of the USEA American Eventing Championships.” Sidelines Magazine will give the USEA additional promotion and exposure through their printed and digital media products, while also providing prizes for participants at the AEC and EA21 clinics.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.