This summer, five USEA Emerging Athlete 21 (EA21) Clinics took place across the country giving young riders the opportunity to hone in on their horsemanship skills, improve their consistency in the saddle and show ring, and create a pipeline for potential team riders by identifying and developing young talent. We caught up with many of the riders from the two East Coast sessions to hear their takes on the USEA’s newest program.
EA21 Morven Park Participants:
On the importance of applying to participate:
Kiera Kenny: “It was important to me to apply to the EA21 program because I wanted to work on developing my skills and learning with and from other young riders.”
Caitlin O’Roark: “It was important to me to apply to the EA21 program because I feel it’s a good stepping stone and educational experience to gain knowledge, contacts, publicity, and become more coachable as a rider. What I loved about the program was its design for riders, not necessarily [horse and rider] combinations. The coach, Shannon Lilley, did an amazing job sharing and creating a group discussion about team experience. I think that was so important because the majority of the U.S. young riders there said that they wanted to be on teams to represent the U.S. It was important to me to apply and be a part of the program because it’s one of the foundations of the future of our sport.
On key takeaways from the clinic:
Lea Adams-Blackmore: “Participating in this year’s EA21 clinic was an amazing experience, and I feel so lucky to have been selected for it. Training and learning amongst peers is a huge part of this sport and getting to practice that at this clinic was fantastic. Everything from the thoughtful instruction, to the undeniable sense of comradery in the barns made these two days an incredibly useful endeavor for the many similar experiences that I will encounter in my future riding career. I will be able to use the skills that we worked on in this clinic to reach my goals as a rider, teammate, and horseman.”
Sarah Ertl: “One of the best takeaways from my experience at the EA21 clinic was fostering a community with fellow riders my age and at my level. I learned so much in my own lessons with Shannon Lilley, as well as from watching her teach other riders with similar experience and goals as my own.”
Meg Pellegrini: “The E21 program was a great experience for both riders and horses. To learn from such qualified coaches and audit their lessons with the many diverse horses and riders, is always an invaluable experience. In the East Coast Morven Park session, we learned how to tune into our horses through the training scale and work together to make the most out of each ride. Thank you to all involved for allowing and trusting us to be a part of this!”
On using the tools gathered in the EA21 clinics in the future:
Addison Neumeyer: “I aim to take the knowledge, exercises, and tools Shannon taught us to help pursue my goals of reaching the top level of this sport and helping others to do the same. I plan to use the exercises we did both days to help my horses and myself become stronger athletes so that we will continue to progress up the levels successfully. I will utilize what I learned while riding, as well as what I learned in our discussions, to continue to grow and advance as an equestrian. We talked about being a team member and the different jobs it brings. I aim to use that knowledge when I am selected for team roles so that I can be the best teammate possible.”
Adalee Ladwig: “What I aim to take from the EA21 clinic and apply to my goals as an eventer is to keep improving myself by seeking guidance from experienced riders. I really enjoyed hearing and learning from Shannon Lilley about new ways to approach difficult questions with my horse to make sure both of us were safe. I also got to know so many great athletes through the program which made me feel more a part of the eventing community. Eventing is the greatest sport in my opinion because there is no higher amount of support and dedication towards the horses and riders. As a young eventer, I have so much to learn but I now know through the EA21 program that I am very capable of following my dreams of becoming a professional event rider.”
On encouraging other riders to apply for future EA21 Clinics:
Audrey Littlefield: “I would encourage young riders to apply not solely for the purpose of being selected for the national clinic, but for the experience gained from the regional clinics. I met so many new people and learned a ton from riding, watching lessons, and listening to lectures. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be selected, just take as much information in as you can and have fun!”
EA21 Stable View Participants:
On the importance of the EA21 clinics as a whole:
Bree Robinette: “Development from programs like the EA21 program goes beyond learning new physical skills. It is an opportunity to apply for a program with others in the sport who are just as passionate as I am about the sport as well as providing an opportunity to meet other riders in order for us all to encourage one another as we progress. Eventing comes with highs and lows, it’s nice to be able to meet others to form a team-like environment to help cope with this aspect of the sport."
Kiersten Miller: “To me, applying to the Emerging Athletes 21 Program was extremely important for countless reasons. First, as an out-of-state college student, I’ve obviously had to leave my old coaches as well as my former program and routine, that I felt secure and confident in at home. As a rider, and especially as an eventer, confidence and stability are two extremely important concepts when it comes to being successful and safe in the sport. The only way to achieve these two things is through being in an adequate program for the level one is riding at. This is where I felt it was crucial to take the opportunity to apply to participate in the program. With now being an Intermediate and three-star rider that has made serious goals in the sport, I found that this program was truly the next step in my riding career. I completely believe that Young Rider Programs are the stepping stones for us young riders that guide us through the hardships and successes of eventing and help us continue to grow along the way. I can’t even begin to express the knowledge I took away from the clinic in just two short days. Not only did I take away new exercises and tools for the future, but I also gained about a dozen friends along with a new mentor and coach who is just one phone call away. To add to that, I feel that the program is also beneficial because the riders that I met at this clinic will ideally be some of the riders that I’ll get to know and grow relationships with as all of our careers progress into the future. Ultimately, the experience I had participating in the program completely upheld my reasoning for applying in the first place. So, all in all, I cannot stress enough how enriching it was to be able to take part in the EA21 program this year, and am eager to see what new opportunities arise from the experience!”
Dylan Philipps: “Riding at the upper levels and becoming a well-rounded horsewoman has been my dream for as long as I can remember. In 2019 I set my sights on competing at the Intermediate level and after a series of setbacks including selling my horse and breaking my foot, I finally feel like my goal is in sight. Getting selected to attend the EA21 clinic was a huge honor and I found Emily Beshear’s ideas to be extremely insightful. I think that the EA21 clinics are a great new program for up-and-coming young riders, and I am grateful to have gotten the opportunity to ride and participate.”
Lulu Malinoski: “The EA21 program is a wonderful way to support developing young riders, get them started on a path to success, and provide good connections in the industry. I really appreciated the depth of thought given to the coaching and the opportunity to connect with other young riders getting started in the industry.”
On key takeaways from the clinic:
Tessa Geven: “Not only did I learn several new exercises in the EA21 clinic that will help me and my horse improve, but I also learned so much from watching the other young riders and their horses doing the same exercise. The toughest lesson I learned is that while you aim for your goals never forget to enjoy every minute of your horse because you never know what might happen, as I, unfortunately, lost my horse two days after the clinic due to a pasture accident.”
Rory Frangos: “I aim to use all the knowledge I learned from the EA21 clinic in producing my current two horses and any future horses. I’ve already begun using the exercises to improve my dressage on both of my horses. I’ve noticed huge improvements, along with learning some of our weaknesses in the showjumping to improve upon. I’m super grateful for the opportunity to learn and meet so many people as well!"
Access all the coverage from the 2022 EA21 Regional Clinics here.
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