Nov 26, 2022

The EA21 Recap: West Coast Edition

EA21 Aspen Farm participants. USEA/ Olivia Airhart photo

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 West Coast sessions to hear their takes on the USEA’s newest program.

EA21 Aspen Farms Participants:

On things to consider when applying to participate and the importance of applying for the EA21 program:

Haper Padgett: “It was important for me to apply to the EA21 program because I think this kind of opportunity and training exposure can really change the trajectory of young aspiring riders. It’s very rare to get the kind of attention the U21 program has put together – expert coaching, great facilities, and the chance to ride, train and learn from like-minded riders. I am fully committed to and invested in this sport, and I aim to represent the USA on an international level. I am excited to meet and ride with the best in the sport, make new friendships and hopefully ride with my teammates for years to come.”

Reese Blinks: “I would encourage fellow eventers interested in the EA21 Program to not worry about what their record looks like, instead focus on the riding experience they have and how they want to move forward. It is important to apply with the focus on having fun and not putting too much pressure on themselves. The biggest piece of advice is to include aspects of their life outside of riding in their application, and if they participate in other types of riding such as straight dressage. It shows the rider applying is well rounded, determined, and has good time management skills.”

Willa Laski: “It was important for me to apply to the EA21 program because the program serves as a great opportunity for young, emerging riders to start working towards making a name for themselves in the sport of eventing. The program selected the most dedicated and committed young athletes, which made for a very focused and goal-oriented clinic. The program gives young riders the opportunity to spend time with established upper-level riders who are happy and willing to share their insight and advice on how to be the best in this sport. My time with Rebecca Brown taught me a few things: goal setting is SO important; the hardest working people will always be the most successful, and there are many ways to arrive at success in the upper levels of eventing.”

Kendal Smith: “Shoot your shot! It’s so rare to be offered such a unique opportunity like the EA21 program. There’s no harm in applying, and if you don’t make it next year keep trying. The more you apply and get your name out there, the more your work and dedication will be recognized.”

On how participating in the EA21 program aligns with their goals:

Abigail Cochran: “The EA21 clinic really aligned with my goals just by being surrounded by riders like myself. We are all growing and learning in the sport and just being recognized by the USEA and being all able to come together was really meaningful. I knew all the riders coming in, but being able to really talk and connect with them outside the quick conversations running around at shows is great to just know the area and people like me in it! The lectures, lessons, and other group events were a great way for me to really evaluate how I want to continue in the sport, clarify ways to improve my riding, keep the desire to improve and move up without my normal support system when I'm across the country and grow closer with other riders that I wasn't before. I am super grateful!”

Madelyn Floyd: “At the EA21 clinic, I found it refreshing to spend time learning how to improve without eyes on the ground. I’m planning on moving up a level with both of my horses this fall, which can be tricky without consistent access to an experienced coach. I plan to take Rebecca’s advice on being intentional and deliberate each ride to make that move up successful. I can’t wait to use these skills as I head back to school this fall!”

Maeson Messmer: “Participating in the EA21 clinics gave me the opportunity to train with top riders to help me develop the skills and confidence I need to continue to compete through the upper levels. I enjoy training with other riders that have a similar drive and passion. I feel it is an honor to be selected and it offers me a great opportunity to continue my education in this sport. Thank you USEA for this opportunity!”

On what they gained from the EA21 Regional Clinic:

Kayla Dumler: “The biggest thing I gained as a whole from the EA21 clinic was a stronger foundation of basics for my horse and I. By breaking down the German training scale it allowed me to focus on all of the factors of creating a good movement. Likewise, focusing on the importance of a consistent rhythm helped me create smooth and efficient show jump rounds.”

Lindsay Essex: “One important lesson I learned through EA21 is the importance of diversifying the types of horses you ride. We were shown how diversification of what you ride can help build you into a stronger rider for every horse you get on.”

Lizzie Hoff: “I really enjoyed learning from Rebecca Brown at the Aspen Farms EA21 clinic and am excited to be able to apply what I learned to my riding. Taking every opportunity I have a chance to and always working my hardest are the biggest takeaways I will use to benefit my eventing goals.”

Ashley Widmer: “Overall I feel like the EA21 regional clinic provided me with the tools to take the next steps in my training and developing my career. It was really nice to be able to have an open and honest conversation with our clinician, Rebecca Brown, on how to get where I want to go. She informed me of what programs are out there and how to get more involved in our sport.”

EA21 Twin Rivers Participants:

USEA/ Tina Fitch photo

On how they can apply what they learned during the EA21 Regional Clinic to their riding goals:

Amanda Boyce: “The E21 clinic gave me great insight into the various different paths to pursuing a career in eventing. I came out of the clinic with a clearer game plan for the future in hopes of competing at the four-star and five-star level one day. I learned more about the basics of riding and it was beneficial to watch Rebecca Brown assess and improve very different types of horses. It was also exciting to meet and form connections with other dedicated young riders who have similar goals.”

Natalie Kraus: “The morning lectures and riding sessions at the EA21 clinic allowed me to learn how to observe the other horses carefully, recognize what the horse is doing well or could improve and what exercises I might recommend to help. During my own riding session with my new horse, I appreciated the education from Rebecca to help improve my ride – such as leg yielding after fences to keep a controlled canter, or using his best gait to help with the other – it immediately made a difference. I am excited to apply all that I learned in my own riding and in observing other riders as I continue my pursuit toward becoming a professional!”

On their overall experience during the EA21 Regional Clinic:

Julia Beauchamp Crandon: “As a whole, I thought the EA21 Clinic was such a great opportunity to get to know other riders in your area that have the same goals as you. I am also so grateful to have been a participant in the clinic with Rebecca Brown as she is very knowledgeable in the sport of eventing and I came home with much more knowledge and tools than when I arrived at the clinic.”

Audrey Sanborn: “I feel so grateful to have been selected for the EA21 clinic and to have two days of instruction with Rebecca Brown. The clinic focused on the fundamentals of eventing which helped and inspired me to become a better rider now and in the future.”

On skills other than riding that were taught during the EA21 Regional Clinic:

Ella Garcia: “ During our social gathering over dinner, we used our time and each other’s knowledge to correlate ideas and problem-solve. This taught me that coming together as a team is an important skill to rely on both in and out of the ring. It is something I hadn’t realized was quite as important as it is. This helps us to prepare for future team experiences.”

On advice for fellow riders who wish to apply to participate in EA21 in the future:

Sarah Ross: “My advice to anyone thinking of applying to the program is to not second guess your application. If you have met the qualifications just apply! If you’re accepted it’s an amazing opportunity filled with learning, but if you don’t make it then it’s still an opportunity to practice writing applications for the future. Take every opportunity given and make the most of it!”

Emma Weber: “I think that if you are eligible, you should apply for the EA21 Clinic. Best case: you get selected. you learn new tools to help you in your career and network with some new people, as well as get a chance to get sent to the National Camp. Worst case: you spent five minutes filling out an application and don’t go. Take every possible opportunity.”

On why it was important for them to apply to participate:

Lizzie Lynch: “Applying for the EA21 clinic was incredibly important because it was clear to me that this was the next step in developing my riding and education. The program is designed to notice young talent and young riders who work hard and give them a pipeline to succeed. I wanted to take the next step in my riding to be noticed and to put myself out there, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. Building more relationships and connections is the key to success in this sport. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity and will be applying for many more programs in the years to come!”

Taylor McFall: “The E21 program is a privilege to be a part of and I’m lucky to have the right people watching me and have the right people helping me reach my goals in eventing. I want to compete at the highest level and make my area as well as my country proud and EA21 is a push in the right direction for me.”

Annabelle Nieman: “It was important for me to apply to the EA21 program for several reasons. First, attending this clinic would enable me to surround myself with peers competing at upper levels. Coming from Area X, I don’t often have the opportunity to be exposed to such incredible riders close to my age and it was nice to feel comradery with them. Second, since this is a very competitive sport I was seeking an opportunity to receive honest feedback about my skills and gain clear guidance as to the steps I need to take in order to progress. Third, it was important for me to take a chance and move out of my comfort zone and be open to criticism because, ultimately, this is not a hobby for me. Therefore, I am open to learning, and working harder than ever, and I recognize that a clinic like this is another tool I can use to help me reach my goal. It is my hope that having attended this clinic, a small door may be opened for me to step into my future.”

Access all the coverage from the 2022 EA21 Regional Clinics here.

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