Putting 70-plus eventing coaches and instructors in a room and asking them to share their opinions and experiences could be considered the definition of organized chaos. But at the 2022 and 2023 Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) Educational Symposiums, the resulting thoughtful and creative discussion has become a popular educational segment of the symposium, the fruits of which will be helpful to coaches and students alike.
For the information of those who have not yet attended the newly formatted (new in 2022) ECP Educational Symposium, the attending coaches are engaged in an interactive program where they contribute to the discussion, and share their experience, as they develop teaching strategies with their group throughout the three-day program. The attendees are randomly divided into groups of 8-10 and assigned a color (blue group, white group, red group, etc.). This group becomes their working group for the entirety of the symposium. For every interactive activity, the groups are paired with an ECP Faculty member who serves as the moderator of the group discussion. The Faculty members are rotated from group to group for each new activity so that the attendees get to know the ECP Faculty and are exposed to various teaching styles and methods of communication throughout the event.
There is also a diversity of coaching experience in each group, from Level V coaches with a few elite athlete students to Introductory level instructors with large riding school programs, and everything in between. This format has made for informative discussion and problem solving with long term implications.
Since the new symposium format was initiated two years ago, the opening group activity on the first day has been the Round Table Discussion. Think of it as the “warm up round” for participants to get in the groove of working together as a group to discuss ideas and develop common strategies. Each group is given a giant flip chart and some colored markers to record their discussion and their resulting strategies.
In 2022, the question posed to the Round Table groups was:
“What are the three main issues facing instructors and coaches in modern eventing?”
As you might imagine, the discussion was lively and productive. Different issues and challenges were identified for different skill levels of riders, age groups, competition levels, varied horse ages/experiences, and support systems. Each group was asked to summarize their discussion in writing on their flip chart.
Remarkably, though the variables were many and diverse, the resulting concepts identified by each of the ten groups had universal themes which can be categorized under five general headings:
In 2023, the Round Table challenge was built out from the 2022 discussion. Groups were asked to address the top issue identified by the 2022 Round Table session:
“Solve for: Managing Expectations. What are the top strategies for creating realistic expectations, goal setting, and measuring progression?”
The ensuing discussions really tapped into the creative juices of the attending coaches. We learned of many great practices already in use by both seasoned and younger instructors, and many concepts were expanded on to develop comprehensive strategies for students and coaches to employ in their programs and practice.
It is worth mentioning that every group referred to the “USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels” as one of the most important resources available to coaches, students, and parents, particularly as a reference for setting and managing expectations.
At the conclusion of the discussion period, the top strategies put forward by the 10+ groups could be captured under four general headings:
Communication strategies for effective horse and rider development
Demonstration and measurement of skills
Training and practice strategies to support goals
The ECP program is committed to developing world-class coaching for our sport. This development and certification of coaches includes the required knowledge of what to teach, which is the sum of a coach’s education and experience in the training of horses and teaching of riders. The ECP also acknowledges that great coaching must include the often-overlooked aspects of how to teach, how to communicate, and how to manage the student athletes, keep them safe, and help them set and achieve their goals. To this end the ECP continues to seek innovative means to bring increased knowledge to our eventing Coaches, and the ECP Educational Symposium is one such activity which is available to both certified and non-certified coaches, riders, students, and supporters.
Save the Date: The 2024 ECP Educational Symposium will be held Jan. 30, 31, and Feb. 1 at Barnstaple Eventing in Ocala, Florida.
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.
After not running in 2020 and 2021, the MARS Bromont CCI Three-Day Event returned to the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Center in Quebec, Canada, in 2022. America's Jennie Saville (née Brannigan) and Twilightslastgleam won the CCI4*-L, as the chestnut Thoroughbred gelding (National Anthem x Royal Child) bred and owned by Nina Gardner moved up from eighth after dressage into the lead after cross-country with the fastest round on wet ground over the tracks designed by Derek di Grazia. Canada's Lindsay Traisnel and Bacyrouge, a bay Selle Français gelding (Mylord Carthago x Lelia) owned by Patricia Pearce, finished second, and they are among four from the top-10 in the CCI4*-L in 2022 that return in 2023.
Hannah Sue Hollberg of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, was on a winning streak at the Essex Horse Trials on Sunday, claiming victory in both the $10,000 Open Intermediate and Open Preliminary divisions with two horses that are fairly new to her. Some difficulty on cross-country did not stop her mount Hachi from claiming victory in the Open Intermediate with a score of 101.6, while Open Preliminary partner Rockster finished on his dressage score of 27.3.
The great football coach Vince Lombardi said, “We win our games in practice.” With the goal of having the most effective practices possible for horses, their riders, and their coaches, Cathy Wieschhoff explains some signs that can indicate when horse and rider should repeat an exercise, switch it up, or be done with that activity. Wieschhoff brings perspective as a five-star rider that has competed at the Kentucky Three-Day Event and Burghley Horse Trials, a USEF “R” Course Designer for eventing cross-country and show jumping, a former Area VIII chair and member of the USEA Board of Governors, and a Level V USEA ECP Certified Coach based out of Carriage Station Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.