Feb 08, 2022

Up Your Riding Game with Eight Top Tips from Day One of the ICP Symposium

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo

Despite the light drizzle, trainers and auditors filed into the tent at Barnstaple South leaving no seat empty for the first day of the 2022 ICP Symposium at Barnstaple South in Ocala, Florida. There were 140 USEA members in attendance, half of which were currently USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) certified instructors and the other half who were eager to learn more about the program and obtain critical skills from the symposium to take home to their students or to apply to their own riding.

The morning began with an introduction of the day’s faculty leaders, Phyllis Dawson, Robin Walker, Eric Horgan, Mary D’Arcy, Karen O’Connor, David O’Connor, Dayna Lynd-Pugh, Jim Graham, Rebecca Brown, Emily Beshear, Bec Braitling, Jennifer Rousseau, and Peter Gray, as well as the much-anticipated first look at the USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels. “The future is in your hands,” said Olympic gold medalist and ICP Committee member David O’Connor to attendees as he opened up the symposium with an inspirational message about the importance of learning more and doing better as an instructor.

Day one of the newly revamped schedule consisted of both dressage and show jumping demos from riders who compete from Starter level through Preliminary. Participants were broken out into groups and worked with rotating ICP faculty throughout the day to assess individual riders and create lesson plans tailored to each riders’ needs. Groups were selected at random to have their ICP faculty member facilitate that lesson to the rider, allowing participants the opportunity to witness several different teaching styles in action.

USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.

Throughout the day there were countless snippets of wisdom that set the tone for the remainder of the symposium and helped the riders overcome various roadblocks. Here are eight of our favorite quotes ICP instructors from day one of the ICP Symposium:

  • “I would be interested to see how many people here study teaching. Not what to teach, but how to teach. Nothing to do with horses. I think it is really, really important to make sure that we are all studying the human psychology side of the equation and how people learn. How that changes in different age groups. How you express something and how you put that forward.” - David O’Connor at the opening session of the symposium.
  • “The slower you go, the faster you get there. Jack Le Goff used to say it to me all the time as he was holding me back. That has been a huge mantra of mine with horses and with people.” - David O’Connor on riders moving up.
  • “It takes a long time for the aid to go from your brain to the leg to the horse to the horse’s brain. It takes longer than 2 seconds, you have to prepare ahead of time.” - Mary D’Arcy while teaching a dressage lesson.
  • “Dressage is not about minimizing, it’s about maximizing. We don’t slow them down, we actually drive the hind end into that downward transition.” - Rebecca Brown regarding downward transitions.
  • “You’re always in a lesson from the moment you get on your horse from the moment you get off your horse.” - Jim Graham at the end of his lesson when he asked his student to walk for the final time.
  • “You make the frame by continuing what you ride forward. If you don’t go forward enough you have nothing to contain at the end. Going forward doesn’t just happen by osmosis overnight. Forward is always your friend, not the enemy.” - Robin Walker while asking a student to move more forward at all gaits.
  • “Take an aid away, until you actually need it. Then you add an aid.” - Karen O’Connor while instructing a student on proper leg position while jumping to prevent accidentally bumping the horse with the spur.
  • “When I teach, I really don’t want the rider looking to me for every bit of advice. I would like for the horse and the rider to think for themselves.” - Will Coleman during his color commentary following the first set of over fences demonstrations.

The ICP Symposium continues on Wednesday, February 9 with presentations on teaching modalities, sport psychology, and cross-country exercise and course design, followed by similarly structured cross-country instruction utilizing the same riders from day one for continuity purposes.

About the USEA Instructors’ Certification Program

Instructors are essential to the training of riders and horses for safe and educated participation in the sport of eventing. The USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) was initiated in 2002 to educate all levels of eventing instructors with crucial training principles upon which those instructors can continue to build throughout their teaching careers. ICP offers educational workshops and assessments by which both regular instructors, Level I through Level V, Young Event Horse (YEH) instructors, and Young Event Horse professional horse trainers can become ICP certified. Additional information about ICP’s goals, benefits, workshops, and assessments as well as names and contact information for current ICP-certified instructors, YEH instructors, and YEH professional horse trainers are available on the USEA website. Click here to learn more about the Instructors’ Certification Program.

The USEA would like to thank Stable Secretary and Parker Equine Insurance for sponsoring the Instructors’ Certification Program. Additionally, Parker Equine Insurance offers 5% off to all ICP instructors and Stable Secretary provides a 25% discount on their subscription services to all ICP instructors.

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Weekend Quick Links: May 18-19

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.

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