‘Creating a Culture of Competitiveness’: USEF Training Lists Revamped for 2019

Erik Duvander gave the keynote address today at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Erik Duvander, USEF Performance Director for Eventing, outlined the new format for the USEF High Performance Training Lists today at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.

His philosophy of “creating a culture of competitiveness” means the training lists will be restructured to create a “pathway” to producing competitive results on the world stage and ultimately at major championships.

“Our rank is seventh in the world, and our ambition is obviously much higher,” Erik said. “Having a functioning pathway is important so we can support the top riders so they can be at their absolute best.”

The 2019 training lists are expected to be released within the next two weeks and will be separated into three different tiers: Elite, Development Pre-Elite and Development Potential.

“Any type of riders stalling and not progressing — those riders are blockers who will stand in the way of the next generation of riders,” Erik said. “You might have to leave the program for a while and work on certain skills. It doesn’t mean the door won’t open up for you to come back in again.”

(Remember that starting on Jan. 1, 2019 the new star system officially comes into place. As this article addresses the 2019 High Performance plan for the team, all FEI levels will be addressed using the new star system. CIC will no longer be used to designate the short format. Instead, CCI-L will denote long format and CCI-S will denote short format. The new 1.05-meter Introductory level introduced in 2018 will become the new CCI* level in 2019. All other FEI levels will shift up in their star category. Click here for a detailed chart.)

Elite List

Riders on the Elite list must have proven form at CCIOs (Nations Cup) or CCI5*-L (former CCI4* level) and are those who are “demonstrating ability to contribute to medal-winning potential at World Championships level.”

The target for the Elite riders is competing at the Olympics and World Championships. They will be selected annually with a six-month review. Detailed targets and Key Performance Indicators will be set for each horse and rider combination.

Riders on the Elite list will:

  • have mental and technical skills to excel in a team championships environment
  • take ownership and responsibility for their own performance
  • drive themselves and their coaches to become the best
  • function effectively within and contribute to the team structure
  • have an established functional training system that produces repetitive success

Erik also emphasized that riders on the Elite list should display leadership qualities for the rest of the U.S. High Performance program. “If you want to be a world-class athlete, you have to be a leader — the way you operate, your dedication, your work ethic. If you want to be a world-class rider on the U.S. team, the younger riders should look up to you.”

Horses on the Elite list will be “evaluated on quality to contribute to team medal-winning performance at the next championship” and will “attain a satisfactory veterinary inspection and management plan of the horse from the team vet.”

Riders can also be eligible for the the Elite list if they have achieved a CCI5*-L result with a score of 70 percent or better in dressage, no jumping faults and within 5 seconds of the optimum time (or fastest time if no one makes time) on cross country, and no more than one rail in show jumping.

Offering a way onto the Elite list based on scores means “there is another way in,” Erik said. “We aren’t favoring anyone. You can find your way in by reaching these scores.”

Combinations on the Elite list will receive funding for targeted CCIOs.

Development Pre-Elite

The Development Pre-Elite training list is designed to “identify and support athlete/horse combinations that have the perceived potential to meet Elite status within the next two to four years.”

The goal for these riders will be selection for a championship team in the next four to six years. Riders named to the Development Pre-Elite list will be selected for two years with a bi-annual review. Riders must have proven form at CCIOs or CCI4*-L (former CCI3* level)/CCI5*-L (former CCI4*).

Riders on the Development Pre-Elite list will

  • have the mental and technical skills to excel in a team environment
  • take ownership and responsibility for their own performance
  • drive themselves and their coaches to become their best
  • have a strong work ethic
  • be resilient and committed to reach the end goal
  • have a long-term approach with multiple horses, unless they have a horse that meets Elite criteria

Horses for the Development Pre-Elite list will be measured on trainability, quality of movement, quality of jump, agility and speed. These horses will be “evaluated on future projected quality to contribute to team medal-winning performance.”

These horses must have a competitive performance at CCI4*-L/CCI4*-S (former CCI3*/CIC3*) or CCI3*-L/CCI3*-S (former CCI2* and CIC2*) and “be tracking towards contributing to a team medal-winning performance. Horses on the Development Pre-Elite list must also “attain a satisfactory veterinary inspection and management plan of the horse from the team veterinarian.”

Combinations  on the Development Pre-Elite List will receive funding in order to meet the target of gaining experience and producing results at European CCI4*-L and CCI5*-L. A maximum of one grant will be given per horse, with a maximum of two grants per athlete in a two-year period.

Development Potential

The Development Potential list is designed as “athlete-focused education aimed at equipping athletes having the perceived talent to reach elite status in four to eight years with the necessary tools and skills.”

These riders will be selected for a two-year period and reviewed every six months, with retention review at one year. Riders will spend a maximum of four years in the Development Potential program, although the expectation is for riders to attain Pre-Elite status by age 30 or within four years.

Riders on the Development Potential list must demonstrate a “commitment to learning, business development and personal development.”

Riders who have completed a CCI5*-L (former CCI4*) on four or more occasions are not eligible for the Development Potential list.

A maximum of one grant per year will be given to riders on the Development Potential list, with a goal to product results at CCI4*-L or CCI3*-L level depending on the age of the horse. Funding is designed to provide “national and international experience training and competing outside of the home environment.”

Today’s discussion with the High Performance riders was fascinating, so stay tuned for part II of Erik’s session. The chinchillas also have approximately 10,000 words of notes to organize into reports from today’s meetings at the USEA Convention, so we appreciate your patience as we furiously type everything up.

In the meantime, EN and the rest of the USEA members in attendance at the convention are heading off to tonight’s Hall of Fame Gala. Stay tuned for much more from New Orleans. Go Eventing.

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