Emerging Athletes Groomed for Greatness at USEF Winter Training Sessions

Tayler Stewart and Ideal Contini at a USEF Emerging Athlete Training Session. Photo by Christina Vaughn, US Equestrian.

Young eventers named to the 2018 USEF Emerging Athlete Eventing 25 (E25) and Emerging Athlete Eventing 18 (E18) lists participated in intense three-day winter training sessions with USEF Eventing Emerging Athlete Coach Leslie Law. These rising stars were named to the Emerging Athlete lists because they have shown potential to one day become U.S. Team riders.

“I have been very excited and inspired by my Emerging Athletes sessions to date this year. The quality of riders has grown exponentially over the past few years and this is definitely the strongest group that the program has seen, yet,” Leslie said. “If the strength we are seeing in the program right now is any indication of the future, it could be quite exciting to see what lies in store for America with this next generation. I am very proud of these riders and very thankful to be part of the program.”

Chris Barnard’s course design lecture. Photo by Christina Vaughn, US Equestrian.

The East Coast training sessions took place at Horsepower Equestrian in Ocala, FL, and the West Coast sessions were hosted by Tucalota Creek Ranch in Temecula, CA. In addition to riding lessons with Leslie, sessions included unmounted lectures reviewing topics like business and stable management, training practices, travel and competition overseas, course design, judging a dressage test, drugs and medications, and horse and human physiology. Experts from many facets of the equine industry were brought in to lead these discussions.

Show jumping course designer and guest lecturer Chris Barnard said, “It was a pleasure working with the emerging athletes. My goal was to give them a perspective of what the course designer is asking of the horse and rider in the show jumping course. With the way Leslie coached the riders over the course that we set together, they have some exercises to work on with their horses at home that will help their show jumping at events. The feedback I received from many of the riders was positive and I look forward to working with them again.”

Jacob Fletcher in a flat lesson with Leslie Law. Photo by Christina Vaughn, US Equestrian.

While the Emerging Athletes programs exist to highlight talented young riders with future team potential, the educational opportunities provided to these young riders are immeasurable. Here is what a few of the 2018 program participants had to say about their experience.

Delaney Vaden, E18: “The training session was an incredible opportunity! With it comes many new and significant pressures that will help enhance my competitiveness and make me work harder to develop a career. This feels very real and I am thrilled to be able to work with these professionals, gaining their advice and wisdom!”

Jacob Fletcher, E25: “It was educational to watch Leslie give individualized training plans for each combination. I was most excited about being back around other young riders and top U.S. riders. At times, I find it hard to stay in a fiercely competitive mindset in Arkansas, but being surrounded by the top brass refueled my competitive fire, and for that, I am grateful.”

Chris Talley, E25: “It was a great experience that I was honored to be a part of. I’m always looking to add to my tool box in the development of our horses. I came out of the program with a number of new tools and exercises that I’m excited to use to further educate myself and our horses.”

EN featured some of the first-time E25 athletes in a series of rider profiles this winter. Click here to read their stories! To read a detailed report on the E18 training session in Ocala, click here.

Learn more about the Emerging Athlete Eventing 25 Program and the Eventing 18 Program on the US Equestrian website. The USEF International High Performance Programs are supported by the USET Foundation, USOC, and USEF Sponsors and Members.

[Emerging Athlete Eventing 25 and Emerging Athlete Eventing 18 Program Participants Complete Intensive Training Sessions in Ocala and Temecula]