The USEF Combined Driving Program for Elite Athletes is overseen by the Driving Sport Committee and funded through the support of U.S. Equestrian, their sponsors and the High Performance Grant given by the USET Foundation. The purpose of the Elite Athlete Program is to identify and support selected athlete/horse combinations who have proven to be internationally competitive at World Championship or Games level within the current two-year cycle. Competing at the Advanced/FEI level does not imply Elite Athlete status. The Driving Sport Committee will assess qualified athlete/horse combinations in consultation with the Team Coach and Chef d’Equipe, as applicable and appropriate, to determine membership to the Program. Athletes’ personal trainers are invited to attend training sessions and encouraged to collaborate with the Program. Identified Elite Athletes will be evaluated every 6-months with a performance review and must maintain success in order to remain in the program.
A. Minimum Requirements for Eligibility
- Athlete must be a U.S. Citizen and maintain an active membership with the USEF.
- All horse(s)/ponies admitted into the program must be recorded with USEF.
- Athlete must maintain an active registration with the FEI.
- All horse(s)/ponies admitted into the program must be FEI registered.
B. Criteria for Selection
- The Athlete/horse combination must demonstrate the perceived ability to be internationally competitive at World Championship or Games level.
- Within two (2) years preceding selection, the Athlete/horse combination should have achieved the following results at USEF Advanced and/or FEI CAI 2* (or higher) competitions:
- Dressage score of 52 or better for Singles/Pairs and 55 or better for Teams
- Marathon with total penalties of 100 or less for Singles/Pairs and 140 or less for Teams
- Cones with no more than 9 total penalties for all classes
- Within the last year, athlete/horse combinations must have completed at least two (2) Events at USEF Advanced level and/or FEI CAI 2* level or higher.
- Athletes should demonstrate a commitment to seeking out additional training opportunities.
C. Selection Process
Eligible athlete/horse combinations will undergo assessment by the Driving Sport Committee, in consultation with the Team Coach and Chef d’Equipe, as applicable and appropriate. The Driving Sport Committee reserves the right to waive some or all of the criteria in Section B in exceptional circumstances and also may invite athletes for review. Once selected, Elite Athletes that change horse(s)/ponies may be subject to a selection review prior to their performance review; for Athletes competing pairs or teams, a selection review may take place when more than 50% of the horses have changed in the turnout (i.e. two horses in a pair or three in a Team).
D. Membership to the Elite Program
After selection, athletes will be notified of their acceptance into the Program. Names of athletes accepted on to the Program will be published on www.usef.org, on the combined driving Elite Athlete Program page, as well as in an annual USEF Press Release.
Benefits to Membership:
- Access to Elite Program resources, including consultations with Team Coach and Director of Driving, training with Team Coach (if requested) in collaboration with athlete’s personal trainer/coach, and Human/Horse sports science medicine (SSM) programs when available.
- Training with a variety of world class clinicians.
- Competition planning: short term and long term.
- Potential access to athlete grants for Championships or Games within the approved budget.
- Access to audit other USEF training sessions.
- Access to educational opportunities, logistical/travel planning and resources.
- Access to the Driving Veterinary Panel, at the athlete’s own expense.
- Continued support in non-Championship years, when possible.
- Support at identified USEF selection trials and competitions.
- Collaboration with other potential U.S. Team members.
- Support in planning for future access to horse(s)/ponies of similar quality and training.
- Educational support on the FEI Clean Sport Policy (WADA).
E. Criteria for Performance Review (6-month basis)
The following factors will contribute to the performance review of the athlete/horse combination:
- Complete at least three (3) USEF Advanced and/or FEI CAI 2* or higher competitions each year.
- Previous results and the trajectory of results over two years preceding selection at USEF Advanced and/or FEI CAI 2* Events or higher.
- Performance at USEF Advanced and/or FEI CAI 2* Events or higher within the past year.
- The athlete’s ability to produce consistent preferred results in a specific phase, whether Dressage, Marathon or Cones.
- Satisfactory veterinary inspection and/or report, if requested.
- The athlete’s commitment to the sport, including competition schedules and seeking out additional training/coaching.
- Behavior of the athlete and people associated with the athlete (including, but not limited to horse owners, coaches, grooms and partners) that may have an impact on creating a positive group environment.
- Volunteer at driving events and/or the Developing Athlete Program to support the sport, the USEF and its programs.
- Demonstrate a commitment to the aims of the program.
- Follow the USEF Code of Conduct and Safe Sport Policy.
- Follow the FEI Clean Sport Policy (WADA).
Active USEF members are welcome to audit the USEF Elite Athlete Clinics and Events, with the permission of the host facility, as long as each auditor’s behavior supports a positive learning environment. The Driving Sport Committee reserves the right to make any training sessions private if warranted.
Questions can be addressed to
Danielle Aamodt, Director of Driving
859-225-2077 | Daamodt@usef.org
Donate and Support
Donations for the USEF Elite Athlete program are managed by the United States Equestrian Team Foundation (USET) in Gladstone, New Jersey. Please contact the USET about the many different options to support our Driving Teams: 908-234-1251
Donations can also be made online: https://www.uset.org/home/donate-now/
Select "Driving" for the Fund Destination. Thank you for contributing to our Teams.