Over the last month, U.S. Eventing hosted its annual series of training sessions in Ocala, Fla., beginning with the Emerging Training Session from January 16-19 and ending with the Development Training Session and Elite and Pre-Elite Training Sessions from January 30 through February 2.
The programs are part of the U.S. Eventing Pathway, which is focused on developing combinations to deliver sustainable success in team competition at the championship level.
In total, 24 athletes were named to the Emerging and Development programs--all part of the Eventing Pathway Programs--ahead of the training sessions. Below is a look at the goals from each session and a rewind of each group's experiences.
Emerging Training Session
Designed to identify and support athlete/horse combinations age 25 and under that have shown the potential to develop into U.S. Eventing Team candidates, participants had the opportunity to work with U.S. Eventing Development and Emerging Coach Leslie Law in building skills and knowledge necessary for success on the pathway to high performance.
"I have always enjoyed my role with USEF Eventing programs," Law said. "It is exciting to think that even one of these [athletes] might come up through the ranks to be our next brightest star."
The training session in Ocala, Fla. ran from January 16-20 and included mounted sessions and unmounted lectures for the athletes throughout the week.
The athletes came from eight different states across the country and were selected based on their application, which included their results at the CCI3*-L level. Three of the athletes were talent spotted into the program by the Performance Advisory Team, which is a way to still be added to the emerging program without achieving an MER at a CCI3*-L.
We got to know one of this year's emerging athletes, Cassie Sanger, at the 2022 MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, where she competed in the USEF CCI3*-L National Championship, finishing third.
Development Training Session
Taking place two weeks after the Emerging Training Session from Jan. 30-Feb. 2, the Developing Training Session welcomed 12 athlete-and-horse combinations to Ocala, Fla. to participate in lessons with Law and Ian Stark, create a show jumping course with Chris Barnard, attend workshops with equine physio JoAnn Wilson and human physio Jo Frantz, and talk Equiratings for performance analysis and horse management with Max Corcoran.
"What is encouraging about [these athletes] is that they are showing sustainability within the program and continuing to provide results that prove their worth there," Law said leading up to the session.
Participants kicked things off with cross-country schooling with Stark and Law, a Charles Ancona coat fitting session, and Wilson's equine physio session.
Show jumping was up next, where we got an inside look at a show jumping training session with Law and Caroline Martin before coming to a close with a day of private dressage lessons.
“There’s a reason why these athletes are here,” Law said. “There’s talent. They’ve already been producing results. They’ve been recognized. And that’s why they’re on the program.”
With the 2023 eventing season on the horizon, the collective goal of the session was to help push the athletes and horses in attendance along their journey and closer to the top of the eventing mountain, which is a journey that requires years of dedication and focus.
“It’s not a quick road,” Law said. “In a lot of sports, they’re done by age 30. And in our sport, it’s more like age 36 or 39 to win a [World Championship or Olympic] medal. Because of that, it’s a journey with a lot of ups and downs. You have to be very aware of that, and that’s what [we coaches] are here for.
“I said to them, ‘What you’ve been through, I’ve been through. And what you’re going to go through, I’ve already gone through.”
To learn more about the Eventing Pathway Programs, please contact Gemma Stobbs, Director, Eventing Elite Program, at [email protected] or (859) 225-6929, or Christina Vaughn, Director, Eventing Development & Emerging Programs, at [email protected] or (859) 225-6917.
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The USEF International High Performances Programs and the USEF High Performance Pathway Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, the philanthropic partner to USEF. High Performance Program support is also provided by the USOPC and USEF sponsors and members.