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Eventing Emerging and Development Program Training Sessions Kick Off 2024 Season

by Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications Department | Feb 23, 2024, 4:00 PM

Emerging and Development Coach Leslie Law teaches Eventing Development athlete Cornelia Fletcher in Ocala, Fla.
(Devyn Trethewey/US Equestrian)

Lexington, Ky. – The Eventing Emerging and Development Program participants began 2024 with training sessions to hone their skills with Emerging and Development Coach Leslie Law. In addition, they heard from several industry experts to help further their knowledge of the high-performance aspects of equestrian sport.

The athletes rode in dressage and show jumping lessons with Law, setting their show jumping courses alongside Law or course designer Chris Barnard. Participants worked on their cross-country riding in lessons with Ian Stark, Eventing Team European High Performance and Cross-Country Advisor.

“The January training sessions are a good time to take a look at the basics. When you are in the middle of the season, you are more focused on the competitions along with the show jumping rounds and the test themselves,” said Law. “Overall, I thought the combinations looked good. Everyone had their horses in good shape. We had some good cross-country schooling sessions with Ian Stark. Most of the athletes have had a run now, and they all came out and had good results.”

An esteemed group of experts gave lectures to the participants on a variety of topics. Longtime groom Max Corcoran spoke about horse management, and Joanna Frantz reviewed human physiology basics and exercises for the athletes. Veterinarians Dr. Lisa Cassinella, Dr. Jonathan McLellan, and Dr. Paul McClellan shared how to keep equine athletes in top shape, and farriers Rebecca Ratte and Kenny Bark discussed hoof care with the participants. Sam Watson of EquiRatings provided an overview of data collected and key performance indicators for their high-performance analysis.

Eventing Emerging athlete Julia Beauchamp Crandon schooling cross-country with Ian Stark in Temecula, Calif.
(Myah Vasquez Photography)

“We do a lot of lectures on top of the training itself,” said Law. “We try to cover the whole aspect of the business. The athletes have their own bases and their own programs, but we really try and help them maximize their potential in all areas.”

Along with the educational component, Law and Christina Vaughn, Director of Eventing Development & Emerging Programs, review athletes’ plans for the year ahead and possible target events for the various combinations in the spring and summer.

“We are looking to take up to six riders over to Europe to do the Nations Cups at Chatsworth in the UK and Millstreet in Ireland with the possibility of some of them doing the three-day at Bramham as well,” said Law. “That’s a big discussion with who is interested in doing that and what we need to do prior to it.”

The educational series began with the Eventing Emerging Program Training Session at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala, Fla., from Jan. 8-11. Along with the lessons and lectures, participants heard from a USOPC nutritionist, Rikki Keen, on having well-rounded meals.

Eventing Emerging athlete Maddie Hale schooling a show jumping course in Ocala, Fla.
(Devyn Trethewey/US Equestrian)

The West Coast-based Eventing Emerging Program participants trained alongside their counterparts in the USEF/USDF Emerging Athlete Program from Jan. 15-18 at the Galway Downs Equestrian Center in Temecula, Calif. Both groups had their respective training sessions, often auditing each other’s lessons, and joined together for lectures from the industry experts. In addition to the main lectures, participants received media training as well as insights from a coaches’ roundtable panel consisting of Law and U.S. dressage athlete Steffen Peters.

The Eventing Development Program participants gathered at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala, Fla., from Jan. 29 – Feb. 1. Along with the lessons and lectures, the Eventing Development Program participants received media training and spoke on a panel about their educational influences for the USEA Eventing Coaches Program Symposium being held at the same facility.

Looking beyond 2024, Law aimed to get athletes thinking long-term about the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.

“There are discussions happening on L.A. in four years’ time, trying to get the riders to think bigger picture. It might seem a long way away, but it’s not,” said Law. “They are certainly capable, but now it is putting it all together for the future.”

Find out more about the Eventing Pathway Program.

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The USEF International High Performance 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.