Westerville, OH—-November 24, 2015—-After jumping double clear, contributing to the winning Nations Cup effort and performing a solid work-off ride, Danielle Roskens’ talent in the saddle was evident. But what also set her apart in the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session, presented by Dover Saddlery, was her knowledge and horsemanship skills in the stables.
“We had her here last year and were really considering her then,” said lead clinician and EAP Committee Vice Chair Peter Wylde. “I’m glad that she came back and was able to improve in every department and become the winner this year. She’s a great kid and another great ambassador for the EAP, in my opinion.”
So, after four days of riding instruction, stable management evaluation, a practicum and ID test and the Nations Cup competition, Roskens stood out among her peers and earned top honors during the seventh annual EAP National Training Session, held November 12-15 at the Austin E. Knowlton Center for Equine Science at Otterbein University.
“Dani is the all-around package,” added Wylde. “She’s an exceptionally thoughtful and talented rider. She’s astute and focused and makes a huge effort and is horse savvy and committed in the stable.”
EAP Committee Member and Stable Manager Anne Thornbury added, “Dani was immaculate in the barn no matter what. She was nearly perfect in the practicum as well and did a great job overall.”
Wylde was impressed with Roskens’ ability to forge a bond with her drawn mount, Macintosh. “She’s very skillful, and the horse that she worked with got better and better and better.”
Roskens, 19, of South Lyon, MI, admitted that she had reservations about Macintosh when she first climbed aboard. But after spending the first day working with the black gelding on the flat and getting to know him, she realized he was a solid citizen and eager to please.
“He actually turned out to be a really cool horse,” she said. “He did everything that I asked, and I couldn’t have asked for a better horse.”
After jumping Macintosh double clear in the Nations Cup on Sunday, Roskens cemented her victory with a tactful and accurate ride-off against four other competitors over a shortened course. Each was switched to a new horse from the pool of mounts so the EAP clinicians could see them display a different skillset. Roskens was assigned Josie, a shorter-strided mare that required a sensitive but forward ride.
“Dani did a great job [in the work-off] and made that horse look good,” said EAP Committee Chair Sally Ike. “She answered all of the questions.”
For her accomplishment, Roskens earned a coveted place at the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session in Wellington, FL, this winter from December 30 to January. 2. She also received a $3,000 training grant for future instruction and a $1,500 gift certificate from Dover Saddlery. Each of the remaining finalists received a $100 gift certificate from Dover Saddlery as well as a variety of products and gifts from USHJA sponsors.
The clinicians and EAP Committee members present—-Wylde, Ike, Thornbury and Mary Babick—-also chose Ransome Rombauer, 16, of St. Helena, CA to receive the second spot in the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session. Both Roskens and Rombauer will also receive a helmet from USHJA sponsor Charles Owen for their achievements.
“Ransome is a beautiful rider,” said Wylde. “She went out there and showed off her talents. I asked the riders to go out there [in the work-off] and impress me, and she did.”
The finalists traveled to Otterbein University in Westerville, OH, where the Otterbein staff and students also concurrently hosted the USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals, presented by The Plaid Horse.
“It was really exciting that Otterbein University was able to host the EAP National Training Session and Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals this year!” said Allison Eneguess, USHJA assistant managing director of jumper programs. “Their state-of-the-art facility was the perfect fit to facilitate all of the ground seminars, riding and classroom seminars-not to mention their ability to field 14 quality horses for the EAP riding sessions and a plethora of horses for the Horsemanship Quiz Challenge attendees to use for their exams.”
The EAP riders drew for their horses from a pool of 18 mounts-generously donated by Otterbein University and Ohio-based Stonegate Farm—-and then spent three days getting to know them through flatwork and over fences training with Wylde before contesting the Nations Cup. They also had stable management lessons with Thornbury, received instruction from equine physiotherapist Janus Marquis and media training with Megan Lacy, the USHJA managing director of communications.
The 16 riders were divided into four teams (named after major USHJA sponsors) to work together during the event and compete as a team in the Nations Cup.
Team Dover Saddlery (Quinn Larimer/Topaz, Danielle Roskens/Macintosh, Kendra Duggleby/Quay and Rachael Davis/Mike) completed the two-round competition with perfect performances from all four riders to clinch the gold medal.
Two teams finished with 4-fault scores, so the riders’ times in the second round broke the tie, with Team Charles Owen, Inc., taking silver (Mackenzie Haskell/Pete, Adelaide Toensing/Nelson, Cara Hundley/Shane and Ransome Rombauer/Mark).
Team Standlee Hay earned the bronze medal (Ashley Scott Armstrong/Flynn, Abigail Lowin/Josie, Michael Williamson/Jerry and Megan Spitzer/Pluto) with Team Rood & Riddle taking fourth place (Caroline Johnson/Noah, Rosie Powers/Thomas, Eliza Gretok/Leo and Abigail Brayman/Jojo).
Four EAP regional competitors were invited to take part in the EAP National Training Session as Stable Managers, including Hannah Bentz, Darby Pease, Kelsey Slowey and Cecily Hayes.
Other award winners included:
Sportsmanship – Hannah Bentz (voted on by her peers)
Stable Manager – Hannah Bentz
Best Turned-Out Horse – Pluto, owned by Otterbein University and ridden by Megan Spitzer
Outstanding Horse – Mike, owned by Stonegate Farm
Parents and friends of the EAP were also included in the educational and entertainment aspects of the clinic, and during a Saturday night reception an EAP raffle and silent auction raised more than $3,000 for the program.
In his closing comments, Wylde congratulated all of the EAP participants on their achievements and expressed his support of the program.
“I thought as a whole this was the highest level and quality of riding we’ve ever had,” said Wylde. “Without a doubt, this was the hardest decision we’ve had to make. We had many exceptionally good riders, and we’re so pleased that they get better and better each year.
“We had some great young kids, too, and we hope and encourage them to come back next year because they could be a winner,” he added. “There were many kids here who look like they have a big future in this sport.”
Complete coverage of the EAP National Training Session will be published in the January 2016 issue of USHJA In Stride. Please visit the USHJA EAP Nationals page on the USHJA website (www.ushja.org) for more information on the program.
The 2015 Emerging Athletes Program and Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Program are supported in part by a generous grant from the United States Equestrian Federation.