Photo: USHJA HORSEMANSHIP QUIZ CHALLENGE NATIONAL FINALS AT LAKE ERIE COLLEGE (PAINESVILLE, OH) IN NOVEMBER. LEFT TO RIGHT: CRICKET STONE, USHJA HQC AD HOC COMMITTEE CHAIR; PIPER KLEMM, TPHPUBLISHER; ALIX MORRISON, 2016 OVERALL GOLD MEDALIST; AND SISSY WICKES, TPH EDITOR. PHOTO © AMANDA SCHOENFELD.
As I trek around the country all year for horse shows, it is easy to find people with a nihilist view of the future of our sport. “Kids these days…,” they say. “In my day, we had real horsemanship.” Perhaps this does ring true of some junior riders.
But, after spending four days at the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program (EAP) and Horsemanship Quiz Challenge (HQC) National Finals at Lake Erie College (Painesville, OH), nothing could be further from the truth for these young, elite horsemen and women representing our sport.
Year after year, clinicians, sponsors, and volunteers from around the United States take time from their busy show barns, international competitions, jobs, and families to focus on educating and inspiring the next generation of horsemen. Thanks to the support of the USHJA, USHJA Foundation, USEF, and presenting sponsors Dover Saddlery and The Plaid Horse, we come together to focus on the solution – education. With one collective voice, we extol the value of learning and hands on achievement.
Although it is a competition where champions were crowned (Alix Morrison for HQC and Gracie Marlowe for EAP), the weekend was full of clinics, lectures, team-building, and friend making. Riders walked away with new knowledge of every facet of equestrian experiences: riding, care, veterinary, bitting, course building, sports psychology, and more. Olympic Gold Medalist Peter Wylde taught the mounted component of the EAP National Training session, which was audited by HQC Finalists throughout the weekend in between their activities. EAP clinicians included consummate horsewomen and educators Mary Babick, Sally Ike, Anne Thornbury (Stable Manager), Kip Rosenthal (Sports Psychologist), and Janus Marquis (Equine Physiotherapist).
HQC committee members Elaine Schott, Lilli Biedermann, Brooke Mallin, Terri Young, and chair Cricket Stone designed challenging written and practicum tests. As judges, they evaluated finalists through a written test, horsemanship/ identification room, and a hands-on appraisal of horsemanship skills in the barn. With seminars by Erin Hickey about shipping and Elizabeth Evans about bits and bitting, new knowledge was absorbed all weekend long.
So, what can you do to be a part of the horsemanship movement? Get involved right now! Encourage the under 21 horse people in your life to apply for EAP and take the HQC tests online. Counsel them to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. Volunteer your time to teach riders at your barn to wrap, to drive barn mates to a clinic to audit, to host a horsemanship reading group at your house. Be the difference in a young equestrian’s life. And please send The Plaid Horse your stories about how you made our community a better place! We want to hear from you.
BY TPH PUBLISHER PIPER KLEMM, PHD