Lexington, Ky. — –June 6, 2018 — -The USHJA Foundation is pleased to award the 2018 Gochman Family Grant to Olivia Elmore of McDonough, Georgia; Ryder Richardson of Parker, Colorado; and Sydney Spevak of Henrico, Virginia. The grant will provide these three young equestrians with the experience of a lifetime at the 2018 USEF Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, which will be held Aug. 7-12, 2018.
“Being selected for the Gochman Grant is definitely one of the best moments of my life,” said Olivia Elmore, 16 (USEF age 15). “Participating in Pony Finals has been a dream of mine for a very long time, and it means so much to me to be given the opportunity to compete at this level. This grant will afford me the opportunity to not only be a part of the Pony Finals experience, it will give me the chance to compete with my peers at this nationally recognized event! I am unbelievably thankful to the Gochman family for making this happen!”
Elmore has been riding for 12 years, and she competes at USEF rated competitions as well as local shows. This year, she qualified for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association Zone Finals in the Varsity Open 2’6″ division on the flat and over fences, placing 6th out of 18. She trains at High Flight Farm.
“Dreams DO come true!” said Ryder Richardson after learning he was selected as a grant recipient. “I can’t believe I was chosen to attend USEF Pony Finals as a Gochman Grant recipient; it is the biggest honor of my life. I have dreamed about riding in the Walnut Ring for years. I am so incredibly grateful to the USHJA Foundation, the Gochman Family, and all of the amazing people that have made this incredible opportunity available for me. This experience is going to change my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Richardson, 12, has been riding for more than four years, and he currently trains at the Colorado Horse Park and competes at Colorado Hunter Jumper Association shows, as well as a few USEF rated competitions. Overcoming a major injury in 2014, Richardson is focused on achieving his goals in the sport by taking regular lessons, attending clinics, and soaking up knowledge by watching videos of top riders. He dreams of creating a nonprofit that helps young people afford to ride horses.
“I have always dreamed of attending Pony Finals, though never thought that my dream would become reality,” said Sydney Spevak who made competing at Pony Finals a goal when she was seven years old. “This is truly a fairytale ending to my junior years, and I cannot express how grateful and excited I am for this incredible opportunity.”
Spevak, 18 (USEF age 17), who is in her last year as a junior, has been riding for 14 years, and she spent much of her riding experience on difficult, green ponies and horses. She trains at the James River Equestrian Center and competes largely in local competitions. In 2017, she was named James River Equestrian Center Junior Rider of the Year.
The USHJA Foundation will work with the three riders to ensure they have a suitable pony and partner with top trainers and others in the sport to provide a variety of educational and inspiring experiences for the grant recipients. Each of the riders is invited to attend the numerous educational clinics offered by the USHJA during Pony Finals.
The USHJA Foundation Gochman Family Grant offers each recipient the opportunity to compete at USEF Pony Finals when they may not have otherwise been able to do so. In addition to the competitive opportunities offered at the event, the three recipients will participate in various educational activities throughout the fun-filled week.
This marks the fourth year the USHJA Foundation has provided grants to help riders attend USEF Pony Finals, thanks to the generous support of the Gochman Family. Other grant recipients have included Logan Blake Crouser (2017), Matthew Bravo (2015), Olivia deStanley (2017), Judy Dettore (2016), Ella Doerr (2017), Riley Hogan (2016) and Cecillia Machado (2016).
Each year, the USHJA Foundation Gochman Family Grant is made possible by the generosity of the Gochman Family and is open to current USHJA members under the age of 18 (per USEF rules), who have not previously participated in Pony Finals and who would not be able to attend Pony Finals without the assistance the grant provides. Individuals may only be awarded the grant once. Applications for next year’s grant will open in January 2019. For more information about the grant, visit www.ushjafoundation.org/gochmangrant.