TDF Announces Two Recipients of the Karen Skvarla Fund Grant for Emerging Professionals

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Cassandra Falardeau

Edited Press Release

April 09, 2024 – The Dressage Foundation (TDF) is pleased to announce that the 2024 Karen Skvarla Fund Grants for Emerging Professionals have been awarded to Cassandra Falardeau (NC) and Sarah Sharpe (SC). Each will receive a $1,500 grant to pursue training or educational opportunities. 

The Karen Skvarla Fund provides grants enabling dressage professionals, at the beginning stages of their careers, to receive education that will enhance their knowledge and teaching abilities. The Karen Skvarla Fund selection committee especially looks for applicants who are eager to grow and improve, and who are fair and respectful to both students and horses. 

Cassandra Falardeau is a member of the Southeastern Virginia Dressage Association and has been a full-time dressage professional since 2021. Cassandra is looking forward to becoming a USDF Certified Instructor and working toward her USDF silver medal. Most of her students are young riders, but she teaches a few adult clients as well. Cassandra plans to use her grant funding to participate in clinics with Natalie Lamping and Stacey Hastings.

Cassandra Falardeau

Cassandra said, “I am honored and humbled to have been selected for a Karen Skvarla Fund for Emerging Professionals grant. This grant will help me attend clinics with top professionals and judges, which in turn will help me help my students. It will also aid me in getting one step closer to my goal of becoming an international dressage rider. Thank you to the donors and The Dressage Foundation who have made this possible.”  

Sarah Sharpe is a member of the South Carolina Dressage and Combined Training Association. She became a full-time dressage professional in mid-2022. She is a USDF bronze and silver medalist with distinction, has earned her bronze and silver freestyle bars, and is an “L” Program graduate. She currently has 20 clients and divides her week by riding horses in training and giving lessons. Sarah plans to use her grant funding to spend ten days with her trainer, Amy McElroy, as she prepares her horse for the Grand Prix.

Sarah Sharpe – Photo by Susan J Stickle Photography

Sarah said “While I’ve had many lessons and participated in clinics with top professionals, I have never had the opportunity to train intensively for more than a few days at a time. This grant will enable me to train for an extended period on both of my up-and-coming horses. To be able to do this at this point in my dressage career means more than I can say! I’m choosing to train with Amy McElroy based in Aiken, South Carolina, who took me down centerline for the very first time at Training Level and will hopefully give me the push down centerline at Grand Prix. I would not be able to do this without the Karen Skvarla Fund for Emerging Professionals grant from TDF! Thank you to all the donors for this great opportunity!”

The Karen Skvarla Fund for Emerging Professionals awards two annual $1,500 grants, with applications due on or before February 15th of each year.  The application can be found at www.dressagefoundation.org.

For more information about the Karen Skvarla Fund or The Dressage Foundation, please contact Sara Weiss at (402) 434-8585, by email at sara@dressagefoundation.org, or visit www.dressagefoundation.org.

The Dressage Foundation 
The Dressage Foundation is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, tax-exempt, donor-driven organization that is dedicated to educating, supporting, and advancing the sport of dressage. The organization solicits contributions, appropriately allocates the donations, and awards grants to dressage riders, judges, instructors, breeders, high-performance teams, nonprofit equestrian organizations, and more. For more information, please visit www.dressagefoundation.org.