Earlier this year the United States Hunter Jumper Association, Inc. announced the 2009 USHJA Emerging Athletes Program, a unique series that offers an unprecedented opportunity for young riders at various levels to learn from some of our nation’s top show jumpers. They received an overwhelmingly fabulous response from all levels of riders. Almost three hundred applicants, many of whom have not competed in ‘A’ horse shows or have a high level horse, will be selected – twenty-four from each zone – to participate in their zone’s 2-day clinic – eight riders at 3’, eight riders at 3’6” and eight riders at 4’. The applications received to date were well prepared and showed a very hard working, dedicated group of young athletes.
Watch Olympic medalist Melanie Taylor work with riders who show talent on horses with limited abilities, young horses, difficult horses, as well as pony jumper rider participants. Additionally, participants will do all their own work from horse care to course setting, learning about the skills of riding well from the ground up.
This exceptional format makes the EAP a wonderful audit to riders and trainers who find themselves in similar situations every day – it is a chance to truly relate to the clinicians and partakers. As an auditor, one will have complete access to the techniques used to identify talented young riders competing at the grassroots level of competition in our sport, nurture budding talent regardless of the means, and support the emerging athletes that embody the future of Hunter/Jumper sports.
Forty-eight riders from Training Level 1 will then be selected to join in one of four regional clinics. The next twelve chosen from the regional clinics qualify for a week-long intensive session, culminating in a Nations Cup type competition. Finally, the top two from this session will be invited to train for 30-days with an experienced trainer.
As Committee Co-Chairman Melanie Smith states, “This is a program for emerging athletes that is only the start of something very big and important to the future of the next generation of our sport. USHJA and the members of the Emerging Athletes Committee are committed to making this program one that will provide a stepladder for young talent to reach their goals of riding on a team representing the United States someday.”