EAP Regional Clinics Off to Great Start

June 19, 2012



Lexington, KY - The 2012 Emerging Athletes Program, presented by Dover Saddlery, kicked off this month with two of the ten Regional Clinics concluding with rave reviews from participants and clinicians. The Great Southwest Equestrian Center launched the new season June 11- 14 and welcomed eager riders to an extensive four-day clinic with Olympic great Chris Kappler and stable management expert Val Huckstepp. Over in the south, the SCAD facility in Savannah, GA hosted students with clinician Cynthia Hankins and stable management pro Karen Golding.

Riders and horses participating in the Regional Clinics are instructed on flatwork, gymnastics, related distances and course work, as well as an intensive stable-management curriculum. “The Emerging Athlete Program is designed to help connect our vast country America so that the lower levels and upper levels don’t get so far apart. It is an educational program on all fronts, with the incorporation of stable management and correct riding to see the possibilities of the future.” Chris Kappler said.
Kappler’s classical style of teaching and one on one attention with the riders made the clinic an instant success. Adding to that achievement was the thorough teaching of proper stable management from Val Huckstepp. “To be a good rider, one must know the horse inside and out. I believe USHJA’s Emerging Athletes Program achieves this goal.” Huckstepp stated.

Sally Ike of the Chair of the EAP Committee attended the Katy, TX clinic and came away exuberant from the comments of riders and parents, who expressed their gratitude for opportunity of working with such knowledgeable professionals. Ike shared, “The Katy, Texas Emerging Athlete Regional Clinic was a huge success both from a riding and stable management perspective. Chris and Val did a fabulous job teaching and the improvements made by each participant over the four days were dramatic and inspiring. Everyone was particularly appreciative of the emphasis spent on stable management, a component unique to the EAP which the Committee feels is very important. In addition, I can’t say enough about the Great Southwest Equestrian Center, both as a venue and the support their staff provided to us.”

Among the parents attending the Texas clinic was Laura Jorden of Scotsdale, AZ and she couldn’t wait to tell the EAP committee her thoughts,
“My daughter, Cassidy Jorden had the time of her life. She left Katy, TX a better horseman both on the ground and on the horse and with many new friends. Chris Kappler and Val Huckstepp were wonderful clinicians. What a great opportunity for our younger riders to be exposed to the very best our sport has to offer.
It was a special week for the riders. They were surrounded by peers who share their passion for horses and also their work ethic. Their camaraderie was evident as the days went on. They encouraged each other and became friends. We came from out of state, not knowing anyone and this group of kids and parents welcomed us with open arms. It was refreshing as a parent to see the riders bond. This program emphasized the traits that will be the foundation of our children’s success as they mature, whether it is in the horse industry or not. Dedication, hard work, discipline and the quest for knowledge were stressed.
Thank you for all of your hard work. Both my daughter and I really enjoyed the experience.”

The experiences and enthusiasm at the SCAD regional clinic in Savannah, GA were just as glowing.

Following the standard schedule, Hankins and Golding worked their way through the curriculum, but showed flexibility and judgment in adjusting their teaching to the level of the various riders. Riders were broken into smaller groups, each group rode once a day and audited another group, while acting as jump crew for the clinician. This provided participants the ability to observe how clinicians dealt with the different situations that arose during each riding session. The methodical teaching style allowed each rider to be challenged, but never over faced. Every day built on the day before and led up to the riders jumping the EAP Regional course which was designed by EAP committee member Chrystine Tauber.

One of Golding’s stable management lessons included going over each horse in depth with its rider. She emphasized to participants the how and why to turn their horses out to the highest standard possible. Riders also took their horse’s temperatures twice a day and learned about establishing a baseline for their particular horse.

Natasha Vitkovic (Tuxbury Farm Mt. Pleasant, SC) trainer of Elizabeth Melton said, "I love how TRUE HORSEMANSHIP is encouraged at the EAP. Initiative and hard work in the barn is just as important as your riding ability in the ring and it is refreshing to see that emphasized." Student Melton agreed and added, “I'm so thankful for the opportunity to work with some of the best professionals in the industry."
Golding said she’s ready for more, "I offered all the kids my phone number just to add a resource to them. Four days was not enough for stable management. I was amazed how many people did not know how to take temperatures, wash sheaths, pull manes, strip tack, bandage, etc. I see a need for more time for basics. Even safety aspects i.e. using a lead shank to lead horses. All the kids bonded well and helped each other. I felt privileged to be part of the experience."

Lead clinician Cynthia Hankins expressed her own appreciation by saying, "The EAP is a program established to give riders access to instruction and horse and stable management at a level to which they might not [otherwise] have the opportunity [to receive]. I think it's wonderful that horsemanship and proper hands on care is emphasized. I'm honored that I was asked to be a clinician, to accompany my long-time friend, Karen Golding. I'd like to acknowledge and profusely thank Mary Babick for her tremendous help and support and unfathomable energy. I think we should thank SCAD - Savannah College of Art and Design - for opening their doors to us. It's a beautiful facility, impeccably maintained with a friendly and helpful staff."
Mary Babick of the USHJA EAP committee was on hand to access and assist however needed. Babick’s observations included, "The EAP session at SCAD was magic. Cynthia, Karen and I made a great team and each day the participants grew by leaps and bounds. Cynthia showed the riders a methodical system to improve their position and riding skills. By the last day, each rider was able to jump the EAP Regional course with both poise and purpose.

Karen taught the participants to look at the whole horse and to not skimp on even the smallest details. By the time she was finished, the horses and tack gleamed from all of the elbow grease.

The kids all had a sense of pride in what they accomplished in the ring, in the barn and with each other. We were all exhausted but none of us wanted to leave. It was a great experience!"

To learn more about the Emerging Athletes Program sponsored by Dover Saddlery please visit the USHJA web site or contact Carrie Vaught at 859.225.6703.

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