MZ Farms/USHJA Emerging Athletes Program

The MZ Farms/USHJA Emerging Athletes Program was created to provide opportunities for young riders to advance their horsemanship education and riding skills. Since the EAP's inception in 2009, athletes have gone on to earn numerous championships and titles in the Hunter, Jumper and Equitation show rings, including the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals, the ASPCA Maclay Finals, USEF Prix des States, and the IHSA Nationals, to name just a few. Please visit the EAP Alumni page for more information.

How It Works

Riders interested in participating in the EAP must:

  • Meet eligibility requirements for participation in a Regional Training Session.
  • Select the height section that best fits the ability of both the applicant and their horse. All Regional Training Sessions will offer sections at .90m and 1.0m, and participants in either section may be eligible for selection to the National Training Session if they meet the eligibility requirements.
  • Complete the online application
  • Have three individuals submit an EAP Recommendation Form on their behalf
  • Complete the Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Level One Quiz with a score of 80% or higher
  • Adult participants must complete Safe Sport Training (18 years of age or older). Click here for instructions on how to access the free training.
  • Application materials must be completed and submitted no later than April 1 for all Regional Training Sessions. The Emerging Athletes Program Committee will review all applications after the application closing date, and applicants will be notified of their acceptance status following this review.

Regional Training Sessions

Riders accepted into the EAP begin by participating in a five-day EAP Regional Training Session where they work with top riding clinicians and stable managers. Instruction focuses on flatwork, gymnastics, related distances and course work, as well as an intensive stable-management curriculum that incorporates proper care and grooming, horsemanship skills and barn management. Riders provide their own horses for the Regional Training Sessions and all necessary care. Horses should be comfortable jumping a jumper-style course at the height selected by the participant (.90m or 1.0m).

Stable Management Trainee Program 

The Emerging Athletes Program was created to provide opportunities for young riders to advance their education as they strive to become knowledgeable horsemen within the hunter/jumper community. As a part of that mission, the EAP Committee is excited to offer a new component of the Regional Training Sessions, providing a non-riding Stable Management Trainee program to a select number of participants who are interested in learning more about the behind-the-scenes management of top-level equine athletes and competition barns.

Stable management trainees will shadow the Stable Manager at their selected Regional Training Session and receive more intensive instruction on horse care and management, providing an immersive learning experience on managing a barn and competition horses under the guidance of some of the top stable managers in our sport.

Applicants to the Stable Management Trainee Program must be 16 years of age or older as of December 1 of the current competition year. Applicants must submit an EAP Stable Management Trainee application and have three individuals submit an EAP Stable Management Trainee Recommendation Form on their behalf no later than April 1 to be considered for this program.

National Training Session

After the Regional Training Sessions conclude, 16 riders and a select number of stable managers are invited to attend the National Training Session based on their riding and stable-management skills, written test results and future potential.

During the four-day National Training Session, riders train with Olympic Gold Medalist Peter Wylde. They ride and care for horses provided by the host facility and drawn from a pool, with each rider starting on a fair and level playing field.

Finalists are closely observed and evaluated during all phases of the National Training Session: while riding, in the barn and through a written test. At the conclusion, one rider is named the overall USHJA EAP National Training Session Champion and awarded a $3,000 training grant for advanced instruction from a USHJA-approved trainer, among additional prizes.

The EAP is supported in part by the USHJA Foundation. To help support the EAP, click here to make a charitable donation today.

Safe Sport

The U.S. Hunter Jumper Association is committed to the safety and protection of its members and volunteers. To ensure a safe environment for all participants, the USHJA strives to follow practices that minimize risk to participants and guests. Such practices include but are not limited to: discouraging one-on-one interactions with youth, ensuring a USHJA approved representative is present when an outside presenter is engaged with youth, and reminding USHJA onsite representatives, hosts, parents/guardians of their responsibility to safe guard youth in their care. Additionally, clinicians, stable managers, USHJA representatives and staff participating in the Emerging Athletes Program are required to complete the Safe Sport Training as per USHJA Policy 2018-5-03. 

Per US Equestrian rules, all active USEF adult members (18 years of age or older) are required to complete Safe Sport training. The USHJA will also require all adult participants (18 years of age or older) to complete Safe Sport training prior to attending an EAP training session. 

Adult participants who have not yet completed Safe Sport training may click here for directions on how to access the free training prior to your training session. Accepted EAP applicants required to complete this training will not be permitted to attend their assigned EAP training session without fulfilling this requirement.  

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