By Callie Jones

Attending the 2017 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention was such a great opportunity for me. It was so much fun meeting other aspiring youth and being able to sit in on the meetings, to learn about current happenings within USDF and the sport of dressage. Receiving the USDF Youth Convention Scholarship is such an honor, and being that this is my first year sitting in on the meetings, I am already looking forward to attending in 2018!

My mom and I arrived in Lexington late, Thursday night. On Friday morning, we ate breakfast and then, I attended my first meeting, which was the Competition Open Forum with a Q&A. This meeting was very interesting, as we learned what to do and what not to do when preparing for and riding in a musical freestyle, judge and rider responsibilities, and things to do to make sure you do not get eliminated. After this meeting, my mom and I were able to spend the afternoon exploring Lexington and catching up with family. Friday night, we attended the featured education session with Dr. David Horohov. He focused on “Equine Vaccinations: What, When and Why?” He began by giving us a brief overview of the types of cells in a horse’s body and what their main functions are. Next, Dr. Horohov explained what a vaccination’s ultimate purpose is, then went on to explain the three types of vaccinations that are given to horses, as well as the pros and cons of each. Finally, he talked about the factors that affect immune responses and went into detail on each. Dr. Horohov ended with his “FAQs”, which included “Why do we vaccinate so often?”, which I found very interesting. This was very educational, and I really enjoyed it!           

On Saturday morning, the first meeting I attended was the Board of Governors General Assembly. It was such a unique experience, being able to listen to some of the current issues within the sport of dressage and the changes that are to come within the next few years. Next, I went to the Youth Education meeting with Charlotte Bredahl-Baker and Rosalind Kinstler. They focused on “Clinics: Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Buck.” They gave some great tips on how to pick clinicians that will suit you, your horse, and your training needs. They also allowed us to interact with each other and explain how we pick which clinics to attend, and how to take home what we learned. Charlotte also explained that when she teaches a clinic, it is a requirement that everyone must watch the other riders. I thought this was a great tip because you can get a lot of information from watching other riders. You can see their strengths and weaknesses and find ways to correct them, which you can apply to yourself. Another great tip that Charlotte mentioned, which really stuck with me, was to ride a test, video it, and then judge it yourself, to “become your own judge.” This will help develop your eye and allow you to identify the things you are struggling with and little details that you might have forgotten about.     

The next meeting was the Youth Open Forum. This is where I had the opportunity to meet the other USDF Youth Scholarship recipients. In this meeting, the main focus was on how to get youth involved and ways we can spread the word about upcoming clinics. We also discussed the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships and upcoming changes that will be made. Finally, on Saturday night, I attended the Salute Gala and Annual Awards Banquet. It was so nice being able to catch up with old friends and seeing all their accomplishments for 2017.  It was also very cool being able to see Lilo Fore being inducted into the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame. She is such an inspiration and an asset to the sport. I received my silver medal and my silver freestyle bar, which was such an honor, and an accomplishment I will always remember. I had so much fun at the convention, and I can’t wait to see what next year has in store. Thank you again to USDF for the scholarship that has allowed me to continue my dressage education! 

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