By Genevieve Rohner, Para-equestrian Grade V, 2018 USDF Youth Convention Scholarship Winner
I was excited to find out that I was a scholarship winner for the USDF Youth Convention Scholarship! My mom and I went, and were really interested in the youth seminars they had. We were at the convention for two days and got to meet so many people. I really enjoyed listening to the coaches and riders talk about their experiences in competition and with their horses.
Horses are everything for me. Riding has helped me with Cerebral Palsy and so much more. Being around so many people who also love horses, and spend their whole life working in dressage, was a treat for me. My mom has learned a lot about horses in the seven years I have been riding, but I still have to tell her some things she did not know. That always makes me laugh, but she likes to learn with me.
We attended the Youth Activities Meet and Greet, and we met all the other scholarship winners. I was the youngest by about four years, as I’m 10. They were all nice and it was very cool to see other kids there. All the other meetings and events were adults. In this meeting, we got to hear some coaches talk about how to be a good rider and competitor. It was very exciting to listen to Kasey Perry-Glass, and we got to meet her after! The parents had a lot of questions about school and how to manage it, so I drew some horses in the meeting guide. My favorite was hearing Roz Kinstler. She said not everyone is going to the Olympics, so always think of your horses first. I also got to meet Charlotte Bredhal-Baker, which made me a little nervous, but it was definitely a high point.
The next meeting we went to was more conversation about school and training. The competitor that was speaking told us not to be afraid to try different things to make our training and school situations work for us. She reminded us that education is very important and not to give it up to ride.
Later in the day, we walked around and met the ladies from The Dressage Foundation, and a few more people from the vendor tables. My mom got me a USDF beanie. I love wearing it and I am happy that I can be part of USDF. We went to the USEF Athlete Open Forum and heard a whole lot more talk about competition and the athletes. Then, my mom told me part of the U.S. Dressage Team was sitting right in front of us. I couldn’t believe it! When the meeting was over, I got to take photos with all of them: Kasey Perry-Glass, Adrienne Lyle, Steffen Peters, and Olivia LaGoy-Weltz. The only one missing was Laura Graves. I really wish I could have met her too. I love her horse Verdades so much. It would be a dream to meet them both. My coach, Sydni Peterson, was there and she introduced us to Laura Killian, a coach from Florida. I think it would be so wonderful to train in Florida in the future.
After that meeting, we walked around with Sydni and found some other riders from our barn. We did not go to the gala that night, but we visited with our friends before they went to the gala. The next morning, my mom and I talked a lot about what we did at the convention, and how grateful we were to be part of it. Thank you USDF!