By Olivia Gray
Olivia Gray was one of four Youth Convention Scholarship Winners in 2019.
I had an amazing experience at the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention! It was so inspiring to be with other individuals who are just as passionate as I am about dressage.
The convention was very well organized, and everyone was very kind and welcoming. The venue they selected was also quite nice. One of my personal highlights was meeting with the 2019 US dressage Pan American team who won the silver medal! To wrap up the convention, everyone was able to take part in an open forum Q & A with the team. The USDF Youth Committee also provided shirts for the youth, so that we could get their autographs.
The youth meetings were all very informative. I loved learning all the new ways USDF is bringing more opportunities to their up and coming youth. One of the things I am most excited about is the new Jr/YR division at the US Finals in 2021. I was also informed of the many other grants and opportunities available to youth riders in the sport.
While at the convention, I was able to attend a session about how to create a freestyle. Terry Ciotti-Gallo and Joan Darnell were the speakers, and they provided real life examples, advice on music choices, and a judge’s perspective. I particularly enjoyed this session because I have always been curious about how to make a freestyle, and one day soon I hope to perform one!
I also attended a session titled, “The Connection Between the Horse’s Body and Mind,” presented by Kathy Connelly and Charlotte Bredahl. Some of the highlights discussed include how to set your horse up for success, the difference between naughty and energetic, as well as a therapy technique to calm your horse, entitled “the gateway to the heart”.
Another session was my region meeting. I loved finding out more about how I can be more involved on a regional scale. I attended the GMO roundtable meeting, which informed me of the latest programs being formed and new things being added. I was also able to get connected with my closest GMO, and am pleased to say am now a member!
Yet another meeting I attended was that of the BOG assembly, which informed of new rule changes, proposals, and allowed the audience to voice their opinions and ideas. All the attendees were given a 40-page report on this year’s budget and each program’s statistics, as well as proposals for new programs for 2020 and 2021.
I made many new friends that I will, for sure, keep in touch with! I was able to make connections with committee members, trainers, and judges. I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to be a part of the 2019 USDF Convention and am so thankful for the scholarship! Through this experience I found out so many things about USDF that were new to me!
The event was really inspirational, and I hope to be back again next year!