By Savana Garvey
I am honored to have received the USDF Youth Convention Scholarship in 2019. This was my first Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention, and I was excited to have so many influential people together appreciating the sport of dressage. In addition to youth program meetings, I was able to attend several other meetings that broadened my knowledge. I hope my experience will encourage other youths to apply for this scholarship.
On December 5, 2019, my Mom and I arrived in Savannah, GA. Our room overlooked the river. The boats were so close and so big! Our first meeting was the USEF/USDF Rule Change. I found it interesting that USDF wants feedback from its members. Next, we attended the Youth Programs Committee. Did you know that USDF is adding the Jr/YR division at the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® for 2020/2021. Stay tuned for more information on this exciting addition! The last meeting we attended that day was FEI Jr/YR Committee. One of the interesting facts that I learned is the FEI rule change for 2020, to allow snaffles at Jr/YR Championships.
Our second morning, December 6, was spent exploring Savannah. My Mom and I walked from our hotel, through the city, and to all of the squares. Savannah is beautiful, historic, and has the friendliest people. We visited the Savannah College of Art and Design bookstore. I had a great time choosing gifts for friends. My mom and I returned to the Convention on the ferry, just in time to attend the Nuts and Bolts of Creating a Freestyle meeting. I learned that if the music fails, it is the rider’s responsibility to come to “C” to discuss with the judge. The rider may choose to restart the freestyle.
Saturday, Dec 8 was an early start to an exciting day! The Youth Activities Meeting covered important topics for all youth. We learned about the Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA), the Young Riders International Dream Program, and grants available through the Dressage Foundation (TDF). Next, we attended Youth Education: Why Equine Confirmation Matters to the Aspiring FEI Rider. We learned what to look for and what to avoid when looking at a potential horse for dressage. Next was New in Bits and Bridles. I am now using a bit that was discussed in this meeting! The Connection Between the Horse’s Body and Mind was our 4th meeting of the day. My take-away was, “If the horse is expected to be an athlete, the rider is too”. This motivates me to increase my own work outs and eat healthy foods. Our final meeting of the day was the USEF Athlete Open Forum. The highlight of this meeting was listening to the US Pan Am Team discuss what their experience has been leading up to now. Each has a different story, while all of them attribute hard work and perseverance for their current success. After the meeting, I had a picture opportunity with the 2019 Pan Am Team and other greats of dressage!
Saturday night was magical! I had the absolute honor of receiving my USDF Bronze Medal, on stage, at the Salute Gala & Annual Awards Banquet. In addition, I was able to cheer my instructor on as she received her USDF Silver Medal! Everyone was dressed beautifully and the banquet was a great time, celebrating this year’s accomplishments. Thank you USDF for providing me with this opportunity to discover more about the sport of dressage! I highly encourage any youth members to apply for this scholarship and attend the 2020 Convention in Omaha, Nebraska.