Spotlight On: USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program

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Every horse crazy little kid dreams of a career in the equine industry, where they can combine their passion for their four-legged dance partner with their professional aspirations and, by doing so, achieve their goals and ambitions both inside and outside of the competition arena.

So, where does one turn when many colleges and universities offer the business education, but with no relation to the equestrian world, and many trainers, owners, and managers have the equestrian knowledge to share, but not the business acumen? It was the asking of this question that served as the catalyst for the development of the USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate (YR Grad) Program.

This program, with funding support from The Dressage Foundation, brings together top professionals from around the country to teach on a variety of subjects, meant to foster strong role models for the future of the US equestrian industry. Held as a two-day educational seminar, this program focuses on topics of which young adults (age 20-28) need knowledge, in order to prepare for a professional career in this industry. Some of the topics covered in these seminars include goal setting, sponsorship, international competition, contracts, insurance, and tax practices, to name a few. By having top professionals educate our young adults on these crucial topics, graduates of the program are equipped to take the next steps in their professional equestrian careers and have a leg up on others who have not had the opportunity to take part in this invaluable experience.

Many of those well-known in the industry have completed the YR Grad program and gone on to have successful careers in a variety of areas within the industry. A few notable graduates include Reese Koffler-Stanfield, FEI Certified Instructor and host of the Dressage Radio Show, Hilary Moore Hebert, former Senior Editor of Dressage Today, Eleanor Brimmer, para athlete and board member of the United States Para Equestrian Association, Nora Batchelder, 2019 Pan American Team member, and Lauren Sprieser, well-known blogger, just to name a few. Many past participants and graduates have also written testimonials on the benefits and value of the program.

Held on a bi-annual schedule, the USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program is open to USDF Participating and Group Members, age 20-28, currently riding at Third Level or above. Additionally, through the Carol Lavell Gifted Memorial Fund, The Dressage Foundation offers grants, of up to $500 each, to individual participants to attend.

To learn more, view USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program virtual education sessions, or to apply to attend, visit the USDF website. (*As of the date of publication of this article, the next USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program is scheduled to take place January 14-15, 2023, in West Palm Beach, FL.)

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