A Trailblazer in the USDF Youth Dressage Rider Recognition Pin Program

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Tessa Holloran became the first USDF Youth Member to earn all seven pins in the USDF Youth Dressage Rider Recognition Pin Program (Rose Hill Road Photography)

This year, Tessa Holloran became the first USDF Youth Member to earn all seven pins in the USDF Youth Dressage Rider Recognition Pin Program. The program is designed to recognize the accomplishments of youth in the dressage community at all levels, and is open to students who are currently enrolled in grades 6-12. Students must complete 20 hours of volunteer work and 16 education hours each year of the program. Here, Tessa shares about her experience with the program and her riding goals.

What did you like about the USDF Youth Dressage Rider Recognition Pin Program?

It allowed greater exposure to people and programs with similar aspirations. It gave me the opportunity to meet numerous new people and motivated me to expand my education. It also allowed me to give back through volunteering in a very rewarding fashion.

What types of education programs did you participate in to fulfill the Pin Program requirement?

Dressage4Kids (D4K) was an enormous resource for me, especially when I was younger. It offered education through the Winter Equestrian Program, TEAM clinics, the Winter Intensive Training Program (WIT), and Training for Teachers. I also audited several clinics by top trainers, and attended sessions at Equine Affaire. Involvement with my GMO, New England Dressage Association (NEDA), played a pivotal role in my activities as well. When I was 14, I started as a full-time winter working student for Ali Brock in Wellington, Florida. This offered me an amazing learning experience, both in and out of the saddle.

Tessa Holloran (John Borys Photography)

What types of volunteering did you complete to fulfill the Pin Program requirement?

D4K offered numerous opportunities to volunteer. Beginning at Lendon’s Youth Dressage Festival and continuing through WIT – giving back is an important component of the programs. Through D4K, I volunteered at the event Americas Equestrians Got Talent, competed in the Buck Off Challenge, sold raffle tickets at fundraiser events at Global Dressage Festival, and helped set up at the Adequan®/USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference. I also volunteered at Lights for Hope and helped monitor the event, was a gatekeeper at Global Dressage Festival, was a show volunteer for NEDA, and coordinated parking for Pepperell Horse Owners Association.

Tell us about the organizations you volunteered with.

Some of the larger organizations that I worked with included Dressage4Kids, New England Dressage Association, the Buck Off challenge, and Lights 4 Hope, Inc.  Dressage4Kids has been around for 20+ years and is an organization incorporated for the express purpose of providing educational and competitive opportunities for youth riders and the adults who support them.  The New England Dressage Association promotes and supports the Art and Sport of Dressage to the equestrian community for the purpose of fostering individual and collective growth by providing leadership, education, exhibitions, publications, competitions and to enhance greater public awareness, understanding, and appreciation for the discipline of dressage.  The Buck Off Challenge raises money for the Southeast Florida Honor Flight which transports World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials built to honor their service and sacrifices.  Lights 4 Hope, Inc. is a non-profit organization created to help bring happiness and hope to families with a child suffering from a terminal illness.

What are your plans for after high school?

I graduated from high school earlier this month (June 2022), and will attend Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida as a Business major. While in college, I will have my horse stabled nearby in Wellington, where I will continue to ride and train. My horse and I are currently schooling some of the Prix St. Georges movements so I’m hoping to finish up my USDF Silver Medal soon.

At what level do you currently compete?

We are currently competing in the FEI Junior division and Third Level.

Tell us about your horse(s).

My horse Ike is a 2013 Dutch Warmblood who was bred in the Netherlands by Golden Point Partners (GPP) with an intended career in jumping. Recognizing that it wasn’t really something he enjoyed, they briefly introduced him to dressage in January 2021. After the unexpected loss of my 6-year-old, Ali Brock connected me with GPP and they generously let me take over the ride of Ike under her direction. Our partnership started in February, which initiated his full-time transition to dressage. Despite being asked to do a lot of different things after switching disciplines, he tries his heart out every day. Since then, he is more than I could have ever imagined. Ike is very personable and would never hurt a fly. He loves his people and any food he manages to get into his mouth- especially oranges and bananas.

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