Teach them well and let them lead the way…
By Amber Wiseman
Youth are the future of dressage. It’s a sentiment that’s repeated over and over as USDF tries to find the best ways to promote our sport to younger riders, who may otherwise be drawn to the speed and excitement of other disciplines. As part of this effort, USDF offers a wide variety of programs dedicated to youth riders and recognizing the next generation of dressage competitors, and here are some you may not be familiar with.
The USDF Youth Dressage Rider Recognition Pin Program
The USDF Youth Dressage Rider Recognition Pin Program is open to currently enrolled students in grades 6-12, and who are a USDF Participating or Group Member. This program recognizes the accomplishments of youth in the dressage community, including volunteering, equine-related education participation, competition, and grade requirements for school.
Hours must be earned between July 1 and June 30 of the program year, and applications must be submitted no later than July 31 to earn the pin for the year. Find out more.
USDF Youth Convention Scholarship
The Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention is being hosted in the heart of the bluegrass, Lexington, KY in 2022, and youth could win a scholarship to attend! Each year, up to four scholarships are awarded to youth (21 and under) to help cover the cost of attending and participating in the annual convention. This includes the opportunity to attend education sessions specifically relevant to youth – recipients are required to attend the USDF Youth Educational Session. (While this year’s topic is still to be announced, previous years have covered topics such as judging, conformation and how it relates to an FEI prospect, balancing school, a social life, and horses, clinics – getting the biggest bang for your buck, time and stress management, and more!). Recipients are also encouraged to attend the Youth Programs and FEI Jr/YR Committee meetings, as well as all of the other USDF University Education sessions being offered.
If interested in this opportunity, the USDF Youth Convention Scholarship page, in addition to the application form, offers tips on writing a successful scholarship application and the opportunity to read about the experiences of previous scholarship recipients. Applications must be received by August 31, so get writing!
USDF Shining Star Award and Ravel Education Grant
The USDF Shining Star Award is dedicated to recognizing outstanding sportsmanship amongst youth dressage participants. Shining Star recipients must be current USDF members and nominated by anyone except their parents. Been inspired by a friend’s sportsmanship? Nominate them today!
In partnership with Akiko Yamazaki, the Ravel Education Grant recognizes the top four outstanding displays of sportsmanship. Up to four USDF Shining Star Award recipients each year, who are also Participating Members are eligible for an education grant of $500 to be used towards the expenses associated with attending an educational dressage event of their choice.
USDF FEI Youth Clinic Series
Taught by top US dressage riders George Williams and Lilo Fore, the USDF FEI Youth Clinic series is geared towards those who are striving to compete at the FEI levels. These clinics are two-day events that include private lessons, theory, and auditing. Eight riders, ages 14-21 or 12-14 competing in FEI Pony classes, are chosen for each clinic. An invaluable learning opportunity, even if you aren’t riding, people of all ages are welcome to audit! Visit the website for a list of upcoming clinics.
US Pony Club/ USDF Dressage Recognition Awards
The US Pony Club, and its many chapters, offer an invaluable experience, and they have teamed up with USDF to develop an awards program for Pony Clubbers also competing in USDF-recognized events! These awards recognize dressage Pony Clubbers competing from Introductory through Third Level and beyond. See requirements on the USPC Dressage Awards page.
For all of the opportunities available to youth and young adults, visit the USDF Youth Programs page.