A Guide to Recognition Programs for Junior Riders


By Lexie Halliwell, CDS- East Bay Jr/YR Representative

This was originally written for the CDS – East Bay Chapter newsletter, and was originally published here

The end of the school year is here, which means a summer full of showing and spending time with our horses for equestrian students! It can be challenging as a junior rider to receive recognition as an equestrian athlete, particularly in the context of school, and especially for those who don’t compete much. Here’s my experience with a couple of programs for junior riders (middle to high school ages) that can help you receive recognition for your dedication to the sport, and provide valuable experience!

I’m in my fourth year of doing the USEF Interscholastic Athlete Program (USEF Interscholastic Athlete Program). For this, you can elect to either submit scores from 3 competitions, or log 100 hours of riding/training – this option is helpful for those of us who might not be able to compete but still work hard at home! After providing proof of enrollment in school and your GPA, your school will receive a letter telling your principal about the program, and ask that the school consider adding their support too by honoring and acknowledging your hard work and dedication to your sport with a varsity letter. Many schools choose to support and recognize their equestrian athletes with a school varsity letter for their USEF letterman jacket. I recommend you check with your school to see if they would do this. Besides that benefit, it’s still worth completing as a tangible proof of all the hours you put in!

I also completed the USDF Youth Dressage Rider Recognition Pin (USDF Youth Dressage Rider Recognition Pin Program) last year, and I’m doing it this year as well. This pin is harder to receive, since it also recognizes achievement in education and volunteerism. It requires that you log 20 volunteer and 16 equine-related education hours, receive two scores of 60% or higher at any dressage level in the program year, and you must also maintain a GPA of 2.5 or above. This program comes with a shout-out in the USDF publication! I loved completing this program, because I found that the volunteering I did over its course helped me connect more with the equestrian community. 

Be sure to send a photo of you with your horse and awards to CDS East Bay and be featured in our newsletter and social media. Happy riding!

Read about Lexie’s siblings’ accomplishments in Triplets Take on Youth Pin Program

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