The USHJA Announces the Emerging Athletes Program

July 21, 2008

LEXINGTON, KY (July 21, 2008) - The USHJA is proud to announce the creation of the Emerging Athletes Program. This program supports our continuing efforts to bring educational and developmental opportunities to the grassroots members of our sport. The USHJA Emerging Athletes Program consists of a system of identifying and nurturing talented young riders. The program’s mission is to provide these riders with the support and assistance necessary to facilitate the opportunity to reach their full potential by creating a national program as a step ladder to international competition.

"This is a national grass roots program for emerging athletes that is only the start of something very big and important to the future of the next generation of our sport. USHJA and the members of the Emerging Athletes Committee are committed to making this program one that will provide a stepladder for young talent to reach their goals of riding on a team representing the United States someday," stated Melanie Smith, Co-Chairman of the Emerging Athletes Committee.

The Emerging Athletes Committee has conducted several in person strategic planning meetings and developed a comprehensive plan to achieve their goals. The program includes a series of Screening Trials consisting of 2 days of riding, held across the country to identify talented young riders, many of whom are not on our current radar. Riders will be selected from these Screening Trials to attend Regional Screening Trials, held over 3 – 4 days, including horsemanship curriculum in addition to the riding sessions. A select number of riders will then be invited to participate in a National Training Camp, held over 5 days, including riding sessions, stable management, horsemanship and seminars with veterinarians, nutritionists, blacksmiths and sports psychologists. The National Training Camp will culminate in a Nations Cup type competition for the riders. The top two individuals selected from the National Training Camp will be the recipients of a grant for one month of advanced training.

Ronnie Beard, Co-Chairman of the Emerging Athletes Committee shared his passion for this program and what it will achieve. "The system we have created will demand horsemanship at a level that many young riders today have been missing from their curriculum. The screening trials are designed to find the true horseman that exist in our equestrian youth and demonstrate to all young riders what it really takes to be a champion."

The Emerging Athletes Committee Members: Ronnie Beard - Co-Chair, Melanie Taylor - Co-Chair, Georgina Bloomberg, Sally Ike, Candace King, Kathy Moore, Katie Prudent, Alison Robitaille, Eliza Shuford and Chrystine Tauber. John Madden and George Morris serve as Advisors to the Committee.

Information regarding the Screening Trials, application process and schedule of events will be available at in October of 2008.

For additional information, please contact Melanie Fransen, Director of Programs and Education, at 859.225.6960 or at the email address below.

Contact: Melanie Fransen

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