Haley Tops USHJA Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session

By Tricia Booker

November 22, 2010

Buffalo, N.Y., November 21 – Kate Haley’s all-around performance—from riding to horsemanship to horse care—during the second annual USHJA Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session, presented by Dover Saddlery, propelled her to the top.

“We were impressed by Kate overall,” said clinician and Olympic gold medalist Peter Wylde. “Her skill and determination to succeed impressed us, along with her abilities with the horse she had to ride and her anchor position on the team in the Nations Cup.”
For her accomplishment, Haley, 18, Orchard Park, New York, will receive 30 days of advanced training from an approved trainer, $3,000 from Dover Saddlery to purchase show clothes and a place in the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Clinic in Wellington, Florida, in January.

“I’m surprised and excited to win this,” said Haley, who trains with Chrissie Hannon. “Everyone here is so good, and it’s steep competition. This experience was wonderful and an incredible opportunity to work with and learn from such great horsemen.”

Anna Hallene, 18, Hinsdale, Illinois, also made an impression during the three-day program, held Nov. 19-21 at The Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, and garnered the second Horsemastership spot available to riders competing in the EAP National Training Session.
“Anna has improved tremendously over the course of the Level I, II and III clinics,” said Melanie Smith Taylor, the EAP co-chairman. “She’s a thinker and carried what she’s learned through to here.”

Haley and Hallene were among the 12 finalists to qualify for the EAP National Training Session from a pool of 200 riders who entered the 2010 Level I training sessions around the country. The finalists, who qualified after attending a Level II session, traveled to the BTRC, where host Susie Schoellkopf provided horses owned by BTRC, clients and friends.
Throughout the EAP National Training Session, the riders were judged on their riding skills, as well as their horsemanship in the barn and in the ring, and a written exam. EAP Committee members Taylor, Julie Winkel, Sally Ike and Kathy Moore evaluated the riders and met each day with the clinicians to analyze the competitors and, finally, to select the overall winner.

The riders spent the first two days getting to know their new mounts and attended flatwork and over fences training sessions with Wylde, natural horsemanship sessions with Mindy Bower, stable management lessons with Jennifer Alfano and received veterinary instruction from Drs. Midge Leitch and Christopher Miller.

On the third day, the riders showed in a Nations Cup-format competition where their riding skills, knowledge and understanding of their horse, performance under pressure and teamwork were evaluated.

Team Idle Dice (Michael Kocher, Alexandra Cornish, Dani Beavers, Kate Haley), with chef d’equipe Sally Ike, won the Nations Cup with 0 faults over the two-round competition. Riders Kocher and Haley jumped double-clear rounds to lead their team to victory.
Team Calypso (Paul Frederick, Lauren Ditallo, Morgan Geller, Natalie Crane), with chef d’equipe Kathy Moore, placed second with 4 faults, while Team Gem Twist (Taylor Adams, Anna Hallene, Melena Smith, Alexa Anthony), with chef d’equipe Jennifer Alfano, placed third with 8 faults.

Geller and Crane also produced impressive double-clear performances over the course designed by Chrystine Tauber and based on the Nations Cup course from the 1997 Washington (D.C.) International Horse Show designed by Richard Jeffery.

Frederick, 21, Savannah, Ga., a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, earned the highest score of 95 on the written test and received a special award from Taylor.

Parents and auditors were also included in the educational and entertainment aspects of the clinic, and during a Saturday night reception the teams were auctioned off in a Calcutta. Team Calypso brought the highest bid of $1,200, and $3,350 was raised in the auction. In a generous action, the winning bidders donated their portions of the proceeds back to the EAP to help finance the program expenses.

“I’m passionate about developing horsemen and not just riders,” said Taylor. “This program has provided our industry with an opportunity to make that happen. This isn’t a riding competition; it’s all about finding the complete horseman who can ride well and take care of the horse in the barn.”

Schoellkopf said the EAP is a fantastic way to further the young talent in this country, and she enjoyed hosting and observing the participants as they soaked in the information provided by some of the best of the best. “If they take anything home, I hope they take home the wisdom and the passion of the people who have been teaching them this weekend,” she said. “And they should remember that the journey is about learning and sharing. The horse is ultimately their greatest teacher.”

Complete coverage of the EAP National Training Session will be published in the December 2011 issue of USHJA In Stride.

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