Emerging Athletes Program Graduate Named to USEF Young Rider Tour

April 26, 2011

Lexington, Ky., April 26 - Richard “Ricky” Neal, co-champion at the 2009 United States Hunter Jumper Association Emerging Athletes Program Finals, was named to the 2011 Show Jumping European Young Rider Tour.

Neal, 19, Pasadena, California, is one of five young riders selected to the squad by the United States Equestrian Federation. They include:

•Neal with Transmission, a 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the rider.

•Reed Kessler, 16, Armonk, New York, with Onisha, a 12-year-old, Holsteiner mare (Caretino—Edelweiss 8) owned by the rider.

•Catherine Pasmore, 19, Crozet, Virginia, with My Boy, a 15-year-old gelding owned by Pasmore Stables, LLC.

•Karen Polle, 18, New York, New York, with What Ever, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Darco—M.sellie 24) owned by the rider.

•Jessica Springsteen, 19, Colt's Neck, New Jersey, with Vornado van den Hoerdrik, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Darco—Cizilithyia) owned by Stone Hill Farm.

“Ricky is one of the most naturally talented and gifted riders I have ever had the opportunity to teach,” said Melanie Smith Taylor, clinician and co-chairman of the USHJA Emerging Athletes Committee. “I feel honored to have been a small part of his career through the EAP. I believe his future in this sport is unlimited and wish him great success on the USEF Young Rider Tour this summer.”

Neal and Transmission earned their spot on the squad with impressive performances on the HITS Desert Circuit (California) this winter, where they placed 10th in the $200,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix in March and 4th and 7th in two $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix competitions earlier in the season.

Neal purchased Transmission in the beginning of the year, and they quickly forged a strong partnership. After debuting in the amateur-owner jumper section, they then moved into the grand prix ring. Neal is taking a year off from college to compete and said that the USEF Show Jumping European Young Rider Tour became a goal after their successes this winter. A steppingstone to the accomplishment came thanks to the EAP, which he said has made a lasting impact on his equestrian education.

“Of course, it’s hard to separate these things out, but I learned so much from the EAP, and plenty of the exercises and skills have had a direct impact,” said Neal. “The EAP provided tons of motivation, with great mentors and clinicians that Melanie [Taylor] put together.”

Last year, Neal concentrated on expanding his horsemanship education. He traveled to Spruce Meadows (Alberta) to train with international show jumping veteran Mario Deslauriers and also spent time working with natural horsemanship trainer and EAP clinician Mindy Bower of Colorado.

“Mario gave me tons of help,” said Neal. “In those two weeks with Mario, my riding grew leaps and bounds. Then, I spent two weeks with Mindy Bower right before I bought Transmission, working on basic horsemanship. That was another hole in my riding that’s been filled through the EAP, and it’s influenced everything I’ve done, from how I approach a horse to how I get on. All of the basic details have come from the EAP, and it’s had a huge impact. The program has really jump-started my career.”

The squad will compete at the following shows:

•CSIOY Bonheiden (Belgium), May 19-22
•CSIOY Reims (France), May 26-29
•CSIOY Lamprechtshausen (Austria), June 9-12
•CSIOY Hagen (Germany), June 16-19

To learn more about the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program presented by Dover Saddlery visit the USHJA website at www.ushja.org or contact Jennifer Kisner at 859.225.6705 or jkisner@ushja.org.

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