Pope Shines at USHJA EAP National Training Session

November 22, 2011

Mundelein, IL, November 22 – Jacob Pope’s all-around performance—from riding to horsemanship to horse care—made a big impression during the third annual USHJA Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session, presented by Dover Saddlery.

“Jacob has the whole package,” said show jumping Olympic gold medalist and lead clinician Peter Wylde. “We all were impressed with every aspect of Jacob on every day. I look at Jacob as someone who has a future as a rider in the sport, as well as a horseman.”

Pope, 16, of Columbia, MD, is a junior at McDonogh School and trains with Streett Moore. He garnered top honors over 11 other finalists during the National Training Session, held November 17-20 at Country Ridge Stables outside of Chicago.

In addition to impressing Wylde with his riding skills, Pope displayed his stable management knowledge to clinicians Jennifer Alfano and Sally Ike and his horsemanship abilities to natural horsemanship trainer Mindy Bower.

“We all felt strongly that he’s exactly what we’re looking for. He’s the ideal, in a way—someone who has a big future and needs some doors opened, and we spotted his raw talent and want to help,” added Wylde.

For his accomplishment, Pope received a $3,000 training grant for future instruction and a $1,500 gift certificate from Dover Saddlery. Each of the remaining finalists received a $125 gift certificate from Dover Saddlery as well as a variety of products and gifts, many presented during Thursday night’s grand opening reception of the Dover Saddlery store in nearby Libertyville, IL.

In addition to his victory, Pope was one of two riders who received a coveted spot in the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Clinic in Wellington, Florida, in January.

“This [victory] gives me even more will to go on and continue in the future. It gives me the confidence to do bigger and better things,” said Pope, who would like to pursue a professional riding and training career.

By virtue of her strong performance during the final day’s Nations Cup competition and her impressive stable management and horsemanship efforts, Natalie Crane, 19, S. Dartmouth, MA, also received an invitation to Morris’ Horsemastership Clinic.

“Natalie went in the first round and nailed it,” said Wylde. “I thought she was precise and positive. She really delivered the goods today.”

Crane, a sophomore at Vassar College (New York) who trains with Kathy Fletcher and Laurel Tinney, has participated in the EAP for two years and was thrilled to receive a place in the clinic.

“To be honest, I was surprised to hear my name,” said Crane. “I love this program, and I love learning. I thought everybody here was so good. We were all on a level playing field, and it was anyone’s to win. So, I’m really excited. Riding with George is every rider’s dream.”

Pope and Crane were among the 12 finalists to qualify for the EAP National Training Session from a pool of 198 riders who entered the 2011 Level One training sessions around the country. The finalists, who qualified after attending a Level Two session, traveled to Country Ridge Stables, where host Kimber Ditallo provided horses owned by resident trainer Laura Stern, clients and friends.
Throughout the EAP National Training Session, the finalists 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 and clinicians evaluated the riders and met each day to analyze the competitors and, finally, to select the overall winner.

The riders spent the first two days getting to know their borrowed mounts and attended flatwork and over fences training with Wylde, natural horsemanship sessions with Bower, stable management lessons with Alfano and Ike and received veterinary instruction from Dr. David R. Heinze. Additionally, invited specialists in such fields as acupuncture, massage and nutrition provided valuable instruction.

On the third day, the riders showed in a Nations Cup-format competition over a 3’6” course based on a design used by Linda Allen at the Washington International Horse Show. Their riding skills, knowledge and understanding of their horses, performance under pressure and teamwork were evaluated.

Team Calypso (Kendrick VonHofe, Henley Adkins, Julie Gravelle, Lauren Ditallo) won the Nations Cup with 0 faults over the two-round competition. As the anchor rider, Ditallo clinched the victory with her second clear round.

Team Abdullah (Ali Cornish, Candice Schober, Abagail Postle, Sean Summers) placed second with 1 fault, while Team Touch Of Class (Jacob Pope, Stephanie Nagler, Natalie Crane, Marina Bynum) placed third with 6 faults.
Other award winners included:

  • Sportsmanship – Sean Summers (voted on by riders)

  • Best Written Test – Julie Gravelle

  • Stable Management – Candice Schober

  • Horsemanship – Abagail Postle

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 that raised $3,275 for the EAP.

In her closing comments, EAP advisor/judge Melanie Smith Taylor congratulated all of the riders on their achievements and expressed her support for them moving forward.

“I want you all to realize that we’re all here - Peter, Mindy, Jennifer - we want to be a part of your future, and you can call on us as your mentors,” she said. “You can count on us to help you in any way. And speaking of connections, I think that’s what’s so great about the EAP. We want you to have the opportunity to connect, not just with your horses but also with other people.”

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