The third annual Robert Dover Dressage Horsemastership Week will be held Jan. 2-7, 2014, in the Van Kampen Indoor Arena at the Global Dressage Festival show facility in Wellington, Fla. This special week for youth dressage riders coincides with the George Morris Horsemastership Clinic for youth jumping riders.
Riders for the RDHW are chosen from Dressage4Kids Emerging Dressage Athlete Program clinics held around the country as well as from major competitions, including the Adequan North American Junior And Young Rider Championships, the U.S. Equestrian Federation Festival Of Champions and the Dressage Seat Medal Finals.
Chosen participants for this year are: Kalie Beckers (La.), Rachel Chowanec (Conn.), Allie Cyprus (Texas), Lindsay Holleger (Ga.), Leah Marks (Ga.), Emma Patterson (Texas), Cassie Schmidt (Texas), Elle Turner (Ga.), Ayden Uhlir (Wash.), Bebe Davis (N.J.), Jamie Pestana (Calif.) and Genay Vaughn (Calif.).
Selected auditors include: Kate Conover (Texas), Jessica Fan (Texas), Allison Hopkins (Texas), Rebekah Mingari (Ky.), Alexander Dawson (Wisc.), Devon Wycoff (Colo.) and Mikayla Fredericks (Iowa).
The clinic week has been designed as an extensive educational experience for all the participants and auditors. Attendees become immersed in a week of intense dressage information. The educational experience centers around training sessions with top international competitors but extends far beyond just the reach of a typical clinic lesson.
All participants begin each day of the week with a rider workout designed by personal trainer Bob Gutowitz. He stresses the importance of a rider being just as physically fit as the horse if you intend to participate in top international competition.
Next on the daily agenda includes participants each having lessons with top international trainers. Trainers for this year’s event include: Robert Dover, Lendon Gray, Courtney King-Dye, Kathleen Raine, Shelly Francis, Jan Ebeling and Tuny Page.
In between riding sessions, participants also attend daily lectures from other top professionals that form the “team” required to make a successful and competitive international competitor. USET Team Veterinarian Dr. Rick Mitchell and sports psychologist Dr. Jenny Susser join other farriers, therapists and professionals to expose the youth riders to all the necessary aspects that constitute a solid base from which a horse and rider combination can succeed. The group will also take a few field trips to some local international-level training facilities and veterinary clinics in Wellington.
On the last day, participants will ride a test appropriate to the level of their ability. International dressage judges Janet Foy and Linda Zang will provide feedback to participants from the judge’s perspective about their performances.
This intense educational experience was started in 2011 and modeled after the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association’s Emerging Athlete Program. The hunter/jumper program was proving successful in providing the necessary insight for youth riders into the complexities of top international training and competition. Lendon Gray and Robert Dover have emulated this model from the hunter/jumper program to introduce the advanced youth dressage riders to the training and “team” building required of top international dressage athletes.
Dover added, “We need to continue to expose and encourage the talented youth riders in this sport in order to continue to strengthen the pipeline which will eventually lead to creating competitive international dressage squads to represent the United States at all international competitions. This RDHW provides the emersion into dressage that these youth riders need at this age in order to understand what is required to be a top competitor.”
Dressage4Kids sponsors much of the RDHW activities to keep costs for participants to a minimum. This year, the clinic also has the generous sponsorship from several local vendors. Equestrian Sport Productions is generously donating the use of their facility, the Global Dressage Festival show grounds, for all of the clinic lessons and stabling for the horses. The Dressage Connection, Horse of Course and ShowChic are donating embroidered items. Other sponsors for the week include the Tackeria and Dover Saddlery.