View Full Version : USHJA Emerging Athletes Program: age limit?

Jan. 11, 2010, 01:53 PM
What's the age limit for applicants, anyone know?

Jan. 11, 2010, 02:21 PM
Last year I think it was 21 or 22 which made me mad because I was 23 and wanted to apply, and I called and complained. Of course they'll probably change the age limit to 23 and now I'm 24 and I'll be equally SOL lol.

Jan. 12, 2010, 10:16 AM
I believe it's 21, but that was for 2009.

Not sure if that's your "show age" or age at time of application.

Jan. 12, 2010, 01:00 PM
21 for 2009, but I actually heard that they are considering lowering that for 2010. So it may become 17 or 18.

Jan. 12, 2010, 01:41 PM
21 USEF.

Jan. 25, 2010, 12:00 AM
The application is now on the USHJA website. Age Limits is 16-21. Last year my daughter did the level 1 at 14, but can't this year as she is 15. They eliminated the 3' section.

Jan. 25, 2010, 12:13 AM
Why they do this for kids that haven't even went to college yet... So for the most part, the time is, all but wasted, on kids who won't even be showing or limited showing for the following 3 or 4 years. And then MIGHT NOT even keep showing or turn pro after college.

Why not make the age for this 25 to 30. That way the people have definitely decided to show more and continue in the horse world...

Jan. 25, 2010, 12:30 AM
The EAP was really designed to give talented youngsters the chance to learn in an environment where qualifying to ride was as fair as possible (obviously it's easier to learn/show on a horse that isn't rank but they opened the playing field to non-big name riders). I like the program. Do I wish they'd extend it to 25-30 year olds? YES! I'm so bummed that they came up with this just now and not five years ago. But I'm glad that USHJA is moving more in the direction of educating riders from the ground, up.

We need more of these programs for sure, both locally and nationally. I think we're missing a lot of great talent and great heart because riding is so damn expensive. Hopefully with these programs, USHJA will be able to start turning this around. It's definitely a start.

Jan. 25, 2010, 12:31 AM
They eliminated the 3' section.

Wow. That's really too bad. Wonder the reasoning...

Jan. 25, 2010, 12:56 AM
Why they do this for kids that haven't even went to college yet... So for the most part, the time is, all but wasted, on kids who won't even be showing or limited showing for the following 3 or 4 years. And then MIGHT NOT even keep showing or turn pro after college.

Why not make the age for this 25 to 30. That way the people have definitely decided to show more and continue in the horse world...

Agreed, I have a big chip on my shoulder that there weren't programs like this when I was a Junior and now I feel discriminated against because I'm an Ammie.

And I wear my chip proudly thank you!

Jan. 27, 2010, 05:29 PM
Just FYI, it seems like they take show age.

"Applicants must be 16-21 years of age according to USEF Rules"

Jan. 27, 2010, 05:32 PM
Wow. That's really too bad. Wonder the reasoning...

From my experience, the 3' kids were already at a disadvantage when selected for Level 2. None were selected for the National Final. As a participant, I have my belief that this was done [ETA] on purpose [really didn't mean completely before, but I do feel it wasn't done by accident]. (PM me if you want explanation for that). But hey, if they're not gonna consider the 3' kids for the Final, I'm much happier that they took it out.

ETA: I like the program, I really do, but I think it needs a LOT of changes to make it really what the industry needs.

Jan. 27, 2010, 05:51 PM
HideYourHeart, could you explain some of the changes you feel would improve the program? I know you participated so I'm interested to hear your views. :)

Jan. 27, 2010, 07:07 PM
Renn, I will definitely work on a post. I don't know if I'll get it done tonight with school and such, but I'll have it up ASAP.

M. O'Connor
Jan. 27, 2010, 10:37 PM
I'm disappointed at hearing they have taken out the 3' section--for several reasons.

Reason one is that the lower level kids I watched benefited GREATLY from being able to participate in the Level 1 training session, even if it were a given that they lacked the education or experience to be invited on to the next level.

Another reason is that so much of the difference between having the ability to do the upper levels or not rests with the horse. I saw Hideyourheart do a creditable job on a borrowed horse that, though generous in spirit, and obviously worth his weight in gold, was of limited capability.

Lastly, if the aim of the program is to identify talent, the earlier in a rider's development it happens, the better, in my opinion. Too many parents of modest or limited means have to discourage even the most talented riders from aspiring to much more than weekly lessons. Access to our sport is limited enough already; sadly it is becoming more so.

It was my understanding that the EAP was meant to address this; eliminating the 3' section is a step away from this goal.

Jan. 27, 2010, 10:47 PM
Agree with M. O'Connor. I would think that it would make sense to have the lower level of the program explode and "sponsor" talented kids (get them working student positions at reputable barns, etc).

At least USHJA is moving in a direction towards educating the masses. I also see a lot of ways to improve the Trainer Certification program but I guess it's a start. Gotta jump the crossrails before you get to the big fences. :)

Jan. 28, 2010, 05:38 PM
My biggest complaint about the program is that it constantly contradicts itself. It "says" it's a "grassroots" program, but then names winners that are proven on the National level. It "says" horsemanship is incredibly important, but yet rewards mediocre horseman (OVERALL, not a comment about any individuals, just an observation).

Here are some ideas that I came up with when brainstorming after Renn asked me too. Honestly, I’ve never put any of this down in writing, so it’s very rough, but these are just some of my ideas.

1. Take away the focus on results.
Take away the focus on horse shows. If you really want grassroots, you shouldn't be taking kids who show regularly at the national level. In BOTH my Level 1 and Level 2 programs there were kids who wintered in Wellington and regularly did all of the above. Not that they didn’t learn, but if you have 2 High JR Jumpers or 2 nice JR Hunters, etc. you shouldn’t be at this program.

One idea: DO NOT allow kids who have competed at Eq Finals or Prix De States or NAJYRC or in a GP to participate. Maybe not fair for the kid who only went to Eq finals once, but kids who ribboned should not be there.

2. More theory and explanation.
Yes, I know they tried to improve this by focusing on horsemanship and, from what I’ve read, they did this more at the National Level, but kids especially need to understand WHY certain things are important. Now, IMO Melanie did an okay job of this in her exercises teaching the horse to go immediately to the rider’s leg, but it could have been done better. Why do Shoulder-In? Why do Haunches-In? How do you adjust an exercise for a nervous horse? Or a sulky one? This is crucial to development as a rider… knowing what to do in unfamiliar situations. This was also done in the course walk for day 2 at Level 2, but I feel like it was very specific to that day, not to riding in general.

One idea: Off horse riding theory discussion. Especially focused on flatwork/dressage.

3. Switch horses.
Maybe it’s a stretch, but I think especially at Level 2 this should be done. It truly shows who can ride well and who can’t. Many kids come on long time partners. Others borrow horses. I know they can’t get donated horses for every level, which would obviously be ideal, especially at L2/3, but you could have the riders switch to see what happens. Obviously it can’t just be done blindly, but I guarantee in a group of 8, there would be something else suitable for everyone to ride.

4. Organization in the barn.
I know the point at the Level 2 session was to see how the kids worked on their own, but it constantly felt chaotic and all over the place. This will be hard to accomplish, I know that, but it could be done. Maybe through assigning of chores? Maybe through a buddy system of people in separate groups – ie the two of us do chores for our two horses and then help each other on the ground? It might just be my L2 section, but I always felt chaos.

5. Team building and group exercises.
The riders should want to hang out together! It’s all about connecting, about meeting new people, making friends. But yet, especially at the first level, there was no interaction between kids who didn’t already know each other. This did improve at the second level, but not through USHJA stuff – mom’s organized dinners (and at ours, trips to the beach!). USHJA should make a Friday night social, Saturday night dinner, and maybe even a “host” hotel (heck, horse shows do it… they could too).

6. Some sort of video or photo option on the application.
Yes, I know it is to support “grassroots”, but this ranges a huge, huge spectrum. I feel like this would increase the quality of the Level 1 participants if there was some way off paper to evaluate the riders. Yes, I know that that makes it more expensive to apply, but in today’s world, everyone has to be able to find someone who can video them and make a DVD cheap. Yes, I know it relies on the quality of horse available, but this would come out at the actual clinic, so why not just get it out there. This would allow the pool to be better from the get go.

7. Connection to the rest of the professional horse world.
This program needs to be more than an end in itself. And until it becomes credible, few big time professionals will probably have even heard of it, let alone take it as legitimate. Heck, even once it becomes big, the VAST majority of positions in the horse world are filled through “knowing” somebody in the right place. We were told at the Level 2 section that the connections we made would help us and serve as our “mentors” but how serious were they? I know I emailed one and never received any response. There has got to be some way to connect these kids at the Level 2 and beyond to potential opportunities.

These are just some ideas. I know they are not perfect, but from what I’ve seen the program needs work. Feel free to give me your feedback (*flame suit is on*). Like I said, my ideas are very, very rough.

Jan. 28, 2010, 06:51 PM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Hideyourheart. You make a lot of interesting points. I would love to hear even more about the Level 2 sessions,
My daughter rode with you in the Level 1 clinic and I think she embodies what I would call "grassroots." She doesn't show a lot, because it's just too expensive for us. Her horse (which she has to share with one of her younger sisters) is an OTT appendix (had a few starts in the Quarter Horse racing world) that sat in a field for years after coming off the track because he wasn't terribly rideable. She has worked really hard on flatwork, flatwork, flatwork, knowing the importance of a good foundation. I thought it interesting when Melanie asked all the riders where they were headed after the clinic. Most said they were going on to A Circuit shows. My daughter answered "home to do more flatwork."
I think I share many posters' frustrations about what the USHJA really means by grassroots. As you already noted, there were many riders at that Level 1 clinic that had multiple horses, extensive show records at many of the top A venues, and, I am assuming, ample financial resources.
Beyond my questions on defining the term "grassroots," I thought it was a great experience and I have encouraged my daughter to apply again. She was hoping to apply to the 4foot group this year, but with the change in age requirements, she will have to wait until 2011. As disappointed as she is to wait, I reminded her that she will have another year to prepare (flatwork, flatwork, flatwork).