The U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation welcomed internationally renowned dressage rider and U.S. Equestrian Federation Developing Dressage Coach Debbie McDonald to Hamilton Farm this past weekend, June 12-13, for the second of three developing dressage clinics. The two-day clinic provided important guidance and insight to the nine riders who were invited to participate based upon their potential to represent the U.S. in international competition.
“Of everything we do right now, the developing clinics are probably the most important thing as they are all about the future and developing new team members and new horses. We need to create depth in our teams, because we have some great horses at the top, but we need more coming in after them, and we want to be able to have more choices,” said Anne Gribbons, the USEF Dressage Technical Advisor.
“I think where we have lacked a little bit in the past is not really trying to develop future combinations for the United States,” McDonald added, “as some of our top horse and rider combinations are getting older, we are starting to realize that we need to be thinking about the future, which is why the developing clinics were created.”
Participants included Jennifer Marchand, Liz Austin, Allison Brock, Jocelyn Wiese, Chloe Fullar, Jamie Topinka-Nunn, Nancy Kotting, Inga Janke, Ashley Wimmer, Tosha Zubrisky, Abby Hardy, Laura Graves, Justin Hardin, Teresa Butta and Brandi Benedict.
Two sets of riders were invited, the first set being those who were already competing on the small tour, while the second group may not have had a horse on the small tour, but had impressive credentials and great potential for the future.
Each of the 12 riders in the second set were required to submit their record, as requested by the USEF, in order to participate in the talent search sessions that were held the day before the clinic started. The scouting sessions allowed Gribbons and McDonald to determine who should continue on to participate throughout the duration of the clinic. Originally, three coveted spots were to be filled, however, as the scouting sessions went on, the talent was so impressive that Gribbons and McDonald decided to have four riders join the clinic instead—Laura Graves, Justin Hardin, Teresa Butta and Brandi Benedict.
The remaining eight riders who were not selected to participate were invited to attend as auditors.