Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2024

USHJA Gochman Grant Recipients Announced

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The U.S. Hunter Jumper Association has announced Maren Bonus, Liam Hissong and Carly Williams as the 2023 recipients of the USHJA Gochman Grant for USEF Pony Finals. Through the grant, funded by Becky and David Gochman and their family, these three young riders will get the opportunity to attend and compete at USEF Pony Finals, Aug. 8-13 in Lexington, Kentucky.

Bonus, 13, of Chittenango, New York, has been riding for seven years and showing for five of those years in the children’s hunters, pony derbies and children’s jumper divisions. While she does not own or lease a horse, she goes to the barn six days a week to work and catch ride sales and lesson horses. 

Maren Bonus. Photo Courtesy Of Maren Bonus

Out of the saddle, Bonus has a busy academic and sports life. She is a part of her school’s soccer and lacrosse teams, and plays club soccer. In school, she takes advanced-level science and art classes.

“It means the world to me to be a recipient of the Gochman Grant,” she said. “I have loved ponies my whole life and the opportunity to ride at Pony Finals is a dream come true. I am so grateful to the Gochman family and to the USHJA. I am beyond excited for this experience and for all of the ways that it will help me grow as a rider.”  

Hissong, 14, of Limerick, Pennsylvania, has been riding since age 7. About a year ago, he started a working student position with his trainers, Jay and Karen Raach, which has allowed him to compete in the young horse, jumper and children’s hunter divisions. He enjoys catch riding and learning from an array of horses and cheering on his barn mates at shows. In the future, he hopes to become a professional rider. 

Liam Hissong. Photo Courtesy Of Liam Hissong

“To me, being selected as a 2023 Gochman Grant participant means the world,” he said. “To be given this experience is an honor that not many people get the opportunity to have. I can only hope that this special occasion will lead to a plethora of open doors throughout my career, near and far.”

“During the week, I hope to learn a lot from the various clinics and time spent with the trainers,” he added. “I am equally excited to learn a new pony while training with top professionals with a mutual goal of success. I look forward to the new relationships I will form over the week and to an experience like no other. I can’t thank the Gochman family, as well as the entire team, enough for their generosity.”

At school, Hissong is a straight-A student and is a member of the National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Ram Buddies. He also plays recreational soccer and is an active volunteer at Bryn Taran Farm’s summer horse camps, in Ian’s Boots and in his church nursery. 

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Williams, 16, of Efland, North Carolina, has been riding and competing for over five years, since she attended her first riding camp in 2017. She has competed in the children’s hunters, equitation, derby and NCHJA Medal divisions and is also an active competitor in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association open division. 

Carly Williams. Photo Courtesy Of Carly Williams

“I cannot express my appreciation and gratitude enough for receiving this grant,” she said. “Pony Finals has been a long-term goal of mine, but I have never had the opportunity to compete in the pony division. I am so thankful for this experience to learn from these trainers, clinics and on a new pony. I hope to grow relationships with the people I meet and expand my knowledge and skills through the training I will receive.”

A junior in high school, Williams is a member of Future Farmers of America, where she has been able to learn to weld, build furniture, show goats and learn entrepreneurial skills. She started her own horse braiding and clipping services at shows and a treat business on Etsy to help fund her horse shows. She prides herself on teaching younger children at the barn horsemanship skills and enhancing her own by attending clinics when she is able to. 

This marks the ninth year the USHJA Foundation has provided grants to help riders attend USEF Pony Finals, thanks to the generous support of the Gochman Family. Not strictly monetary in nature, the USHJA Gochman Grant for USEF Pony Finals is experienced-based, and each recipient gets the opportunity to compete at USEF Pony Finals, as well as access to professionals for training, entry into available clinics and exposure to other educational experiences throughout the week. In addition to financial need, selected riders exemplify the qualities most important in our sport: horsemanship, tenacity and good sportsmanship.

The Gochman Grant is open to current USHJA members under the age of 18 who have not previously participated in Pony Finals and who would not be able to attend without the assistance the grant provides. Individuals may only be awarded the grant once.

The USHJA sends a special thank you to those helping make this grant possible, including the Gochman Family, Robin Greenwood, Rob Jacobs and horse donors. All recipients will receive coolers and show shirts provided by The Clothes Horse and Essex. 

For more information about the USHJA Gochman Grant for USEF Pony Finals, visit ushja.org/gochman. Learn more about all of the grants and scholarships USHJA offers at ushja.org/grants.

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