Pulling Back the Curtain…
Everyone who is involved in, or a fan of, a sport would love to have the chance to see how the “best of the best” do things. I recently accompanied my family to a day at the Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s Summer Training Camp. Now for those who don’t know football, the Bucs are the reigning Superbowl Champs, with the entire team led by Tom Brady, returning to compete again this year. Needless to say, they are loved and envied team at the moment!
The Buccaneer franchise did a great job hosting their season ticket holders and families. I was in awe of the ability to watch, up close and personal, as the players from different parts of the team took to the field in front of us to practice drills and plays. The coaches were right there with them and everyone was able to put some time into honing their skills as they prepare for the real deal only weeks away. While watching and hearing all of this unfold in front of me, I could only think how familiar this feels concerning my work with the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program.
It would be amazing if the equestrian sport received as much attention as the NFL and the tops of our sport were able to finance glorious days for their fans and families to come to watch and learn. Getting a peek behind the curtain of the elite in any sport helps to fuel both those involved in the sport and its fans. And the Emerging Athletes Program’s Regional Training Sessions during the summer do just that.
Twenty-four riders are selected from hundreds of applications for each Regional Training Session that the EAP hosts throughout the country each summer. These participants bring their horses to learn under some of the top riders and teachers in our sport and to immerse themselves into stable management from professionals that have taken care of the top horses in our sport. Fifteen people are selected for each Regional Training Session to have up close and personal access to both the riding and stable management education, one on one conversations with the clinicians, and access to all extra educational sessions. And the committee’s newest idea, still pending approval, allows a few stable management interns to be chosen for each Regional Training Session to delve even deeper into the management of our sport’s top horses and programs: from the barn to the show ring.
These lucky participants get to peek behind the curtain and learn from those that have represented our country both here and abroad. They get the opportunity to learn from those that have insured the horses reach competition rings at the highest levels ready to compete and win. These participants get a first-hand look at the “blood, sweat, and tears” that goes into being a professional in our sport; the sacrifice our professionals make with their bodies and time to ensure our horses are ready for whatever challenge lies ahead. These participants have their eyes opened to a vast amount of knowledge and they have doors opened that help propel them into a future they have only dreamed about to this point.
While our sport may not be promoted to the whole world like the NFL, the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program is doing a linebacker’s work to push the classical education of our sport to all that are willing to open their eyes to it!
Check out www.ushja.org/education/emerging-athletes-program for more information and to learn how to apply for a Regional Training Session across the country as a rider, a VIP Auditor and soon to be approved (fingers crossed) Barn Manager Intern.
About the Author: Amy Center is co-owner and head trainer at Cavallo Farms in Tallahassee, FL. She is a USEF ‘R’ licensed judge for Hunters, Equitation, and Jumpers. And she currently sits as Chairman of the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program.
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