American Olympians Lendon Gray, Robert Dover and Courtney King-Dye joined forces to launch the “Emerging Dressage Athlete Program" through which they will find, help to educate, and develop talented youth to become the international riders and trainers of the future.
Lendon Gray developed the plan for the program two years ago after seeing the incredible success of the US Hunter Jumper Association’s Emerging Athlete Program. She asked Robert Dover to join her in the endeavor but he felt he had to wait until he was no longer working as the Coach of the Canadian Dressage Team. As soon as this happened he asked Courtney Dye to join them.
The program will start with clinics in various parts of the US and participants will be selected for national clinics. The program will be for young Dressage competitors under the age of 21. It will be a stepping-stone from participating at the grassroots level to climbing the long ladder on the way to representing the US in international competitions and/or becoming a successful professional.
Through this program, dedicated, talented Dressage youth will be sought out in all parts of the US. The teacher(s) will ensure that the basics of their education as riders and horsemen are properly established and will give them a road map for their Dressage journey.
Section A clinics will be held in different areas of the US. Potential riders aged 11 - 21 may apply by filling out an application and sending in a short video of themselves riding. A committee will select the riders to invite to the instructional sessions. They will be looking for riders with correct effective positions, correct timing of aids, a feel for rhythm, tempo, relaxation, and throughness of the horse.
During the lesson sessions the instructors will evaluate and try to improve the riders’ position, use of aids, knowledge, and suitability for competitive Dressage. The riders will also receive written evaluations. From these clinics, riders will be ranked and the highest ranked riders will be invited to the Section B National Clinics.
Section B will be a 6 day instructional session – one in November and one in April in Wellington, FL. At these sessions participants who cannot bring their own horses will be provided with horses to ride. There will be lessons in position, general schooling, using cavaletti, and test riding. At all training sessions, instruction will also be provided in stable management, riding theory, fitness, and/or sports psychology, etc.
Lendon Gray will headline the regional clinics, although other international riders/trainers have already agreed to help so that many parts of the US will be covered. The national clinics will be headlined by Robert Dover and Courtney King-Dye.
These three professionals competed in a total of 9 Olympics and 10 World Cups. They have also trained horses and coached riders not only for international competitions, but also National Championships at all levels as well as North American Young Rider Champions.
Photo © Barbara Schnell