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USHJA Gold Star Clinic East Wraps Up with Team Competition and Guest Chefs d'Equipe

The USHJA Gold Star East Clinic featured a full schedule of education in the saddle and in the classroom and ended with a team competition.

West Palm Beach, FL – December 30, 2018 - The USHJA Gold Star Clinic wrapped up an educational week with numerous presentations by experts in the equestrian sport combined with riding sessions taught by distinguished grand prix rider/trainer, Richard Spooner of Glendale, California. Twenty riders qualified for the Gold Star East Clinic through the USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider program and the Zone Jumper Team Championships, held at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, December 27-30, 2018.
USHJA Gold Star Clinics are the 1.10m – 1.35m educational portion of the U.S. Show Jumping Athlete Pathway. The USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Program (EJR) identifies jumper riders who have the skill and desire to excel in the sport, while educating these riders to become well-rounded horsemen on their path to excellence. The EJR would like to thank Booth Show Jumpers of Magnolia, Texas, for their contribution to the program.
“Booth Show Jumpers is proud to support the Emerging Jumper Rider Gold Star Clinics. This program provides a pathway to the upper levels of our sport for a broad range of competitors. Thank you USHJA for planning for the future,” commented a Booth Show Jumpers representative.

Chef d'Equipe Hardin Towell's team rode to the top spot in the team competition with Cathleen Driscoll, Cameron Tague and Sydney Stephenson.

Sunday featured a Gold Star Team Competition with seven teams at heights of 1.10m, 1.20m and 1.30m vying for the top honors. Guest Chefs d’Equipe included Lillie Keenan, Hardin Towell and Anne Kursinski, USEF Chef d’Equipe of Development, with DiAnn Langer, USEF Youth Chef d'Equipe/USHJA Show Jumping Technical Advisor, also taking on a team. Riders walked the course with their team leaders, schooled and went to the ring with the experts. Clinician Spooner provided feedback after each round for the riders, assessing their progress during the clinic. Erin Keating, USHJA Director of Sport and USEF R judge, served as the official and scorekeeper for the event.

Lillie Keenan's team finished in second with Cameron Tague, Heidi Crappell and Greer Campbell.

Team 2, with Keenan at the helm, took the lead after round one. The teams rallied back and forth until the end, when Towell’s team pulled ahead for the win. Riders Sydney Stephenson, Cameron Tague and Cathleen Driscoll took home the blues, edging out Keenan’s team by three faults. Greer Campbell, Heidi Crappell and pinch hitter Cameron Tague took the red ribbons back to their hometowns and Keenan’s second team, Addison Reed, Jennie Edwards and Darian Smith finished in third. 

Winning team members practiced their media skills in a press conference with veteran Hardin Towell.

The winning team participated in a press conference to test the interviewing skills they learned during the week from Brenda Mueller/Marketing4Equestrians
The Ridge furnished the jumps, with a special World Equestrian Games star jump loaned by Rush Weeden/Brookwood Farm, Antioch, Illinois and Diane Carney/Telluride of Antioch and West Palm Beach. Rounds were video taped by a local video team, courtesy of an anonymous donor and will be provided to each rider.
The full educational schedule begins upon arrival of the riders, where they meet esteemed barn manager, Colleen Reed of Batavia, Ohio, to begin their week of caring for their own horses. 

Barn manager Colleen Reed worked with riders in the barn all week.

“I try to get them to learn every inch of their horse, in the stall, out of the stall and on their back,” said Reed. “I like to spend time on the care of their horse as an athlete, not as a pet or a machine,” said Reed. 
After the kick off meeting with Langer, the clinic director, riders worked their horses at will as Spooner observed. Throughout the day, riders worked with Mueller/Marketing4Equestrians on media exercises, which included branding, talking to sponsors and interview skills. Riders enjoyed seeing each other’s videos the following day, especially with the participation from their leaders. 
“I follow many of the riders that participate in the education and encourage an open line of communication at any time to assess how they are doing with their sponsors, social media or interviews,” commented Mueller. “I often talk to them years after the clinics and riders always say the media training was valuable and they remember the skills each time they get interviewed. It makes it better for our sport to have educated riders at all levels putting accurate information out to the public.” 

Jean Yves Tola presented The Importance of Pedigree.

The clinic emphasized the importance of young horses in our sport and the ability to bring them up through the ranks. Jean Yves Tola, founder of the Young Horse Show Series and Executive Director of Studbook Selle Francais North America, and young horse judge, Jos Sevriens gave a presentation on The Importance of Pedigree, as well as conformation and type. Discussion ensued as to the inability to buy competitive horses for reasonable prices for US Team riders as well as all show jumping riders to compete. Breeding and raising talented horses gives riders an option. 

Five time Olympian Anne Kursinski demonstrated flatwork for the young horse.

Staying on the young horse theme, Olympic rider Anne Kursinski demonstrated proper flatwork for the younger horse versus the well-developed older horse. Day Dream Farm and Vinessa Blann of Loxahatchee, Florida, generously loaned Claas C Obolensky, owned by Jane Musselman, to the clinic as Kursinski’s mount.
The day wrapped up with a discussion on The Importance of Training vs Competing in your Schedule, Compete with a Purpose: Establishing Goals for Horse and Rider, with Spooner and Langer at the microphone.

USEF Team Veterinarian, Dr. Geoff Vernon,  presented Sport Horse Lameness, How Conformation and Competition Schedule Impacts Soundness.

Day 2 started bright and early at 7:15 am with flatwork sessions with Spooner. The afternoon was filled with an amazing amount of information from USEF Team Veterinarian, Dr. Geoff Vernon, who presented Sport Horse Lameness, How Conformation and Competition Schedule Impacts SoundnessWorld recognized Equine Diagnostic Imaging expert Natasha Werpy, DVM, DACVR, discussed imaging options and what to look for in the images. Great discussion ensued about FEI drugs and medications as part of you training schedule, when and how, to keep the performance horse in top condition.

Dr. Vernon shows a rider how to perform a flexion test.

The groups moved with Dr. Vernon into the indoor arena for a workshop in motion: The Pre-Purchase ExamRiders participated in the flexion tests while Dr. Vernon gave pointers on what to look for during the pre-purchase exam.

Richard Spooner worked with riders daily to build their skills in the saddle.

Then it was back to the ring to set for the next day of gymnastics. Spooner explained to riders how to set them and what gymnastics can do for the horse. 
The clinic finished up back in the classroom with The Show Jumping Athlete Pathway “How Little I know About the Sport I Play”presented by Langer and Kursinski. 

Riders learned how to pull a shoe from farrier Billy Liggett.

Saturday morning started with Spooner and the three riding groups completing the gymnastic exercises. Riders then moved to the barn for a fun and educational farrier presentation, No Foot No Horse, by expert high performance farrier and horseman Billy Liggett of Woodstock, Illinois. The hands on education allowed riders to feel the traction of different types of shoes in different footing and learn how the nail operates in the horse’s hoof wall. Riders then learned how to pull a shoe correctly and several had the opportunity to act as farrier and pull a shoe themselves. Grand prix horse Cassanova 30, was loaned to the clinic for the demonstration courtesy of Virginia Bartholomay. Liggett is Cassanova 30’s regular farrier.

Steve Stephens designed the course for the Team Competition and discussed his concept with the riders.

Riders then headed back to the ring for a discussion with world-class course designer Steve Stephenson on Dissecting the Course. Participants learned how colors of the jumps affect the ride as well as distance between the jumps as they discussed Sunday’s Team Competition course. 

Panelists Dr. Vernon, Richard Spooner, Lillie Keenan, Hardin Towell and Anne Kursinski addressed questions from the riders.

Saturday night featured an off campus dinner and a panel discussion with five time Olympic rider Anne KusinskiDr. Vernon, Richard Spooner, Lillie Keenan, and Hardin Towell. The question and answer session allowed clinic participants to ask a variety of questions and get answers from the expert panelists. Topics included working students, what it’s like to be a professional and tips on training and competing.
This is the first of three Gold Star Clinics being offered this year. The USHJA Gold Star Clinic-West Coast will be held at HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, Calif., and is scheduled for January 16-20, 2019, and the USHJA Gold Star Clinic-Central will be held at the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, Ohio, April 16-20, 2019.


USHJA extends special thanks to the following individuals and organizations helping make these clinics possible: Linda Wirtz and Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, Desert Horse Park, World Equestrian Center, The Ridge, Mike Schultz, Tom Struzzieri and Booth Show Jumpers. This program was developed and is led by the dedicated volunteers of the USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Task Force: Larry Langer, chair, Jeff Campf, Diane Carney, Matt Cyphert, David Distler, Kim Land, DiAnn Langer, Marnye Langer, Charlotte Skinner-Robson and Sandra Ruiz. 
Volunteer, Diane Carney, coordinates the clinics.
Click here for a complete list of riders in the Gold Star East.

For more information on the program visit