$50,000 In Grants for US Developing Horse/Rider Combos

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LEXINGTON, Kentucky, June 3–Up to $50,000 in grants of $5,000 each will be awarded to 10 U.S. developing horse/rider combinations in a new program disclosed Wednesday by the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

Applications for the grants to combinations that “should have the potential to represent the United States in international competitions” must be submitted to the USEF by June 30.

“Based on the input we received from High Performance athletes at various athlete meetings that were held during the past six months, members of the committee have voted to potentially award up to 10 grants of $5,000 each to qualified applicants,” said Gil Merrick, Assistant Executive Director of USEF Sport Programs.

“This funding is possible in 2009 since it is a year where we do not incur the considerable expenses related to sending a team to the Pan American, World Equestrian or Olympic Games.”

The program was welcomed by riders.

Tara Stegen of Wellington, Florida, who plans to apply for a grant for her and New Tango, the horse on which she is ranked 10th in the National Grand Prix standings, said if awarded a grant she will return to Europe for more training and competitions.

Tara Stegen and New Tango at the Exquis World Dressage Masters Palm Beach. © 2009 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Tara Stegen and New Tango at the Exquis World Dressage Masters Palm Beach. © 2009 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

“I think it’s great, the whole idea. For those of us in a group, say, ranked fifth to 12th behind the top four it is really important to get financial help because we need the training every bit as much as the top riders,” she said.

Susan Dutta also of Wellington who is planning to go to Europe for several months with three horses competing or training the Grand Prix–Golden Choice, Currency DC and Manette–described it as “a great program” that she hopes will be expanded in future years.

“We have to support developing horses and riders because these are the future super stars and this is a great start,” she said.

“We now have to somehow make the effort to fund dressage developing tours just like is done in show jumping.”

An advantage of this new dressage program, she said, is that the grants can be sought to train in the U.S. or internationally. That opens up the possibility of developing horse/rider combinations using the money to work more intenseively with top American trainers instead of the money going to a small number of riders for a tour.

Lisa Hyslop of Loxahatchee, Florida, whose horse, Rolling Stone, won the FEI Intermediaire 1 Musical Freestyle at the Raleigh CDI-W in North Carolina on Sunday, said she will apply for a grant to train with her U.S.-based trainer.

“This is a legitimate effort to put money in the hands of riders who cannot afford the cost of more intensive training for themselves at the expense of being away from their business,” she said.