USA’s Emerging Dressage Athlete Program Fund Raising Launched

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Lendon Gray involved with children where she has focused her activities in recent years. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Lendon Gray involved with children where she has focused her activities in recent years. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

A campaign has been launched by the Dressage Foundation led by Lendon Gray to raise $300,000 a year to create a junior/young rider development program that could shape the future of American dressage.

The Emerging Dressage Athlete Program as it has been named is one of several efforts by the Dressage Foundation based in Lincoln, Nebraska where it was founded 20 years ago to develop dressage through scholarships, seminars, symposiums and other activities.

The newest endeavor by the Dressage Foundation that Lendon, a two-time Olympic team member who in recent years has focused on her Lendon Dressage Youth Festival, is modeled after the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association’s Emerging Athlete Program. Although formed only six years ago, the USHJA has implemented innovative development and educational programs that are transforming the sport.

The aim, she said, is not only to help those who have good horses advance but to find riders who have skills and abilities but are not well known, do not have the financial means to pursue their goals or live in an area of the country where training and help may not be easily available.

“We want to provide instruction from top riders, offer stable and horse management,” she said.

“We hear so often from parents, ‘We think she/he is good but we don’t really know.’

“We want to help those kids who have the dedication and are willing to make the effort no matter where they are.

“We have the blueprint of how to move forward.

“Now we need the money to bring it to life.

“This could make a huge difference to dressage today and for the future.”

The skills the program wants to help develop are not just training to ride in competitions, but the entire gamut of horsemanship from mucking out stalls to stable management to understanding how to take care of horses and develop their fitness.

Six-time Olympian Robert Dover is a strong supporter of the program and of Lendon’s efforts to help young people in dressage.

“Her fantastic Youth Festival has become one of the most wonderful and inspirational annual events I have ever participated in,” Dover said.

He said he had sat down with Lendon at the World Cup in Las Vegas in April to kick around ideas and brought up the USHJA’s Emerging Athlete Program as the perfect mode for dressage.

Lendon said that the USHJA’s first-year program was budgeted at $300,000 and “we want to do something on the same scale.”

To show your support for the program, send checks or money orders to:

The Dressage Foundation
Wells Fargo Center, Suite 732
1248 O Street
Lincoln. NE 68508

Make checks payable to The Dressage Foundation and note the funds are for the Emerging Dressage Star Program.