USA Restructures Young Horse Program to Focus on Development for Future Olympic, Championship Teams

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Emily Miles riding Sole Mio at the 2019 World Young Horse Championships. Emily competed two horses in Ermelo, Netherlands this year. She rode Wakeup in the world championships in Verden, Germany in 2010. © 2019 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Nov. 27, 2019

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The United States young horse program is being restructured to focus on development of prospects for teams for Olympics and elite championships, US Equestrian announced Wednesday.

Restructuring of the program for four to seven year old horses under the banner of USEF/USDF Dressage Young Horse Emerging Program that will be overseen by U.S. Equestrian Federation young horse coach Christine Traurig.

U.S. national championships, World Breeding Championships for Young Horses, young horse CDIs and qualifying national competitions will all be part of the effort to identify prospects for what were described as strategic support and educational opportunities.

Change of emphasis in the U.S. young horse program comes with major shifts in development of horses for top sport–prices of horses that are viewed as so high as to limit opportunities and the world championships seen by some as often a young horse sales platform.

In recent years, American rider and owner interest in the world championships has declined while remaining strong at the national level. A growing number of top American competitors are buying young horses to develop long term as team prospects.

“The purpose of the program will not only provide new, structured developmental opportunities for young horses and allow for more accessible talent identification,” the federation said, “but also serves as a stepping stone to the USEF Dressage Development program to ensure future success at the elite championship level.

“Horses will be identified and observed based on their aptitude and potential to be future eite team contributors, as well as the capability to produce podium results within three quadrennials of international championship competition.” A quadrennial means four years, the schedule of the Olympics, world championships and Pan American Games.

Christine Traurig, based in Encinitas, California, “will provide valuable insight and competition planning, supported by communication and training guidance for selected horses and combinations. Eligible horse-and-athlete combinations will also have the opportunity to participate in identified educational opportunities specifically tailored to the development of young horses.”

The restructured program, Christine said, “provides a clear understanding as to what we are looking for in the young horses, ages four to seven, as well as providing strategic planning and guidance for these young talents and their riders to develop into top horses with the potential to represent the United States.

“One of the aspects of this Young Horse Emerging Program is to identify talent as early as possible. It is during their younger years that horses are given the foundation that sets them up for their future in the sport. This is why the Young Horse Emerging Program is so important as the part of the base to our pipeline to High Performance.”

The program will prioritize support of educational and training opportunities for participating horses, and include observation and coaching assistance, as well as possible home-base observation and training opportunities.