Villains and Victories Throughout My Fairytale

Ari (P.S. Arianna) and Madeline at Belton

Ari (P.S. Arianna) and Madeline at Belton

Part Three of Madeline's English Eventing Experiences.

There is no such thing as a fairytale in the horse world. Many journeys to the top levels have their magical moments, but reality will quickly kick in. My story with my heart horse, PS Arianna, is pretty darn close to a fantasy though. Even if it may seem all unicorns and rainbows, I can assure you there have been many evils and villains along the way. I’m facing the toughest one now, and I’m learning to grow a thicker skin and ride the waves as they come in.

Ari, Madeline's best friend and groom Grace Simpson, and Madeline

Ari, Madeline's best friend and groom Grace Simpson, and Madeline

I’ve been in the UK, based with Austin O’Connor at Attington Stud since March. Last year, I wouldn’t have ever dreamed I’d be able to be in England, let alone with not one, but two horses. This amazing feat is a massive thanks to the Wilton Fair Grant and the Rebecca Broussard National Developing Rider Grant. In four months, I’ve already learned so much, and that is not by any means because everything has gone smoothly. I’ve made friends and connections that I will never forget, made many mistakes, and have had many days of laughter and success, as well as days of homesickness and stress (shoutout to my wonderful family for their endless support through my many panicked phone calls). 

In my mind, I had pictured nothing less than an amazing season. Completing another one, possibly two 4* events with Ari, and bringing along my second horse, PS On Top of the World (Vinnie) to the Intermediate/2* level. The start of the season was super. I completed two advanced horse trials on Ari in the crazy England spring mud as my preparation for Badminton. I learned the British entry system and what Eventing is like over here. 

Before I knew it, it was Badminton week. The saying goes it takes a village, and it really does on the good days. On the not so good days, it takes even more. And I’m grateful for everyone’s support through a disappointing weekend, and my best friend and groom, Grace Simpson, for coming out to be there for Ari and me. It was still a magical experience, but having a fall at fence 10 jerked me back to reality. Luckily it was only a small tumble, and we were both fine. Plan B quickly came into effect. Since Ari had only run to fence ten before I messed it up, I gave her a week off and then geared up for the CCI 3* at Bramham International.

P.S. Arianna soars over Fence 8 in front of Badminton House.

P.S. Arianna soars over Fence 8 in front of Badminton House.

In the two weeks leading up to it, everything seemed to go awry. To start, Vinnie was rushed in for colic surgery. I had just entered him in his first UK event after he was cleared from a minor injury he had last fall. He was really improving in the program here and felt great, so it was really scary and gutting to watch him go through a complicated colic. To top off my week, Ari began not to feel herself. I chose to withdraw from Bramham, and not risk anything. I still went and helped Austin with his three* horses and cheered on the American riders. It’s a beautiful venue and an amazing competition, but it’s never fun going to an event you were supposed to be competing in. With both my horses out, I found myself questioning everything. Ari is 17 this year, and it’s my responsibility to listen to her and not push her past her love of the sport just for my sake after all she has given me. And Vinnie is making a good, but slow comeback. In these times it’s difficult to stay positive about things, and easy to imagine the worst-case scenarios. And being so far away from home doesn’t make it easier, even with all the wonderful people here who have been so kind and helped me through this situation. I am so grateful to the O’Connors, my British family, and everyone here who graciously got me back and forth from the vet clinic to visit Vinnie, and let me borrow a lorry to transport him—I now know I can successfully drive over here! For now, I’ll be taking a step back to regroup, and will be competing other horses here and still making the most of this trip - the learning never stops, and I’m not about to let this set back define this amazing adventure. 

Austin O'Connor and Lucky Contender wait their turn at the trot-up.

Austin O'Connor and Lucky Contender wait their turn at the trot-up.

I’m not writing this to make people sad for what’s happened, because I know I am still extremely lucky to be living this life, rather I think it’s important to put out there all the challenges we face as horse people. Social media is filled with superficial perfection (which I am a culprit of as well). It is nice to see, but you also rarely see the behind the scene struggles, and the trials and tribulations it takes to get to those flawless days. So post all your success stories and show off the perfect pictures so you can remember them, but on the bad days, don’t forget that everyone has been there too. It’s a tough sport and we all need to cheer each other on, and be grateful we can share our lives with our incredible horses. The bad days only make the good days that much better. And we are SO lucky to be doing what we love, even if on some days that love makes you feel a little manic. After all, we don’t continue this sport day after day just because. It’s a fiery passion that drives us to team up with our equine partners and be ruthless in chasing our dreams together. Whenever I feel myself wavering from that, I think back to when I was five years old and fantasizing about being among the top riders in the world as I played my equestrian computer games or rode on my stick horse, imagining I was riding around Kentucky, Badminton, and Burghley. Well, here I am, and I plan to do my best to keep calm and kick on.  

USEA Online Auction to Support Eventing Safety is LIVE!


The USEA Online Auction is live and accepting your bids. New items will be added this week so keep checking in. Right now you can treat the loved one in your life to a fantastic weekend at the Great Meadow International. Item includes two VIP tickets plus two nights in the Bridal Suite at the historic Red Fox Inn and Tavern in Middleburg. Enjoy yourself while supporting Eventing safety through the Frangible Fence Research Program. Thank you and again, keep checking back later this week for another amazing item. Place your bid HERE.


The VIP Tent at Great Meadow International (Photo - Great Meadow archive)

The VIP Tent at Great Meadow International (Photo - Great Meadow archive)

The organizers of the Great Meadow International have generously offered to support the upcoming USEA Online Auction by donating two VIP tickets and two nights at the Red Fox Inn and Tavern in Middleburg, Virginia for the weekend of July 6-8. For the third year in a row,  Great Meadow will be the only U.S. competition to be included in the FEI’s Nations Cup™ Eventing Series and is one not to be missed.

The Bridal Suite at the Red Fox Inn and Tavern. (Photo courtesy of the Red Fox Inn and Tavern.)

The Bridal Suite at the Red Fox Inn and Tavern. (Photo courtesy of the Red Fox Inn and Tavern.)

Not only will you enjoy top-class competition you will be staying in the Bridal Suite of the historic Red Fox Inn and Tavern. Built in 1728 in the charming town of Middleburg, the Red Fox Inn embodies four-centuries of history and tradition in the heart of Virginia Hunt Country.

Photo courtesy of Great Meadow International

Photo courtesy of Great Meadow International

This year, the excitement will run high as America’s best horse and riders will be vying for top honors. The next time you see them will be at the World Equestrian Games to be held in September this year in Tryon, North Carolina.

Your VIP Blue Ribbon Tickets will include entry to the exclusive VIP tent with one VIP Weekend Car Pass. You and your guest will enjoy an entire weekend of gourmet hospitality with an open bar. Friday evening will offer heavy hors-d'oeuvres with an open bar while enjoying the Meadow Market and arena entertainment. On Saturday morning a VIP brunch will be served while you watch dressage from the VIP Tent, then Saturday evening you can take to the dance floor at the dinner dance party. Your package also includes two seats at the Sunday VIP brunch on cross-country day.  The package carries a value of more than $2,500, and bidding will begin at 6 pm EDT today.  Click here to bid

For more information on Great Meadow International click here

For more information on the Red Fox Inn and Tavern click here

Proceeds from the USEA Online Auction will help support further study into Frangible Fence Research.  The USEA’s Cross-country Safety Sub-committee is in the process of developing, testing and validating a system to test frangible fences to make sure they release under the proper conditions.

The USEA has a lifelong history of working to improve safety in Eventing for our horses and riders as shown by the investment in the studies we have implemented over recent years. The Cross-country Safety Sub-committee has been invaluable in reviewing and advising on all the work done over the past few years. Recently the committee devised a technique that will allow designers and builders to perform a simple test to ensure that when a new frangible fence is constructed on a cross-country course, it releases according to the standards set by the FEI. Once that step is completed, the committee will work with the FEI to sign off on the concept of this system. Funds are urgently needed to purchase the pins, clips, weights and other equipment required for this testing with the end goal being to make the system available to all course builders. Your help in meeting this goal through this online auction are greatly appreciated.

The Broussard Charitable Foundation Approves Increase in the Rebecca Broussard International Developing Grant

Rebecca Broussard. Photo Courtesy of the Broussard Family.

Rebecca Broussard. Photo Courtesy of the Broussard Family.

The USEA Foundation is excited to announce that the Broussard Charitable Foundation has approved an increase in the amount of the Rebecca Broussard International Developing Grant from $30,000 to $50,000. The grant is in memory of one the sport’s greatest benefactors, Rebecca Broussard who passed away in 2010, and is awarded to assist and encourage the development of event riders at the highest level of the sport.  These grants will be awarded to offset some of the travel and training expenses in the pursuit of achieving the qualities of an international rider. This grant is not available to any rider who has already achieved the honor of representing the United States of America on an international team.

The successful recipient will have competed in the CIC3* or CCI3* at the upcoming Event at Rebecca Farm and will have participated in the interview process with the panel responsible for awarding the grant. The Broussard Charitable Foundation also makes Travel Grants available to assist eligible riders in making the journey to The Event at Rebecca Farm. Applications for these grants must be made before June 20. Applications are available here

The USEA Foundation is truly grateful for the generosity shown by the Broussard Charitable Foundation in making these grants available. Rebecca was a much-loved member of the USEA, and in addition to her philanthropy, she served as a board member of the association and as a trustee of the USEA Foundation for many years. The sport is indebted to Rebecca and the USEA Foundation is honored to have the opportunity to keep her memory alive through the administration of these grants.


A Leg Up and A Leg On!

Wilton Fair Grant Recipient, Madeline Backus, shares her English Eventing experiences with us.

Fence #4 at Burnham Market - a sizable table followed by two open corners . (Photo - Amy O’Connor)

Fence #4 at Burnham Market - a sizable table followed by two open corners . (Photo - Amy O’Connor)

It’s been just over a month since I arrived in the UK, and this trip has already been so huge for my development as an equestrian and eventer. It is such a great team here at Attington Stud with Austin and Amy O’Connor, as well as the girls with whom I live and work all making me so welcome.

We work from 7 am to 5 pm with a couple of nice breaks for tea. The hard work involved in running a yard is worth it when you are lucky enough to be at a top facility like this and get to work with and ride very well trained and talented horses. It’s amazing how much you can take away from being on high-performance horses and use the experience to create that feeling with the less experienced horses, or even my horses! I feel inspired to improve every day to become a better and stronger rider.

I’ve been able to take lessons with Austin, as well as Gill Watson who visits the yard often. Gill trained the British Junior and Young Rider Three-Day Event teams for 30 years during which time the teams won NINETY SIX medals!  One of the biggest things I have been working on is keeping my leg on. Ari has trained me that when she gets excited, I react by taking my leg off, even when I know that is wrong. So I have been striving to improve that, encouraging her to accept my leg and really work over her back. She is an amazing horse to have dealt with me and all my learning over all the years we have been together. I will be so lucky if I ever have another one like her—she is very special. 

I was so happy with her at Burnham Market, our first competition in the UK. Like in the US, I had to be sure to register myself, and my horse with British Eventing, and purchase a season ticket for Ari to allow her to be entered in competitions. The system is a little different, but with help and some time spent online, I was able to enter the events I needed to. I was very lucky to run the Advanced at Burnham before the organizers had to cancel the rest of the event due to all the rain and mud. Unfortunately, the bad weather has caused the cancellation of many events already this year. I was unsure of how Ari would handle it because she has never run in mud before, but she exceeded my expectations. After having the first rail in show jumping because we were both still getting accustomed to the mud, she adjusted very quickly and casually sprung even higher over all the fences. I didn’t push for time on the cross-country because the going was quite slick and heavy, but she came off the course well and recovered very nicely. It was a great track to run with some good questions. The event is so well run and overall was a cool experience. 

Mud tracks on the final day at Burnham Market  (Photo - Izzy Riley.)

Mud tracks on the final day at Burnham Market  (Photo - Izzy Riley.)

Although there are many similarities to Eventing at the Advanced level in the US, there are also a lot of differences. First of all, it was so neat that everyone arrives in their lorries, and they all stay on site. I normally camp at all the events, but it was so fun to know that there were dozens of other lorries all parked in a field, and everyone was there to stay for the weekend. Everyone was willing to help one another out if generators went off, or you needed an extra phone charger or wanted to meet for dinner. Even though it was cold and rainy, you could feel that everyone was in it together. Also, it was so muddy by the final day that all the lorries had to be pulled out by big tractors—definitely a new experience for me. 

Another thing I learned was that all helmets must be tagged so that the officials know you have an approved and safe helmet. It was simple enough; I just had to take my helmets to the show office when picking up my number, where they quickly check them and put a little colored band around one of the straps. The number I received is just like what we are used to for cross-country--pieces of paper that you slide into the pinney holder, except you wear this during all phases here. I must admit, it felt a little weird placing it over my shadbelly and show jumping jacket. 

Warming up for dressage. (Photo - Madeline Backus)

Warming up for dressage. (Photo - Madeline Backus)

Dressage was in a grass arena, as well as show jumping. I did my dressage on Thursday afternoon, followed by show jumping with cross-country on Friday. Even though the time between the two phases was close, we didn’t ride show jumping in our cross-country gear like you see a lot of riders do in America. Instead, you wear all the traditional show jumping gear and then change to cross-country gear right afterward.

The studs I used at Burnham Market. I had never used the big pointy ones before. (Photo - Madeline Backus)

The studs I used at Burnham Market. I had never used the big pointy ones before. (Photo - Madeline Backus)

However, you don’t change out studs. I had a pair of massive grass studs in my stud kit that I purchased years ago when I visited England on holiday. They have been sitting in my stud kit getting rusty, but finally, they got to do their job. And let me tell you, I was very happy to have them. Studs were another learning experience. I typically don’t like to go too uneven because I am used to more solid ground, especially in Colorado, but Austin assured me that the ground was so soft that any studs she had in would sink into the turf and that I needed to have a bigger pointed stud on the outside for both front and hind. I’ve included a picture of the studs I used, and they were great. 

Ari did end up losing a shoe to the mud, but luckily it didn’t seem to affect her very much as she powered around and hunted the flags. We have been so fortunate to be at Attington with the all-weather footing in the outdoor arena, on the gallop track, and the cross-country, so even with all the mud this year, I could make sure we were prepared.

I also let Ari get a feel of the natural footing when the weather permitted because I think it’s important to practice on the surface you will perform on, and I didn’t want her getting too used to the beautiful and perfect footing all the time. Another way they prepare their horses here is road work. It seemed a bit odd at first to take horses out and walk and trot on the local roads and through little villages, but I quickly got used to it. I don’t get off the property much, so I love hacking through the local villages and down lanes between fields of sheep and cute little houses and cottages. 

Hacking on the country lanes. (Photo - Madeline Backus)

Hacking on the country lanes. (Photo - Madeline Backus)

It really is beautiful here, and sometimes I feel the need to pinch myself to make sure I am not just imagining it all. This is truly a leg up in my career, and I am keeping my leg on and my eyes set on my goals, and have been loving every minute (even in the rain - I really can’t complain). I am looking forward to competing Advanced at Belton Park this weekend, and following that, Ari and I will be taking on our second CCI4* at Badminton! I am forever grateful to the Lenaburgs and the Broussards, without whom this would have never been a possibility and to Team Attington for letting me be here with two horses. And thank you too to all the friends, family, and supporters who have helped get me get settled and ready to take on this opportunity of a lifetime. Stay tuned for more, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions. (email:

Vinnie and Ari enjoying the green green grass of England. (Photo - Madeline Backus)

Vinnie and Ari enjoying the green green grass of England. (Photo - Madeline Backus)

Wilton Fair Grant Winner Madeline Backus Arrives in the UK

Madeline and P.S. Arianna small.jpg

Madeline Backus, the inaugural recipient of the Wilton Fair Grant, has arrived in England and will spend the 2018 season working with Irish international rider Austin O’Connor at the Attington Stud in Thame, Oxfordshire.   Madeline traveled with her horses, P.S. Arianna and P.S. On Top of the World, and all arrived safely. Madeline will be sharing her experiences with us over the coming months and has sent us her first report from across the pond.

From Madeline - 
This trip is truly a huge step in my development as an equestrian athlete, and I am beyond grateful for all the people involved in making this journey possible. Thanks to them I have been at the beautiful Attington Stud for just over a week now with my two horses, P.S. Arianna (Ari) and P.S. On Top of the World (Vinnie) and we are loving it! We arrived last Friday afternoon (March 2) , having left the US Tuesday night. 

Air flight.jpg

I took the tests required to fly with the horses, and it was such a cool experience. We stayed at a barn in Miami most of Tuesday afternoon and loaded the horses onto a trailer at about 11 pm. They were taken to the airport with us following right behind. At the loading dock, the horses got on their pallets and then were loaded onto the plane at about 1 am. Eight other horses traveled with us, and five other people including the pilots. It was very helpful to be able to check on the horses during the flight.

We arrived in Amsterdam in the evening and waited for the vets to inspect all the horses before they were released. My two went to the Horse Hotel of Holland for the night, where I was able to stay in an apartment right outside the barns. It was a drastic change of weather, coming from sunny Florida to temperatures below freezing, so the horses were happy to load onto a big warm lorry the next morning and start the drive to the UK. We drove through Belgium and to Calais, France, where we waited to catch a ferry. By the time we got to the ferry to cross the English Channel, it was too windy for horses to be on them, so we took the train instead and spent the night in Hythe, England. The next morning it was snowing and the roads were icy, so we had to delay leaving for Gloucestershire until things improved. We then set out for Austin O’Connor’s yard, arriving around 1 pm. The horses traveled really well and settled into their new barn extremely well. The team here at Attington is wonderful with such great people and lots of opportunities to learn and train.

Austin O'Connor's yard in England.jpg

I still feel as though I am dreaming, and can’t believe this is actually happening. The Wilton Fair Grant along with the Rebecca Broussard Grant has given me this once in a lifetime chance of being immersed in a program here in the UK. I get to take care of, ride, and watch the horses here and learn how this system works. I have already gained a lot of knowledge just in the first week, along with all the different terminology used over here: grackle instead of figure-eight noseband, headcollars instead of halters, rugs instead of blankets, and many more! It’s great fun, and I can’t wait to start competing!

I will be competing Ari in the Advanced division at Burnham Market at the end of March and at Belton Park mid-April as our prep runs before Badminton. Vinnie will be starting to compete in June.

I am so extremely grateful for this opportunity to go overseas and further my education as well as compete at some of the top international Events in the world, and I will be sharing my journey with you throughout the season.


WILTON FAIR GRANT – Administered by USEA Foundation, the Wilton Fair Grant has been made possible through the generosity of David and Cheryl Lenaburg.

REBECCA BROUSSARD NATIONAL DEVELOPING RIDER’S GRANT – This grant has been in place since 2011 through the kindness of the family of the late Rebecca Broussard. 


About AUSTIN O’CONNOR – Austin runs his teaching and training business at Frank and Kate Jarvey’s Attington Stud, a beautiful breeding and training facility in Gloucestershire, England. Austin is from County Cork and with his family immersed in every aspect of the horse world it was a given that he would make horses his future. Eventing quickly became a passion, and he represented Ireland as a Junior and Young Rider. In 1995, he was on the gold medal team at the European Young Riders’ Championships in Germany. He moved to England in 1994 to further his career and went on to represent Ireland on the Senior Team seven times. He and Horseware Fabio competed at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and in 2008 he rode Hobby du Mee in Beijing. He was also selected three times for the World Equestrian Games, but injuries kept him from being able to participate. Americans will know him from his two visits to Lexington to compete in the CCI4* in 2013 and 2015.

About ATTINGTON STUD is owned by Frank and Kate Jarvey. Kate arrived in the UK from the United States in 1976 and competed there in eventing and showing and regularly hunts. Husband Frank breeds and trains National Hunt horses. The facilities at Attington are exceptional and offer many opportunities to learn and experience a wide array of equestrian disciplines.

About MADELINE BACKUS has been riding since she was just 18 months old under the careful eye of her mother, Laura Backus, ICP level III trainer and instructor at Pendragon Stud Equestrian Center in Larkspur, Colorado. She has ridden all types of horses and has produced many horses including her current mount, P.S. Arianna. Madeline and Ari grew up together and worked their way up the levels. Madeline took the ride on Ari when she was 10 and Ari was 5. The two continued to learn together, striving to achieve their goals. Their first CCI4* was at Kentucky in 2017 where they finished in the top 20. Madeline graduated high school with honors in 2014 and passed her A Pony Club rating in 2015. She studied under Missy and Jessica Ransehousen for two years and now travels around the country (and the world!) to train and compete. She has made the USEF Eventing 25 Emerging Athlete list for the last three years and enjoys continuing her education in every way.

Save the Date For the 2018 USEA Educational Symposium in Ocala

Authored by Kate Lokey

Ocala Symposium.jpg

The Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) and the USEA Future Event Horse (FEH)and Young Event Horse (YEH) Programs are teaming up once again to bring USEA members the ultimate educational opportunity this winter in Ocala, Florida. Taking place February 19-22, 2018, there will be different educational activities each day. The Instructors' Certification Program and the Young Event Horse Program primarily address the ridden development of young event horses along with building a proper judging system and the Future Event Horse Program addresses the breeding, conformation, and in-hand development of the young event horses along with a judges' workshop as well.

The ICP Symposium will take place Monday, February 19 and Tuesday, February 20 at Longwood Farm South. These two days will include principles and practices of under-saddle flat and jumping training for 4-/5-year-olds and 6-/7-year-olds, led by two presenters who are current trainers, competitors, and instructors: Leslie Law, an Olympic Gold Medalist for Great Britain now living in Florida, and Kai-Steffen Meier, a top German rider and Bundeschampionat Champion now living in Belgium.

The Training and Education of the Young Eventing Horse Symposium will take place Wednesday, February 21 and Thursday, February 22. Both dates will host morning classroom sessions at the Clubhouse at the Ocala Jockey Club, with live horse sessions and riding demonstrations taking place both afternoons at nearby farms. Wednesday, February 21 will primarily be focused on the Young Event Horse (YEH) program (4- and 5-year-olds), featuring the same legendary clinicians as the ICP Symposium, Leslie Law and Kai-Steffen Meier. Thursday, February 22 will primarily be focused on the Future Event Horse (FEH) program for yearlings through 4-year-olds, and will be led by world-renowned Irish horseman, Chris Ryan. Ryan was one of the judges of the 2017 Future Event Horse Championships on both coasts and will offer special insight to the program from a judge's perspective as well as from a competitor's perspective.

For more information on the ICP Symposium taking place Monday and Tuesday, February 19-20, 2018, contact Nancy Knight at or (703) 669-9997. To register for the ICP Symposiumclick here.

Contact Kate Lokey for more information about the FEH and YEH symposium at or (703) 779-9897. To register for the FEH/YEH Symposiumclick here.

A hotel room block has been set up for Symposium attendees at the Courtyard by Marriott Ocala. Please email for more information.

The USEA would like to thank FEH and YEH Sponsors whose support makes these programs possible: Retired Racehorse ProjectStandlee HayMerck Animal HealthSmartPak, and Professional’s Choice.

Help Us Meet Our $25,000 Challenge – Only $10,000 Left To Go!

#Giving Tuesday is a Global Day of Giving and is recognized as the day when the world community turns its mind to donating to the charity closest to their hearts and minds.

By supporting the USEA Foundation Roger Haller Fund for the Education of Eventing Officials  you can help us “Double Our Impact” and meet the challenge set this year by our wonderful but anonymous donor who has set Excellence in Eventing Education as a top priority. We need to raise just $10,000 more to reach our goal.

Thanks to everyone who supported this fund in 2016, the USEA Foundation was able to award two grants to two Eventing Officials who made the very best use of every grant dollar to reach their goals. Every rider in the sport will be the beneficiary of their expertise in years to come and for that, we thank you our donors and our friends.

At the USEA Annual Convention in December, two additional grants will be awarded to course designers to enable them to increase their knowledge and proficiency and ensure that the U.S. has the highest caliber of designers well into the future. Again, this was all made possible by you, our donors.

So, on the day when the world turns its thoughts to giving please consider making a donation in support of the Roger Haller Fund for the Education of Eventing Officials and telling our anonymous challenger that you join with them in your commitment to Excellence in Eventing Education.

Visit and make a secure tax-deductible donation now!

A deep and sincere thank you to all.

Criteria Developed for the Wilton Fair Grant

Wilton Fair.jpg

The Wilton Fair Grant Committee (members:  Brian Sabo, chair; Becky Holder; David Lenaburg; Kevin Baumgardner; David O’Connor) has now determined the criteria and the process to be used when selecting the recipients for the Wilton Fair Grant(s). The Committee intends to be as flexible as possible to ensure the very best candidate(s) are selected for this remarkable grant, and that no one is overlooked. It is essential that the Committee fulfill the wishes of the donors,  Mr. David Lenaburg and his wife Cheryl who want the grant(s) to ensure the successful development of the USA's top young talent preparing them to take their places on future international teams.

Mr. Lenaburg supported a young David O'Connor and was instrumental in helping him reach his goal of representing the U.S. on the international Eventing scene, and look how that turned out! David won numerous team medals and an Olympic Individual Gold Medal at the Sydney Olympics. Now Mr. and Mrs. Lenaburg want to help a new generation of riders reach the height of their potential.

The Committee has established the following criteria for the Wilton Fair Grants:

  • Eligible riders will have competed at the CCI2* level.
  • The USEF Emerging Athletes Working Group will recommend a list of riders who have been talent-spotted during the previous two years. The Committee will then make the final grant decisions.  The Committee will give significant weight to, but shall not be limited to consideration of, the recommendations made by the Emerging Athletes Working Group.
  •  A grant will be awarded to riders 29-and-under who have displayed exceptional talent, ability and dedication at the CCI2* level and above.
  •  Riders who have previously participated at the North American Junior/Young Riders' Championships and/or who have been named to the USEF Emerging Athletes Eventing 25 list in prior years will be looked upon favorably. If a rider in the 25-29 age range has not participated in either of these two programs but has been identified as a worthy candidate, then the Committee may include that rider's name for consideration.
  • A second grant may also be awarded to a Young Rider who displayed exceptional talent, ability and dedication at the current year's North American Young Riders CICOY2*.
  • Once the list of eligible riders has been reviewed, the Committee will contact the candidates to arrange interviews. Riders will be expected to outline their short-term and long-term goals, their plans for achieving those goals, and how they believe the grant would help in that endeavor.

It should be noted that participation in the North American Junior and Young Riders Championships will have an increasingly strong influence on the Wilton Fair Grant Program going forward. Riders who have represented their Areas at the championships will gain the attention of the Committee because of the experience they have gained riding on a championship team and the commitment they have made to the Young Riders Program. For our Juniors and Young Riders who have serious ambitions to ride on an international team in the future, it would be wise to make the NAJYRC an essential part of your planning. 

2017 USEA Course Designer's Educational Grant

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2017 Grant for Course Designers


Click HERE to Apply


The USEA has established a Course Designers’ Educational Grant/Mentoring program to fund the education and development of U.S. course designers.  The program is open to those who have competed at the CCI2* level in recent years and who have completed the Course Design Module at a USEA Training Program for Eventing Officials Seminar. Funds of up to $6,000 will be awarded in 2017.

Recipients will be trained by internationally acclaimed three- and four-star course designers.  Mike Etherington-Smith, Derek di Grazia, Mark Phillips and Ian Stark have all agreed to participate as mentors.

Requirements For Obtaining a USEF Course Designers’ License

•  Applicants must be current members of the USEA and the USEF.

•  Applicants must be enrolled in the USEA’s Training Program for Eventing Officials and comply with all USEF registration requirements for Licensed Officials.

•  The USEF may update its requirements for licensing from time-to-time so please visit the USEF Licensed Officials web page for the latest information. HERE

USEA Course Designers’ Grant Requirements

•  Only USEA members with a firm commitment to a career in cross-country course design need apply.

•  Applicants must have already completed the Course Design Module of the USEA Training Program for Eventing Officials.

•  The successful candidate will follow a course of study that will include up to four days spent with the Mentor. As all the Mentor course designers are designing here in the U.S. it may be possible to arrange mid-week appointments so as not to conflict with a rider’s competition schedule.

•  During this time the candidate will focus on course design and construction to include pre-event construction and real-time competition instruction.

•  Applicants must have successfully competed, at the CCI2* level and above.

•  Applicant is required to design his or her own course of study. This is your opportunity to design your own course curriculum so be as creative and detailed as you wish. For instance, what would you like to be included in this special one-on-one course of education and training?  How many days would you like to spend with your mentor?  Of those days how many would be during the design phase, the setup phase and at the actual event for which the course is being designed?  How many different    courses and at what level would you like to walk together?  Would you like to be able to spend time with a course builder to    better understand course construction?  In fact, anything you feel you should know to give you the best start in this new career.”

•  An independent panel (The Panel) will review all applications and select the recipients.

•  If possible, candidate should spend some time with more than one course designer.

•  The Mentor and/or the USEF Course Advisor with whom they have trained will recommend the candidate for licensing.

•  Successful candidates will be required to give back to the sport by designing two lower level courses in their locale for    expenses only.

 What is the Duration of the Grant?

If the successful candidate meets all the requirements leading to licensing and exhibits the necessary commitment to become a course designer the Grant may be awarded for a second year. 

•  In Year 1, all education will take place in the U.S.

•  Year 2 may include one overseas study trip.

What Expenses Will the Primary Grant for New Designers Cover?

•  The cost of transport to work with the Mentor will be reimbursed upon submission of receipts.

•  The cost of housing while training with the Mentor will be reimbursed upon submission of receipts.

•  Up to four days of fees for the Mentor Course Designer.

Benefits for the Successful Candidates

•  Exclusive access to the top course designers in the world.

•  Up to four days of one-on-one mentoring from the chosen course designer.

•  Ongoing support throughout the course of study by email or phone to answer questions.

•  The opportunity to enjoy a second career as a course designer.

•  The satisfaction that will come from being an active contributor to the future success of the sport.

Click HERE to Apply