After impressing the clinicians and judges throughout the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session, presented by Dover Saddlery , Gracie Marlowe finished the event wearing the individual and team gold medals and a big smile on her face.
On Sunday, Marlowe contributed to the winning Nations Cup effort for Team Rood & Riddle aboard the golden palomino Pavel, owned by Erika Sergent, and then she performed a beautiful work-off ride aboard a horse named Rolling Stone to clinch the title.
2016 USHJA Emerging Athletes Program Champion Gracie Marlowe aboard Pavel. Photo credit: Tricia Booker/USHJA Archives
" Her position is classic, her base is very strong, and she has soft and light hands," said lead clinician and EAP Committee Vice Chair Peter Wylde of Marlowe's riding talents. "She also has a great working attitude and outlook. She was up at the top of our list the entire weekend and the whole time through, and she impressed us even more today in the competition."
The Nations Cup culminated the National Training Session, held November 10-13 at the George M. Humphrey Equestrian Center at Lake Erie College. The event included four days of riding instruction, stable management evaluation, a practicum, written test, the Nations Cup and work-off, as well as a variety of educational opportunities.
EAP Committee Member and Stable Manager Anne Thornbury added, " Gracie is very proficient in the barn. I taught her at the EAP Regional Clinic in California at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center as well. She's a self-starter and very detail oriented; she leaves nothing to chance."
Following the Nations Cup, the clinicians and judges asked Marlowe and Caroline Dance to return to the ring aboard new horses for a work-off over a shortened course. Each was switched to a new horse from the pool of mounts, so the EAP clinicians could see them display a different skillset. Dance was given Marlowe's horse Pavel, while Marlowe received Rolling Stone, the mount ridden by her teammate Lara Shelokov. Marlowe clinched the title with her smooth and accurate performance.
Despite the pressure of riding on a team and contesting the individual work-off, Marlowe, 20, of Lake Balboa, California, added that she had more on her mind than the stress of winning or losing as she went into the arena.
"When you're just going on course, you sometimes don't realize what you're doing as much as having fun, and I think that those moments when you're on course, you forget kind of about everything," she reflected. "You just kind of ride and have fun. I think on both of those horses, I did experience that feeling. 'Oh, am I done yet? Oh that was my last fence? Oh bummer.'"
For her accomplishment, Marlowe earned a coveted place at the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session in Wellington, Florida, this winter January 3-7, 2017. She also received a $3,000 training grant for future instruction, a $1,500 gift certificate from Dover Saddlery and a Charles Owen helmet. Each of the 16 riders receivedProfessional's Choice boots, a $100 gift certificate from Dover Saddlery, as well other products and gifts from USHJA sponsors.
"Winning this event means the world to me because I've never had the opportunity to compete on the East Coast and travel the East Coast for horses-or to travel that much to show," said Marlowe. "And this program just shows that all of your hard work and dedication that you have throughout your life, that you put into the horse industry, can pay off. I'm so grateful that I've found out about it because it's changed my life already-regardless of moving forward, the fact that I've met these people and have ridden under these people."
The clinicians and EAP Committee members present-Wylde, Thornbury, Mary Babick, Sally Ike and Kip Rosenthal-also chose Dance, 17, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, to receive the second spot in the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session. Dance, like Marlowe, will also receive a helmet from USHJA sponsor Charles Owen for her achievements.
The 21 EAP finalists, 16 riders and five stable managers, traveled to Lake Erie College George M. Humphrey Equestrian Center in Painesville, Ohio, where the staff and students also concurrently hosted the USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals, presented by The Plaid Horse .
" The 2016 EAP National Training Session was the best finals ever," said EAP Committee Chair Sally Ike. "The level of riding in all of the finalists has gone up and up and up. We had a hard time deciding what we were going to do and who would win. And, I'm so thankful to Lake Erie College for the level of horses they provided and for allowing us to use their wonderful facility. I want to especially thank Mary Pardee, director of riding and assistant professor of equine studies, for rounding up all of these lovely horses."
The EAP riders drew for their horses from a pool of mounts-generously donated by Lake Erie College and local owners-and then spent four days getting to know them through flatwork and over fences training with Wylde before contesting the Nations Cup. They also had stable management lessons with Thornbury, received instruction from equine physiotherapist Janus Marquis, had sport psychology training with Kip Rosenthal and participated in an equine anatomy seminar with Lake Erie College Adjunct Professor of Equine Studies Laura Stockhaus.
The 16 riders were divided into four teams (named after the USHJA official sponsors) to work together during the event and compete as a team in the Nations Cup. The teams were supported by a head stable manager and individual team stable managers during the competition.
2016 USHJA EAP National Training Session competitors recognized for their finishes in the final day's Nations Cup competition. Photo credit: Tricia Booker/USHJA Archives
Team Rood & Riddle (Kendra Duggleby/Donell, Lara Shelokov/Rolling Stone, Cary Hundley/Pogo Avantos and Gracie Marlowe/Pavel) completed the two-round competition with 4 faults to clinch the gold medal.
Team Professional's Choice (Bridie Hamilton/Ecco Domani, Paige Humphrey/Official Plan, Christina Meeks/Oceane Delleville and Caroline Dance/Highland Pride) earned the silver medal with 14 faults.
Two teams finished with 16-fault scores to tie for the bronze medal. They included Team Standlee Premium Western Forage (Cecily Hayes/Ciano, Amanda Lamore/Reiki, Drew Arnold/Oz and Olivia Woodson/Stilt Walker) and Team Charles Owen, Inc. (Grace Grove/Ocean View, Gage Curry/Colombet, Kit Cunningham/Lhebanon and Ashley Scott Armstrong/Peak Privilege).
Five EAP regional competitors were invited to take part in the EAP National Training Session as Stable Managers, including Hannah Bentz, Matthew Drohan, Makayla Harp, Johanna Jessen and Elisabeth Miller. Hannah Bentz was selected as the Head Stable Manager.
Other award winners included:
- Sportsmanship - Johanna Jessen (voted on by her peers)
- Outstanding Stable Manager - Hannah Bentz
- Best Turned-Out Horse - Donell (stable name Telly), owned by Lake Erie College and ridden by Kendra Duggleby
- Outstanding Horse - Rolling Stone (stable name Stoney), owned by Cari Gleeson of Stepping Stone Farm in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and ridden by Lara Shelokov (Stoney is offered for sale or lease.)
- Stable Managers selected to attend the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session included: Hannah Bentz and Matt Drohan
Lake Erie College offered scholarships of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 to the Emerging Athletes Program winner, outstanding stable manager and sportsmanship award winner, respectively.
Additionally, Peter Wylde generously donated his clinician fee to the USHJA Foundation.
Complete coverage of the EAP National Training Session will be published in the January 2017 issue of USHJA In Stride . Please visit www.ushja.org/EAP for more information about the Emerging Athletes Program.
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