TDF's Young Rider International Dream Program
In 2000, Michael Poulin, Olympian and National Board Member of The Dressage Foundation proposed a new program idea to take four top young American dressage riders to Europe for a two-week introduction to European dressage trainers, riders, facilities, and events. The Dressage Foundation administers and funds this program.
The concept of the program is to allow Young Riders the opportunity to enhance their understanding of dressage theory through this European tour. The Young Riders observe, discuss and absorb the European training system. They watch their peers compete in shows and championships, and they visit top European trainers and riders. The program is open to USDF Young Riders, 16-21 years of age, and 22 year-old graduates of the Advanced Young Rider Program, who are riding at Fourth Level or above. Applicants must be U.S. Citizens. A National Selection Committee comprised of leading dressage persons selects the riders from applicants who have filled out an extensive application form, written an essay, and have secured written recommendations - both personal and professional. Selection is based on merit, riding proficiency, a history of volunteering in the dressage community, and commitment to training in the sport of dressage.
This program is not for every young rider. Those selected must be at a highly advanced level of experience and commitment with their riding. For those who are, this introductory excursion into European dressage means everything, and the riders come home more seriously committed than ever, knowing what they now need to work on to advance and excel in the sport.
The Young Rider International Dream Program will not be held in 2017, and TDF will continue fundraising efforts to ensure that the program will be held again in 2018.
TDF sends two adult chaperones on the trip to accompany the Young Riders. The chaperones are not only there to guide the group safely through the trip’s itinerary, but also to teach the Young Riders during discussions about theory, training exercises, and dressage in general. Applicants should have academic expertise and experience as a dressage trainer and/or judge, along with other qualifications listed on the application form.