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Cynthia Aspden Youth and Young Adult Development Fund

Cynthia Aspden was known as the “go-to-woman” throughout her dressage community, giving freely of her time and experience to whomever needed it. As a professional groom and barn manager for many years, her top priority was the health and welfare of horses in her care, and she often shared her knowledge with youth riders through free educational clinics. Cynthia was an instrumental volunteer for the Virginia Dressage Association; she served on the Board of the Charlottesville Chapter, helped organize many fundraisers, and could be found donating her time and energy at many dressage shows.

Before Cynthia passed away in August 2011, she made it clear that her estate gift was to be used to help youth riders in dressage. She felt that this group of riders needed to become horsemen, not just riders, as their foundation is critical for the growth of the sport.


The goal of the Cynthia Aspden Youth and Young Adult Development Fund is to provide financial assistance to youth and young adult riders (age 25 and under) to aid in their development in dressage. Grants awarded will typically be $1,000, to be used for educational experiences that are not within the horse and rider’s typical training plan. These may include events such as USDF’s youth outreach clinics or Dressage4Kids’ Winter Intensive Training Program, TEAM Program or others.

The online application form and all required documents must be submitted to TDF on or before September 1st. The grant must be used for an event that falls after November 1st of the year in which you apply.

  • Applicant must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident.
  • Funding cannot be used for competition entries, vet and/or farrier expenses, or the purchase of a horse or equipment. Funding must be used for the event/training specified in the grant application.
  • A rider may not receive the grant in consecutive years.
  • The committee reserves the right to not award a grant in any given year if they determine that no candidate has met the criteria. Funds would then be held until the following year. The applications and discussions of the selection committee are confidential and their decisions are final.
  • If the grant recipient is unable to attend the specified event/training, TDF must be notified as soon as possible. Approval for a change in the use of funds is at the discretion of TDF and the Grant Selection Committee.