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2021 Cynthia Aspden Youth and Young Adult Development Fund Recipient: Rachel Tomczak

Over the weekend of January 27-30th, 2023, I was able to spend a weekend at BREC Dressage in Ocala, FL, to take lessons with Tyra Vernon and Kerryann Schade. The help of The Dressage Foundation and the Cynthia Aspden Youth and Young Adult Development Fund made this incredible opportunity possible for me. I actually applied and received this award back in the Fall of 2021, however, an injury sidelined me last January 2022 and then life got in the way (nursing school, graduating, and a new job, on top of show season, of course!). 

I finally was able to get down to BREC Dressage to take lessons and spend some time seeing how they train their horses! I was able to ride seven FEI horses and two young horses with the talent for FEI. I’m at the point in my riding career where my interests lie in the training of the horse from Training Level to FEI. It was so cool to learn the “feels” of the FEI while also getting to feel some talented young horses: where they are and where they are going in their training. One of my biggest takeaways from Tyra and Kerryann is that, as always, the horse comes first and a huge part of the training process is to find ways for the horse to play within their own natural balance so that they can then meld that into our dressage training with a fresh body and mind. 

I can’t thank TDF and the Cynthia Aspden Youth and Young Adult Developing Fund enough for being flexible with the training dates and also giving me a shot at this amazing opportunity. I really feel like everyone there supported me throughout the process and truly cared about providing me with an educational opportunity I normally couldn’t receive. Also HUGE thank you to Tyra Vernon and Kerryann Schade for providing me with such an educational experience. You two went above and beyond making sure I was reaching the goals I wanted. I can’t wait to put what I learned into practice. As always, big thank you to the horses that I had the pleasure of learning from - they were more than happy to show me the ropes. Last but definitely not least, thank you to the horses’ owners for sharing your amazing horses with me, I had a blast!