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2020 Captain Jack Fritz Fund Recipient: Emma Sevriens

I was so glad to receive the Captain Jack Fritz Grant from TDF, as attending the Young Rider Graduate Program was truly an invaluable experience. It has provided me with crucial insights and knowledge needed to build myself up as a professional in the industry. Those two days in sunny West Palm Beach were scheduled full with of a variety of speakers. The compilation of different expertise, all related to the horse industry, provided us a full set of tools to build ourselves up as professionals in the dressage sport.

The program began with Hallye Griffin’s presentation on the USEF High-Performance Pathway. The purpose of the pathway is to recognize talented horse and rider combinations and to ensure that these athletes have the “tools” in their “toolbox” needed to succeed. This pathway is divided into three groups: Elite, Development, and Emerging. The Elite program is for athletes scoring 73%+ in CDI Grand Prix. There is also a Pre-Elite group for riders scoring 69-72% in CDI Grand Prix. The Developing group encompasses the U25 and Developing Grand Prix, and Emerging includes the youth programs; from FEI Children’s to U25.

Following Hallye was Johnny Robb and Alex Stark, who gave us some insights into marketing within the equestrian community. Your social media plays a large part in how people perceive you as a professional. It is important to use social media to your advantage because every photo you post says something about you. We learned about the importance of developing our brand. Your brand is something special about yourself and your services that can set you apart from the others.

Yvonne Ocrant’s presentation on Equine Law was one that really stuck out for me, due to the fact of how important is and how little I knew about it. Equine Law includes aspects such as contracts, personal injury, property damage insurance coverage, intellectual property, lien enforcement, partnerships, and syndication. Some important takeaways for young professionals include understanding your state’s laws regarding equine activity warnings and making sure your warning signs are posted somewhere easily readable by all who may enter your property. Some state laws differ from one to another so be sure you and the participants understand what is defined as equine activity and who are involved in that risk. Be sure to have a well-written liability contract as well. Some things to include are statute of limitations, which means there is a specific time limit for suing, and choice of jurisdiction and venue. This contract stands as an acknowledgment of the assumption of risk, and you should have it signed on behalf and the minor and the parent.

The second day began with an informative Q and A session on Safe Sport, and then a discussion with Allyn Mann from Adequan. Allyn’s presentation was focused on soliciting sponsorships. It is very important to understand the company you choose to represent. Some research on the company may include questions like, “What do you know about the company?” “Who do you know that works there?” “Why do they work there?” “Where are they located?” You should be able to communicate passionately to others about it. Allyn finished his discussion with a note on perseverance. Attitude is the key to an abundant life. Doors open and they close, but what matters most is how you respond.

Roz Kinstler gave us some really good insights on professional ethics. She spoke to us about having a short-term goal and a long term goal. As a professional, you need to be careful not to take more than you can handle.

Beth Baumert also spoke, telling us all about the various opportunities available through The Dressage Foundation. The opportunities are thanks to all of the donors who contribute to The Dressage Foundation. Important programs like this one, the Jack Fritz Grant, or the Young Rider International Dream Program, just to name a few, are so influential on a young rider’s development and education.

This is just a summary of the topics that were particularly relevant to me. There were many more who gave us their time and lent us their knowledge and expertise. I can honestly say that the program by far exceeded my expectations, and I was able to get so much out of it. I have learned more about the business from many different avenues of it.  I also had the chance to meet a ton of other young professionals who share similar goals and dreams as I do. This is a wonderful program and I am so thankful for The Dressage Foundation, the USEF, and the USDF for putting this all together for us. Thank you!