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2019 Captain Jack Fritz Recipient: Kalie Beckers

2020 Young Rider Graduate Program Report

First of all, I would like to thank The Dressage Foundation for the support they have provided me to attend this wonderful event and for their continued support of the dressage community. I was honored to be a part of the 2020 Young Rider Graduate Program. It was two fun-filled days of learning from the best people in their fields. I am very thankful to have had this wonderful experience to meet, network, and learn from my peers that also attended.

Saturday morning began bright and early with an overview of all the USEF programs by Hallye Griffin. I learned about the qualifications of the elite, pre-elite, developing, and emerging dressage teams along with their involvement with USEF. We also learned about where to find resources, such as the picture guideline for dressage-legal bits.

The next topic was marketing by Johnny Robb and Alex Stark. It was an exceptional, entertaining talk. They discussed the importance of having a business goal and having a brand. The brand represents who you are and what you want to be. I believe this is incredibly important for anyone, especially an up-and-coming young professional. They also discussed the importance of not associating negative things, such as inappropriate social media post or rude behavior at shows, to your brand because they will stick.

The second part of their talk lead by Alex Stark discussed the importance of social media. Alex advised making an Instagram account because sponsors like Instagram and use it more frequently than Facebook. Alex also demonstrated the importance of sending the sponsors the link to what you post about their product, so they know they are getting their value out of sponsoring you.

The next speaker was one of my favorites, Yvonne Ocrant, an equine lawyer. This was the first of many talks from her; she discussed business practices. She gave us the acronym RIDE DRESSAGE. The meaning behind the acronym was to have good relationships with your role models, identify red flag clients, develop your brand, every meeting is a referral, define a target market, run it like a business, education to improve knowledge and skills, spelling is important, signed releases are worth a lot, add value to clients, get it in writing, and have an elevator speech. I believe all of these principles are very important to running a successful equine business. Yvonne also gave another talk explaining equine law which was extremely enlightening. She went into detail about the different conditions regarding the equine activity liability act and what we needed to know to try and protect ourselves.

Next, The Dressage Foundation’s Beth Baumert spoke to us about young professional grant opportunities we can apply for in the near future. I made a special note for the upcoming deadlines to the grants to pertained to further my dressage education. The next speakers were Hilary Moore and Tiffany Bragdell, who were equine professionals and also moms. They gave us down to earth real-life examples of the ups and downs of being a mom in the equine industry. They emphasized the importance of being ok with letting clients go and not to lose your mind about the little things.

The second day of the program was just as information-filled as the first. The morning began with a discussion about the Safe Sport policies and their importance. Next, Allyn Mann from Adequan spoke to us about sponsorships and how to handle them. We also had multiple speakers discuss business ethics. Spending money to continue your education is very important,  which I completely agree with, and it’s important to have both short- and long-term goals. One of my favorite words of wisdom was to keep a sense of humor in this industry because crazy things just happen.

The value of mental health was also discussed in great detail at this program. The speakers discussed the importance of finding a coping method that works best for you and using it. They recommended to give yourself a set timeline to be upset and move on and put things into perspective. The speakers also said to take time away from the horse world, so you do not get burned out.

Over the course of the afternoon, the group heard from various speakers about the USDF programs, working students’ jobs, judges training, how to become a judge, the instructor certification, the sport horse program, and traveling to train in Europe. I am interested in many of these opportunities for the near future. I would like to complete Part 2 of the L Program and participate in the Instructor’s Certification program. I also aspire to travel and train in Europe one day. One quote from George Williams that stuck out to me the most throughout the entire event was, “to get ahead, take a risk.” I will begin looking for training opportunities that will help me in the future by taking the risk and going to try them.

I had a wonderful experience at the Young Rider Graduate Program and learned more than I ever imagined. I would like to thank USDF, USEF, and The Dressage Foundation for putting the conference together. I am grateful to have been part of all these sessions. I am also thankful to The Dressage Foundation for providing me the financial support through the Captain Jack Fritz Grant. I would like to thank The Dressage Foundation for supporting the Young Rider Graduate Program, as well as for giving me the ability to attend and learn lifelong lessons from professionals who were once where I am now.