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2019 Captain Jack Fritz Fund Recipient: Kristen Chasnis

2020 Young Rider Graduate Program Report

The Young Rider Graduate Program was an amazing experience and I am so grateful that I was able to attend. The topics covered were extremely relevant and packed full of information mixed with discussions with elite riders living the daily trials, tribulations, and successes of the industry.

The first speaker of the program was Hallye Griffin, the USEF managing Director of Dressage.  She shared with us a visual that shows the steps from being a youth to getting to the top and becoming part of the Elite category. She shared with us what is expected at those Elite and Developing Elite levels to be considered and watched for international representation under the United States Equestrian Federation. Along with that she shared some important page locations and where to find information like Annex A, Safe Sport Rules, and how to sign up for the USEF email blasts.

The next speakers I found extremely useful in managing the world of social media and marketing. Johnny Rob and Alex Stark did an amazing job engaging in conversation with real life examples and explaining how certain scenarios are viewed by different people throughout the industry. Creating a brand and marketing yourself in a way that makes you unique is critical to having marketing success. As you develop your business, your brand should stay the same and you should feel incredibly proud and passionate about it. Then came the discussion of social media. I am generally terrible at keeping social media current and posting regularly so this was critical to me to see how much of an asset this can be if done well! Keeping things light and current, but factual, can keep social media from being daunting. Promoting brands and products you already really like or use on a regular basis can get you on the way to a new sponsorship, or even being a brand ambassador. Using hashtags on pictures and posts will help other viewers see your posts that maybe wouldn't have otherwise. 

Following that, we were introduced to Yvonne Ocrant. She spoke to us on a few different topics:  Best business practices and Equine Law. What an eye-opening experience these lectures were. To listen to her firsthand experiences and cases that she has been a part of really helped me to understand what liability release forms are and why they need to be so well written. Contracts are crucial – always get everything you are doing for or with a client in writing. If it’s not written down, it never happened. She also explained how the Equine Activity and Inherent Risk Act works for us and against us when it comes to taking a case into the courtroom. Managing risk and liability is going to always be a part of the industry and with the words of wisdom and knowledge shared with us via Yvonne, this seems much more tangible. 

On Sunday we started off meeting Allyn Mann, from Adequan. He talked about how to go about soliciting sponsors. When soliciting a sponsor, you essentially are becoming a salesman and are selling yourself to this product or company. You must do your homework when seeking and eventually pursuing the company or product. Know the ‘ins and outs” of it. Being able to ask specific questions about the company and the production and purposes of said product is important to companies; it really shows that you are taking the time and care about the company. 

Roz Kinstler was up next with customer service principles and the importance of professionalism. The first thing she told us was avoid taking on a situation if you don't want to or aren't sure if you could do a great job. Investing in education is how you continually get better – those that stop educating themselves will become limited in a short period of time. Finding a mentor that you can be in contact with on a regular basis is crucial. Mentors will help you keep your short- and long-term goals on track along with guiding you through the process as needed. She also cautioned us against keeping your rates too low. If your rates are too low people will think you don’t have useful and critical knowledge. 

The last session I'm going to write about is the discussion we had with Ali Brock and David Marcus. To have the opportunity to talk to this duo was truly unreal. The wisdom they shared about keeping all things in perspective is truly invaluable. Tips such as: Give yourself a timeline for grieving a situation. Depending on the situation the length can be different. Example: I am giving myself until 6pm to get over this, then I will continue on. Finding what is most important to you is also important when it comes to keeping things in perspective. Find 3 things that make you whole as a person; Another person, a fact, a situation, it could be anything. If those three things that are most important to you aren’t affected and changed, is it really that big of a deal? Lastly, they talked about mental health. Mental health can have both a positive and negative affect on your performance and day-to-day choices. It is critical if you feel like you have any doubts about if you are in a good place to SEEK HELP! It's not a bad thing, you're not any less of a rider, person, or instructor because you seek help with something you can’t change alone. 

Overall this program was tremendously helpful, as I am about to launch my own small business. I would have not felt nearly as prepared for this situation if I had not attended the Young Rider Graduate Program. 

Thank you for providing the dressage community with financial aid to help people pursue their dreams and help every step of the way!