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2008 USEF Youth Convention: A Solid Success

By USEF Youth Council


Louisville, KY—On Saturday, January 12, more than 100 young equestrians and their parents gathered in Louisville’s downtown Hyatt to celebrate their shared love for horses.  Organized by the United States Equestrian Federation’s (USEF) Youth Council, this inaugural convention focused on promoting youth involvement from all 18 affiliated breeds and disciplines under the USEF umbrella.


Jane Savoie, one of the most recognized names in dressage, kicked-off the activities with a motivational keynote speech. She revealed “two secrets to instantly change your attitude” in the morning session and “five ways to demolish fear” in the afternoon meeting. A star-powered panel of seven professional trainers and riders gave speeches about how they got started in their respected careers and entertained questions from the audience. This impressive panel included Karen O’Connor (eventing), George Williams (dressage), Valerie Kanavy (endurance), Joel Kiesner (Arabians), Tom McCutcheon (reining), Marilyn Macfarlane (roadsters) and Louise Serio (hunters).


After the panel shared both inspirational and humorous personal stories of their own youth, the young participants separated into four different break-out information sessions focused on how to get started and how to get connected.  Later in the day, 12 more topic sessions were available to participants, conveying subjects in nutrition, research, collegiate riding, facilities management, competition, sales, marketing and promotion. The USEF brought in over 40 experts and professionals to speak and answer questions across 16 topics. The evening concluded with a dinner and dance for all attendees.


The afternoon program was unexpectedly interrupted with a presentation of a $1,500 donation to the Youth Council from the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) and a challenge for the other affiliates to match it. The United Professional Horsemen’s Association (UPHA) had previously donated a generous amount to the Council to aid with the cost of the convention.


Overall, the experimental convention was a success, providing a valuable educational and social opportunity for young people from across the country that share a passion for the horse.

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