United States Equestrian Federation Youth Sportsman’s Award Program

In both 2010 and 2011, USA Equestrian Trust ® has been pleased to provide $5,000 in grant funding to support the United States Equestrian Federation Youth Sportsman’s Award program, which helps identify and honor the all-important future leaders of equestrian sport.

“These grants have been a tremendous aid in funding a positive program for the youth who are the future of this sport,” said Jennifer Mellenkamp, USEF’s director of national breed/discipline affiliates and youth programs.

Each USEF-recognized association and international discipline association may select a national winner based on the child’s abilities in equestrian sport but more importantly because of his or her community service and leadership. A subcommittee of USEF’s National Affiliates Working Group then reviews the applications and materials from all national winners and selects an overall winner to receive the USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award.

The national winners are honored during USEF’s annual meeting. Each receives a $500 grant to be paid to the educational program of their choice. The overall winner receives a $1,000 educational grant, a USEF Life Membership valued at $2,500 and a commemorative trophy.

The value of the youth’s attendance at the annual meeting goes far beyond just the honors and acclaim — it’s a learning experience. To provide exposure to committees, governance and career opportunities within the equine industry, participants shadow a USEF committee member or board member and attend meetings, a career opportunity session and the awards banquet. Meals, accommodations and travel expenses up to $500 are provided for all who participate.

During USEF’s 2012 annual meeting held in January, eight of the 11 national winners were able to attend.

Elaine Schott of River Mountain Farm in Versailles, Ky., began the morning by sharing her equestrian background in the Hunter/Jumper industry and giving insight to those considering future careers as trainers or leaders of boarding/training businesses. Dr. Jill Westerholm, a sport horse associate with Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Ky., then gave the group advice on how to become veterinarians.

The Equestrian Team and College information session that followed featured representatives from USEF’s Intercollegiate Committee representing the American National Riding Commission, National Intercollegiate Equitation Championship, Intercollegiate Dressage Association, Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, Intercollegiate Saddle Seat Riding Association and National Collegiate Equestrian Association. Each of the representatives described their organizations and what makes them unique.

The youth asked questions about being involved with collegiate equestrian teams and what colleges expect from the students, as well as what they should ask colleges about their programs. Robert Cacchione, founder and executive director of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, and Kevin Price, chief executive office of the United States Pony Club, sat in on the session and encouraged the youth to become involved in the governance of the sport as they age.

After attending the President’s Luncheon, the youth were addressed by equine industry leader Cindy Mugnier, who owns and operates a training stable at Fox Meadow Farm in Massachusetts, on the topic of leadership. She shared qualities she feels they must exhibit to be good leaders.

The youth’s weekend culminated Saturday evening during the USEF Pegasus Awards when they were recognized on stage for their achievements.


David O'Connor and Sascha Mills

Sascha Mills receiving the 2011 USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award from USEF President David O’Connor. Photo courtesy USEF Archive/Geoff Bugbee.



Past youth career workshop attendees take an educational tour of the Old Friends Retirement Farm. Photo courtesy USEF staff.


To learn more about the USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award, visit http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/Youth/sportsmansAward.aspx.