If you’re a dedicated equestrian on a budget, you could qualify for a range of grants, scholarships and financial awards to help further your riding education. Lila Gendal gets you started.
No matter what year, no matter what generation, and no matter what the current financial state of the country, money will continue to play a dominant role shaping our lives, as regular citizens and as equestrians. Many of us wish that money did not dictate the direction of our lives, but the unfortunate reality seems unwavering.
How many of you long to compete more during the summers? How many of you are longing for a once in a lifetime horse, but can barely afford to take care of a rabbit? How many of you think you could be at the top of your discipline but have not had the opportunity to ride with great trainers because of your financial situation? How many of you are desperate for a break, or a little assistance? Rest assured you are not alone, and never will be.
I am an avid event rider, and I wish that I could afford to pack up my trailer and bags and head to Florida this winter and train with some of the best in dressage and showjumping. In order to become a great event rider, you need to be well rounded in those two areas, and Florida seems like a viable option to make those dreams become reality. But where is all the money? Where are the scholarships and grants? What if you cannot check off the appropriate age box for the emerging athletes program? What if you are an amateur, or a struggling professional? Are there scholarships and grants for all those in-between riders, and if so, where are they?
For starters, money is not going to spontaneously fall off your dead apple tree in the back yard and conveniently into your pocket. These assistance programs require digging and research, so I am going to lend you a hand:
Dressage. There are lots of opportunities for financial assistance in the dressage world–start by checking out the Dressage Foundation. If you are a devoted dressage rider, there are a plethora of scholarships and grants associated with this foundation. For instance, just two weeks ago five young professionals were awarded a $500 Captain Jack Fritz grant to attend the upcoming USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program. There’s the Carol Lavell Gifted Memorial Fund, which enables adult amateurs to set aside quality-time in concentrated training away from the daily pressures of job and family. There’s also the Emerging Athletes Program that is geared towards dedicated, determined young dressage riders of all levels.
Eventing. Here again there is money available, you just have to look around and do some research. There’s the USEA/USEF Eventing 18/Advancing Athletes Program, which offers up-and-coming riders the chance to participate in a training session with the team coach. It’s worth looking to your own area for opportunities as well–I know that in my own Area 1, there are scholarships and grants available to us, including four scholarships of $250 each to help promote education and skill development in the sport of eventing. Additionally, there’s the annual Worth The Trust Eduational Scholarship for Young Adult Amateurs, which awards $3,000 annual to adults who have declared amateur status with the USEA and are between the ages of 16 and 25.
Show Jumping. Take a look at the North American Riders Grant, which provides $15,000 to be spent within North America on expenses approved by the NARG Board. There’s also the High Performance Equestrian Foundation, which is a non-profit organization created to support and provide “financial assistance for the capable but under-funded equestrian athlete.“
There are a variety of awards, scholarships and grants available for riders of every discipline. If you really need financial assistance and you are a dedicated individual there are opportunities, but they must be chased down. You can’t expect to be the recipient of every award every time you apply, but persistence, commitment and a great attitude will take you a long way!
My name is Lila Gendal and I am 27 years old. I am from Vermont and have been riding horses since I was 6 years old. I have been eventing since I was 10. I have been riding and training with Denny Emerson for the last 7 years. My goal is to compete at the upper levels someday. I currently have a 2005 Holsteiner mare, “Valonia” (Contester X Parlona), who is currently going training level, and I am riding one of Denny Emerson’s horses, a 2005 Selle Luxemburg gelding, “Beaulieu’s Cool Skybreaker” (Beaulieu’s Coolman X Une Beaute by Heartbreaker) who will be moving up to training soon! When I am not on a horse or in the barn I am likely working in my office on what I like to call Equine Media… or social media for equestrians and equestrian websites.
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