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USHJA Gold Star Clinic-Central Gets Five-Star Reviews

Clinician Richard Spooner educates Gold Star Central athletes in the mounted sessions. Photo Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

Wilmington, Ohio—April 22, 2019—Following four days of intensive education from lead clinician Richard Spooner along with numerous world-class experts, Gold Star Emerging Jumper Riders who qualified for the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association Gold Star Clinic-Central, April 17-20, at the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, Ohio, ranked it a five-star success.

A world-class line up of industry professionals joined Spooner in the mounted an unmounted instruction: DiAnn Langer, US Equestrian youth chef d'equipe; Bill Liggett, US Equestrian high performance farrier; Brenda Mueller of Marketing4Equestrians; Colleen Reed, leading stable management expert; Steve Stephens, renowned course designer; Jean-Yves Tola, renowned sport horse breeder and executive director of the Studbook Selle Français North America; Otto Schalter, young horse judge from Germany, Dr. Geoff Vernon, US Equestrian team veterinarian, and Diane Carney, USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Task Force member.

“I think a lot of riders have holes in their knowledge,” said Ame Pate of Boulder, Colorado. “This clinic covers everything about the horse and about being a professional in the industry as well as the riding. I would definitely recommend it.”

USHJA Gold Star Clinic-Central athletes with lead clinician Richard Spooner and Chefs d'Equipe Diane Carney and DiAnn Langer, at World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, Ohio. Credit: Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

Tyler Anderson, Novi, Michigan, added, “I give the Gold Star Clinic, absolutely, a five star review. It is a phenomenal educational opportunity. You won’t get this experience anywhere else. By getting to listen to all the different experts and ask them questions, you get all the information and all the tips to be successful. It would take you decades to find it out on your own. This program really gives you a big leg up in the sport. It provides you with all the aspects you need to be successful.”

Gianna Lanteri of Windsor, Colorado, said, “I give the Gold Star Clinic a five star review. I think it’s really helpful for all the athletes starting at the bottom and moving up to see the experts at the top of the field and find out how to get there. It’s a great clinic and I definitely recommend it.”

USHJA Gold Star Clinics are part of the USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Program, which uses the USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships to identify Jumper riders who have the skill and desire to excel in the sport, while educating these riders to become well-rounded horsemen on their path to excellence. The clinics, offered at fence heights of 1.10m to 1.35m, include hands on learning in the barn and in the classroom as well as in the saddle. 

Day 1: Education Begins 

Barn manager Colleen Reed works with athletes back in the stable area. Photo Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

The full educational schedule began upon arrival of the riders, where they met esteemed barn manager, Colleen Reed of Batavia, Ohio, and began their week of caring for their own horses including stall cleaning, feeding, tacking, grooming and night check. Reed helped the riders to learn every inch of their horse and care for them as athletes.

Brenda Mueller worked with the athletes on branding, sponsors and interviewing skills.Photo Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

Throughout the week, the athletes worked one-on-one with Mueller of West Palm Beach, Florida, on media exercises, which included branding, talking about sponsors and interviewing skills. Mueller conducted interviews with the riders on the first day, and riders viewed each other's videos the following day to take away key points. The goal was to build skills needed for press conferences, interviews and other media.

Once riders were settled in they had the chance to hack their horses while Spooner, along with trainers, observed and discussed simple riding theories.

The athletes had classroom time, which began with the importance of young horses in the sport and the ability to bring them up through the ranks. Jean-Yves Tola, founder of the Young Horse Show Series and executive director of Studbook Selle Francais North America, with Otto Schalter, a young horse judge, gave a presentation, The Importance of Pedigree. Discussion ensued as to the importance of conformation and soundness in relation to performance. The students learned about angles and lines of a horse’s conformation and how they effect the movement of the horse.

Otto Schalter teaches athletes the importance of pedigree and conformation. Credit: Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

“A vet check is one day, conformation is for a lifetime,” added Spooner. “Knowing the importance of pedigree helps you understand better how to train them.”

The groups moved with Tola, Schalter and Dr. Vernon into the arena for a live workshop demonstration, Line Judging – Conformation. The riders formed teams to analyze the conformation of their own horses as part of the exercise.

Athletes learned how to judge conformation with Jean-Yves Tola and Otto Schalter.Photo Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

Both parents and athletes participated in a lengthy discussion about breeding and raising young horses along with the qualities that are most important for peak performance.

The live demonstrations continued as Dr. Vernon explained The Pre-Purchase Exam. Athletes participated in the flexion tests while Dr. Vernon gave pointers on what to look for during the pre-purchase exam.

Dr. Vernon also presented Sport Horse Lameness: How Conformation and Competition Schedule Impacts Soundness.

Dr. Geoff Vernon shows Claire Stockard how to perform a flexion test. Credit: Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

“Winning doesn’t happen by accident,” said Dr. Vernon. “Fitness, soundness, schedule and goals all need to be considered.”

Continuing the conversation, athletes heard The Importance of Training vs Competing in your Schedule and Compete with a Purpose: Establishing Goals for Horse and Rider, with Dr. Vernon and Langer at the microphone.

Day 2: Basics

After morning chores, the athletes observed Spooner as he put his demonstration horse through a flat work session and discussed Flatwork for the 5/6-Year-Old Versus the 10-Year-Old. The Roberts family and Jeff Gogul graciously loaned a gorgeous 6-year-old, Robinhood, to Spooner for the mounted presentation.

Richard Spooner demonstrates flatwork on the Roberts family’s Robinhood. Credit: Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

The athletes mounted up for their turn at a flatwork session with Spooner, which emphasized the basics of moving the horse off of the leg.

The afternoon featured expert high performance farrier and horseman Bill Liggett of Woodstock, Ill., who led

a fun and educational presentation, No Foot No Horse. The hands-on education allowed riders to feel the traction of different types of shoes in different footing, to watch how the horse moves to determine how to trim it, and to learn how the nail operates in the horse's hoof wall. Riders then learned how to pull a shoe correctly and several had the opportunity to act as farrier and pull a shoe themselves. Lively discussion took place regarding traction and hoof concussion. Special thanks to the Roberts family and Jeff Gogul for allowing the program to use the impeccably turned out gelding, Snowbird, for the demonstration. The horse was not only a fantastic volunteer for the shoeing demonstration, but barn manager Reed also pointed out he was perfectly turned out and a great example for the athletes to see.

The group headed back to the ring to set gymnastics with Spooner for Friday’s riding sections. This was the perfect opportunity for riders to learn how to ride the gymnastics correctly and to ask questions about the use of gymnastics in preparing horses for competition.

The day wrapped up with a classroom presentation by Langer to discuss The Show Jumping Athlete Pathway "How Little I Know About the Sport I Play.” As the USEF Youth Chef d'Equipe and USHJA Show Jumping Technical Advisor, Langer explained how a rider moves up the U.S. Show Jumping Athlete Pathway and what kind of commitment it takes to get to the top of the sport.

Day 3: Conquering the Course 

Athletes conquered the gymnastics course after learning how to set it.Photo Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

The athletes participated in mounted sessions with Spooner to navigate the gymnastic course that the athletes set previously. Spooner emphasized riding with leg and the give and take with hands. Riders commented on how fun the gymnastics were and several mentioned they had never done anything like that before. The athletes appreciated the feedback they got from Spooner during the clinic.

World class course designer Steve Stephens designed the track for the Team Competition and reviewed his strategy with the athletes. Photo Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

Riders spent the afternoon back in the ring for a discussion with world-class course designer Steve Stephens on Dissecting the Course. Participants walked the track for Saturday's Team Competition as Stephens discussed the strategy he used in setting the course and how he expected the horses to react. Riders could ask technical questions about footage and jump choices in preparation for Saturday’s final team competition.

The day closed out with a dinner and round table discussion with Spooner, Langer and Carney to talk about How to Succeed in the Jumper Pathway. Guests were treated to videos of Spooner winning various top competitions around the world, and a short summary of his accomplishments as well as some of his greatest horses. Riders asked questions based on the core values for success that had been talked about during the week, which included ambition, emotion, management, selection, talent, and sport integrity. The panelists shared not only their successes in their careers but also their set backs and how they overcame them. Parents also participated in discussions, asking many questions on the sport, the horses, and the process of moving up the pathway.

Round table panel Richard Spooner, DiAnn Langer and Diane Carney. Credit: Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

“The humility of the panelists at the round table was amazing,” added USHJA President Mary Babick, who attended the evening's discussion.

“Real life experiences from successful athletes hit home more than a long lecture,” said Langer. “Providing different viewpoints shows the up-and-coming athletes there is more than one way to solve a problem or get to the top. The Gold Star Clinic Program is the opportunity to hear ideas and get curious to find out more.”

Day 4: Gold Star Team Competition

Ame Pate and Southpaw in the Team Competition jump-off with Richard Spooner observing. Photo Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

Saturday featured an exciting Gold Star Team competition with four teams, who jumped heights of 1.10m, 1.20m and 1.30m, vying for the top honors. Riders had the exciting opportunity to walk the course with their experienced Chefs d’ Equipe DiAnn Langer and Diane Carney to hear tips on how to ride the Steve Stephens designed track. Spooner provided feedback to the riders after each round and summarized the improvement he saw in each rider throughout the week.

Team 4 winners Genevieve Munson, Ame Pate, Devon Shaw and Sydney Luzicka with USHJA President Mary Babick, Richard Spooner, and Chefs d’Equipe DiAnn Langer and Diane Carney. Credit: Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

Carney’s Team 4 with Ame Pate, Devon Shaw, Genevieve Munson and Sydney Luzicka were tied with two other teams after round one, all with four faults, but managed to take the lead over Langer’s Team 3 by a whole two seconds with three clear and fast jump-off rounds. Edie Wetzel, Gianna Lanteri and Samantha Briggs took home second place with only 4 team faults. Carney’s Team 2 finished in third with riders Claire Stockard, Annabella Harold and Taylor Herzog. Langer’s Team 1 with Nicole Davis, Tyler Anderson and Emily Clemens finished in fourth with 8 team faults.

The winning team wrapped up the event by participating in a press conference in front of the group.Photo Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

USHJA President Mary Babick, was on hand for the competition and the award presentations.

“I wish more people realized what an opportunity these programs are because every single moment of this clinic is packed with education,” said Babick.

World Equestrian Center’s Vinnie Card with Richard Spooner and DiAnn Langer. Credit: Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

Special thank you to Vinnie Card and the World Equestrian Center Staff for their support at their outstanding facility all week.

Gold Star Central Team Competition Results 

1st      Carney Team 4       4 faults         125.611 sec.

           Ame Pate and Southpaw

           Sydney Luzicka and Fernleigh

           Genevieve Munson and Zonderling

           Devon Shaw and Galentine R

2nd     Langer Team 3        4 faults         127.533 sec.

           Edie Wetzel and Hebe Van’t Palmenhof

           Gianna Lanteri and Cayenne

           Samantha Briggs and Leonardo

           Sydney Luzicka and Fernleigh

3rd     Carney Team 2       8 faults         125.922 sec.

           Claire Stockard and Canturada Seconda Della Caccia

           Annabella Harold and Upsilos Vita

           Taylor Herzog and Felix 1996

           Sydney Luzicka and Fernleigh

4th      Langer Team 1        8 faults         127.472 sec.

           Nicole Davis and First Romance

           Tyler Anderson and Black Ice

           Emily Clemens and Ishtar C

           Sydney Luzicka and Fernleigh

Athletes celebrate the end of a great week. Photo Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

Gold Star Clinics

The Gold Star Clinic-Central at World Equestrian Center was the last of three clinics held for Gold Star Emerging Jumper Riders and accepted Wild Card applicants. An East Coast clinic was held at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in December and a West Coast clinic was held at the AON/HITS Desert Horse Park in January of this year. 

The USHJA Gold Star Clinics are part of the USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Program, which uses the USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships, to identify Jumper athletes who have the skill and desire to excel in the sport. Individual medalists from the USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships received the designation of Gold Star Emerging Jumper Riders, regardless of age, and are invited, along with their coaches and parents, to attend one of these clinics.

The USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships are offered at 1.10/1.15m, 1.20/1.25m and 1.30/1.35m and provide riders with a competitive team experience and an opportunity to earn Zone Horse of the Year points in their respective jumper sections. The Championships are held by zone and consist of both team and individual competition.

New for 2019 is the addition of the USHJA Platinum Jumper Championships to the Emerging Jumper Rider Program. These new championships are open to juniors, amateurs and professionals competing at the 1.40/1.45m level, and will be held as overlay classes with special 1.40/1.45m open classes and grand prix classes held at the American Standard typically offered during the same competition hosting a USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships.

USHJA extends special thanks to the following individuals and organizations helping make these clinics possible: Emerging Jumper Rider Program donor, Booth Show Jumpers, AON/HITS Desert Horse Park, George's Jumps, Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, World Equestrian Center, Vinnie Card, The Ridge, Mike Schultz, Dave Burton and Tom Struzzieri.

This program was developed and is led by the dedicated volunteers of the USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Task Force: Larry Langer, chair, Jeff Campf, Diane Carney, Matt Cyphert, David Distler, Kim Land, DiAnn Langer, Marnye Langer, Charlotte Skinner-Robson and Sandra Ruiz.

Diane Carney/Telluride, coordinates the clinics.

See the USHJA FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages for all the best clinic moments captured in photos.

Learn more about the Emerging Jumper Rider Program at

Release by Marketing4Equestrians/USHJA

About the U.S. Hunter Jumper AssociationThe United States Hunter Jumper Association, as the official hunter/jumper affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation, is a competition-based sport organization that serves our members through educational programs, awards and recognition, communication and rules. We provide a wide array of programs for all hunter/jumper levels, and we are mindful of the well-being of our equine partners. Additionally, we are committed to preserving the history of our sport and through our Foundation we support charitable and benevolent services. Learn more at


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