I spent a rewarding four days attending the 2012 United States Hunter Jumper Association Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session last week in Chicago. This competition is one of my favorites because the focus is on “opening eyes and opening doors” for aspiring and talented young riders who may not have the means to get to the top without some assistance.
This year, 16 riders qualified for the Finals and competed aboard borrowed horses in a three-day educational and competitive format that stressed improvement over pure results. I photographed the event and interviewed the winners and clinicians for press releases and upcoming articles. Even though this has been my profession for many years, each time I return home from the EAP Finals I’m always energized by the stories I hear and the enthusiasm I feel emanating from these up-and-coming riders.
Although the mornings were chilly, we were all focused on our tasks, even the horses, and didn’t seem to mind the cold.