I got a really cool email a few weeks ago. As a team medalist at Zone Jumper Finals back in August, I was eligible to apply for a “wildcard” spot at a Gold Star Clinic as part of the Emerging Jumper Rider program through USHJA. From what I understand, all individual medalists automatically earn an invite, and then they open up the wildcard spots to the team medalists for consideration.
I haven’t worked this hard on an application since college, y’all. It was a long and hefty questionnaire, an essay on my goals for the future, and then I needed a letter of recommendation from a show jumping professional (thank you Trainer!). They also allowed me to include “any other materials I’d like the selectors to consider.”
I immediately started making plans for a professionally shot and cut video, testimonials from everyone I’ve ever met as to my dedication, a music video about me and Frankie. You know. Normal stuff like that. I ended up going with a link to this blog and some of my favorite posts to be like I THINK SO HARD ABOUT RIDING ALL THE TIME and a cute pic of me and Francis.
All materials assembled (and after I dried my tears from seeing the nice things Trainer said about me in her LoR), I sent off my packet for consideration.
I’ll be honest, just being on the list of names invited to apply for a spot was enough to get me shaking and giggly. We’re fairly new to this still and don’t have the same mileage as a lot of the other riders yet, so making that short list is an absolute dream come true.
I just heard back: they had an unexpectedly high response of individual medalists, which meant that they weren’t able to accept any wildcard applicants- but I was invited to audit.
I forgot to mention: this clinic is down in Wellington. Florida. 15 hours away. Santa had told me that if I got a spot, my presents wouldn’t be under the tree but would be a commercial shipper for Francis. While I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to go audit and get the chance to pick Richard Spooner’s brain and watch Anne Kursinski ride, I can’t really justify the expense of changing flights/hotel/etc without also getting the chance to ride.
I have a couple feelings about this:
- Really glad that there’s so much interest in the program. I think these types of “pipeline” programs that they’re promoting more in recent years are exactly what we need to get good talent to the top levels, and clearly competitors are responding that these are programs they like.
- Bummed I didn’t get a spot. I’m only human! Of course I wanted to go ride and learn!
- Relieved that if I didn’t get it, it wasn’t for lack of trying. I wasn’t outmatched, they liked my application, they simply did not have room. That’s entirely out of my control.
- At the same time, a little annoyed that they didn’t end up taking ANY wildcards. Though at least they’re rewarding the wildcards with the auditing invite plus a Q&A with Richard, so they clearly are trying to still give something to us. This is the first year they’re implementing this program so growing pains are to be expected, and they have already committed to expanding it next year.
- Thoughtful about my application. It asked some questions that I hadn’t really taken the time to consider before. I definitely don’t see the time spent on my application as a waste- it was a great exercise in considering where I want my future in this sport to go, and gave me a space to crystallize some thoughts I have on different aspects of the industry.
- Wishful that I had more funds so that I could go and audit without affecting my show fund for the rest of the season.
- Excited to set aside some money to clinic next year with a big name- not sure who or when yet, but now I’ve got the clinic bug and would definitely like to find one that fits my needs.
- Motivated to earn an individual spot on the podium so they have no excuse not to let me in next year.
OK, so that’s more than a couple feelings! I’m a complicated person, clearly.
Frankie and I will be working hard to stay on their radar screen in 2018, and we’ll keep participating in as many programs as we can! If positivity and persistence count for anything (and I’m convinced they do), we’re gonna do some real cool stuff.