Sweet Briar Riding Center to host hunter jumper symposium

Sweet Briar College will host a U.S. Hunter Jumper Association Trainer Symposium Oct. 24-26 at its Rogers Riding Center.

The Sweet Briar event is one of two educational and professional development symposiums the USHJA will hold this year and the only one on the East Coast. The meetings are intended for anyone involved in the hunter jumper sport, and attendance is not restricted to professional trainers and riders.

Each day of the symposium is devoted to one of the three main USHJA disciplines — hunter, jumper and equitation — led by expert clinicians. At Sweet Briar, the clinicians will be hunter specialist Danny Robertshaw, jumper specialist Harold Chopping and equitation specialist Scott Hofstetter.

In addition to the clinic sessions, there will be round-table discussions where participants can raise questions and issues. The forum creates rare opportunities to not only learn from, but to exchange ideas with top industry professionals and USHJA members.

According to the USHJA Web site, each day’s program is further divided into sections such as junior hunters, intermediate equitation and junior/amateur owner jumpers. Riders will be on hand to demonstrate the clinician’s instruction, allowing him to work with both riders and attendees, explaining different techniques, exercises, and tips for various levels of riders and horses.

Sweet Briar riding director Shelby French reached out to instructors and trainers across Virginia to make sure there are plenty of demonstration riders to help with the event.

French, who serves on the USHJA board of directors, said the association began organizing the symposiums two years ago. The intent is to incorporate them into a trainer certification program, but they also serve larger goals. The USHJA wants to promote teaching horsemanship using standard practices that emphasize the safety and appropriate schooling of both rider and horse.

“It’s an opportunity to educate the whole spectrum of people who participate in our sport,” French said, whether they are professional trainers, amateur riders looking to further their knowledge or parents and owners who want to know how to hire a trainer for their child or horse.

French, who attended the first symposium in Palm Beach, Fla., two years ago, said it was a great networking opportunity, but she also found it refreshing.

“It was well worth the journey. It was very renewing, a reaffirmation that what you’re doing makes sense.”

Same-day registration for the symposium is available, however, early and advanced registration periods will be held prior to the event at reduced costs. Registration is $150 through Sept. 14, $175 from Sept. 15 through Oct. 22 and $225 thereafter. For an event schedule and registration form, click here or call (859) 258-9033.

For more information about the symposiums, please contact Melanie Fransen at mfransen@ushja.org.