New FEI programme to give young riders education and support

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Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 Team USA, from left, Nicole Meyer Robredo, Pedro Espinosa, Marissa del Pilar Thompson,  Mateo Philippe Coles and Mattie Hatcher. © FEI/Liz Gregg
Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 Team USA, from left, Nicole Meyer Robredo, Pedro Espinosa, Marissa del Pilar Thompson,  Mateo Philippe Coles and Mattie Hatcher. © FEI/Liz Gregg

A new “holistic” education programme to help set up young riders for the future has been established by horse sport’s world governing body.

The FEI Education Programme will be delivered to the participants of the FEI Youth Equestrian Games 2022, from June 23 to July 3 in Aachen, Germany.

Several workshops will cover aspects including mental and physical fitness, concussion, and anti-doping.

FEI President Ingmar de Vos said one of the main goals of the FEI Youth Equestrian Games 2022 was to significantly impact the lives of the participants beyond the competitive element. “The FEI is committed to encouraging young athletes to grow and develop according to the values of the Olympic movement. To educate and support the young generation of equestrians is vital for the sustainability of our sport,” he said.

Throughout the 11 days of the event, the 30 athletes from 30 nations are encouraged to learn about all aspects of their craft, and take part in various sessions focused on their current and future sporting careers, emphasising the significance and relevance of the Olympic values. The programme mirrors the format for the Jumping competition used at the Youth Olympic Games every four years, which was postponed from 2022 to 2026, where the young athletes aged between 15 and 18 years of age compete on borrowed horses for individual honours and also as part of a continental team.

The programme has been developed by the FEI Solidarity Team, led by Jean-Philippe Camboulives, FEI Solidarity Director. He said it was fully tailored to the needs of young athletes, so they can expand their knowledge on areas that will play an essential role throughout their lives.

“To educate the new generations of equestrians is a key focus for the FEI, and the FEI Youth Equestrian Games 2022 provides the opportunity for the 30 youngsters to enrich themselves with a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Camboulives said.

“We have designed a holistic programme, with a variety of sessions that will focus on crucial topics for the equestrian athletes of the future, such as anti-doping policies, physical and mental health issues or the transition into the job market. Ensuring the well-being of human and equine athletes is key to the future of equestrian sport,”.

One of the key elements of the Education Program will be directed by FEI charity partner, JustWorld International. The non-profit will host the Leadership and Philanthropy Seminar where participants will come together to learn how to leverage equestrian sport as a platform to become better athletes while incorporating philanthropic work into their passions.

JustWorld Founder and President Jessica Newman said that whether riders give their time, talent, or make a donation the charity gives equestrians the opportunity “to learn about worlds beyond their own experiences and make a change in the lives of others less fortunate. They learn how to become leaders, how to make a difference in the world around them, and how small acts can have a large impact,”, Newman said.

FEI Youth Equestrian Games 2022 Education Programme agenda

Mentally Fit – with Dr. Alan Currie (Member of the IOC Mental Health Working Group): This workshop will aim to create awareness on what mental health means for a young athlete, how it relates to performance, how athletes can identify any issue relating to their mental health, and how they can seek help and support.

Physically Fit – with David Übis from the Uniklinikum RWTH Aachen: The participants will learn key fitness and training aspects for any professional equestrian athlete, such as strength, core, stability, coordination and agility

Concussion – with Prof. Christopher J. Newman, paediatric neurorehabilitation physician and Dr Stéphane G. Tercier, paediatric sports physician (Lausanne University hospital): Participants will take a journey through a virtual concussion episode where choices will need to be made regarding the diagnosis, time frame to recovery, and return to sport. Concussion will then be discussed in the context of equestrian sport by understanding what it takes to manage concussion adequately and minimise the risk of complications.

Human Anti-Doping – with Olya Abasolo, OLY (Senior Education Manager, International Testing Agency) and Catherine Bollon (Human Anti-Doping Advisor, FEI): Using an interactive format, the Human Anti-Doping workshop will introduce participants to key elements in the anti-doping system for human athletes: Rules, Prohibited List, Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) and Testing process. Athletes and coaches will gain insights into the substances that are an issue in the sport, identify what their role and duties are, and understand why it matters.

Social Media – with GER Influencer and Social Media Coach Harriet Charlotte Schulz (45 minutes): Schulz was one of the first equestrian bloggers in Germany and has plenty of experience in the Social Media game. She will educate the participants on Social Media best practices and how to build their digital presence in the different digital platforms.

Equine Anti-Doping and Equine Welfare – with Anna Thorstenson (Legal Counsel, FEI): Using an interactive format, the Equine Anti-Doping and Welfare workshop will introduce participants to key elements in the anti-doping system for equine athletes in addition to equine welfare, such as Rules, Prohibited List, Testing process and Risk of Contamination.

Career+ / Sport Up Your Life: This session will provide the participants with tools, resources and advice to help them prepare for a smooth transition from competitive sport into the workplace, in, around and out of the equine industry.

Athlete Rode Model – with Estelle Navet (JustWorld): During the JustWorld leadership program, the JustWorld leaders will go through an engaging team-building curriculum that couples learning with fun hands-on activities leaving riders with a greater sense of their own individual power to create positive change through the sport. Riders can come together to use their sport as a platform to become not only better riders, but philanthropic leaders with the tools to better the world.

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