LEXINGTON, Ky. -Erik Duvander, who has 30 years of experience in strategic planning, was recently hired by the U.S. Equestrian Federation to implement plans for the High Performance Program for Eventing that will hopefully ensure a medal at the upcoming World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C.
Duvander introduced his plans for the High Performance Program at the United States Eventing Association Annual Meeting in December.
"The immediate focus of the Eventing High Performance Program is qualification, preparation, and execution of a successful World Equestrian Games (WEG)," said Duvander. "In preparation for the WEG, the majority of our horses will target a spring CCI4*, and we look forward to a strong showing at the Land Rover Kentucky CCI4*, in addition to some horses representing the U.S. at Badminton and Luhmühlen and spring CCI3*s. We will then utilize the FEI Nations Cups™ at Great Meadow and our hope is to secure an invitation to Aachen to practice and prepare in a team environment twice in July."
Riders with more than one horse will divide them between the spring CCIs in order to have time to focus on each individual horse at the major competitions in preparation for the WEG.
"We will train and prepare every day to select and field a team with a serious chance of winning a medal," said Duvander. "However, if strategic decisions have to be made on the field of play, we will take into consideration that our USOC-approved target is Olympic qualification."
IN 2018, the program will focus primarily on developing individualizd plans for riders and horses that will prepare them for championships and team competitions at the highest level.
Additional goals of the program are to continue cross-country education and improvement, increase communication between athletes and program/team support staff, and create a four-year plan for success across the program's three tiers.
Over the course of the next several months, USEF will develop a comprehensive, four-year performance plan for the High Performance Program that looks to the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and beyond, as well as funding for training lists and targeted overseas competitions.
The program consists of three levels: Elite, Development, and Emerging Athlete.
The Elite Program consists of riders and horses that are considered to be, or will be, "internationally competitive at Games level" before the next Worldand/or Olympic Games.
With the goal of Games and Olympic qualification and winning medals, criteria for selection includes a track record of success, the depth and talent of a string of horses, the rider's ability to produce peak performances in conditions similar to the Games, and more.
The Elite Program provides riders access to training resources, veterinary and human medical advice and financial support through coaching, training, and travel grants.
All rider and horse combinations are reviewed against agreed-upon targets and performance indicators (which could include competitions results, return to fitness, training targets, etc.), and combinations that fail to meet these agreed-upon targets within an agreed time frame can be removed from the Elite Program.
THE DEVELOPMENT Program seeks to identify and support riders with horses that are well on their way to performing at an elite level through measured success at CCI3*, CICO3*, and CCI4* competitions.
In 2017, a two-tiered system was introduced for the Development Program, which will continue in 2018.
Tier 1 of the Development Program (Elite Potential) is designed to support experienced, international riders who have horses that are on a trajectory to reach the Elite criteria in the next four years.
These riders will have the same access to the USEF training resources as those in the Elite Program.
Tier 2 is designed for riders who have not previously been selected for a team or Elite criteria that are on a trajectory to achieve Elite status in this or the next quad.
The selectors, in consultation with Duvander, review results and performance and analyze potential in determining the Training Lists, which are reviewed biannually.
"Athletes who have their own effective coaching and management set-ups, which are then supplemented by the High Performance Program and its benefits, are very important," said Duvander. "Our intention is to use, whenever possible, four-star events to prepare and practice in that environment where appropriate for individual and team competition training."
The Emerging Athlete Program also encompasses a two-tier system that includes an accepted participants list as well as an auditing participants list that designates riders with the potential to evolve into future team candidates.
The goals of this program are to find talented riders and horses that can be developed into high-performance riders that can represent the U.S. at the international level.
USEF Eventing Emerging Athlete Coach Leslie Law will continue as the coach for this program.
He has guided athletes such as Caroline Martin, Jenny Caras, Madeline Backus, and Mackenna Shea, among others, to CCI3* and CCI4* success through this program.
High Performance funding aimed at targeting riders and horses that will contribute to the aim of sustained success at Games level.