Edited press release
US Equestrian has announced Ryder Richardson (Parker, Colo.) as the winner of the 2022 USEF Youth Sports Award in recognition of his contributions and achievements this year. The USEF Youth Sportsman Award identifies outstanding youth actively involved in their respective breed or discipline organizations and recognizes their potential as future leaders in the equine industry. The American Connemara Pony Society and the United States Hunters Association (USHJA) nominated Richardson, who competes in 1.20 junior jumper and pony classes and hopes to have his own farm and training business in which to can train horses, train young riders and can work. to promote diversity in equestrian sport.
The selection committee selected four of the nominees below to interview via Zoom based on letters of recommendation and resumes. Following the interviews, the committee discussed the candidates and ultimately selected Richardson, crediting his alignment with US Equestrian’s vision to bring the joy of equestrian sports to as many people as possible.
Richardson is an active show jumping competitor, plays lacrosse and is involved in several equestrian committees and groups. He serves on the USHJA Zone 8 Committee, the USHJA Foundation Youth Committee, the Equestrian Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, and the Colorado Hunter Jumper Association Junior Committee, and is a Junior Ambassador for the EQUUS Foundation. Richardson volunteers at Drifter’s Heart of Horses and is an advocate for JackStrong, a teen mental health organization. In 2021, she founded Joy Ryder, an organization with the goal of promoting inclusion in equestrian sports. Richardson donated his own money to support deserving children in weekly riding lessons, created a Colorado Show Circuit scholarship and paid for five entries for children and adults competing in their first horse show.
“I’ve been extremely blessed by great coaches and mentors and I hope to pay that forward,” Richardson said. “I love working with the trainers, grooms and horses and I really enjoy learning everything I can about the sport. I work to help the equestrian community become more inclusive and diverse through education and awareness.”
“Ryder is the epitome of the athlete a trainer lives to train,” said Kaitlin Campbell of SWS Training and Sales. “His no-nonsense attitude, time management and organization to meet commitments and overall hunger for success are all qualities he possesses to apply in any aspect of life. I believe that, given the right opportunity, Ryder could reach the highest levels of equestrian sport.”
Reserve overall winner of the USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award is Grace Smith (Orting, Washington) nominated by the Arabian Horse Association. Smith has given her time to leadership roles with the Arabian Horse Youth Association (AHYA), currently serving as National President, a position she has held since 2021. Prior to that, she was National Vice President of the AHYA and Co -AHYA Region V. Director.
One of Smith’s proudest accomplishments is launching a mental health awareness program called “AHYA, RU OK?”
“This program is dedicated to making meaningful connections with others and starting important conversations about mental health that are needed in our community,” Smith said. “I managed to present the “RU OK” program to the Youth Board and it was well received. I led and advocated for this program to be incorporated into AHYA and AHA in the fall of 2020. With the support of my AHYA Executive Committee, I was able to bring this program to life.”
Thanks to Smith’s vision and promotional efforts, the first RU OK Day was held at the 2021 Youth and Mid Summer Nationals, and another was held at the 2022 National Show. Smith hopes to bring the program to her school district to teach students about high school about the support program and how to facilitate the “RU OK” conversation with their peers.
Smith has won numerous national championship titles on the Arabian circuit and competes in 10 different divisions: show, riding, pleasure and hunter seat riding, western pleasure, reining, seat riding, dressage, ranch pleasure, limited rein cow and performance barbell. . In addition, he was the first runner-up for the AHA National Youth of the Year in 2020 and 2021.
Smith is currently a junior at Orting High School and has earned academic awards for maintaining a GPA of 3.95 or higher every year since 6th grade. After graduation, she plans to pursue a degree in biochemistry and STEM education and hopes to introduce young people to horses and agriculture through an AHA Discovery Farm.
The other national nominees include:
Mary-Cooke “Molly” Catlett (Middleburg, VA) – USA Association
Mary-Cooke “Molly” Catlett competes in preliminary eventing and hunts the first field with the Orange County Hounds. She is head of the Athletics Association and Classics Club, a Hound cheerleader and a senior prefect at Foxcroft School. After college, Catlett hopes to manage her own competition barn.
Alexandra Clark (Collierville, Tennessee) – Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America
Alexandra Clark actively competes Welsh ponies and promotes the breed with the WPCSA Youth Advisory Board and Publicity Committee. She is involved in Key Club, Health Organization Student Association, Spanish Club, Eco Stars, Pep Club and Forever Friends at St. Agnes Academy and hopes to pursue a career as a veterinarian.
Gabriella Escobar (Moseley, Virginia) – United States Dressage Federation
Gabriella Escobar competes at the Second, Third, Fourth and FEI Junior levels, is a USDF Bronze Medalist and volunteers with Journey of Hope 4 Autism and the International Rescue Horse Registry as a Youth Ambassador. Escobar is involved in the National Honor Society and Beta Club at Monacan High School and wants to get her doctorate in physical therapy.
Janae Griffin (Gretna, VA) – International Friesian Show Horse Association
Janae Griffin plays an important role in her family’s breeding and training business, Griffin Sport Horses, and hopes to continue the family legacy into the future. She races Friesian and Arabian horses, introduces and teaches people about horses at community events, and is involved in service activities ranging from assisting at the local food bank to sending military care packages.
Kiley Hamilton (Linden, California) – Western Dressage Association of America
Kiley Hamilton won Western Dressage Youth Champion honors. She is involved in band, the California Scholastic Federation and the Future Farmers of America horse judging team at Linden High School and volunteers with Linden Little League and the Modesto Mounted Officer Association. Hamilton wants to become a veterinarian and train young horses on his own farm.
Kendall Kelledy (Temecula, CA) – American Horse and Breeders Association
Kendall Kelledy is a successful competitor with American Saddlebred and Roadster ponies. She is active in the UPHA Ribbons of Service program, is a member of the ASHBA Youth Committee, and the Youth Group Director at Liz Bolton Stables. Kelledy plans to pursue a career as a veterinarian with a focus on equine reproduction.
Susanna Kritzler (Norwalk, Iowa) – American Hackney Horse Society
Susanna Kritzler is active in the Hackney and Saddlebred industry through her family’s Green Wood Stables, where she assists in all aspects of the operation. She is in the top 5% of her class at Norwalk Schools, where she is currently a senior, and plans to pursue a degree in biochemistry to become a medical researcher.
Cassidy Moore (Issaquah, Washington) – American Morgan Horse Association
Cassidy Moore is an active competitor with Morgan, C-King Solar Flaire, in several disciplines including dressage, western dressage and hunter pleasure and riding. She serves as secretary and treasurer of the AMHA Youth Council and has qualified and competed in the Youth of the Year competition at the Morgan Grand National and World Championships.
Ella Reagan (Wilmington, NC) – American Road Horse and Pony Association
Ella Reagan competes with Hackney ponies in roadster pony classes as well as riding and driving American Saddlebreds. She has been the publicist for the Carolina Junior American Saddlebred Association for the past two years and volunteers for Reagan Equine’s Junior Vet Club, helping to bring younger generations into the fields of equine health and science.
Mackennah Spatz (Prague, Neb.) – Equestrian Vaulting USA (formerly American Vaulting Association)
Mackennah Spatz competes in show jumping at FEI levels, winning CVI1* and CVI2* competitions in the Junior Pas de Deux divisions. She is an active member of the East Butler FFA Chapter, an athlete on the cross country and track teams, and has participated in numerous community service projects, including bringing horses to a local nursing home to perform a jumping demonstration for the residents. .