ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: EMME JOHNSTON
Emme Johnston is a USDF Certified Instructor through Second Level, a USDF Silver Medalist, and operates Emme Johnston Dressage LLC out of Blume Farm in Silk Hope, NC. She is also the resident dressage trainer at Starberry Acres in Mebane, NC. She was formally the assistant trainer of Eliza Sydnor Dressage at Braeburn Farm in Snow Camp, NC. Emme enjoys working with horses and riders of all levels and ages, using classical dressage to develop and strengthen the human and equine athletes and improve the harmony between horse and rider. Learn more about Emme, here.
Q: Which University IDA team did you compete on and during what years?
A: Mount Holyoke College, 2006-2010. I also competed on the Mount Holyoke Hunt Seat Team from 2007-2009.
Q: What was your favorite IDA experience?
A: IDA Nationals 2008. Mount Holyoke hosted (and won!) the National Championship that year. I rode in the Intro division for the team. It was amazing to see how the Dressage Team, the rest of the Equestrian Center, and the Dressage Team alums all came together for this event! At the time, it had been so much work leading up to Nationals that the whole experience felt surreal, but looking back, nothing else matches it.
Q: Has there been any aspect of IDA that stuck with you or that you have carried on into your current riding/practice?
A: The 10-minute warm up! Learning how to be efficient with my time in getting to know a new horse and in warming up my regular horses. Both IDA and then completing my USDF Instructor Certification drilled efficiency of the warmup into me.
Q: Any advice you would give a rider thinking about joining IDA?
A: Ride as many different horses as you can! I never owned my own horse until after college, so I got a lot of practice riding different kinds of horses.
Find a complementary form of exercise to riding. In addition to improving your overall fitness, it’s great to have a non-barn, non-school activity for when you need to take a break or need a stress-reliever.
Plan out your semesters. Look at when shows and other team events are, and make sure to schedule getting your school work done well in advance. I had a couple of classes where the professors let you pick which weeks big assignments were due. I scheduled myself to get those projects done early in the semester, on non-show weeks, so then I had a lighter academic load by the time Nationals came around.
Q: Who was your favorite horse to draw at an IDA show (whether it be from your school or a different one)?
A: So hard to choose! My favorite horse (Jake, grey Irish TB) wasn’t usually in my level (but I fixed that problem by adopting him and bringing him home with me when I graduated). Out of the Mount Holyoke horses that were in my level, I liked drawing Black Ice “Billie”, Libby (the horse I rode my first ever dressage test on at team tryouts my first year), and Caviar. UMass-Amherst also hosted many shows, and I always wanted to draw Honore, the cutest of the chestnut Morgans they had.
Photos courtesy of Emme Johnston.
My week at the 2023 young rider graduate program & fei-level trainers conference
By: 2022 USDF/IDA Quiz Challenge Grand Champion Elizabeth Kness
Since joining the Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) in 2019 as a freshman at Rutgers University, collegiate riding has opened many opportunities for me to build on my knowledge and abilities as a rider. Recently, as the grand prize winner of last year’s USDF/IDA Quiz Challenge, I was invited to attend the Young Rider Graduate Program (YRGP) in Palm Beach, Florida. The program was attended by young equine professionals from across the country. Over two days, top professionals from various fields presented on topics ranging from equine law, to being a working student, to marketing your brand. Although geared toward providing information for those beginning and growing their businesses in the equine industry, I believe the speakers’ expertise and perspectives were helpful no matter our goals. [Somebody] echoed a few key messages, reflecting that their wisdom extends far beyond the realm of dressage; say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, do your reading, and build a support system—no one does it alone.
Otterbein University Named 2022 TheraPlate IDA National Champions
The Otterbein University Team of Valerie Golden, Jenna McPeek, Lily Syah, Isabella Cobrun, and coach Jenn Roth rode into the weekend with purpose, setting out to defend their Championship title after winning the last IDA National Championships in 2019. As Champions, they earned their school a TheraPlate and went home with Collegiate saddles from Weatherbeeta Group, custom jackets from Sew You Custom Gifts, and a coach’s shad-belly from Kerrits.
12th place: University of Florida
The Intercollegiate Dressage Association would like to extend a sincere thank you to all of the volunteers, horse donors, horses, coaches, parents, riders, and sponsors for making the 2022 TheraPlate IDA National Championships a HUGE success! We’ll see you all next year!
Individual Champions Crowned at 2022 TheraPlate IDA National Championships
Day two of the 2022 TheraPlate IDA National Championships continued on Saturday, April 23rd at the Virginia Horse Center. After a two-year hiatus, 23 schools from around the nation have returned to compete in individual and team competitions, with 12 schools going head-to-head for the title of IDA National Team Champion on Sunday, April 24th.
The day’s competition welcomed the Individual riders into the ring, and crowned the top 12 riders in the nation in the four IDA divisions (First Level, Upper Training, Lower, and Intro). USDF/IDA Quiz challenge winners were also named, and awarded their custom prizes from USDF and Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supply.
Upper Training Level Individual Champions
Lower Training Level Individual Champions
Intro Level Individual Champions
First Level IDA/USDF Quiz Challenge Champions
1st place: Elizabeth Kness – Rutgers University* High Point Score
Upper Training Level IDA/USDF Quiz Challenge Champions
1st place: Anne Morgan – Averett University
Lower Training Level IDA/USDF Quiz Challenge Champions
1st place: Breanna Gemmell – Averett University
Intro Level IDA/USDF Quiz Challenge Champions
1st place: Eva Fritsch- Miami University
The Centenary University IDA Team were the winners of the inaugural KTB Creative GroupTeam Spirit award.
Find more information on Nationals here.
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Riders, don’t forget to download your show photos from High Time Photography, here.
2022 TheraPlate IDA National Championships Kick Off With Dressage Seat Equitation Finals
Day one of the 2022 TheraPlate IDA National Championships kicked off on Friday, April 22nd at the Virginia Horse Center. After a two-year hiatus 23 schools from around the nation have returned to compete in individual and team competitions, with 12 schools going head-to-head for the title of IDA National Team Champion on Sunday, April 24th.
IDA Coaching Awards Benefits to Coaches and Riders
By: Alice Oakley
When you pull up the driveway and into the gravel parking lot, you will see a range of horse trailers, barns, buildings and riders. As the home of the Wake Forest University Equestrian Team, Hidden K Stables is thriving.
Miss Michelle (as the riders call her) didn’t set out to become the IDA coach at Wake Forest, but has found the benefits are exponential. “As a trainer, it’s important to keep things fresh and grow your barn. Being an IDA coach helps me do that.”
Growing the Barn Community
The barn family at Hidden K Stables has the usual clientele with a twist. There are young riders in love with ponies and all things horses, older riders who are getting back in the saddle, and then there are the college kids. Having the IDA riders around creates an “older sister” vibe that is mutually beneficial. The young riders get to see what riding looks like at the college level and the older riders benefit from their horses getting some free rides. The college riders come from all over the world and bring different backgrounds and passions to the barn. Some are saddle seat riders or have a background in hunters, but by joining the IDA team, they get to explore a new passion in the horse world.
The benefits are not just the permanent barn community. The riders themselves easily tell you why the teams are important to their own personal growth. “Being on the IDA team taught me a whole new discipline. I learned a new way to ride and the skills I am learning carry over into real life,” says Victoria Latham, a former IDA team member who decided to continue riding at Hidden K after graduation. She says having access to a riding team gave her an outlet while in college. “If I hadn’t had that escape and friend network, college would have been even more difficult.” The leadership skills Victoria has gained are also an organic way to add to her resume as she moves beyond college.
Having the IDA riders in the barn has also provided much needed free help with summer camps and other barn needs. Junior riders at Hidden K report they like having the helpful hands around the barn and that they look up to the IDA riders. “They give a different perspective. I like that.”
Miss Michelle offers advice for anyone who wants to get started:
- Reach out to an IDA regional representative- www.teamdressage.com
- It’s ok to start small. Three to four riders make a team.
- Pay the membership fee. Some universities will cover this since it is a team sport.
- Go observe at least one IDA show prior. You can bring your team!
- Warm up with a coach already in IDA. This is a great way to bridge into coaching.
Growing as a Trainer
Miss Michelle says she loves the access she has as an IDA coach and the ways she has been able to evolve. “I get to bounce ideas off other coaches, I have been able to travel to IDA Nationals, create connections to network within the industry, and observe how other people work with my horses.” When she returned from the UK, she missed teaching at the higher levels and working with IDA helps with that.
When new riders are seeking lessons, being associated with the university has been powerful. “I get some credibility from people who are shopping barns. With parents, they like that I am already working with students and Wake Forest University is a well-respected part of our community here. In fact, some of our barn families are employed by the university.” Dr. Lia Erickson is Wake Forest Medical School alum, a parent of a rider and also a rider herself at Hidden K. “As a parent, I love having examples of what riding looks like as you move through phases of your life.”