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USEFYou don’t have to be a record-setting quarterback, point guard or track star to letter in high school sports anymore. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is writing a new chapter in the recognition of high school sports — one that honors Equestrian athletes. The USEF’s High School Equestrian Athlete program will offer specially designed emblems and pins, exclusively for equestrian athletes in grades 9-12.

“High school equestrians have earned their place among the most dedicated athletes,” shared John Long, USEF Chief Executive Officer. “Not only are they putting in long hours to train for and compete in the sport they love — they do so while taking the concept of teamwork to the highest level, forming a partnership with a horse to achieve their goals.

“Until now, most high school students haven’t had the opportunity to letter in equestrian, simply because there are so few school-sponsored programs,” Long continued. “We look forward to the beginning of a new tradition, where equestrians are able to earn the recognition they deserve, alongside their fellow athletes and classmates.”

The new High School Equestrian Athlete program is open to equestrian athletes in all breeds or disciplines who are enrolled in grades 9-12, and are currently USEF members, or become USEF members. The program will run June 1–May 31 of each year, and will honor those who document their training and competition involvement by awarding emblems and pins. These are designed to be worn on existing high school letterman’s jackets, or any jacket of the athlete’s choosing, as a symbol of achievement.

The USEF will be offering more than $20,000 in grant money through the program this year. Students who are enrolled in the program, have successfully completed at least one full year, and are members of a USEF Recognized or International Affiliate Association will have a chance to win one of many $1,000 grants for educational or equestrian pursuits. On July 29, 2011, one student athlete from each Recognized or International Affiliate Association will be randomly selected to receive the grant. Students are not eligible to receive more than one grant. The USEF also plans to award eight $500 grants to high schools and clubs to help cover program costs. The schools and clubs (i.e. 4-H, club teams, riding clubs; horse show associations not included), with the most students enrolled in the High School Equestrian Athlete program will each receive a grant.

The popularity of the High School Equestrian Athlete program has grown exponentially since it started in late 2009, with more than 2,800 students having participated.

MORE ONLINE: See website http://bit.ly/102CHTUSEF

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