For America based Eventer Ema Klugman 2020 has been a monumental year; and the unexpected disruption of Covid-19 has not caused her to break her stride. This year Ema was selected as part of the EA High Performance (HP) Eventing Generation NEXT Squad for the first time and also finished her 2020 Eventing season by claiming her first ever FEI win in the CCI3*L at Virginia Horse Trials.
Embracing her place on the HP Eventing Generation NEXT Squad and utilising every opportunity that has been presented to her, the hard work is certainly paying off for the talented rider.
With the HP Program dramatically adapting its delivery and utilising online platforms as a result of Covid-19, overseas-based riders like Ema are now more connected than ever to HP staff, resources and their fellow squad riders.
When asked if being named on an HP Squad was what she expected her response was, “It’s better! I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t familiar with what HP offered, especially because I don’t live in Australia. We have zoom calls every few weeks that Will Enzinger organises. We also have access to experts and coaches and the sense of community has also been really nice.”
It is not surprising to learn that conscientious Ema applies the same dedication to revising her own performance planning as she does to time spent in the saddle. Eager to progress Ema has worked hard this year to identify ways she can improve and achieve her goals; which include competing at five star level and one day representing Australia at a World Championships and Olympic Games.
“One of the weaknesses we identified in my riding was my dressage. Will (Enzinger) helped me think through how to approach this gap, and was able to secure some funding for me to have weekly coaching on the flat. Since then, my scores have improved a lot, which I owe to this program.
“I have started working regularly with a dressage coach. Her name is Hilary Moore Herbert and she’s based just down the road from me. She’s got a great sense of humour and used to event as a young rider, so she understands our sport. Her commitment to my horses has been astounding; she reviews videos, texts me advice about warm-up plans, and really helps me improve in our lessons. Under her guidance my horses have often been winning or in the top three after dressage, which is never a bad thing” explains Ema.
A new addition to the Eventing Generation NEXT Program for 2020 has been the regular mentoring sessions with Olympian Chris Burton. Chris has hosted a number of workshops for the riders with a focus on improving their performance and developing their skills across all three phases. Chris has also provided the riders with exercises to try at home, reviewed videos of their training rides and provided feedback and guidance to the Squad members.
Ema credits the workshops with Chris in helping her approach cross-country riding in a new way and is emphatic in her appreciation of the sessions. “Chris has been wonderful. Probably the light bulb moment for me was when he told us the key to riding fast cross-country rounds is the ability to see a stride. This was fairly obvious, because if you can jump every fence out of stride, you are not interrupting the rhythm, but honestly I had never heard it that clearly before. Before this year I had never made the time at the four-star level. This season I did so in both of my horse’s four-star runs. His advice helped me adapt my ride, and it paid off.”
Although the year has come with its challenges Ema has used each interruption as a learning opportunity and has a string of exciting horses that look set to continue her success.
Eventing Pathways Manager Will Enzinger is full of praise for Ema and her eagerness to improve. “Ema has really embraced the Generation NEXT squad and all it has to offer. It’s great to see her commitment and enthusiasm, always striving to be better and not afraid to ask for help,” says Will.
With the Eventing season at an end in the USA and the winter season approaching there is no doubt Ema will be utilising the time to continue her training and one thing appears certain, the future is very bright for Ema Klugman.
Article courtesy of Equestrian Australia