The USHJA Foundation Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Logan Blake Crouser, Olivia deStanley and Ella Doerr will be attending the 2017 USEF Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, Aug. 8-13, as recipients of the USHJA Foundation Gochman Family Grant.
"These young ladies exemplify the purpose of this grant with their dedication, hard work, and commitment to horsemanship," said Jennifer Burger, president of the USHJA Foundation. "We were elated by the large response we received, and we thank everyone who submitted an application."
This marks the third year the USHJA Foundation has provided grants to help riders attend USEF Pony Finals, thanks to the generous support of the Gochman Family. Other grant recipients have included Matthew Bravo (2015), Judy Dettore (2016), Riley Hogan (2016) and Cecillia Machado (2016). The USHJA Foundation Gochman Family Grant offers each recipient the opportunity to compete at USEF Pony Finals when they may not have otherwise been able to do so. In addition to the competitive opportunities offered at the event, the three recipients will participate in various educational activities throughout the fun-filled week.
Crouser, 14, of Lewisville, North Carolina, fell in love with horses at three years old and finally sat on her first horse at age seven. Today, she competes her large green pony, Spoonful Of Sugar, which she trained herself, at Regional II, National and Premier competitions.
"My hard work and determination have paid off," said Crouser upon learning she received the grant. "Thank you, USHJA and the Gochman family, for this amazing opportunity, and thank you to God for blessing my life with [my pony,] Sugar."
DeStanley, 17, of Leesburg, Virginia, is in her final year of showing ponies, and she knew that this was her last chance to achieve her longtime goal of going to USEF Pony Finals. Trained by her mother, Beth, a lifelong horsewoman, deStanley started riding when she was an infant. Now, she competes her large pony, Walnut Creek Holy Smoke, as often as possible at National and Premier competitions.
"I am thrilled and extremely thankful to get the Gochman Family Grant and the opportunity to go to Pony Finals this year since it's the last year I will be eligible to go," said deStanley upon hearing the news. "It's truly the opportunity of a lifetime."
||Ella Doerr. Photo courtesy of Doerr.
Doerr, 14, of Avon, North Carolina, began riding when she was five years old and competes in local, Regional and National competitions. In addition to competing herself, Doerr runs a local charity horse show that benefits terminally ill children. In 2016, she was awarded the USHJA Youth Leadership Award.
"I was jumping up and down with happiness, but my eyes were filling with tears," Doerr said after learning she had received the grant. "It felt amazing and unreal all at once. I'm so incredibly excited and grateful for this opportunity."
Each year, the USHJA Foundation Gochman Family Grant is made possible by the generosity of the Gochman Family and is open to current USHJA members under the age of 18 (per USEF rules), who have not previously participated in Pony Finals and who would not be able to attend Pony Finals without the assistance the grant provides. Individuals may only be awarded the grant once. Applications for next year's grant will open in January 2018. For more information about the grant, visit www.ushjafoundation.org/gochmangrant.