Fox Pointe Farm in Quinton, Va., with its rolling hills surrounded by lush pine forests, may just be the perfect place to hold a USHJA-sanctioned trainer certification process (TCP) Clinic.

“Improving riders and developing horses is a top priority at my farm, so in the continuing education of our horses and riders, bringing in events like the USHJA TCP clinic is just parallel to my goals at Fox Pointe Farm,” says Colleen Seely, owner and trainer. “It is all about education and the willingness to continue that education regardless of a rider’s age and riding level, and these clinics are wonderful learning opportunities for riders and trainers alike.”

To that end, Fox Pointe Farm will host a USHJA trainer two-day certification and riding clinic for zone 3 on May 10 and 11.

Well-known USEF judge Julie Winkel and Geoff Teall, head trainer and owner of Montoga, Inc., are the scheduled clinicians for the TCP clinic.

Winkel is an “R” USEF judge, as well as a CEF judge. She has held a license since 1984 and judged all the most prestigious shows in the country, including Devon, Harrisburg, Washington International, the National Horse Show, Capital Challenge, the Hampton Classic, Upperville, Wellington, the ASPCA Maclay Finals, Pony Finals and Hunter Breeding Finals, as well as the USEF Medal Finals (2010 with George Morris).

She also sits on several USHJA committees, including the Trainer Certification Program Committee and the Trainer Symposium Committee. Additonally, Winkel is the chairman of the USEF Continuing Education Committee and sits on the Licensed Officials Committee, the National Hunter Committee and the Young Horse Task Force.

Teall has been involved in the horse industry for over 35 years. He has trained hunter champions and reserve champions at shows such as Lake Placid, South Hampton, Winter Equestrian Festival, Capital Challenge, Devon, Harrisburg, Washington, and the National Horse Show. Geoff holds his “R” hunter and hunter equitation license and has judged most major hunter shows including the Winter Equestrian Festival, Washington International Horse Show, and the National Horse Show. He has also trained equitation champions and reserves at all major horse shows, including the USEF Medal Finals, USEF Talent Search Finals, and several different ASPCA Regional Finals. Very involved in the governance of the sport, Geoff currently sits on the Board of Directors of the USHJA, USHJA Foundation and the USEF. He also serves on the Trainer’s Certification, High Performance Hunter, Planning, and Rule Change Committees for the USHJA.

The Fox Pointe TCP clinic is part of the USHJA’s ongoing program to qualify professional hunter/jumper trainers with either a “certified” or a “provisional” designation. Most of the working trainers in the association are certified, meaning they have taught as a full-time professional in the hunter/jumper arena for three out of the last seven years. Those professionals who have worked in the field for at least one year but less than three years can qualify as provisional trainers.

“The USHJA set up these certification clinics to preserve the American riding style and unify training professionals across the country, so that everyone is teaching the same style and using the same lingo,” says Winkel.

“We’re looking for professionals that are honest and straightforward to represent our business in a positive light.”

“We’re not just into the training of professionals,” states Winkel. “We’re looking for integrity.”

According to the USHJA website, all certified and provisional trainers are required to dedicate themselves to horse and student safety and practice sound horsemanship skills. They must also show a commitment to excellence and good sportsmanship while maintaining ethical business practices. In addition, all trainers are expected to continue with their professional development and education.

“We require that all trainers renew their certification every five years by attending one of these clinics,” says Winkel.

The association also details the responsibilities trainers must show to their riding students. On the top of the list is the directive that trainers must instruct their students in the basic theory of the American hunter/jumper forward riding system, educating their riders in the proper application of aids and riding techniques.

Winkel adds, “Anyone can learn from one of our clinics, whether professional or not. The ideas we’re going to share are very simple and traditional.”

“We want to showcase that the horse’s welfare is first and foremost with any teaching or training. We talk to our trainers about how to troubleshoot any client or horse problems and situations and discuss the theory and history behind our training techniques.”

The nucleus of the USHJA trainer certification process revolves around the belief that trainers need to prepare their riding students for success in all aspects of life, not just the time spent in the show ring. This type of success leads to developing equestrians that saddle up and ride for a lifetime of enjoyment.

“Everyone, both trainers and riders, can get something out of one of our clinics,” says Winkel.

Adds Colleen Seely, “It is all about education and the willingness to continue that education regardless of a rider’s age and riding level, and these clinics are wonderful learning opportunities for riders and trainers alike.”

“I believe in this program and that it will help to unite the industry in creating a more balanced spectrum of trainers in which the same pyramid of riding is taught throughout our country. Attendees of the TCP clinics gain many resources in their training of horses and coaching of riders.”

Trainers and riders interested in participating or auditing the clinic can contact Ms. Seely at 804-932-8710 or email her at foxpointefarm@yahoo.com. Visit Fox Pointe Farm’s website at www.foxpointefarmva.com. For more information about the TCP program, go to ushja.org