Courtesy Isabel Cheng
While varsity athletes strive to earn letters, the school’s Dressage Club aims to have its members earn a USDF pin.
The USDF pin is an award made to recognize youth dressage accomplishments. In order to earn a pin, each student must have a minimum of 2.5 grade-point average, 20 related volunteer hours, participate in a USDF approved show and have at least 16 education hours.
“As of right now, the goal is for everyone who’s interested to earn the USDF dressage pin,” said Isabel Cheng, the club leader.
Cheng has taken the responsibility to help the other girls reach their goals, all while she works to earn her own pin.
“I have to set up all the meetings,” she said. “Every time I come up with an educational opportunity I have to let everyone know.”
Junior Katlyn Hagopian and former student Megan Lee are also working to earn their pins. These three girls are the only people in Florida registered to earn this award. Megan Lee graduated in May and was the previous leader of the Dressage Club. In the previous two years she earned her bronze and silver pins, and now she continues to work towards her gold pin. In order to earn her hours, Hagopian shadows a vet while Cheng works at a therapy farm called Walk on Water, which is a nonprofit that helps people who may otherwise be unable to interact with horses.
“To get the pin, you have to go to shows,” Cheng said. “There’s a dressage club called Dancing Horse Dressage in Wickham Park that partners with us so we can participate in shows.”
Working with Dancing Horse Dressage allows them to compete in USDF registered shows. In order for the competition to count towards the pin, the rider has to earn an average of at least 60 points. Dancing Horse Dressage also provides volunteer opportunities, such as managing or working events, or completing a “special project.” Though there’s been only one meeting so far in this school year, the club decided earning this pin would be a priority until winter.
“The show season doesn’t start until January,” Cheng said. “So [right now] it’s just about earning education and volunteer hours. It’s helpful because you can also use those hours for the service hours West Shore needs you to do. This club is good for me to set up educational opportunities for myself and make connections in the horse world.”
The club meets about once a month on Thursdays after school. Cheng contacts the club members to inform them of meeting information. Anyone interested in joining the club should contact guidance counselor and club sponsor Spero Tshontikidis for more information.
By Delaney Gunnell