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The Dressage Foundation Chooses Four Young Riders for Olympic Dream European Tour

Jhesika Wills, one of the four 2011 Olympic Dream Program participants. Photo by Carolynn Bunch.

Lincoln, NE – Four advanced young riders have been selected for the 2011 Olympic Dream Program that annually sends young riders to Europe for an intensive 10-day dressage experience. The program is administered and funded annually by The Dressage Foundation (TDF). On May 2, an independent Selection Committee, after reviewing dozens of applications, chose Mary Bahniuk Lauritsen (MA), Jhesika Wells (WA), Kathryn Butt (SC), and Laura DeCesari (AZ) to make the 10th annual TDF trip to Europe. The committee chose Melissa Reese (NJ) and Ari Lopez (CA) as the first and second alternates, respectively; however, the original winners have all committed to go. The Selection Committee based their decision on candidates’ essays, competition scores, recommendations, DVDs of their riding and signs of commitment to the sport of dressage.

Jenny Johnson, administrative director of TDF, said, “The Board of Directors and staff of The Dressage Foundation congratulates the four candidates chosen for this year’s Olympic Dream Program! We received a record number of high quality applications, so the Selection Committee had quite a task.”

The program, conceived by Olympic medalist and TDF Board Member Michael Poulin (FL), will be led this year by Simone Ahern (CO) and Elizabeth Caron (CT). Beth Baumert (CT) is serving as administrator as she has since the program’s inception. Poulin believes TDF’s Olympic Dream program helps American young riders reach their potential. He aims to fuel “the power of the dream” for young people, and help them “develop a sense of proportion, a sense of themselves and of being proud of who they are and what they’re doing.”

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