USDF Youth Convention Scholarship Winners Named

For Immediate Release
Friday, October 13, 2006

October 13, 2006 (Lexington, KY.) - United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Youth Executive Board is pleased to announce that Colleen Akin, Marina Riker, Hannah Holland Shook, and Mary B. Lauritsen have been selected as this year's recipients of the USDF Youth Convention Scholarships for the 2006 Adequan/USDF National Convention and Symposium, to be held November 29-December 3 in Kansas City, Missouri.  These individuals were selected based on their commitment to the sport of dressage, their keen desire to pursue continuing education, and their ability and willingness to share their learning experiences with others. The recipients will be granted a discounted registration fee to attend the 2006 Adequan/USDF National Convention, and each will receive up to a $1,000 scholarship to help defray the cost of attending.

Colleen Akin, 15, from Warwick, New York, is a tenth grade honor student at Warwick Valley Middle School. In 2006, Colleen earned her USDF Bronze medal, was the Reserve Champion at the USEF Dressage Equitation Medal Finals, competed on the Silver Medal team at the Region 8 Youth Team Championships, and earned the Overall Bronze Medal at the Youth Dressage Festival in Saugerties, New York. Colleen is currently competing through Third Level. One of her mounts is a 6 year old Oldenburg mare that Colleen has trained from the start. Colleen is a USDF Shining Star Award recipient, and actively volunteers her time for Dressage 4 Kids and for the Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center. In her scholarship application, Colleen wrote, "While in California at the Dressage Seat Finals I learned so much by meeting young people from different areas. I can only imagine that convention would be a similar experience on a larger scale. I would not be able to attend a convention without support, and if I receive the scholarship, I would ‘pay it forward' by assisting others in the sport in the future".

Marina Riker, 12, from Haiku, Hawaii is a devoted dressage enthusiast. She devours any learning opportunity offered through the Hawaii State Dressage Society, having attended the USDF Adult Clinic Series, as well as numerous clinics with well-known dressage trainers. Marina's goal is to help those on the island of Maui to feel as though they are part of the dressage community. "I want to inspire other young riders on Maui to go after their goals. I will try to help the future of dressage on Maui, and wherever I go in the future."

Hannah Holland Shook, 15, from Charlotte, North Carolina is an active member of USDF, USEF, and the North Carolina and South Carolina Dressage and Combined Training Associations.  A USDF Bronze Medalist, Hannah has achieved much competitive success in 2006, earning the Overall Individual Championship at the USEF National Junior Dressage Team Championship in Pebble Beach, California, as well as riding on the gold medal winning team from Region 1.  Hannah has ridden in USDF Junior Young Rider clinics, participates in as many as nine dressage clinics annually with top trainers, and takes advantage of USDF University credit programs to augment her education. Hannah actively volunteers her time for the NCDCTA, and is an active participant in her school's Dance Team and Equestrian Club.

Mary Bahniuk Lauritsen, 17, currently competes at Fourth Level and in the FEI Junior tests. She participated recently in the USDF Region 8 FEI Jr/YR clinic with Susan Blinks and is an active member of the Connecticut Dressage Association, Charles River Dressage Association, and New England Dressage Association. She also plays Junior Varsity Lacrosse. Mary writes, "I am at a turning point in my life. This spring I am graduating from high school and making important decisions about my future in the sport of dressage. By receiving this scholarship I will have the opportunity to attend my first USDF convention. Taking part will allow me to meet and network with other riders, allowing me as a junior, and as the future of dressage, to spread my education to others, and to learn more about how the USDF works."

Funds for the USDF Youth Convention Scholarship have been raised by the USDF Youth Executive Board through an annual silent auction held at the Annual Convention. The USDF Youth Executive Board is presently accepting donations for this year's auction. If you would like to make a donation, or for further information about youth programs at USDF, please contact Karin Glassman, USDF Director of Programs and Education at 859-271-7879 or via email at

Founded in 1973, the United States Dressage Federation is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to education, recognition of achievement, and promotion of dressage. For more information about USDF membership or programs, visit, email, or call (859) 971-2277.