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Dressage Organizations for Showing and Education

What organizations you need memberships for will depend on what your goals are for the year.

If you are interested in Rated Shows, You will want to think about becoming a USDF Participating Member AND hold an active USEF membership. If you are not a member, you can still show rated but will not be eligible for Regional Championship qualifications and will be charged non-member fees.

If you are interested in schooling shows, you do not need any memberships but may want to think about joining a local Group Member Organization (GMO) to be eligible for Year-End Award opportunities.

Some goals may require your horse also be registered with USDF and USEF or possibly with certain breed organization to be eligible. Discuss your goals and the necessary memberships and requirements needed with your trainer to avoid unnecessary stress during your show season!

Common Organizations To Be Aware Of:

* Click the Organization name to be routed to their membership page! *

The United States Dressage Federation is the only national membership organization dedicated to dressage, a method of horse training in existence since ancient Greece and an Olympic sport since the inception of the modern Olympics in the late 1800's.

Dedicated to education, the recognition of achievement and promotion of dressage, USDF is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization with more than 30 different educational programs, 125 affiliate local or regional clubs and more than 2000 annual awards for excellence in competition.

The national levels, Training Level through Fourth Level, are governed by the United States Equestrian Federation. The international levels are governed by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). Participating memberships are $90.

United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) The United States Equestrian Federation is the national governing body for most equestrian sports in the United States. It began on January 20, 1917, as the Association of American Horse Shows, later changed to the American Horse Shows Association. It is the umbrella organization over the USHJA, USEA, USDF and many others. Competing memberships are $80. USEF members will also be required to complete annual Safesport training. This takes a little time but isn't remarkably difficult and is important to protecting minors in sport.

​The Midwest Dressage Association (MDA) Inc, founded in 1969, Is a charter group member of the United States Dressage Federation (USDF). MDA is an organization whose purpose is to promote and encourage a high standard of accomplishment in dressage in the general area of the midwestern United States, primarily through educational programs. MDA welcomes all horse enthusiasts, whether they ride or not, to be members. We invite everyone, not just MDA members, to attend our events. We look forward to see you at our upcoming activities. Our membership has been steady over the last few years making us one of the largest GMOs in Region 2. As an MDA member you join the ranks of over 26,000 GMO members throughout the United States in 121 different GMO's. Members are eligible for Year-End Awards through MDA for riders on both the rated and schooling show circuits and has a fun Annual Banquet at the end of the show season. An annual MDA membership is $58.

For over 35 years, the ADA has been a staple in the West Michigan Dressage community. Our membership averages around 100 individuals that participate on teams from local barns and independently. The organization strives to offer quality schooling shows, clinics, educational events, and awards programs. The ADA is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Members are eligible for Year-End Awards through ADA for riders on both the rated and schooling show circuits. An annual ADA membership is $50.

* Keep in mind * Beyond rider registrations , some goals may require horse registrations through USEF, USDF and/or specific breed registries.

Some show goals:

Competing a USDF Freestyle

Riders wishing to enter a freestyle class at any level, must have received a minimum score of 63% for Training through Fourth levels and 60% for FEI levels in the highest test of the declared freestyle level or any test of a higher level at a USEF/USDF licensed Dressage Competition prior to the competition where the horse/rider combination is entered to ride a freestyle class.

USDF Regionals Qualification

Riders wanting to qualify for regional championships must have BOTH a USDF participating membership and USEF active membership. The competing horse must also have a USDF lifetime registration (not a HID), and USEF annual or lifetime horse recording under the current owners or leasers name. Horses do not have to have any breed papers. Horse and riders must then have earned above a specific percentage (below) at the highest test of the competing level at two different shows USDF-rated shows from two different licensed judges in classes where the competitor entered with a qualifying score fee.

USDF Finals Qualification

Riders wanting to participate in USDF Finals at the Kentucky Horse Park first need to qualify and compete at a USDF Regional Championship. Rider and horse combinations need to earn an invitation through either placing at Champion or Reserve champion in their regional championship class OR earn a Wild Card score in that class (listed below). Combinations must also nominate and/or declare their intentions to attend USDF Finals prior to receiving an invitation. Declarations are to be completed prior to showing at your Regional championships at no cost . Nominations are to be competed within one week of the conclusion of regional championships, the cost of which is applied to your show entry for Finals.

Completing a USDF Bronze Medal

Completing a USDF Bronze medal requires the rider to compete at USDF-rated competitions earning two scores above 60% from two different judges in any test at first level, two scores above 60% from two different judges in any test at second level, two scores above 60% from two different judges in any test at third level. These scores can be earned over multiple years and across several different horses - not limited to one horse/rider combination.

There's no goal too small and the sun does not rise and set with competing. The minimum requirement is always that you enjoy your time with your horse!

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