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United States Dressage Federation


Standards of Proficiency

The testing is meant to be a thorough evaluation and examination of the candidate's expertise in the skills relevant to your success in the dressage teaching and training profession. USDF is concerned that candidates who are certified are not simply producing riders with winning scores, but rather, riders who can think about their training and feel the results and effect on the horse.

  • USDF Certified Instructors/Trainers exemplify the highest standards, protecting the interests of both students and horses as well as the traditions of classical dressage as outlined in the Pyramid of Training. Instructors are responsible for the future of dressage through the riders they influence.
  • USDF Certified Instructor/Trainers are committed to the goal of the harmonious development of the physique and ability of the horse, endeavoring to help students make their horses calm, supple, loose, and flexible, but also confident, attentive, and keen, thus achieving perfect harmony with the rider.
  • USDF Certified Instructor/Trainers have an in-depth understanding of the classical dressage theory and its application to "real life" scenarios. They know the purpose, the progression, and the connection between the various school movements and can recognize the difficulties and typical mistakes.
  • USDF Certified Instructor/Trainers have analytical skills rooted in classical methodology to accurately assess a horseís strong and weak qualities. They will be able to articulate an appropriate prescription for the horse's schooling. They demonstrate a solid, balanced and effective seat and tactful aids required to produce the desired effect on a variety of horses.
  • USDF Certified Instructor/Trainers have a broad base of teaching experience with a reservoir of practical knowledge to draw upon. They have evaluative skills needed to analyze the training requirements of horses and students. They are able to prescribe a solution appropriate to the studentís level of experience and current ability. They are able to transfer their knowledge, imparting concepts and feelings in order to produce independent riders.
  • USDF Certified Instructor/Trainers present lessons that are organized focused and logical, yet creative and flexible in order to achieve success. Their professional demeanor will demonstrate poise, confidence and command of the arena. Their communication skills need to show effective use of grammar, vocabulary, voice, and diction. They establish rapport with horse and rider, demonstrating compassion and encouragement.

Current Test Fees

For guidelines and other important documents, see our forms & documents page.

If you have any further questions, contact the Instructor/Trainer Program Liaison at (859) 971-2277 or