New to Dressage
- Where do I get information on what organizations I need to join to start?
- How do I get involved with USDF?
Join! You can get involved with a local, affiliated club (GMO) or join the USDF directly with a participating membership. Then, look for opportunities to volunteer – at a show, at a clinic or a local fundraiser.
- How do I find a dressage club in my area?
Check the list of clubs on this site. Each of these clubs is a Group Member Organization (GMO) with USDF, so when you join you will also become a USDF member.
- How do I get involved with a local GMO (Group Member Organization)?
Check the website of your local club for a contact. Most clubs need volunteers to help at shows, organize fundraisers and events or edit and write their newsletter.
Get in the Show Ring
- What types of horses do dressage?
- What are the traits to look for in a dressage horse?
Choosing a horse is a personal decision but several factors are important when making your choice. A good dressage horse has a good character, should be a willing learner and have three clear, rhythmic gaits: walk, trot and canter. Ideally, he should fit you, as a rider, in temperament, level of training and size. See dressage protocol.
- What’s the difference between a schooling show and a recognized show?
A recognized show is licensed by the USEF and recognized by the USDF and scores attained may count toward year end awards or act as qualifying for a championship or other event.
A schooling show is usually local, sometimes smaller, not recognized, and used by riders and horses to gain experience, practice test riding and get the feel of competition.
- What’s the difference between the warm-up ring and the show ring?
The warm up ring is the practice area you are allowed to ride in at a show. The show ring is the official ring with letters that you will enter at A to be judged. Both recognized and schooling shows have designated warm up areas. Be certain to obey show management requirements on where you can, and cannot, warm up.
- What is showing “in-hand?”
Young dressage sport horse prospects and horses suitable for breeding dressage horses can be shown “in-hand”. A handler on the ground walks and trots them around a triangular shaped arena in front of a judge who judges them on their conformation (build) and movement. Visit our sport horse handlers clinics section to learn more about showing in-hand.
- What kinds of costs are associated with showing at my first dressage show?
That depends on whether you are at a schooling or recognized competition. Schooling shows are generally less expensive for many reasons but may not offer many of the benefits of a recognized show. For a recognized competition, expect to pay entry fees, stall fees, various administrative and USEF fees, and expect to pay for bedding and hauling your horse. Take a look at an entry checklist (PDF) just to see what is involved for a recognized show.
- How do I find a trainer in my area?
- How is dressage useful to people involved in other disciplines?
Dressage can help improve any horses’ performance because the goal of the training is improving the horses’ gaits and ability.
- What books and videos are good for a beginner?
We recommend you start your library with the USDF Guide to Dressage and the two manuals by the German National Federation. They are available at the bookstore.
For visual learners, we also recommend the On The Levels DVD, which discusses and explains the tests and how best to ride them.
- What is USEF?
The United Stated Equestrian Federation is the governing body for dressage and other equestrian sports. The current rules and regulations are available on their website.
- What is a GMO?
A Group Member Organization is a local or regional club that is affiliated with USDF whose members enjoy certain benefits of joining USDF.
- What is the FEI?
The Federation Equestre Internationale is the governing body for international dressage competition. They write and update the FEI tests above Fourth Level and govern the World Cup, World Equestrian Games and the Olympics.
- What is a CDI?
An acronym for Concours Dressage International, a dressage competition recognized by the FEI. As CDI-W, there are World Cup qualifying or World Cup classes at the show, as CDIO there are Olympic qualifying or Olympic classes at the show.
- What is a TD?
An abbreviation for Technical Delegate, a TD is an USEF-licensed official who serves at the show as a resource to competitors and management. The TD evaluates the competition and ensures that USEF rules are followed.
- What does the Q mean after a class name?
The class has been designated as a Qualifying class for the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championships.