Training - Fourth Levels

Workshops

The USDF Instructor/Trainer Program workshops are designed to educate dressage riders of all levels. They are open to instructors, aspiring instructors, and amateurs. USDF workshops provide a wonderful opportunity for all students of dressage to learn about classical theories of riding, training, teaching, lungeing of the horse, and lungeing of the rider (seat lessons). Participants will be able to improve their practical skills under the guidance of USDF qualified workshop leaders. A pre-certification workshop is also offered in which participants can determine if their current level of expertise meets the USDF Certified Instructor Standards of Proficiency. Workshops are not mandatory for certification.

Workshop Categories & Purposes

Workshops are not required for certification. However, they are strongly recommended as a method of preparing for the Certification Testing. Those who have participated in these workshops have demonstrated a higher success rate in the exams. The purposes of each of the workshops are as follows:

LUNGEING: to review correct lungeing principles and techniques for training the horse and rider.

RIDING: to review and apply the classical methods of schooling the dressage horse. This workshop provides an opportunity for participants to improve their practical riding skills, their ability to assess the horse's training, and their knowledge of how to relate the concepts of the Pyramid of Training in practical training sessions.

TEACHING: to develop effective teaching skills that will enable the participants to become more competent instructors. This workshop is an opportunity for participants to improve their ability to assess students, and to expand the participants’ knowledge of how to relate the concepts of the Pyramid of Training to the practice of teaching. The participants will be evaluated on their presentations of private lessons.

Pre-Certification

After all three workshops have been offered, a USDF Pre-Certification may be held. This mock testing, conducted by examiners, is designed to offer participants the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the certification testing format. Attending a Pre-Certification is strongly recommended, but not required.

A Pre-Certification workshop is basically a dress rehearsal. The examiner will assess the level of practical skill and theoretical knowledge of the participants. The participants receive numerical score sheets with comments at the end of the two days. There are no lectures or demonstrations, and limited dialogue between the examiner and participants.

Prerequisite

Participants will be required to complete the online education modules on eTRAK.

Certification

Certification implies recognition by USDF of the candidate’s achievements and capabilities. To be certified means the candidate meets specified standards and has demonstrated they have the knowledge and abilities necessary to teach the concepts of dressage.

Candidate applications must be received in the USDF Office eight weeks prior to testing. A candidate must achieve certifications in order (i.e. a candidate must be certified at Training-First Level before he or she may become certified at Second Level). A candidate may be tested for no more than two levels during any one testing.

The following pre-requisites are applicable at all levels when applying for certification:

This level is designed to assess the candidate’s ability to demonstrate the correct development of horse and rider through the basic levels of the Pyramid of Training. The instructor must demonstrate insight into the progression of dressage training through First Level and be able to effectively impart this knowledge to students, helping them to achieve correct training of the horse to this level. Candidates are also assessed in their proficiency to lunge a horse and to give a beginner seat lesson. The following requirements must be met:

  • Submit resume showing three (3) years of teaching and training experience.
  • Submit three (3) letters of recommendation. References should be from industry professionals attesting to candidate’s character and ability.
  • Submit three (3) competition scores of 60% or higher from USEF-licensed/USDF-recognized competitions. All scores must be from three (3) different judges.
    • One (1) score from any First Level Test
      • For IDA or Intercollegiate applicants, scores can be submitted from a recognized IDA competition
    • Two(2) scores at First Level, Test 3 or higher

This level is designed to assess the candidate's ability to provide the correct foundation for beginning collection as required for Second Level. Candidates must demonstrate the ability to impart correct training and teaching philosophy, as well as develop the rider's seat and position in advanced seat lessons on the lunge. The following requirements must be met:

  • Submit a resume showing four (4) years of teaching and training experience
  • Must be currently certified at Training – First Level
  • Submit three (3) letters of recommendation. References should be from industry professionals attesting to candidate’s character and ability.
  • Submit five (5) competition scores of 60% or higher from USEF-licensed/USDF-recognized competitions. All scores must be from three (3) different judges.
    • Two (2) scores from candidate at Second Level Test 3 or higher
    • One (1) score from candidate from any Second Level test
    • Two (2) scores from candidate's students from any Second Level test

This level is designed to assess the candidate's ability to demonstrate progressive collection as required for Third and Fourth Levels. Candidates must demonstrate an understanding of the requirements and interconnection of the elements of the Pyramid of Training. They must be able to demonstrate their effectiveness in imparting this knowledge to students, helping them to achieve correct training of the horse. The following requirements must be met:

  • Submit a resume showing four (4) years teaching and training experience
  • Must currently be certified through Second Level
  • Submit five (5) letters of recommendation. References should be from industry professionals attesting to candidate’s character and ability.
  • Submit five (5) competition scores of 60% or higher from USEF-licensed/ USDF-recognized competitions. All scores must be from a total of three (3) different judges.
    • Two (2) scores from candidate at Fourth Level Test 3 or higher
    • One (1) score from candidate from any Fourth Level test
    • Two (2) scores from candidate's students from any Fourth Level test

In order to achieve certification at the following levels, the candidate must meet all requirements and pass all exam sections with a score of 70% or higher. If the candidate fails one section, he/she may retest that particular section at a later time. Each exam session will be 45 minutes in length. Candidates will be evaluated by a minimum of two examiners during a testing. Candidates will be asked questions during all lungeing, riding, and teaching phases. Please read the Candidate Guidelines for more information about the format of each testing level.

Certified Instructor/Trainers at all levels must fulfill the following requirements each year to maintain current status with USDF. Certified Instructor/Trainers who do not meet these requirements on an annual basis will lose their current certified instructor status with USDF and will not be listed on the USDF website.

Certified Instructor/Trainers who maintain their current status are eligible for:

  • Listing on USDF website
  • Advertising discounts in USDF Connection magazine
  • Discounts and insurance benefits with program partners
  • Discounts to USDF events
  • Invitation to special education programs held during convention and symposium

If you have questions or need more information, contact the Instructor/Trainer Program Liaison at (859) 971-2277 or instructorcertification@usdf.org.

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