DQ Moments


OMG, I am such a DQ at times (No, laughing! It’s truly not all the time.). When I got to the barn to get ready for a lesson, I saw that it was busy. I had no idea so much work would be going on and so many people would be there. Sundays are often sort of sleepy (and very pleasant) days at Foxberry and I was in that mode so it was a shock to see so much activity.

Some of you with DQ tendencies will see where I was mentally and others of you will think I was over the top…

Here’s what was going on:

  1. There was a cherry picker in one arena where there were a couple of men working on changing out light bulbs and adding new lights to help with illuminating the other arena. They had one light down and were working on it when Roo and I walked in from the pasture. While he was not exactly afraid, he stared and took a wide path away from it (trying to be behind me!).
  2. There was chainsaw repair happening in the driveway with little noise but it did get fixed and was then out being used in the pastures.
  3. Jump repair was going on behind the barn (behind the cross ties) with power tools – mostly hand saw and power drill/screw driver – in action.
  4. The new tack shop building construction continued. The tools for that one are louder since the nail gun is often in play.
  5. The gun range up the road was being used so there was also shooting noise.
  6. Mark came to watch the lesson which ended up being cancelled after all.

Add to the all those things wearing my new boots for the first time and I was very distracted. Most of these things were simply noisy and noises are not terribly upsetting to Roo, but are often disturbing to me. I expected Roo to be concerned by the cherry picker particularly when it was moving. He did one nearly 180 degree whip around of his head when the crew moved the whole truck within the arena but otherwise he really didn’t care about the guy suspended in midair working on the light. That happened when I was riding. Otherwise, the ride was focused and responsive. When I walked Roo back to his pasture, he was a rather concerned about the guy on the short ladder at the base of that same light pole. Go figure!

I’m very pleased that the farm is getting the attention and care that it is. This was simply an unexpected-to-me amount of activity happening all at once. Since the weather has been so wet, I should have expected everyone to be out on such a nice day.

Lesson: I am more of a dressage queen that I realized and Roo is more mature and more level-headed than I give him credit for.

Once again, Roo is Super ‘Stang!


Today’s Dressage Lesson

This afternoon it got hot! There was a nice breeze but it was hot for my fuzzy pony. I think it’s time to clip… I’m writing a bit about our lesson in hopes of remembering it well. We have been working on tweaking my position (not so unusual but I’m not super quick to make body adjustments because it’s hard for me) and that’s caused me to struggle and fidget a bit since the last lesson. Roo does his best but it’s not always perfect circumstances for him.

My initial riding was no different than it’s been – a bit fussy. So things weren’t super together when Chris arrived. I asked about something I’d read in an article by Beth Baumert this week –“ forward half halts”. While I’m comfortable with the concept and reality of forward into transitions the term forward half halt made me pause. So, after getting the definition cleared up in my head (no slowing of the hind legs with soft and forward into the transition – up and down) we did a few. Okay, we tried a few. Mixed results. Must remember to keep pony’s inside hind leg under him more. Attempted a few more with a little better result but nothing spectacular.

At that point, Chris helped us on the ground with some half steps. Roo didn’t want Chris near him (smart pony knows he is asked to work much harder when Chris is on the ground). We did the half steps and the lift into the transitions came quickly. When Chris wanted to hand my whip back, Roo wasn’t having any of that. After many feet in reverse, he finally listened and let me take my whip. Sigh. I guess Roo’s not really into tough afternoon workouts~

Once Roo was again responding to my requests, we moved into a quick sequence of transitions to work on the forward half-halt concept. We were to canter with true outside connection (when lacking that connection, we were to do a volte until Roo moved into the outside connection softly), walk, and immediately go into half steps, and once half steps established, canter off. On the first attempt, Roo said, Hey, up there! No. Not gonna. You have lost your mind. He even put his hoof down! (That’s something he does when he’s not happy about what he’s being asked to do. LOL)  It took a bit of convincing but we got enough half steps to then canter off. We had to go through this series of transitions several times in each direction before we got anything worth noting. I also have to let go… When Roo tenses up, I tense up, and he tenses up – it’s a vicious cycle. Chris told me to let go. Wouldn’t you know, when I finally managed to let go, Roo suddenly went fine. There were moments of brilliance. I will focus on those but I have so many things to work on!

Take aways:

  • Work Roo in the morning
  • Insist on outside connection but LET GO, too
  • Likely that inside hip needs to be out/under just a little bit more
  • Sit up. Look up.
  • Trust your horse!

The Show Will Go On

I am soooo disappointed – disappointed in the circumstances and myself. Tomorrow Roo and I were supposed to be doing a dressage demo for the Mustang & Wild Horse Rescue of GA at the Ticket to Ride Benefit Horse Show benefiting who else but MWHR. It was the perfect scenario – a chance to get Roo out without pressure and a chance to show off a bit of Roo’s je ne sais quoi to help bring awareness to mustangs and what great sport horses they can be. But it’s not to be. The show will go on, of course, but without us.

Since being invited to be a demo rider, I’ve waffled between very honored and frighten stiff. That tends to be a norm for me when dealing with something not completely known or previously tried. Usually, the nerves stay until I get into the meaty part of whatever I’ve committed to and then confidence finds a way in. So the waffling wasn’t really a big deal and I have been making plans for a couple of months.

The disappointing aspects are

  • I didn’t deal with my aching back sooner. I let the niggling little pains go and go and go. It came to a very painful pinched nerve on Tuesday followed by getting jostled in the saddle on Wednesday which brought my lower back into spasm forcing me to reconsider all plans for the week.
  • We are not going which means we are letting friends and acquaintances down. I realize life happens and all that but I prefer to honor my commitments even if inconvenient.
  • Today’s adjustment went well but couldn’t completely take the nerve pain away – inflammation doesn’t go away instantly even when the irritant is gone.
  • Today’s ride attempt was painful. See 3. The ride was just long enough to walk, trot and canter to see if I’d be comfortable enough to make it to the demo. No such luck. While I had a better ride today than yesterday transitions were still tough.

Roo is a saint, though, and he listened so well. He got a bit revved up expecting to do canter lead changes but came back easily (saving my back since a wonky change helped cause my back ouch yesterday). Love my Super ‘Stang!

I’m hoping that anyone who was considering attending this show to see our demo attends anyway. Hocus Pocus and Caitlyn Bennet will do a dressage demo in our stead. They were to be our dressage demo partners but now they will fly solo representing mustangs well. Hocus has shown a lot and he and Caitlyn will show you that even a small ‘stang can dance to the music.

Ticket To Ride Benefit Horse Show

July 7-9
Wills Park
Wills Rd
Alpharetta, GA



Fun classes start at 4:00 PM
Tack sales starts at Noon
Dressage Demo will take place in the covered arena somewhere between 5 and 6.

Are You Riding Fit?

We have all heard or have experienced first-hand that off-horse fitness or cross-training helps you with posture, alignment, and correct movement patterns which helps you ride better, right? With that in mind, I signed up for the recent Kudzu Klinic held at Body Pros Physical Therapy Gym in Alpharetta, Georgia, with strength trainer Anna Anton*. When that Saturday dawned cold and blustery, I wasn’t in the mood to go outside let alone workout, but I was sharing a ride so I had to go.

Riding uses many muscle groups in the legs, abdominals, lower back, upper back and shoulders, chest, buttocks and arms. I have not owned my own horse for several years now. Although I’ve remained active with Pilates, Body Pump, and yoga classes, walking/hiking, and riding 1-2 days a week, I have definitely noticed a softening that wasn’t there when I owned and was riding more frequently. During the clinic we ran through a few standard exercises to learn proper form. It was harder than expected! With those few exercises, her obvious personal fitness level, and encouraging words, Anna Anton inspired me to look at my fitness and make some changes to my routine.

Anna is a proponent of weight training to increase strength, balance, and coordination. She’s not the only one. Most doctors agree that weight-bearing exercise (with the goal of building lean muscle mass) becomes increasingly important as we age. Increasing muscle mass can do many important things for the rider: protect joints and ligaments, spur one’s metabolism to burn more calories, help to prevent loss of bone density, increase energy, and (gasp) even boost a sagging libido!

Anna’s philosophy in training athletes is, “Whether your interest is in lacrosse, tennis, cross-country, or dressage, strength and fitness training is guaranteed to improve performance. As a long-time eventer and horse trainer, I have personally experienced the benefits of weight training. At 48, I’m in the best shape of my life! I tell my clients to just show up. That’s half the battle.”

A recent episode of The Doctors focused on losing belly fat**, but the main recommendations coincide with Anna’s. Anna suggests working out three to five times a week to make significant improvements in your fitness and therefore your riding. GDCTA (gdcta.org) has posted Anna’s recommended Ground Exercises for the Rider on the website on the Education/Kudzu Klinic page. While there are some exercises listed, there are no weight or repetitions listed. We discussed what would be ideal and the results were that a good warm up for your workout would start with:

  • Jumping rope
  • Jumping jacks
  • Full sit ups (rather than add reps, add weights when this becomes easy)
  • Full push ups (no on-the-knees push ups – if full push ups are too hard, start with incline push ups against the wall or a solid surface; if full push ups are really easy and you want more of a challenge, use a stability ball)
  • Side plank with hip dips (remember to do both sides!)
  • Wall Sit or squats
  • Standing lunges
  • Pull ups (you can start with under bar pull ups to build strength)

The Doctors recommendations focused on the core incorporating Plank and Side Plank (holding each for 15 seconds and repeating) combined with the high intensity workout of your choice, 30 minutes at least three times per week, to “torch” the fat away.

Another key factor in fitness is nutrition. While not a nutritionist, Anna suggests a several small meals a day, high-protein, low carb diet (very difficult with my penchant for pastry!) to help build muscle. Your body needs protein to build muscle. Muscle burns calories all the time. Plenty of lean muscle is a good thing to have in my opinion! The Doctors also touched on diet, suggesting three smaller meals plus two or three light snacks. The foods they recommended for a lean belly were beans, whole eggs, berries, dairy, and whole grain. Also, remember to stay hydrated! Dr. Travis Stork said that if you drink eight glasses of ice water per day, you can burn 500 more calories per week. Admittedly, that’s easier to do here in Georgia in the summer than the winter, but the idea of burning more calories with no effort on my part is appealing.

Horseback riding requires a huge amount of strength, balance, and muscle control. In short, fitness for equestrians is important. At the time of writing, it’s only been a couple of weeks of high intensity working out for me. I hope to remain diligent. Check back with me in a few months to see how I’m doing. (May update: I am pleased to report that I have been working out with weights fairly regularly since that cold February day–positive changes are occurring!)

Before starting any exercise program or diet it is recommended to check with your doctor or a registered dietitian.

Need more inspiration? The experts weigh in…

“A good piece of advice to all who want to ride well, and who wish to acquire a good position, would be to do gymnastic exercises, which give suppleness, ease, and sureness in riding… Only the rider who is free from any contraction will have a horse equally free from contraction.”

~Nuno Oliveira, Reflections On Equestrian Art

“As in most athletic endeavors, the rider must develop the seemingly contradictory qualities of relaxation and strength… If you can’t discipline your own body, you cannot discipline your horse.”

~Charles de Kunffy

“Everyone who rides should incorporate a cross-training program and proper nutrition in their regimen to stay fit and healthy and prevent injury… Riding alone does not provide the fitness required for performance, especially if you only ride occasionally. Like any other sport, riding requires that other athletic activities be added to the mix.”

~Mary D. Midkiff Fitness, Performance and the Female Equestrian

“Many people expect self-carriage from the horse when they themselves have failed to attain this. The rider’s body is like a balancing pole to the horse. A loose, flaccid body gives little support; similarly, a tight one restricts movement.”

~Sylvia Loch and Richenda van Laun, Flexibility and Fitness for Riders

“What does it take to be a successful competitive rider?.. If you want to be a successful rider, you must train hard and intelligently in the saddle… However, intensive riding is not all you can do to become a better rider. By improving your physical and mental fitness you can utilize more of your full athletic potential to further develop your riding skills… Achieving a higher degree of fitness will make your reactions quicker and your cues more precise.”

~Tom Holmes, The New Total Rider

“How many times have you blamed your horse for being disobedient, when, in fact, the problem stems from a lack of control of your own body or because you’re sitting crookedly when you give an aid? If you give your aids from an unsteady, crooked, or uncentered position, those signals can’t be as clear and effective as aids that are given from a fit body and a stable seat. It might not be glamorous to work on your position or your fitness, but the rewards are well worth it. Your horse will thank you!”

~Jane Savoie, http://www.janesavoie.com

*Anna Anton, 678-595-3909 / annaanton@bellsouth.net

**Dr. Travis’ Secrets To Losing Your Gut For Good! February 1, 2012

Dance, Dragonfly, Dance!

How’s your year going so far? For me it’s seemed a little tough. Work has been a bit of a grind leaving me flat and unmotivated. The gray days, wet arenas, and strong winds have put a damper on my riding enthusiasm as well. As a result I’ve hit a plateau – all the way around it seems.

Today’s clear skies and sun shine offer a much better, brighter start to the rest of the year!

Lately, in an effort to lighten my mood and refresh my riding, I’ve been playing with exercises. I try to stay away from the patterns of the tests because Roo is too smart – he learns the test movements then “takes over” because he’s sure he knows what’s next. Since I’m not a trainer I have not really focused enough on having go-to exercises for every day. But, I am working on filling my book of tools so I can be a better self-trainer between lessons.

After watching my instructor teaching another student using part of this exercise I played around with it, making a few modifications, and I think I’ve found an exercise that tops my go-to list. It worked to supple Roo and it was fun! I’m certain it’s not new but I think it is fun and it has direction changes, transitions, and uses the entire ring. I call it The Dragonfly Dance. Dragonflies use movement as camouflage, which scientists say is complicated and very strange, but this dance is neither. You can modify it to make it easier or more advanced.

Let’s start at X with trotting and tracking left

X trot

C track left

H to X trot

X canter right lead, circling right 10M

X to K trot

A down center line

D to E half pass left, trot

E canter right lead, circling right 10 M

E to G half pass right, trot

C track right

M to X trot

X canter left lead, circling left 10 M

X to F trot

A down center line

D to B half pass right, trot

B canter left lead, circling 10 M

B to G half pass left, trot

C track left, left lead canter

H to X canter

X trot, circling right 10M

X to K canter left lead

A down center line

D to E half pass left, canter

E trot, circling 10M right

E to G canter right lead, half pass right

C track right

M to X canter right lead

X trot, circling left 10 M

X to F canter right lead

A down centerline

D to B half pass right, canter

B trot, circling left 10 M

B to G canter, half pass left

G walk, halt, or start over


Can you see it?


The first pass or two might not be elegant but as you learn the pattern, the transitions and gaits become easier. I’ve written “trot” and “canter” without specifying collected or extended or whatever because part of the fun of this is that you can play with that. Maybe you use medium trot on the short diagonal, maybe extended. Or if your horse is more advanced, instead of trotting the 10M circle in the middle, canter it with a fly lead change at E or B. I think there are many possibilities with this one! To make it easier, you could leg yield instead of half pass and use larger circles. Use your imagination!

If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think and how you modified it to fit your training! It’ll give me ideas for my own riding.

See you at the barn,


a desire, a dream, a vision

“Champions are made from something they have deep inside of them–a desire, a dream, a vision.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

Birds are chirping, daffodils are peeking out from their winter slumber and trees are blooming.  While we’re certain to have more cool days ahead, our thoughts are turning to spring.  It’s time to get out and enjoy your horse!

As part of your equestrian enjoyment, do you show your horse? Do you dream of long-tailed ribbons of blue, red, and gold? Yes, I’m talking about championship ribbons. This year there’s a brand new opportunity to earn one of those fancy rosettes with impossibly long streamers! It’s called the Southeast Schooling Show Championships and it is taking place October 7 and 8 at Chattahoochee Hills in Fairburn, Georgia.

The brainchild of Penny Morse, this show has been in the works for many months. The concept is to give those who show dressage, eventing, and combined training at a schooling show level the same opportunity to experience the exhilaration and prestige of riding against the best of their peers as those who show USEF level shows. This show for everyone and every type of horse!

The preliminary prize list is now available (Final-2017-SESSC-Classes-and-Fees – entry forms to come by opening date). There are a few things that should be pointed out. In addition to riding qualifications, there is a required volunteer element as well as an association membership requirement.


1) Rider must be a member of an appropriate local riding organization when scores/points are earned.

Examples of “appropriate” association would be:

  • GMOs such as GDCTA, The Good Horseman Foundation, TAG DEA – Tennessee, Alabama, & Georgia Dressage & Eventing Association, Birmingham Dressage & CTA, SCDCTA, NCDCTA, etc.

2) The show where you earned your scores must be a “Qualifying Show.”

To be a “Qualifying Show” for the Southeastern Schooling Show Championships, the show :

  • Must be recognized by your local riding association, i.e., the scores/points earned at that show must be eligible to count toward year-end awards
  • Must be a non-USEF/USDF/USEA-sanctioned competition (USEF may define the competition as a “Regular Competition” or “Local Competition” – both are eligible to host qualifying classes.)

3) Rider must show proof of volunteering at one event, either a recognized show or schooling show.

4) Rider must meet the eligibility requirements for your specific classes:

  1. 3-Phase Eventing: Place 1st through 5th at 2 qualified schooling shows (see #2) and must have at least 1 clear round on XC
  2. Combined Training: Place 1st through 5th at 2 qualified schooling shows (see #2)
  3. Dressage: Two (2) scores at 60% or above from two (2) different judges at the highest test of the level at two (2) qualified schooling shows (see #2). Scores can be earned at the same show but must have been earned under different judges.

5) Schooling Show attire is acceptable, but it is preferred it be neat and tidy, with hair appropriately secured under helmet. Jackets are optional. Chaps are permitted. Raincoats will be permitted if raining.

6) If you qualify for Championships in Dressage and 3-Phase with the same horse rider combination, you may enter both classes. If you qualify for Championships in Dressage and Combined Training with the same horse rider combination, you may enter both classes. However, you may *not* enter both Combined Training and 3-Phase Division with the same horse and rider combination.

7) A horse or pony may be ridden by two separate riders in the Amoeba, Tadpole, or Dressage Intro C but not in the same class.

There are a couple of unique competitions in the 3-phase championship – high score challenges within the associations and between trainers!

Association Highest Score Challenge: There will be an Association challenge for 3-Phase. The winner will be determined by averaging the scores across all divisions of the top 5 riders for each Association. If there is a draw, then it will go to the highest division.

Trainer Team Challenge: There will be a Trainer Challenge for 3-Phase. The winner will be determined by the best placing of the top 5 riders of each team. If there is a draw, it will be decided on the placing in the highest division.

In addition to the excitement of competition, there will be much fun to be had outside of the show ring. Watch Social Media, chatthillseventing.com, and this blog for the details to unfold.

The proof of volunteering (one day – 8 hours) is required (SESSC Volunteer Form). Horse shows depend on the giving nature of volunteers. But volunteers often reap satisfaction and benefits of volunteering by becoming involved in their communities. Volunteers meet people, learn new skills, and develop a greater understanding of what it takes to host a horse show. Volunteer early – you may find you enjoy it!

A full list of participating associations will be coming soon. If you are not already a member of an organization such as Georgia Dressage and Combined Training Association or Georgia Arabian Horse Association (both participating), join now to make sure you are eligible for this exciting new championship show. If your organization would like to participate, welcome! Use this form to register: Association Registration Form.

Eligibility, volunteering, and association membership forms can be sent to info@chatthillseventing.com ahead of your entry.

In its inaugural year, the show is expected to fill the available stalls (240) so it is a good idea to plan ahead if you think you want to participate. Temporary stalls will not be set up. Trailering in for the day will be allowed.

A full stable of sponsors and vendors adds value to the show experience. If you would like to sponsor, be a vendor, or have questions, please contact me at horseprint@aol.com or Penny Morse at designonpenny@yahoo.com.

Dream big. Train smart. Start visualizing your championship success!

See you at the barn,



More Power!

In our lesson today, mild-mannered mustang Roo, took off the glasses and ripped open the shirt to show his Super ‘Stang side once again. He has to be convinced to show his super powers (i.e., his potential for upper-level dressage work) but when he does, it is exciting and exhilarating to me!

While driving home, I had this epiphany, if I truly want to move up the dressage levels, my expectations about my riding have to change and I am the only one who can change them. Since my trainer, Chris Erbskorn, frequently reminds me to increase Roo’s energy, manage his evasions, and ask for more – more power, more from him in general – I have to ask the same of Roo and of myself. Chris can coach me in a lesson to get all the desired power and correct movements or he can get on and change Roo but if I don’t expect the same from us between lessons, we won’t make real progress. I have to take that responsibility and expect us to be able to do it, getting the appropriate help, too, of course.

Roo is not a difficult horse – he’s fairly easy – but he’s so smart and he prefers things to be easy – for himself. He doesn’t seem to mind me working hard but he is not inclined to put in more effort than I request. There are times it seems like we can work on a new movement or skill and between rides, he will exam it to find all the escape hatches, which he will try the very next time I ask for that skill. I don’t usually set the bar too high because I, too, prefer things to me easy for myself!

What did we do in today’s lesson that brought on these thoughts? The lesson was not really much different from any other lesson but it clicked so it must have been the right time for me to understand this information. We focused on the cycle of energy from back, over the top, to front and then recycling that energy. I had to sit more up with more lift through my sternum. Roo had to lift through his thoracic sling and sit. We started with half steps in order to get a strong lift through the back and set the energy in motion. I had to have better than good posture. It’s amazing what happens even with tiny improvements in the rider, not to mention adding energy to the pony. Brilliance! I’m truly humbled and beyond thrilled by how much potential Roo has for advancing in dressage. I’m so lucky to have such a nice horse and to have a trainer who can bring out his super powers!

In light of Roo’s obvious abilities to handle the physical aspects of advanced dressage, my expectations are being raised!

  • I’m going to expect Roo to participate by bringing his Super ‘Stang super powers to each schooling ride.
  • I will adjust to being outside of my comfort zone and accept the power from Roo’s inner Porsche, without fear.
  • I will manage the “open doors” (evasions) by either not leaving them open or closing them as soon as Roo shows me they are open.
  • I must improve my fitness – the huge trot Roo has when he’s in Super ‘Stang mode took it out of my abs today!

By stating this in writing, I expect I’ll be reminded frequently (ie, every time I moan or lose a little confidence) that I’ve committed to this. It’s my own fault! LOL

See you at the barn!

June Brewer

Life Lessons from Bear

  • Be vocal. Tell ‘em what you want. If they don’t respond, tell them again, only louder.
  • Never kill an idea, relationship, or mouse before its time. Play with it. Throw it around some. See where it lands! If it stops moving, bring it to your tribe to get their input.
  • Be loving! Head butting works to show affection and gets a response – every time.
  • Sleep? Yes! Rest is good for the soul. Train your family to let you in at bedtime by giving them signals such as head butting and kneading.
  • When it’s hot, lie down on a cool floor.
  • Be protective. Chase “frenemies” right out of your yard, and the neighbor’s yard, and the woods next door. It’s all your territory, right?
  • Show your beauty. Pose when the camera is out. Make sure they get your best side.
  • Eat what you are given and ask for more! Show enthusiasm for your favorites. One benefit of coming in from the wild is the many-meals-a-day plan humans offer.
  • Purring? Overrated.


Are you getting my best features?


Who is that fabulous kitty in the mirror?!


Bear’s inner black panther resting in the grass~


The wood floors are cool in the summer.


Enjoy the holidays!

A Brief Awards Primer

Competing? Make sure you and your horse are properly registered! As with any horsey information, don’t take anyone’s word for the rules and requirements, always confirm for yourself!

Are you considering moving from schooling shows to recognized shows? What’s the difference between a GDCTA-recognized show and a “recognized” show?!! GDCTA-Recognition is the schooling shows participating in the year-end awards program. They meet a set of criteria set by GDCTA to be granted that recognition (see website http://www.gdcta.org/organize-a-schooling-show). When I say recognized when referring to a show, I mean a show that is USEF/USDF/USEA sanctioned. You can find recognized competitions on usef.org – both dressage and eventing; usdf.org – dressage; and useventing – horse trials.


Membership in GDCTA runs from December 1 through November 30. As a member of GDCTA, you are also a Group Member of USDF.

The year-end Awards program has a number of rules for each discipline but the first is that you must be a current member when scores are earned. Join or renew before showing!

Awards Program Rules for both Recognized and Schooling can be found on the website under Awards: http://www.gdcta.org/program-rules—forms

If you are interested in seeing any of those rules, modified, please be sure to put together your intended changes, plan to attend a board meeting to present your request, and contact GDCTA president Caren Caverly (ccaverly@comcast.net) to get on the agenda for the meeting.


USDF has a number of awards to use as riding goals. Some are rider oriented and some are horse oriented. Some required only a Group membership (as you have when you are a GDCTA member) and others require that you join USDF directly as a Participating member.  Here is a list of the majority of them. There are other awards for GMOs, volunteers, artists, etc.

Performance Awards

USDF Rider Awards

USDF Rider Awards are based strictly on the scores the rider achieves over time and need not be earned in one competition year.


Rider Performance Awards
This award may be achieved at Training, First, and Second Levels.

Rider Award Medals
Rider medals (bronze, silver, and gold) are awarded based on attaining the required scores at the necessary levels.


USDF Horse Performance Certificates

USDF Horse Performance Certificates are based strictly on the scores a horse achieves over time and need not be earned in one year. These certificates may be earned at every level, Training through Grand Prix. Horse performance certificates can be earned for young horses competing in any USEF four-year-old young horse class, or FEI five- or six-year-old young horse class.

Adequan/USDF Year-End Awards

Adequan/USDF Year-End Awards are awarded in the categories of vintage cup, adult amateur, junior/young rider, para-dressage rider of the year, dressage sport horse breeding horse of the year, dressage horse of the year, materiale horse of the year, all-breeds, musical freestyle, musical freestyle challenge, breeder of the year, USEF four year-old and FEI five and six-year-old. The USDF competition year is October 1 through September 30.

Adequan/USDF All-Breeds Awards

Designed to recognize the accomplishments of specific breeds in dressage, these awards are presented to horses declared for a participating organization (PO) with USDF. While open is the standard division and Training through Grand Prix are the standard levels for all-breeds recognition, optional division awards can be presented in the following categories: freestyle, adult amateur, junior/young rider, vintage cup, para-dressage rider of the year, USEF four-year-old, FEI five and six-year-old, materiale, or dressage sport horse breeding. Learn more.

Other Awards and Recognition

Youth Dressage Rider Recognition Pin Program
The USDF Youth Dressage Rider Recognition Pin Program is designed to recognize the accomplishments of youth in the dressage community at all levels. This program is open to students who are currently enrolled in grades 6-12 of a middle/ high school or home school program and are a Group or Participating Member of USDF.

Youth Shining Star Program
Offered by the USDF Youth Council, this award recognizes outstanding sportsmanship by USDF youth members. Learn more

Youth Convention Scholarship
Supported by funds raised at the annual USDF Youth Executive Board Silent Auction, held at the annual convention, these scholarships provide financial support to young dressage enthusiasts to help defray the expenses associated with attending the annual convention. Learn more

Arts Contest
This annual contest was designed to highlight the creativity and beauty of dressage and to allow USDF members to express their interest in the sport outside of the competition arena. Learn more

USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award
The USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award was designed to develop leaders in the equine industry from all breeds and disciplines. Learn more



The USEA offers several Awards Programs and maintains an extensive Leaderboard to reward our members for their successes each year.

Leaderboard (Point System) (Leaderboard)

The USEA Leaderboard is formulated based on points earned at USEA Recognized competitions throughout the calendar year. In addition to the overall leaderboards for horse, rider, young rider, amateur, pony, lady rider, and mare of the year, the Leaderboard is also broken down by level with a category for every type of rider!

Questions about the Leaderboard should be directed to Sharon@useventing.com or 703-779-0440 ext. 3005.

Charles Owen Technical Merit Award (Information)

The Charles Owen Technical Merit Award was founded by the USEA Professional Horsemens’ Council. The hope is that this award will provide incentives for riders who demonstrate safe and appropriate cross-country technique, and will also educate riders and trainers as to what constitutes safe riding across country. Riders entered in the designated divisions will automatically be judged during their cross-country rounds and will receive score sheets with written comments, which will provide valuable feedback for them and their trainers. Judges qualified to evaluate riders to receive the award are: Level III and IV ICP instructors, USEF licensed eventing officials, and USET Senior Team riders.

Questions about the Charles Owen Technical Merit Awards should be directed to Kate Lokey at klokey@useventing.com, (703) 779-9897.

USEA Medal Program (Requirements)

The USEA Medal Program provides our members with recognition through a goal oriented program within the various levels of eventing. Each individual member may earn a Bronze, Silver, and/or Gold medal at the Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, and Preliminary levels. A certificate will be awarded for a horse registered with the USEA, based on the same scores.

To earn your medal you must submit the Medal Application to the USEA office. All scores from February, 2009, until present can be submitted.  Once the scores have been verified the member or horse owner will be provided with the associated awards for the medal achieved. Individual medal winners will earn a pin (at the level won) and certificate. The person’s name will also be published on the USEA website and in the magazine.  Award certificates and pins will be sent out quarterly to each rider and horse who achieves the appropriate qualifications.

Blue Ribbon Award Program (Requirements)

The Blue Ribbon Program is a stepping stone to achieving the Eventing Medals and then heading to the top of the leaderboard. The USEA will post the names of Blue Ribbon qualified horses and riders on the awards section of the USEA website on a monthly basis. Award certificates will be sent out quarterly to each rider who achieves the appropriate qualifications.

If you have any questions about any of the USEA Awards Programs please contact Michele at malvarez@useventing.com or 703-779-9890.

To qualify for the Blue Ribbon Award which is available at the Beginner Novice through Advanced levels a horse and rider combination must place 1st through 3rd at three events in the same level in a single year. In addition, both the horse and rider must have an active USEA membership at the time of their competitions.

Certificate of Horse & Rider Achievement (Requirements)

The Certificate of Horse & Rider Achievement is an opportunity to award and recognize our Beginner Novice members for successfully completing events. In order to qualify for the Certificate of Horse & Rider Achievement the horse and rider together must have completed three or more events at the Beginner Novice level during the same competition year. In addition, both the horse and rider must have an active USEA membership at the time of their competitions.

Note: Beginner Novice Horse and Riders who have achieved the next award level, the Blue Ribbon Award, will not receive the Certificate of Horse and Rider Achievement

Region 3 Dressage Championships

In horse showing, the new year doesn’t begin in January but in October when the awards year changes.

The Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 3 Dressage Championships & ANFD Dressage Show was the completion of the last show season, the crowning glory to 2016. Magnificent weather – bright days; chilly nights – greeted the competitors at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Georgia, this October. It was a grand reception with clear skies and, in the air, the smell of pine shavings and horses. Lots of horses!

With 600 entries – competitors rode 1296 tests – this was the largest regional championship show, nationwide. As morning dawned on Thursday, the air was vibrating with anticipation and excitement. Classes ran from Thursday through Sunday with nine rings running on Saturday. Burgundy, purple, and all the different shades of brown and gray, contrasted with the traditional black and white. The colors mingled with the dazzling sparkle from the bling – on clothes, tack, and boots!

GDCTA was pleased and honored to once again host this monumental event. We could not have pulled it off alone. We celebrate our partners in this record-breaking show. We could not have asked for better in any way – sponsors, vendors and artists, staff and volunteers, and competitors – all were outstanding.



There are so many ways to say thank you to our sponsors and vendors. You play a crucial role in bring our events to life. Thank you for your continued support and dedication to our organization and our sport! Your support is not something we take lightly and is very much appreciated by everyone connected with the club.

There is a deep well of creativity in this area. We tapped that well for equine-related art and came up with our own Equestrian Art Gallery on the show grounds.  Our Show Gallery Manager, Ulla Strickland put together an impressive array of artists – Amanda Moretz, Kimberly Sheldon, Zan Economopoulos, Julie Nestor, Sydney Frost, Karin Martin, Marcy Criner, Helena Savenius, Susan Burns, Sam Sherry, Jayne Ryan, and herself – with a variety of styles and pieces.

Ulla said about the Art Show, “I don’t want to sound corny, but it really was a show of superlatives: The longest art show we’ve ever had; the most artists with the most art work we’ve ever had; and the most sales we’ve ever had. We sold over 40 pieces of art! People bought and bought. Interestingly, the sales were spread out pretty evenly over most of the artists, so it was not just one or two who made the show. It was quite obvious that our concerted marketing and PR efforts helped; we had an almost constant stream of visitors coming in. I am very, very happy with this show (and I think Don is, too!).”

Look for our “Equestrian Art Gallery” at the largest of our future shows. We cannot thank the artists enough for being there. The gallery brings a unique elegance to the events.



The devil’s in the details, they say. And nowhere is that truer than when organizing a horse show. Dressage shows are massive productions with spy-grade secrecy (sort of) – and an enduring detail-oriented format that you are likely familiar with. A look behind the horse show management curtain can be incredibly illuminating the first time around. Armed with radios, the onsite production team often seem to be magicians. It really does not matter how the magic works, just that it appears seamless from the outside looking in – and this team pulled that off with aplomb. The staff put in loooooong hours well before the actual show days and were at the Horse Park sun up until sundown during the event.

It takes committed and selfless individuals to produce an event of this nature (therefore, blooper moments will not be shared). We bow to our show team – for your organizational skills and hard work as well as your time before, during, and after the show. Thank you!

Someone once said, Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer. We are deeply indebted to those who can do more – those charitable individuals who give their time so generously. Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. We are grateful to our volunteers for your support of our club and how kindly you shared so much of your time with us. Thank you!



Competitors, we would not, could not, forget you for you are the reason for the effort in the first place! We know you have the option to declare for other regions but that you chose us. We are humbled and truly grateful that you trusted us with the completion of your show year (unless you are heading to US Finals – yippee for those who are). In the ribbons or not, each and every one of you is a superstar to us!



Judith Anne Mitchell

Please let everyone know…you all did a fantastic job hosting the Regionals these past 2 years! Team Heather’s [Heather Caudill] group had a super time.

Lisi Tibrea

Awesome show! Everything about the facility was top notch! They even dragged the lunge areas…and the people were above top notch. All of the staff and volunteers I came in contact with were so nice, friendly and helpful. Lovely ribbons, great vendors, exhibitor events each evening…all in a great job done by everyone. I had not competed at a Regionals in 10 years and I was very impressed. Thanks to all.

Janet Holimon Stone

Totally agree with Lisi. Well run, friendly. And the addition of the food trucks helped tremendously.

Jennifer Hodgson-Kozel

Great show!!!

Heather Rodney

Such an amazing show! Pleasure to meet you, Sandy! I had a fabulous time!

Beverly Bowman

Fabulous Show!!!

Mary McGuire Smith

Fabulous show again!! Thanks to all the volunteers and show management (all the incredible people of GDCTA and beyond), things ran so smoothly that it was AMAZING! Even a hiccup in our arena on Saturday that could have been a disaster was handled so well that the judge was back on time within 2 rides! And we all know how amazing THAT is!

Jody Langton

Yes!! Great rides, fantastic weather, and a great time with both old and new friends. Congrats to all and those who are continuing on to Nationals. Safe travels to all.

Debbie Grant

Thanks everyone I had a great time at your well run show!!!

Nanette Manning

It was amazing to me and I loved volunteering!

Sharon Anthony
Our moms would probably never consider an email format an appropriate form for a thank you note, but I hope this will cover a number of individuals whose names I will probably never know. Please feel free to let them know how much I appreciate all of their time and efforts. Thank you to all who helped to make the Region III Championships such a wonderful experience for my horse (It’s Teddy) and me. All of the early communications were so helpful. I was amazed at how much pre information came out so early, i.e., ride times. This certainly makes a big difference in planning and reservations. Please extend my appreciation to all of the ring stewards and bit checkers who were thoughtful and patient. The number of times that they must have answered “how many until I go?”-  thousands of times throughout the days. The bit checkers were thoughtful with my horse and made their job a “non event” for him. Having a clock and water at each of the arenas certainly contributes to the mental and physical condition of the riders, so appreciated by those of us who may not have people on the ground for assistance. I realize that it took an army of skilled and focused individuals who did an AMAZING job in getting the scores out so quickly. I am glad to say that I also saw the efficiency of the awards crew who gave us our tests and ribbons. My thank you to each judge for the specific comments and the scribes whose writing and abbreviations I could read and understand. In summary, every aspect with which I had contact was SO WELL ORGANIZED. Thank you so much for all that you and your team did before and during the show to make things go so well for me and I am sure for many, many others. Best wishes and a sincere thank you for a “job” so well done.



May today’s success and luck be the beginning of tomorrow’s achievements!

Raffle Winners

  • Valerie Swygert on winning the Vitafloor™ VCM vibrating floor
  • Maryanna Haymon of MaryDell Farm for winning the FABBRI Custom boots


Richard Taylor/KWPN:

  • Kathleen Peterson on Aurora 1 (owner Susan Mitchell) with a PSG score of 65.167%
  • Laura Sevriens on Genevieve HF (breeder Julie Ballard Harralson) with a training level score of 80.909%


Oldenburg High Score Award:

De Premio (Owner/rider Amy Swerdlin)

Training AA Championship: Score 74.432%


Equinety™ Class Winners:

Alexandra Dominguez , Amanda Lopez, Anna Logan-Merritt, Beate Kuska, Ciera Foley, Elaine Sherer, Elizabeth Jannaman, Emily Copeland, Erin Brinkman, Faye Flynn, Jayme Untiedt, Jean Thornton, Jessica Howington, Joanne Trout, Juliette Cain, Laura Pendleton, Laura Sevriens, Leigh Kent-Scherzer, Lyn Davis, Madeline Tincher, Magdalene Vilada, Marge Savage, Markella Stavrinakia, Micaela Love, Nicole Levy, Pamela Hardin, Shelley Rahiya, Susanne Benne, Victoria Retamoza, Victoria Templeton


BORN IN THE USA High Score, sponsored by Maryanna Hayman:

Susan Graham on Leander 77.5%


Dover Medal:

Marissa Long on Zoe Ludinga 71.098%


High Scoring German Import, sponsored by Euro Imports:

Kristy Truenback on Living Lucky


Overall High Score (through Saturday), sponsored by MRK Dressage:


AA: Janne Rumbaugh on Armas Zumbel 72.237%

Jr/YR: Melanie Doughty on Fascinata 65.338%

Open: Suzanne Benne on Zonnerhall 73.1%


Training through Fourth

AA: Kristy Truenback on Living Lucky 76.25%

Jr/YR: Avery Lewis on The Manx Man 76.364%

Open: Laura Sevriens on Genevieve HF 80.909%


Musical Freestyle Exhibition:

1st: Linda Strine – Captain Jack Sparrow
2nd: Ryan Bell – Zorro
3rd: Joyce Lewis – East meets West
4th: Tamara Didjurgis – Grease
We had so much fun! Thank you all for your participation. We hope you will join us in 2018.