Looking for an instructor? Here are some helpful hints to help make the selection.
- What should I look for in a dressage instructor or trainer?
- What other information should I consider when looking for an instructor?
- Does USDF have a list of recommended dressage instructors or trainers in my area?
- I don't find a USDF Certified Instructor in my area. Now what?
- What do the various categories of Certified Instructor/Trainer Certification mean?
- What is a USDF Certified Instructor/Trainer?
- What is an Associate Instructor?
- I am looking for a Para Dressage coach. Where can I find one?
Riders may have different priorities when it comes to choosing an instructor/trainer. Whenever possible arrange to watch a potential instructor/trainer teach and or ride before you decide if it is a good match for you. USDF’s Certification Program is designed to educate dressage instructors to teach the classical concepts of dressage.
- Talk to other riders whose style of riding you like to see who they like and why.
- Go to a show and spend time at the warm up arena; see if you like what you see and hear; make note of anyone whose style you don't like.
- Try to watch the instructor you are interested in ride and teach. If they do not want you to come to the facility where they teach to watch them ride/teach, this is probably not a good sign. An instructor should not have secrets or methods that are so questionable that they can't allow you to watch.
- It is important to watch the instructor teach and ride in person. Do not make a decision based only on what you hear about them.
- Trust your feeling as to whether you and the instructor would have good chemistry. It is important and makes the process either a good life experience or a bad one.
- Before making a final decision, both student and potential instructor would benefit from a short discussion about what the student is looking for, i.e. their goals and what their expectations are from an instructor. Likewise the instructor can tell the student a little about their teaching style and their expectations for their students. That way if both are on the same page it’s more likely that it will be a mutually beneficial, long term relationship.
The USDF has a list of Certified Instructors/Trainers on their website. You can search that list to see if there is one or more USDF Certified Instructors/Trainers within reasonable distance of where you live. USDF Certified Instructors teach the classical concepts of dressage and meet specified proficiency standards.
Your local Group Member Organization (GMO) might be able to help you locate someone in your area. If you are not a member of a GMO, you can search for one in your area on the GMO Listings by Region page of the USDF website
What do the various categories of Certified Instructor/Trainer Certification mean?
The USDF Instructor Certification Program offers certification in three categories:
- Certified Instructor/Trainer; Training through First Level
- Certified Instructor/Trainer; Second Level
- Certified Instructor/Trainer; Third through Fourth Level
- FEI Level – FEI A and FEI B
A USDF Certified Instructor/Trainer is someone who has been certified by USDF in the areas of Teaching/Training, Lungeing of the Horse, Lungeing of the Rider and have successfully passed a written and verbal exam. Recognized Teachers have achieved this level of certification by achieving a score of 70% or higher in each area of the certification exam. Each Certified Instructor is a current USDF Participating Member, submits 16 hours of continuing education hours annually, has completed a course in First-aid and Safe Sport, and signs our program's code of conduct annually.
Associate Instructors are recognized for their participation and completion in USDF Instructor/Trainer Workshops and their commitment to furthering their education. Each Associate Instructor is a current USDF Participating Member, submits 16 hours of continuing education hours annually, has completed a course in First-aid and Safe Sport, and signs our program's code of conduct annually. These program participants have not been tested for final certification.
USEF provides a directory, by state, of Para Dressage coaches. You can find it on the USEF website. If you have any questions regarding the list of Para Dressage coaches, please contact Laureen Johnson, USEF Director of ParaEquestrian or Michel Assouline, Para Head of Coach Development and Technical Advisor.