Group Member Organizations (GMOs) are the foundation of USDF and integral in bringing dressage and dressage education to the masses. Stay connected with your local dressage community and support dressage at the local level by joining a GMO in your area today!
USDF GMO Established: 1999
Locality: Region 1, Pennsylvania
How many members does your GMO have annually, on average?
Tell us about your GMO.
The Lehigh Valley Dressage Association (LVDA) was founded in the 1970s and serves the northeastern portion of Pennsylvania, as well as northwestern New Jersey. Our membership ranges from future dressage stars to FEI competitors, and we welcome everyone, whether they are just looking for an opportunity to socialize with other people who share their interests or if they want to take full advantage of our show and clinic opportunities. Each year, we offer a series of five schooling shows, with the last show also being our schooling show championships, with awards at each level. While we have a “casual” dress code for our regular schooling shows, in the championship classes, we ask that riders dress as they would at a recognized show. We also offer a variety of educational opportunities to our members each year, including clinics with regional and national trainers and a winter lecture series. In addition, we have several scholarship opportunities for our members that include riding and educational scholarships, as well as a recently started clinic scholarship program. The clinic scholarship is designed to help up to ten members, per year, offset the cost of our clinics. The riding and education scholarships, offer to members who have demonstrated exception commitment to and/or excellence in the sport of dressage and service within LVDA, provide funding for educational and riding opportunities. We are also very proud of the fact that we have sent at least two teams to every Region 1 Adult Team Competition for many years, and we look forward to continuing to do that in the years to come. Our Adult Team members do an outstanding job of fundraising to cover the costs associated with these competitions, and the hours of effort that go into fundraising and preparing for the show really brings the teams together. I’d like to think that we have so much fun at these competitions because of all the bonding that happens prior to the actual show.
Does your GMO offer unique classes or activities that cater to youth, adult amateurs, or professionals? If so, please provide a brief description.
LVDA sponsors at least two teams in every Region 1 Adult Team Competition, as well as sponsoring at least one team at a local team competition. In addition, we offer high score awards to both junior and senior members at each of our schooling shows, as well as at our recognized show. This year we sponsored an adult clinic with Lendon Gray, which was held prior to a Dressage4Kids event.
What type of educational events does your GMO offer?
Each year LVDA tries to offer at least one clinic with a trainer that will benefit both our lower level riders, as well as the riders who are showing at the upper levels. This year, we were fortunate enough to offer two clinics, one with Emily Donaldson and one with Lendon Gray. We also offer a winter lecture series that covers a range of topics, from yoga for equestrians to changes in acceptable show attire. LVDA also offers several riding and education scholarships each year, and we’ve recently started offering a clinic scholarship to help members who want to attend clinics but find the costs prohibitive.
What type of “fun” events does your GMO offer?
We try to plan a variety of non-horse events throughout the year; our annual Awards Dinner, a summer picnic/pool party, and our member social in the fall. This year we’re also planning on offering a ribbon wreath workshop, we hope to add a ‘paint and sip’ night, and maybe a round of miniature golf as well. This gives our members an opportunity to get together without having a horse in hand, or being worried about `what’s my horse doing on the trailer while I’m trying to talk to my friends’, which we’ve all run into.
When I asked the board members for suggestions about writing this column, they all responded with variations on how friendly and welcoming LVDA members are and how much fun we all have together. We have an amazing awards committee that works really hard, to make sure we have the most beautiful ribbons at our shows and wonderful prizes for our competitors, and they’re also genuinely REALLY excited for the people who win those ribbons and prizes. We have had more fun doing show setup in the pouring rain than I would have ever thought possible, and maybe not quite as much fun cleaning up afterwards, but we still find things to laugh about. The camaraderie within LVDA is something I haven’t found in very many other groups. While our membership ranges from former riders to juniors just starting out, and all levels in-between, no matter who you are we try to make everyone feel welcome and we celebrate everybody’s successes. We may be a small GMO, but we are very proud of what we have accomplished.