What Has the USDF Done for Its GMOs Lately?

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USDF tries to make its affiliated dressage clubs feel special. A cake presented during the afternoon Board of Governors assembly break celebrated the 45th anniversary of the 2019 convention host GMO, the Georgia Dressage and Combined Training Association.

Text and photos by Jennifer Bryant

Help is available if you know where and how to look for it.

That was the theme of this year’s GMO Roundtable Discussions, a fixture at the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention, in which representatives from USDF’s 100-plus affiliated dressage clubs or “group-member organizations” gather to share ideas and to find better ways to serve their memberships and overcome challenges, frequently on shoestring budgets and with thin-stretched volunteer labor.

Dividing themselves by club size (small, medium, and large), the GMO reps at the 2019 edition in Savannah, Georgia, listened to presentations by USDF senior competitions coordinator Cristen Brown, The Dressage Foundation executive director Jenny Johnson, and USDF education coordinator Isabella Baker. Brown started things off with an overview of the new USDF Regional Schooling Show Awards Program. This program will recognize achievement at unrecognized dressage competitions (“schooling shows”) in four divisions: open, adult amateur, junior/young rider, and non-pro.

“Non-pro,” Brown explained, is a designation specially created for this program. It denotes a competitor aged 22 or older in that calendar year who holds neither a US Equestrian amateur card nor a USEF professional declaration.

For scores to count toward awards, the judge must be a current USDF L graduate (with or without distinction) or a USEF-licensed or retired USEF dressage judge.

For more program details, see https://www.usdf.org/awards/performance/regional-schooling.asp.

The donating and awarding as Board of Governors assembly door prizes of GMO baskets is a cherished USDF convention tradition. The lucky winner of the Central Tennessee Dressage Association’s basket will enjoy some of that state’s finest sippin’ whiskey.

Although recognition of achievement comes in second, the number-one benefit USDF and its group members want is dressage-related education. But producing great educational events can be expensive. That’s where the USDF GMO Education Initiative and The Dressage Foundation’s (TDF) GMO-focused education grants come in.

As USDF’s Baker explained, there are 18 grants of $1,000 each available per year—and not all are currently spoken for, so GMOs, get those applications in! Events must meet specific criteria in order to be considered for a grant. To learn more, visit https://www.usdf.org/education/gmoei.asp. Send questions to education@usdf.org.

Finding funding for GMO educational events is one time that “double dipping” is encouraged—in this case, by applying for grant money to both USDF and TDF. The organizations are separate entities, and so there’s no rule barring a GMO’s from applying to both, Johnson explained.

Among TDF’s portfolio of grant funds, one, the Violet M. Hopkins Fund for GMO Events, is earmarked specifically for this purpose, as its name suggests. Grants of up to $2,000 are available to help defray the costs of GMO programs, Johnson said. Other TDF grants—such as the Maryal and Charlie Barnett Continuing Education Grants for Dressage Instructors, the Dancing Horse Fund (for freestyle education and promotion), and the new Lynn Palm Western Dressage Fund—may also be applicable to GMO educational programs.

Check out all TDF has to offer at https://www.dressagefoundation.org.

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