5 Ways to Find a Dressage Instructor

Photo by Andrea Waxler Kaplan winner in the Adult Division of the 2015 USDF Arts Contest

By Chelsey Burris

The right instructor can help you take your dressage to the next level. But how do you go about finding one, especially if you’ve just moved to a new area or have just taken up the sport? Here are 5 ways to find your dream instructor.

USDF Website

The USDF website can make navigating through the waters of finding an instructor much easier. On the Instructor Page, you can see Honorary Instructors, Certified Instructors, and Associate Instructors.  You can filter the information to help find what you are looking for, including by region, state, designation, and/or title.  Once you find an instructor that you are interested in, you can contact them directly, as all of their contact info is listed on the USDF website. This is a great resource for USDF members & non-members alike.

Group Member Organizations (GMOs)

USDF has over 100 affiliated dressage clubs, called Group Member Organizations (GMOs). If you aren’t sure what GMOs are close to you, you can find GMOs by region on the USDF website.  Try reaching out to local GMOs to ask about instructors in the area.  Many GMOs host clinics and other educational events, which would be a great chance to meet the instructors and see them in action.


Speaking of clinics!  If you’re looking to find clinics near you, check out the USDF Education Programs & Events Calendar.  You can sort by type of event and by region to find just what you are looking for, with direct links available for each event.  Taking a workshop or clinic with an instructor you are interested in learning from is a great way to scope out if they are a good match for you. 


Word of mouth can also be a good way to learn about instructors.  Ask those around your barn who they recommend.  If you don’t have many barn-mates available, go online.  You can check out dressage-related Facebook groups in your area and post on forums to see which instructors others have worked with, and that can help you narrow down your search.


Show grounds are another great place to learn about instructors.  Don’t feel like you have to wait until a show you are taking your horse to.  If you aren’t distracted by preparing your horse and making it to the ring at a certain time, you’ll have more time to stroll the grounds.  When you see someone who isn’t super busy showing, perhaps taking a quick break around their stall or hand grazing their horse, strike up a conversation.  Most horse people are usually happy to talk about anything involving horses, and will brag up their favorite instructor.

Finding the right instructor can be a challenge, but by utilizing online resources as well as in person opportunities, you will be riding with your dream instructor in no time!

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