Marianne Ludwig – 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award winner

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Marrianne Ludwig, a driving force in the USDF L Education Program. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Madelener

Marianne Ludwig was awarded the USDF Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. She served as the USDF’s first Region 4 Director from 1978 to 1979, and has been an active member of the USDF Judges Committee for several decades. Marianne was the driving force behind the very successful USDF L Education Program for judge training, which had its inception in 1981, and also initiated regional forums for ‘r’ and ‘R’ judges, as well as forums for riders and trainers. Improving the quality of dressage judging has always been very important to Marianne and her contributions have had a lasting impact on an entire generation of dressage judging in the US and will continue to influence the sport, as well as the direction of USDF, far in the future.

The following is an excerpt from “The Builder” by Anne Gribbons, originally appearing in the January/February 2020 issue of USDF Connection magazine.

An Advocate for Judge Education

When Marianne was appointed examiner for the AHSA Judges Program in 1980, she asked for the guidelines and how to conduct the examinations. No formal procedures existed, she was told, but not to worry: there were always two examiners, and they would work it out between them.

Marianne Ludwig riding in an undated photo. *Note: USDF strongly recommends all riders wear protective headgear when mounted.

At Marianne’s first assignment, the other examiner had an emergency, and a nonstop rain ruined the candidates’ score sheets. After the official judge refused to share her own score sheets, it became abundantly clear to Marianne that the US needed a method to follow. She spent the next 30 years developing guidelines for training and testing national-level dressage judges. She is the main creator and guardian of the USDF L Education Program, which was introduced in 1981 and which has produced some of the best judges in the world.

Marianne truly had to start from scratch, and with help from such colleagues as the late dressage judge Liz Searle (also a USDF Lifetime Achievement Award honoree), she plunged in. There were places to find to hold the training courses and examinations, negotiations to be done with show organizers, exams to be developed, teaching aids and documents to create, and guidelines to formulate—all, of course, before the computer age.

(When I was a member of the FEI Dressage Committee in the early 2010s, the FEI was busy working out a way to better educate judges worldwide. Some of the issues that baffled them this country had solved and successfully used for years. They were not amused when I pointed this out.)

Ludwig at the 2002 USDF convention

Her L program involvement was far from Marianne’s only contribution to American dressage. She served as the USDF’s first Region 4 director, from 1978 to 1979. She is a past chair of the USDF Judges Committee, of which she was a member for decades. For US Equestrian, she was a member of the Dressage Committee—which she chaired from 2000 to 2009—and of the Licensed Officials Committee. She is also a director emerita of the USA Equestrian Trust.

The USDF recognized Marianne’s extraordinary contributions to the USDF L program and Judges Committee with the USDF Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. US Equestrian followed suit in 2010 with its Pegasus Medal of Honor.

During Marianne’s tenure as the chair of the US Equestrian Dressage Committee, she led the meetings with her usual tact and quiet control. When she thought we had derailed in the discussions, she would make the only loud noise I ever heard from her, squeezing a shrill-sounding toy alligator with her message: “OK, guys, time to move on!”

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