Meet the L Graduate- Crystal Forsell


Crystal Forsell began her career in dressage as a working student in 2002, while attending Cal State East Bay and obtaining her BA in History.  That position then morphed into teaching riders and taking horses in training. Crystal uses horsemanship groundwork in her training and has recently been exploring positive reinforcement, for the most harmonious and effective communication. She enjoys developing all breeds in the sport of dressage. In 2017, Crystal relocated from California to Central Texas. In 2020, she entered the online space, launching Open Minds Dressage and her first course, “30 Days to a More Responsive Horse”.

How long have you been involved in the sport?

I have been involved in dressage for 18 years.

How long have you been a USDF member?

I have been a USDF member for 17 years.

What made you decide to participate in the USDF L Education Program?

I first audited Part 1 of the program for the education and to see how I enjoyed judging, and as it would turn out, I really do! I love the challenge of creating concise, helpful comments for the rider, very quickly. So, when my local GMO decided to offer it, I jumped at the chance to be a participant in both Part 1 and Part 2.

How long did it take to complete the program, start to finish?

It took me two years to complete the program.

Do you plan to further your dressage education and to continue to apply what you learned in the program to become a licensed official?

I am always seeking opportunities to learn. Becoming a USEF Licensed Dressage Judge could be in the cards in the future.

Do you serve as a judge for schooling shows in your capacity as an L Graduate? If so, on average, how many per year?

I judge about 5-6 schooling shows per year.

What impact did the program have on your dressage knowledge?

USDF’s L Education Program brought my depth of knowledge of the USDF Pyramid of Training up a level.  When judging, you must be able to quickly identify the most important issue in front of you and succinctly communicate that for your rider.

Name three things you took away from the program that you think every rider should know.

Read the purpose of the test and the directives.  Make sure you can show the judge your mastery of the purpose for the level you are showing.

Judges are really wanting to give you nice scores but must fairly and objectively describe what they see.

Everyone should audit Part 1 and spend some time scribing, so they have a good idea of what goes on at C.

Have you participated in or completed other USDF programs? Describe.

I have participated in some of the USDF Instructor/Trainer Program Workshops.

Have you served in any other official capacity with USDF (council/committee member, council/committee chair, PM/GM delegate, board member/Regional Director, etc.)? Please describe.

I serve as the Clinic Coordinator for Central Texas Dressage Society.

Tell us about your horse(s).

My current personal horse is a Thoroughbred off the track. She is very smart and intuitive. We have been spending some time really getting the relaxation and connection very solid. She is just waiting for her turn to go down the centerline!

Phone: (510) 432-7758                                                        Email:

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