Meet the L Graduate – Karen Roberts


I am Karen Roberts from Massachusetts. I apprenticed with dressage rider Lois Heyerdahl in Wisconsin, who was long listed in the late 70’s, and have continued working with classical dressage instructors to date. I have earned my USDF Bronze and Silver Medals, am a USDF Certified Instructor through Second Level, a USDF L Graduate with Distinction, and have been accepted into the “r” program for 2021. I also have been awarded my USDF University Bronze and Silver Diplomas for continuing education in the study of dressage. I train and teach dressage full time and have an online equine supplement business focusing on digestion and ulcer issues under Karen Roberts Equine.

How long have you been involved in the sport?

I’ve been involved and owned horses for 50+ years.

How long have you been a USDF member?

I became a USDF member in 1980.

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

I participated in USDF’s L Education program in 1996-1997, taking a little over a year to complete it.

What impact did the program have on your dressage knowledge?

It was a huge, pivotal point in my career- a terrific educational tool for teaching and training, which was very unexpected! The analyzing of gaits, rhythm, tempo, balance, and methodology is so helpful with developing your eye to carry this education over to students and training horses. My students all benefit from me being an L Graduate because I hold them to a higher standard and accountability to the details of correct movements and figures in the ring, making sure they know that they have the correct rhythm, connection, thoroughness, and balance as they ride each and every movement, from letter to letter. Is it a 5 or a 9 and what do they need to do to improve it? This builds confidence and harmony between horse and rider, to improve both the understanding of riding dressage, but a much greater understanding of what’s expected in the show ring, making a very finished, polished rider.

I have audited the USDF L Education Program twice since, and it just gets better and better! 

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 8-10 schooling shows a season, give clinics, and lecture all over New England. 

I am an articulate, detail-orientated, and enthusiastic person with strong communication skills, which helps immensely with judging and teaching. I don’t feel that everyone is cut out to be a judge or even teach, but this program is not just for professionals. Everyone that is interested in riding dressage would get so much out of auditing this course, to gain a better understanding of what is being asked of them in the show ring, which would allow them to confidently enjoy their horses.

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

I have attended many educational symposiums, lectures, forums, workshops, and clinics that USDF and other GMOs offer. It’s an investment worth making, for an uncontrollable passion.

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 have been involved with New England Dressage Association (NEDA) since 1980 and have been on the Scholarship Committee for over 15 years, feeling strongly that education is key to advance in anything.

Tell us about your horse(s).

I just recently purchased a wonderful three-year-old Danish warmblood named Lissua’s Geneva DWB, by Franklin x Sandro Hit from Christian Vang-Lauridson in Denmark. She has an amazing mind and incredible rhythm and balance for a three-year-old. I’m over the moon excited about her and look forward to showing her next season.

Phone: (413) 478-5671


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