Meet the L Graduate – Michelle Sieracki

(Photo by Debbie Mielcarek)

Michelle Sieracki is a 2010 USDF L Graduate from Oconomowoc, WI and an amateur rider who is currently leasing a horse. Michelle has a busy family of 2 kids, a job in healthcare technology, and a web design side business.

How long have you been involved in the sport?

I have been involved in the sport for 25 years.

How long have you been a USDF member?

I have been a USDF member for 25 years.

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

I knew of the program through reading articles in USDF Connection magazine, along with knowing an individual who had gone through it.  When I found out my local GMO was offering the program and that I qualified to be a participant, I was really interested. And it just made sense to me to sign up.

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

Session A was in March 2009 and my Final Exam was in August 2010, so a little over a year.

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 would love to apply to become a licensed official, as I really do enjoy judging, and all that goes with it.  However, I do not qualify yet, as I still need to show and obtain scores at Third Level.  And then would also need to go through the L Program again to pass with distinction.

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 am very blessed that I have been able to judge schooling shows locally every year since I have graduated.  My average has been 2 – 3 shows a year.

What impact did the program have on your dressage knowledge?

One of the best things about horses and dressage is that there is always so much to learn.  And going through the program proved that to be true and more.   

The program expanded my eye on what I was looking at when watching a horse, and opened up different perspectives from the L Faculty judges and the fellow participants.  Since each of us had different backgrounds, everyone had a little different thought as to what they were seeing, which was really great.    

For a long time, I would watch dressage tests, and guess the end score, but not knowing why that was the score.  But now I understand how the process, and the way the numbers make up that score.  I’m really grateful that I have the background now and continue expanding it, as I learn more and more each year.

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

Scribing!  I had no idea how much you could learn from being in the judge’s box and hearing the different things the judges have to say.  It is an amazing learning opportunity.  I really wish that I had scribed when I was competing regularly.  I still enjoy it today.

That the judge is just a person, scoring a movement on what they see at that moment.  It’s not whether the judge likes you or doesn’t like you.  It’s about what they see and the knowledge they have during that test.

Judging is a lot of responsibility in a short amount of time.  As a competitor, you spend a lot of hours training, learning, and improving your skills for a test that can last 4 – 6 minutes.  It is the same thing for a judge.  There is a great deal of studying and practicing and learning how to judge, and it also lasts only 4-6 minutes for that ride.  Just like the rider can’t try that circle again.  We can’t ask the rider to circle again to figure out how to score it; we have to make a decision right away. 

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

I did participate in the first Young Rider Graduate Program in 2003, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Tell us about your horse(s).

I’m currently leasing a 9-year-old Oldenburg mare, owned by Julie Brooks and training with another fellow L Graduate with Distinction, Megan Dischler, at Dressage Solutions. I took a long break for family and was able to get back in the show ring this year at Training Level. It was my first time showing after graduating the L Education Program, and it felt really great to have so much more knowledge of how the judging process works when entering the ring!

Phone: (920) 220-1870                                                                                                  


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