Meet the L Graduate – Lisa Eagley


Lisa Eagley is a USDF L Graduate with Distinction who has also earned her USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medals. She resides in Virginia, and owns a small farm there.

How long have you been involved in the sport?

My equestrian life began at the age of 9 when my parents purchased a farm in Snohomish (a small town in Washington state) and the sellers included a pony in the sale.  The pony that came with the farm my parents purchased became my best friend. When I was 10, my mother took me to see the famous Lipizzaner stallions in Seattle, and I was hooked. I proceeded to teach my little white pony what I had seen – Spanish walk, Levade, and even Capriole. As a teen, I began taking formal dressage lessons on my Quarter Horse gelding. Dressage became the focus of my learning from that time. I enjoyed a blessed childhood being free to do many things today’s children are not always privileged to do, such as riding my pony in parades and shows, Drill Team, 4-H, and weeklong pack trips up into the Cascade Mountains with my horse. I eventually purchased a large equestrian facility (40 stalls) and ran a boarding, training, and lesson business for many years until relocating to Virginia.

How long have you been a USDF member?

I began competing in 2006, at which point I joined USDF. 

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

I have had many people tell me how wonderful the L Education Program was and how much they had gained from it, even if they did not do any testing. I could see that these people had a much deeper understanding of what they were doing and were able to articulate it to me in a way that I had not heard before. I had wanted to participate but for many years did not have the time available to commit to it. As a single mother of three, my life was full. Once my children were all living on their own, or off to college, I decided to make some life changes. I sold Graystone, my facility in Washington state, and relocated to Virginia. Without the demands of owning and running a large facility, I knew I would finally have the time and began looking for an L Education Program in which to participate. 

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

Start to finish, it took me a year and a half- April 2018- September 2019. For me, this timeline was perfect; I was able to spend time putting my education into practice, which helped me to really refine my skills.  

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 do plan on continuing into the USEF “r” program, and beyond when I am able. Currently, I have scores through Grand Prix, but they are just below the required percentage to enter the program. Because I currently only have young stock, I am not able to get the scores I need quite yet. 

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

Since graduating the L Education Program, I have had the privilege of judging several schooling shows in my region. I had a couple of people contact me right away after I completed the program in September 2019. I was able to judge two schooling shows that winter. This year, COVID has significantly reduced the number of shows, but I did judge three schooling shows later this summer. I look forward to a COVID-free world one day and being able to do more. I love the variety of horses and riders that attend schooling shows and feel as though I can really help people grow in the sport, in a different way than teaching individuals.

What impact did the program have on your dressage knowledge?

I was so impressed with the format and quality of information presented in this program. So many times, as a trainer/competitor, it is unclear what some of the comments on the tests meant, and exactly why I would receive the scores that I did. This program really added that clarity. It filled in all the gaps in my understanding of the big picture. As a trainer, it allows me to know what to focus on and why. I have a better understanding of the vocabulary and use it when I am teaching. This makes it easier for my students to understand their scores and comments as well. 

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

Spending time on the basics is the most important thing you can do. You can ride an accurate test but if your basics are lacking, it will not be the scores you want, and your long-term progress will be limited. A solid foundation builds a stronger athlete, and a successful partnership.

Really read your test; it tells you exactly what the judge wants to see. What is the purpose of the test/level you are riding? What are the criteria of each movement? It is written on the test. It matters. If you know what the purpose is, and what they want, it becomes clear what you need to be doing with your horse.

The entire training pyramid is relevant in some way, shape, or form at all levels. Learn it, apply it, and revisit it often.

Have you participated in or completed other USDF programs? Describe

I have audited one of the USDF Instructor/Trainer Program Workshops with Lilo Fiore and may at some point revisit this program. I have been teaching for over 40 years and really have a passion for helping horses and riders become their best.

I have been to the Adequan®/USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference and plan to attend again in the future.  The information was wonderful, and it is so nice to participate in open discussions with top trainers and judges from across the country. It made for some very interesting conversations and perspectives. 

I have also attended the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention to receive both my Silver and Gold medals. This is a wonderful opportunity to get the latest information on so many things with all the classes and lectures that are offered. 

Have you served in any other official capacity with USDF?

Not as of yet, but there is still time for this. And I am the type of person who likes to get involved and help when I am a part of something like USDF. 

Tell us about your horse(s).

I am so grateful to have had many great horses in my life. As I have owned and cared for them since I was a small child, the list is long.  They each taught me so much.  I relinquished shared ownership of my FEI horse when I relocated, and he is now teaching the person who owned the other side of him the finer details of dressage. When I relocated, I decided to focus on raising and training my own foals. My goal being training from starting to FEI and have since acquired the foundation of this idea.  

North Star (Stella) is a 6-year-old mare by Negro who is coming along very well, and a really fun horse.  She has the best temperament and is so athletic. I purchased her as a 2-year-old and have done all her training.  My plan is to continue her training into the FEI levels, and possibly do embryo transfer (ET) breeding.  I hope to be showing her next spring.

Pearleske is a 7-year-old mare by Rotspon, that I purchased in foal to Sandro Hit in 2017.  The resulting filly is now 3 and will be starting under saddle soon. Pearl is an elegant horse and very easy going yet is forward thinking and sensitive. She is back under saddle and will also be working on showing in the spring.

San Bonita is the resulting foal of Pearleske by Sandro Hit. She is our supermodel, long legs and elegant.  At 3, she is already taller than her mother and shows the same quality of movement. She will possibly be doing some showing in young horse classes next season. 

I also have a beautiful 4-year-old gelding (Donnermeyer x Diamont) I purchased as a foal. He was awarded Premium at his Oldenburg inspection, and is going to be a fun horse. He has the nicest walk, lovely gaits overall, and will be a fantastic competitor.  I started him last fall and have been slowly bringing him along. 

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