Online Learning


Like everybody else, the USDF has vastly expanded its virtual educational offerings. Read this to make sure you’re taking full advantage.

By Jennifer O. Bryant

Online media consumption was already popular when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, and the work-from-home profusion and widespread event cancellations pushed demand to new highs.

For an education-oriented organization like the US Dressage Federation (USDF), online offerings are tailor-made. Dressage enthusiasts are hungry for knowledge, and the vastness of our country makes it difficult for some people to travel the distances required to attend in-person events.

Photo by Chelsey Burris

To bolster its education commitment and its membership value, the USDF continues to beef up its repository of online educational material, most of which falls under the umbrella of the organization’s educational arm, called USDF University. Offerings range from precious archival video of master trainers at work to article reprints.

Even longtime USDF members may be surprised at the plethora of material available. Do you know about everything that’s there for the taking? Read on and find out.

USDF Education Library. This collection of videos, articles, documents, and audio clips is housed on the USDF website at this link. Library content is sorted into three categories: Dressage on the Go (short pieces for when your time is limited), Dressage Articles (primarily reprints from USDF’s award-winning member magazine, USDF Connection), and Dressage Video Library (archived USDF webinars and clips from past USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conferences, USDF conventions, and USDF National Dressage Symposia).

All items in the USDF Education Library are USDF University-accredited, and USDF members each 0.25 education credit per item viewed.

Online education. Also accessed via the USDF website, this category comprises several collections of online dressage-related courses that range from introductory to more advanced theory, including material required in certain official USDF and US Equestrian courses of study.

  • USDF GMO Education Lectures are prepackaged short courses designed for use by USDF’s affiliated dressage clubs, known as USDF group-member organizations or GMOs. Choose from such popular topics as volunteer and scribe training or how to use goal-setting to improve your dressage training.
  • USDF Short Courses: Think of these as Dressage 101 on popular topics. If you are wondering what a half-halt is, how to survive your first dressage show, or even thinking of getting started in sport-horse breeding, there’s a short course for you. Each course is designed to be completed in 20 minutes or less, and USDF members receive 0.25 education credit after completing the quiz at the course’s end.
  • USDF Online Courses are deeper educational dives that are open to all current USDF members and also qualify for USDF education credits. Watch past USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conferences in their entirety, for instance. Learn how to “Grow Your GMO” or to prepare contracts for dressage competition management. Some courses fulfill certain programs’ prerequisite requirements or count toward programs’ required continuing-education hours.
  • USDF Dressage Technical Delegate Online Resources. Licensed by US Equestrian, dressage technical delegates (TDs) are the rules gurus (known as stewards in some other equestrian disciplines) responsible for ensuring that USEF-licensed/USDF-recognized dressage competitions operate by the book. These important officials are responsible for knowing everything from whether a certain bit is competition-legal to what to do if a thunderstorm bears down on the show grounds, and the USDF is responsible for their training and education. The USDF website contains the full complement of TD resources and learning modules here.
  • Courses by other providers. Ten providers of online equine-related educational material currently are USDF-accredited, meaning that USDF members earn USDF University credit for completion (you may have to register and/or pay a fee to access the outside content). There’s a wide range of topics: saddle fit, equine nutrition, dressage training, evaluating the dressage prospect, Pilates for equestrians, and more. Browse the selection here.

USDF’s On the Levels videos. For years, these videos showing how to ride the USDF and USEF dressage tests (Introductory through Fourth Levels), with their expert judge commentary and tips, have been a competitor’s mainstay. Purchase the digital version here.

USDF Virtual Education Series. Introduced in 2021, these are USDF-sponsored, hour-long webinars with industry professionals on a variety of dressage- and equine-related topics. At the end of each Zoom session, presenters will engage in a live Q&A session with participants. Webinars are open to all current USDF members, who receive 0.25 USDF University education credit upon verification of attendance. And if you miss a live session, you’ll be able to stream it later when it’s archived in the online USDF Education Library. Find upcoming and archived offerings here.

USDF Connection’s digital edition. USDF members can enjoy reading the digital edition of USDF’s bimonthly member magazine, USDF Connection. You must log in to the USDF website to access the six most recent issues. Older issues are archived digitally, too, all the way back to 2010. Find them all here.

For Members and Nonmembers Alike

Not all of USDF’s educational content is for members only. Three years ago the organization launched the website as an educational and outreach tool that can be enjoyed by all dressage and equine enthusiasts. On the site you’ll find selected “premium” educational material as well as fun photos and heartwarming stories shared by members of the dressage community. With lots of connections to USDF’s social-media platforms, is by and for dressage and horse lovers of all ages.

Jennifer O. Bryant is the editor of USDF Connection.

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