USDF’s Dedication to Education at Annual Convention Continues


By Amber Wiseman

USDF has long been dedicated to education, recognition of achievement, and promotion of dressage in the US. We are proud to offer a variety of education opportunities for members of all ages and skills, and the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention has played host to a number of cutting edge educational sessions from veterinary medicine, to training, equipment purpose and use, as well as education targeted at Group Member Organizations (GMOs) and youth. Here we round up some of our favorites, as we prepare for the 2022 Adequan®/Annual Convention, being hosted in-person for the first time since 2019.

The 2021 Virtual Convention featured From Young Horse to Grand Prix, where US Olympic Silver Medalist Sabine Schut-Kery and National Youth Coach George Williams held a question and answer-style discussion about training, fitness, and performance of the rising equine star, and Practical Management of Equine Joint Disease, where Dr. Cindy Harfield discussed best management practices for Equine Joint Disease and osteoarthritis. USDF members can access From Young Horse to Grand Prix andPractical Management of Equine Joint Disease in the USDF Education Library.

2020’s Virtual Convention featured You Be the Judge, where USEF ‘S’ judge Margaret Freeman showed videos of Training and First Level rides. Viewers were given the opportunity to score and comment on the rides while watching, then Margaret went back through the rides giving her own feedback and scores, so participants could compare how accurate their comments and scores were. P’s and Q’s of the Protein Feeding in Equine Diets featured Dr. Caroline Loos, PhD, whose research focuses on optimizing protein feeding in relation to muscle development in horses, discussed the importance of protein quality and what it means, the good sources of protein available to consumers, and how to safely and effectively feed protein to horses with research updates from the University of Kentucky. USDF members can watch You Be the Judge and P’s and Q’s of the Protein Feeding in Equine Diets in the USDF Education Library.

The 2019 Adequan®/Annual Convention, held in Savannah, GA, featured Why Equine Conformation Matters to the Aspiring FEI Rider with speakers Krysti Wysocki and Natalie DeBerardinis. This education session focused on how conformation influences a horse’s dressage ability, and how that ability impacts the progression to and through the FEI Levels, including how breeders choose matings, why bloodlines matter, what to look for in a partner, and what the judges look for in quality gaits. Iris Berdrow also held an invaluable educational session titled Managing GMO Finances, which covered basic bookkeeping, financial reporting, and other topics related to managing the finances for a GMO, while Terry Ciotti-Gallo and Joan Darnell hosted Nuts and Bolts of Designing a Freestyle, giving an overview of freestyle design for the do-it-yourselfer.

2018’s annual convention played host to Footing Facts and Figures, where Heidi Zorn took an in-depth look at the effects footing surfaces have on our horses, as well as the cost of riding on various surfaces over time, including information about sand characteristics, footing products, types of surfaces for the dressage discipline, as well as common construction practices and costs, and Utilizing the Pyramid of Training: A Panel Discussion where panelists Lilo Fore, Lois Yukins, Marilyn Heath, and Gary Rockwell discussed the newly introduced 2019 US Dressage Tests, training up the levels, and utilizing the Pyramid of Training.

The educational lineup at the 2017 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention covered topics including gastric ulcers, the horse’s spine, equine vaccinations, large animal rescue, updates in research on lameness, and more, hosted by such presenters as Dr. Rana Bozorgmanesh, Dr. Hilary Clayton, DVM, Liz Barrett, Laura Werner, DVM. 

USDF takes pride in the educational offerings both throughout the year and at our annual convention, and we are looking forward to this year’s lineup of presenters, which will include Dr. Craig Lesser, DVM, who will host Equine Podiatry, describing what horse owners should know about the properly trimmed and shod normal hoof, common problems, chronic foot problems, traumatic injuries to the foot and solutions; USEF ‘S’ judge and 2022 USDF Volunteer of the Year Gwen Ka’awaloa, who will be hosting First Aid- A Response to Equestrian Emergencies, a session encompassing responses to first aid situations after falls and other accidents at the barn, covering what to do in the moments following an accident at the barn and how to respond while waiting for medical professionals; and Dr. Avi Blake, DVM, will host Constructing a Wellness Program for the Aging Performance Horse, covering how to develop an individual wellness program or plan to help to extend the “health span”, as well as the lifespan, of your performance horse, focusing on the most common concerns including lameness, strategies for identifying problems early, setting appropriate goals, being proactive, and adapting as horses age; as well as our Youth Education session Jeopardy: When to Call the Vet for $500, where Dr. Jeni Gaffney, DVM, will review common equine maladies to see if they are emergencies (need to be seen now) or urgencies (need to be seen soon), and will briefly discuss what can be done until the veterinarian arrives.

We look forward to seeing you in this year’s sessions!

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