Monday, January 7, 2013

The Adult Amateur Dressage Iniatitave

Once upon a time, in a galaxy, far, far away.....

I was a "professional".  I put that in quotes because I wasn't a very good professional.  I was a working student for a while, then a barn manager. I rode sale horses and exercised clients' horses for the training barns I worked at. I was small potatoes, just a cog in the wheel.... but I got paid to ride, and was therefore a "professional" in the eyes of the USEF.

Then I was injured, and not able to continue riding for (very little) profit.  I joined the ranks of the Adult Amateur.

I want to apologize for every time I disparaged the Adult Amateur when I was a "pro".  I thought you guys had it easy.  I was cleaning 20 stalls every day, handling 20 horses every day and riding 5-10 horses every day, and you guys were showing up for just a couple hours a few days a week.  Little did I know....

Cleaning stalls kept me fit, riding and handling all those horses gave me much-needed experience and kept me thinking on my feet.  It was hard work, being a "Pro", but not as hard as trying to train just one horse as an Adult Amateur.   That's a whole different game, with a different set of challenges.  Challenges that many within the dressage community refuse to acknowledge.

Every year I pay my USDF/USEF dues.  I get my Amateur card.  I get my copy of the rulebooks.  I get an email of current goings-on.  I don't have to pay an extra fee to show.  I can score a couple percentage points lower than the Pros to qualify for Championships, and that's pretty much all I get.  And that's kind of lame.

Adult Amateurs make up a majority portion of the membership of both USEF and USDF.  Why are we so under-represented in the organizations?  Why don't we have our own clinic series, addressing our unique needs, the way the Pros and the JR/YRs do? The USEF and USDF spend a lot of time and money developing JR/YRs and most of those JR/YRs go on to become AAs, why are they dropping them?

I don't know the answers to those questions, although I highly suspect it comes down to "money" and "sponsorships". The USEF Dressage Committee has recently gotten the ball rolling by forming an Adult Amateur Sub-committee, tasked with helping the AA community in dressage reach their goals.  It's a nice start, but we need more.  The AAs themselves need to start speaking up.  We need to start telling the USEF and USDF what we need.  And we have!

One of the Facebook groups I belong to recently started organizing the Adult Amateur Dressage Initiative.  The group was founded to lobby the USEF and USDF for quality development of the Amateur community. Our mission statement is this:

"This page is for the advancement of the Adult Amateur Dressage Rider. Our aim is to attract USDF and USEF members to this site in order to discuss and develop ideas that we will present, as a united front, to our national organizations to implement FOR US! We are working for greater recognition in the programing for, and funding of, the Adult Amateur Dressage Riders in the USA by the USDF and the USEF. We are lobbying our national organizations for parity in educational programs, funds, grants, transitional classes to rise through USDF and FEI levels, equal access to elite clinics, equal representation as riders in said clinics, and, consequently, in the recognized competitions. As the majority members, and the absolute economic base of these oganizations, we are committed to bettering the education, the riding, the training, the competition opportunities, and the overall quality of the American Adult Amateur Dressage Community. We are open to any Adult Amateur Rider, any Professional, Judge, or Licensed Official interested in supporting our Goals."

So, if you Facebook, get on over to and join the group.  We want to hear everyone's opinions on how to make the AA dressage community better!  And, if you don't Facebook, get with the times!  Even my 80 year old grandpa has a Facebook, yeesh!

Just kidding!  While this movement started on Facebook, and currently has it's entire web presence there, it will eventually move to it's own site.  I'll keep you updated on that.  Like all grassroots movements, it takes a little time to get things organized and moving in one direction.  But, I think that this particular movement is one with a lot of potential.  I believe in it enough that I got myself on the Steering Committee!  


  1. I will probably join, even though I am not showing now.

    I've spent many years and many dollars as an adult amateur. You are right, there are not many opportunities to get the "percs" offered to the young riders. I'll be interested to see how the concept of encouraging AA's develops.

  2. Thanks for sharing about the group. I popped on over and joined.

  3. This is definitely something that is lacking. Way to go for taking the reins on that steering committee!


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