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USDF Announces Advances to the "L" Education Program

Dressage Press Release

The United States Dressage Federation (USDF) "L" Education Program for Judge Training Faculty has announced modifications to the "L" Program for 2004. In order to make the "L" Program more attractive to participants who are seeking education as well as to better prepare "L" candidates for the final examination, the modifications, which have been in development for several years, will go into effect April 1. "L" Programs that are approved by the USDF office before April 1 have the option of using, but are not required to use, the new format.

The USDF "L" Program is designed not only to prepare candidates for and fulfill one of the requirements to enter the U.S. Equestrian "r" Judges Training Program, but also to qualify individuals to judge schooling shows; to give competitors, trainers, and instructors greater insight into the evaluative techniques of judging dressage; and to serve as continuing education for licensed judges. "L" Programs are conducted by a faculty of USDF-approved U.S. Equestrian "S"-licensed dressage judges who have experience in teaching judge-training programs.

"L" Program participants who receive at least 80% on the written final exam and at least 65% on the practical final exam are considered USDF "L" graduates. Those who receive at least 80% on the written final exam and at least 70% on the practical final exam are considered USDF "L" graduates who have passed with distinction.

"We think the changes we are implementing in 2004 will make the 'L' Program a more widespread educational program, not just for those who are aspiring to be judges. The 'L' Program is really for any interested person, be it competitors, trainers, spectators, or already existing judges who would like a refresher," explained USDF "L" Program Sub-committee Chair Marilyn Heath.

Changes to Program Composition

The "L" Education Program for Judge Training will be divided into two sections, rather than one all-encompassing program. There will be a D session in each section, taught by one instructor for two days to allow the instructor to spend more time with the candidates, get to know them better, and evaluate them more carefully. (This was implemented as an option last year.) The first program section will consist of the A, B, C, and D1 sessions, with greater emphasis on education in the D1 session than in the former, single D session. In the second section, those participants who have completed the first section and would like to become "L" graduates will take a D2 session, which will be more focused on evaluation of the participants, followed by the final exam, using a new evaluation sheet.

Changes to Program Organizer and Host Site Guidelines

Qualified organizers, supported by their USDF group-member organizations (GMOs), may apply to host either the first section or both sections. The organizers and the host horse shows of the second section will require stricter guidelines for acceptance than in the past. Approval for each section will be considered separately. Some organizers may be asked to host the D2 session and the final exam separately from the rest of the program. The program organizer should be different than the competition manager.

"We are looking for organizers who are familiar with the judging process and dressage in general and have proven organizational skills," explained Heath.

In order to ensure enough quality horses for a fair and accurate evaluation of candidates, host shows should have at least two rings and at least two judges. Ideally, the ôL" Program final exams should be hosted at the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championships during non-championship classes. Final exam sites will be chosen by a standing committee of Marilyn Heath (chair), Lois Yukins (vice chair), Jayne Ayers, Betsy Berrey, Sandy Howard, Marianne Ludwig, and Axel Steiner.

"These candidates put a lot of time, effort, and money into their education. They deserve a good education and fair testing, and we owe it to them to provide the appropriate setting," said Heath.

For more information about the USDF "L" Education Program for Judge Training, visit or contact Kathleen Lancaster at or (859) 271-7876.

The United States Dressage Federation is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to education, the recognition of achievement, and the promotion of the sport of dressage. Founded in 1973, USDF relocated its national headquarters to Lexington, KY, in June 2002. For more information about USDF membership or programs, visit, e-mail, or call (859) 971-2277.