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22 September 2019

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USDF Instructor/Trainer Program Pre-Certification

WDCTA is offering a Pre-Certfication weekend November 22-23, 2014.  The Pre-Certification will begin Saturday November 22, 2014 and is open to 6-8 Participant Instructors.   Information is provided below. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the USDF Instructor/Trainer Program?

A. The USDF Instructor/Trainer Program was developed to promote the pursuit of excellence in instruction and training. The program is designed to educate amateurs and professionals who wish to further their education in the classical system of dressage.

  • USDF Certified Instructors/Trainers exemplify the highest standards, protecting the interests of both students and horses as well as the traditions of classical dressage as outlined in the Pyramid of Training.
  • Instructors are responsible for the future of dressage through the riders they influence. 
  • USDF Certified Instructor/Trainers are committed to the goal of the harmonious development of the physique and ability of the horse, endeavoring to help students make their horses calm, supple, loose, and flexible, but also confident, attentive, and keen, thus achieving perfect harmony with the rider. 
  • USDF Certified Instructor/Trainers have an in-depth understanding of the classical dressage theory and its application to "real life" scenarios. They know the purpose, the progression, and the connection between the various school movements and can recognize the difficulties and typical mistakes.
  • USDF Certified Instructor/Trainers have analytical skills rooted in classical methodology to accurately assess a horse’s strong and weak qualities. They will be able to articulate an appropriate prescription for the horse's schooling. They demonstrate a solid, balanced and effective seat and tactful aids required to produce the desired effect on a variety of horses.
  • USDF Certified Instructor/Trainers have a broad base of teaching experience with a reservoir of practical knowledge to draw upon. They have evaluative skills needed to analyze the training requirements of horses and students. They are able to prescribe a solution appropriate to the student’s level of experience and current ability. They are able to transfer their knowledge, imparting concepts and feelings in order to produce independent riders.
  • USDF Certified Instructor/Trainers present lessons that are organized focused and logical, yet creative and flexible in order to achieve success. Their professional demeanor will demonstrate poise, confidence and command of the arena. Their communication skills need to show effective use of grammar, vocabulary, voice, and diction. They establish rapport with horse and rider, demonstrating compassion and encouragement.


Q. What is the Pre-Certification?

A.  After all three workshops have been offered, a USDF Pre-Certification may be offered. This mock testing, conducted with Examiners, is designed to offer participants the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Testing Certification format.

A Pre-Certification is basically a dress rehearsal of an actual testing. The Examiner assesses the level of practical skill and theoretical knowledge of the participants. The participant receives numerical score sheets with comments at the end of the two days. There are no lectures or demonstrations. There is limited dialogue between examiner and participant during the sessions. The purpose of the Pre-certification is to familiarize the participant with the format and for USDF to determine the participants' readiness to undertake an actual Certification Testing.

Attending a USDF Pre-Certification is not required for certification, however, they are strongly recommended. Those people who have participated in this program have demonstrated a higher success rate at Certification Testings.


Q. How much will the weekend cost?

Participant fees are explained below:

  • WDCTA Members:  $625  Non-WDCTA-Members:  $700.
  • Pariticipants are required to cover the stall fee for one horse for the weekend.  Stalls are $45/horse/day ($135)

The Dressage Foundation offers one or more Grants to help instructors attend the USDF workshops. Additionally, WDCTA offers scholarships for it's members (see the Forms Page)

Q. How many instructors may participate in the workshops?

A. Only 4 Participating Instructors (PIs) can be accepted for the weekend. As this program is in high demand, we recommend you register early!  


Q. How do I apply to participate in the weekend?

A. Opening date will be December 2 for WDCTA members, and December 9 for non-WDCTA members. Send the complete application, and a summary of your WDCTA or USDF volunteer experience.  If you are selected, you will be asked to send your fee (Payable to: WDCTA) to hold your spot for the Pre-Certification.  If you fail to make full payment your spot will be given to someone on the waitlist.  Please mail your complete application to: 

Stephanie Severn
Attn: Instructor Certification Program
4595 Mahoney Road
McFarland WI 53558

Q. Can I audit the program as a Silent Auditor?

A. Unfortunately auditing is not available for a Pre-Certification

Q. I need a hotel, where can I book a room?

You may request the special WDCTA 15% discount rate by mentioning "WDCTA" when you call for reservations. You must call the local Antioch number to book your room with this rate.

Best Western Plus Antioch Hotels and Suites
350 West Hwy 173
Antioch, IL 60002
Phone: (847) 395-3606 • Fax: (847) 395-3698

This is a special rate, please again mention “WDCTA” to get the group rate.

Q. Will I earn USDF University credits? 

A. There are no University credits available for the Pre-Certificaiton.  

Q. Who are the examiners for the Pre-Certificaiton?

A. Sarah Geikie is the faculty/examiner for the Pre-Certification.  

Q. Where is Pre-Certification offered? 

A. The Pre-Certification will be held at:

Sunflower Farms
19000 - 128th Street
Bristol, WI


Q. Who will be accepted into the weekend?

A. Acceptance into the weekend will be prioritized based on the following:

  • Successful completion of the three USDF Instructor Certification Workshops (Lunging, Teaching, Riding) is required
  • Intent to participate in the full weekend (Pre-Certificaiton)
  • Intent to  continue to the final Test
  • Prior WDCTA &/or USDF volunteer experience

If we receive more applications than the weekend allows, we will start a waitlist.  PI's will be notified via email on of your acceptance into the program. Fees are due in full or your space will be forfeit. 

Q. How will I know if I am accepted into the weekend or waitlisted?

A. You will be notified by Stephanie via email. Be sure to include a valid email address with your application!

Q. What if I need to borrow a horse?

The committee will attempt to find you a suitable horse. You are expected to pay the stall fees and possibly assist in any trailering fees associated with getting the horse to the event.  Other fees could apply as well.


Q. What are the levels of certification?

A. Certification is offered at three levels:

1. Training through First Level (Currently being offered by WDCTA)
2. Second Level
3. Third through Fourth Level

You must become certified in the order above. For instance, you cannot become certified at Third - Fourth level until you've become certified at all the levels below.

Q. What are the requirements to become certified?

A. Requirements are:

  • Current USDF Participating Member
  • Minimum Age – 18
  • Current First Aid Certification
  • Written letters of recommendation (References should be from industry professionals attesting to candidate’s character and ability.)
    • Training – First Level requires 3 letters of recommendation
    • Second Level requires 3 letters of recommendation
    • Third – Fourth Level requires 5 letters of recommendation
  • Must sign USDF Code of Ethics

The three levels have additional varying requirements before you may test:

Q. What is/does the testing involve? 

A. Testing information is available on the USDF site

Purpose for Training – First Level Instructor/Trainer Certification Exam:  This level is designed to assess the candidate’s ability to demonstrate the correct development of horse and rider through the basic levels of the Pyramid of Training. The instructor must demonstrate insight into the progression of dressage, Training through First Level, and be able to effectively impart this knowledge to students, helping them to achieve correct training of the horse to this level. Candidates are also assessed in their proficiency to lunge a horse and to give a basic seat lesson, appropriate to the level of the rider.

Q. How much will the testing cost?

A. Testing (and re-testing) fees are set by and paid to the USDF directly, and found at the USDF website.

Q. How can I apply to be a demo rider or provide a demo horse?

A. Please fill out a demo rider form and mail it to Stephanie. You can download the form at:  The Committee will select appropriate demo riders and notify them in advance. 

Demonstration Rider requirements: 

  •  Must be fit !
  •  Must be comfortable in a lesson situation  
  •  Must be teachable  
  •  Must have basic riding skills (can walk/trot/canter with no problem; can sit the trot; doesn't balance with their hands) 
  •  Must be willing to learn 
  •  Must be open to new experiences 
  •  Must be dependable 
  •  Must be on time 

Lungeing demonstration horses must accept the use of all the lungeing equipment utilized by the PIs in the workshops, as well as familiar with the techniques utilized in the workshops. The horse should be trained to the appropriate level of the workshop.



  • Must be fit !
  • should be quiet, safe, sound, accept lungeing equipment, accept unfamiliar people handling it, and relatively smooth. They should not bolt, flip over, spin around, kick, or run in.  They should be comfortable with a small crowd (a few auditors and other PIs)
  • It is strongly recommended that participants bring a horse with which they are thoroughly familiar and is known to be suitable for this type of work. It is extremely important that these horses are safe, sound and experienced lunge horses. They must be obedient to voice commands and reasonably smooth to sit.