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Get in the Show Ring



  • Dressage is for equines of all breeds and all sizes! The Adequan/USDF All-Breeds awards recognize many breeds of horses and ponies that compete in dressage. If your breed organization participates, you might be eligible for a year end award. Check out the program today.


  • Choosing a horse is a personal decision but several factors are important when making your choice. A good dressage horse has a good character, should be a willing learner and have three clear, rhythmic gaits: walk, trot and canter.  Ideally, he should fit you, as a rider, in temperament, level of training and size. See dressage protocol.


  • A recognized show is licensed by the USEF and recognized by the USDF and scores attained may count toward year end awards or act as qualifying for a championship or other event.

    A schooling show is usually local, sometimes smaller, not recognized, and used by riders and horses to gain experience, practice test riding and get the feel of competition.


  • The warm up ring is the practice area you are allowed to ride in at a show. The show ring is the official ring with letters that you will enter at A to be judged. Both recognized and schooling shows have designated warm up areas. Be certain to obey show management requirements on where you can, and cannot, warm up.


  • Young dressage sport horse prospects and horses suitable for breeding dressage horses can be shown “in-hand”. A handler on the ground walks and trots them around a triangular shaped arena in front of a judge who judges them on their conformation (build) and movement. Visit our sport horse handlers clinics section to learn more about showing in-hand.


  • That depends on whether you are at a schooling or recognized competition. Schooling shows are generally less expensive for many reasons but may not offer many of the benefits of a recognized show.  For a recognized competition, expect to pay entry fees, stall fees, various administrative and USEF fees,  and expect to pay for bedding and hauling your horse. Take a look at an entry checklist (PDF) just to see what is involved for a recognized show.

Get Better

Alphabet Soup



  • The United Stated Equestrian Federation is the governing body for dressage and other equestrian sports. The current rules and regulations are available on their website.


  • A Group Member Organization is a local or regional club that is affiliated with USDF whose members enjoy certain benefits of joining USDF.


  • The Federation Equestre Internationale is the governing body for international dressage competition. They write and update the FEI tests above Fourth Level and govern the World Cup, World Equestrian Games and the Olympics.


  • An acronym for Concours Dressage International, a dressage competition recognized by the FEI. As CDI-W, there are World Cup qualifying or World Cup classes at the show, as CDIO there are Olympic qualifying or Olympic classes at the show.


  • An abbreviation for Technical Delegate, a TD is an USEF-licensed official who serves at the show as a resource to competitors and management.  The TD evaluates the competition and ensures that USEF rules are followed.


  • The class has been designated as a Qualifying class for the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championships.