May 19, 2020

To the membership of USDF,

Noting this is but the close of a chapter, but not the end of the book, as I write this letter we are just a little over two weeks away from the expiration of the suspension of recording of results from USEF/USDF dressage competitions and dressage schooling shows on May 31 (11:59 PM).

Our USDF staff that has been working from home since mid-April will soon, we hope, be able to carefully and sensibly transition to working from our Headquarters at the Kentucky Horse Park, just as the US Equestrian employees hope to do the same.

In the last five weeks many of our Committees have been hard at work considering questions we have posed and providing valuable input to the Executive Board that has been meeting on an almost biweekly basis with USDF staff. We have tried to keep you up to date as programs and competitions have been delayed, re-scheduled or cancelled throughout the country. We have made modifications to requirements for many USDF programs that we have published as decisions were made, including modifying the continuing education requirements for L Graduates, the requirements for the Youth Dressage Rider Recognition Program for 2020, refunding NAYC rider application fees and supporting an increase in the number of Junior and Young Rider invitations for the 2020 USEF Dressage National Championships. 

Our Championship Programs -- the USDF Breeders Championships and the USDF Regional Championships -- are more complicated, as we have considered each Region, the qualifying season, the changes to the competition calendar, as well as the impossibility of predicting Government actions in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. After due consideration, we have made several adjustments to the 2020 championship requirements to try to accommodate the needs and challenges of our membership.

2020 USDF Breeder Championship Series Qualifier and Final Competitions

  1. One qualifying competition, which can be held in conjunction with a series final, is required for a series to hold a series final competition.
  2. The top three placing horses in each USDF Breeders Championship Series qualifier class will be qualified for the final, regardless of whether the first or second place horse has previously qualified.

2020 USDF Regional Championship Program Modifications

  1. Change fees waived for date, name, and location of competitions, including Championships
  2. Late insurance, late prize list, late competition recognition fees waived
  3. Competitor change of region fees through August 1 reduced from $100 to $25 and from August 2 to closing date reduced from $300 to $100
  4. Competitors will be able to qualify by earning both scores at one competition; both scores may have the same judge or panel.
  5. During the entire 2020 qualifying season any qualifying score earned in a class that was designated Q, held prior to June 1, 2020, but not entered as Q, upon notice and payment of the $15.00 qualifying fee to the USDF office prior to the closing of the date of the Championship, may be counted as a “good” qualifying score (membership requirements at the time of the competition where such score was obtained are unchanged).

With the assistance of the USDF Competition Management Committee, Technical Delegate Committee and Rules Advisory Working Group, and in close cooperation with the US Equestrian Dressage Department, we have identified and drafted requests for Presidential Modifications to the USEF rule book (Dressage and General) that we believe are needed to help our competition organizers, competitors and licensed officials as we restart the dressage competition season. In addition to the overall US Equestrian Federation COVID-19 Action Plan and FAQ, we have created the USDF Best Practices Considerations for Dressage Competitions that provides valuable information for organizers, show management and officials for licensed (Level 1-3) or schooling shows.

This Friday, May 22, US Equestrian and USDF will hold a joint ZOOM webinar that is Dressage specific. We hope that you will be able to attend live and submit questions (see the separate notices from USDF, or and if you are unable to attend note that all of the COVID-19 theme webinars are available to view at your convenience.

In closing, we admit that these unsettling times are not yet behind us. Some areas of the country will re-open (or close) on a timeframe not of our choosing nor under our control. There will be inequities – this is a given. We will do our best to ensure “as level a playing field as is possible” for the rest of the season. Conditions WILL change from time to time. If you are ready and comfortable to resume competition you should. If you are not ready or not comfortable, that is ok too! Regardless of your situation, your USDF volunteer leadership, our USDF staff and your fellow members all need to support each other as we navigate unfamiliar and unwelcome challenges. We are bound together by love for our horses and passion for our Dressage education and sport. Through continued positivity and an eye to the future that is decidedly Post-COVID19, we are all in this together. And that is how we will best emerge on the far side. 

Stay safe and be well.

Lisa Gorretta
President, USDF