From Endurance to Dressage
It's almost like seeing Christmas decorations before Halloween. That's how I feel about memberships. Already? I just paid those ... 12 months ago.
The thing with memberships is that you can choose not to pay them, but then you don't get the perks and benefits that come with being a member. Each year, I sit down and carefully review which organizations that I want to join based on what I plan to get out of the organization. Memberships are just too expensive if you don't get something of value back.
This weekend I sat down with my credit card, my checkbook, and a budget. I felt comfortable spending around $200. It helps that I know what I've spent the last several years on memberships, but like every other year, I was thinking about joining a few new groups.
I started with the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) - that one is a no brainer. You get your Adult Amateur status with USEF, so I pay the $55 annual membership. I don't care about any national awards from USEF so I don't pay the Horse Recording fees. Both of my horses have a Horse ID number which means they aren't eligible for any year end awards from USEF, but they can show. I am okay with that.
In the past, USEF has offered a pretty cool insurance plan that was free with membership. I was disappointed to see that this year the policy now costs $25. I hemmed and hawed for a while, unsure whether it was worth it. In the end, I figured that if I never use it, $25 is a small amount. If I do need it however, $25 would prove to be a pretty smart investment. I paid it.
The USEF membership begins December 1st and ends November 30th of the following year.
The next organization that I like to join is the California Dressage Society (CDS). While Bakersfield is smack in the middle of a huge Dressage Desert, I am lucky to live in an area with the USDF's largest Group Member Organization (GMO). CDS offers its members many perks and opportunities, most of which I've taken advantage of: Championship Show, Adult Amateur Clinic, Regional Adult Amateur Competition, Rosettes (engraved plates), and programs for Juniors/Young Riders.
Membership in CDS is $70 annually and includes a Group Membership to the USDF; there are no fees for registering your horse. I get a lot back for my membership fee, so I don't mind paying for this association at all.
The CDS membership expires each year on December 31st.
By joining the USEF and CDS, I can show at any CDS/USDF-rated show. My scores count for CDS's programs and the USDF's medal program and Rider Performance Awards. Unless I join USDF as a Participating Member and upgrade Speedy's Horse ID number to a Lifetime Horse Registration (LHR), we're not eligible to show in the USDF Region 7 Championships.
So far, that hasn't been much of an issue for me. We get good, middle of the road scores, but they aren't really high enough to be competitive at the USDF Regional show. Here in California, the Region 7 show is HUGE and VERY competitive. The show is held in conjunction with the CDS Championship Show, so I did get to participate in the show in 2014. Being there and showing in the CDS Horse of the Year classes was enough for me.
Upgrading my Group Membership to a Participating Member of USDF would also allow me to compete for an All Breeds Award. Speedy would have to have a Lifetime Horse Registration, and I would have to rejoin the Arabian Horse Association (AHA). To be honest, AHA's fee structure is just too ridiculous to even consider joining. I would have to join the organization which costs $40 annually, and then pay for a competition card which is an additional $35 each year. And while AHA offers all kind of awards programs, you have to pay an initial and annual enrollment fee for each one.
So to even try for an All Breed award from USDF, I would have to join USDF as a Participating Member for $75, upgrade Speedy to a LHR at $70, join AHA for $40, get a competition card for another $35, and pay yet another $35 for the All Breed Program with AHA. That's a whopping $255 for an award that I am not going to win.
And, if I were going to do all that, I might as well get my AHA Dressage Rider Awards too. After paying the membership fee and competition card fee, AHA charges a $45 fee per level. So if I wanted to join AHA in order to participate in the USDF All Breeds Awards program and earn an AHA Dressage Rider Award, I would have to shell out $155 each year to AHA.
While I thought long and hard about it, I decided not to join USDF as a Participating Member, and I am definitely not joining AHA. I might go ahead and upgrade Speedy's Horse ID to a Lifetime Horse Registration though as the day will come when I feel like competing in the USDF Region 7 classes. I promised myself that if I can end the month with a few bucks left in my checking account, I'll do the upgrade in December.
The USDF memberships are effective from December 1st through November 30th of the following year. Membership in AHA runs from January 1st through December 31st.
California is actually home to two GMOS - CDS and the Dressage Association of Southern California (DASC). Virtually all of the shows south of me, the ones I attend already, are USEF/USDF/CDS/DASC-rated. I've never joined DASC before as I didn't do enough of their shows to make it really worth it. Now that I am riding with Chemaine more regularly, I'm also doing more DASC shows.
The only benefit that I see right now to joining DASC is that I could qualify for the championship show with a chance at placing somewhat well. It's a very small GMO so awards are a bit easier to get. After joining USEF and CDS, I still had $50 left of my initial $200 membership budget, so I went ahead and joined DASC. Membership is $60 annually with a $10 annual horse registration.
DASC memberships run from December 1st through November 30th of the following year.
In the end, I spent $220 on memberships for the 2016 competition year with the likelihood of spending another $70 to upgrade Speedy's horse ID to a Lifetime Horse Registration number; he deserves it. That all comes out to just under $300, and that's before we've even done our first show of the season.
Ho! Ho! Ho! - not showing is pretty darned expensive!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: