MDA Rules & Attire

2016 Revisions are in red.

1. Entries are limited to two rides per horse/rider combination. The 2016 entry form must be used for MDA Schooling Shows. You can access the 2016 entry form hereA third ride may be requested and will be granted if possible. Third rides will be granted according to postmark if the show is not filled. (NOTE: If you are approved for your third ride, an entry fee in the amount of $20/$28 will be required when you receive you number packet the day of the show.

2. Entry fees are $20/ride for members. Non-members may enter any Open Shows for $28 per ride. MDA will assess a fee for returned checks. This fee will be determined by the current Treasurer, based on the fees MDA is charged by MDA’s bank. If a second check is returned, that person must pay any and all fees to MDA by money order for one year following the second occurrence.

3. All entries must be accompanied by a check made out to MDA, Inc. or Maryland Dressage Association, Inc. in the proper amount. The check is not to include payment for an additional third ride. A copy of a negative Coggins test (dated within one year of the show date), and a properly filled out and signed (parent/Guardian if rider is under 21) entry form must also be included. It is the competitors’ responsibility to remain informed through MDA’s Newsline and email blitzes of any new State required certificates/forms/documents for your competition horse. If the State imposes new requirements MDA will let you know through the two previous mentioned forms of communication.

4. To enter a show as a member, the membership form and fees must be received by the Membership Chairman prior to the show or entrants may join MDA (payment & completed membership form received by the show secretary) on the day of the show. For your scores to be eligible for MDA’s Year End Awards you must be a current member.

5. Divisions: YOUNG RIDER is for riders 21 years of age and under. MAIDEN is for horse and rider combinations in their first year showing at the given level. This division is not restricted by age. OPEN is for adult riders, 22 years of age and older. Age is dtermined at the beginning of the calendar year in which one turns 22 and does not have an age limit.  This applies to those who ride and train for money as well as those who ride and show for pleasure. Young Horse is for horses 6 years old and under. Horses in this division will enter and show in the appropriate corresponding open classes, but will be able to apply for year end awards in a separate Young Horse Division with scores earned from open classes. All other qualifications and age verification requirements remain the same.


The Young Horse Division is for adult riders showing young horses age 6 and under at all levels. This is not meant to substitute or act as a preparation for the FEI Young Horse Tests, but rather provide an avenue for our competitors to bring out their young horses to compete against their equine peers.  The age of the horse will be verified by one of two means: 1) using the date of birth stated on his/her registration papers, or 2) if the horse is not registered we will use the age stated on his/her Coggins test. Note: if using the Coggins test as a verification for age, the test must have been drawn in the competition year.  In other words, if you are identifying your horse as a 6 year old for the 2016 season, his Coggins must have been drawn in 2016. If you plan to apply for year end awards in the Young Horse division, contact the Schooling Show Chairman to submit your age verification.  This only needs to be done once per show season.

6. Riders may enter the same class twice HOWEVER the second ride will automatically be ridden Hors de Concours H/C.

7. Ride times will be posted on MDA’s web site on the “RIDE TIMES” link by the Wednesday before the show. If the ride times are not posted by Wednesday, then please be patient and assume we are experiencing technical difficulties. If you need your ride times mailed, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope.

8. Late entries, those postmarked after the closing date, are accepted at the discretion of the entry secretary. Riders are encouraged to contact the show secretary if they intend to send late entries. Those entries which have been approved will be assessed a $5.00 per class late fee in addition to the standard entry fees. Open and closing dates for each schooling show are included in the show descriptions in this Omnibus.

9. Work credits can be used to discount member’s entry fees. One half (0.5) days work credit equals $5.00 that can be used to discount your entry fees. One work credit equals $10.00 from the cost of your entry fees. The maximum allowed discount per horse/rider combination is $10.00 per show or one work credit. Your work credit voucher must accompany your entry. Work Credits expire 24 months after the date of issue.

10. Entries will be refunded after the closing date if the secretary can find a replacement ride/s from the waiting list, or a veterinary certificate or a doctor’s note dated within 7 days prior to the show is received. Competitors scratching for any reason are expected to inform the show secretary.

11. All MDA Schooling and Open Shows will be conducted under current USEF rules and regulations. Pas de Deux and Quadrille classes follow USDF regulations. A USEF Rule Book is available at the secretary’s stand for reference. A primary goal of MDA, Inc. is education, so feel free to ask questions or contact USEF or USDF directly.

12. MDA Schooling Show Attire: regular, formal show attire is required. Show management reserves the right to excuse coats during extreme heat. Braiding is optional. Approved protective head gear is required while mounted as per USEF DR 120.5. 

13. One whip, not exceeding 47.2 inches (120 cm), including the lash, may be carried in all USEF and Introductory Level classes.

14. No competitor may compete in the competition before a judge under which he/she has received instruction, coaching, or tutoring, (with or without pay) 30 days prior to the competition. In all fairness, please abide by this rule.

15. The most current USEF Dressage Test will be used. The most current USDF tests will be used for Introductory tests, Musical Freestyles, Pas de Deux and Quadrilles.

16. The exhibitor may provide a reader.

17. Horses may not be entered in classes differing by more than one level at any show except as allowed by USDF regulations for Pas de Deux and Quadrille. A horse/rider combination dropped back more than one level to school must be entered Hors de Concours (HC). The rider/horse will be judged and given a score, but not pinned with the class.

18. Classes may be split, combined, or rearranged at the secretary’s discretion. A modified class list for the Finals Show will be made available to the membership on the website prior to the opening date of the show.

19. Classes are pinned to 6 places. Scored tests are distributed after the class is pinned. Competitors may view their tests before the class is pinned, but must return the test(s) to the scoring volunteers. If a competitor cannot remain on the grounds, the competitor may designate someone to pick up the tests. MDA will only mail High score Ribbons. Riders must make arrangements with show management regarding ribbons and/or tests not picked up by the end of the show day.

20. High score Awards are presented for High Score for Training Level through FEI for Senior and Young Rider. Introductory, Musical Freestyles, Pas de Deux, Quadrille, Western/Gaited Dressage and USEA tests are not eligible.

21. As of 1/1/2011 MDA is no longer using the Danish System. 

22. Stallions are permitted at the farm owner’s discretion. Please contact the show organizer for details.

23. Only the competitor will be allowed to ride the horse listed on their entry on the day of the show. Violators will be eliminated.

24. No foals may accompany their dams in any class at a MDA show unless the show is a MDA breed show or a breed class at an MDA show.

25. No dogs or other pets are allowed on the schooling show premises.

26. Longing is not permitted in the warm-up area.

27. No coaching from inside of the warm up area. Please stand outside on rail for the safety of all riders and coaches.

28. Children must be supervised under adult supervision at all times.

29. The majority of MDA schooling shows are held on donated, private farms. Please leave the premises as you found them. The MDA reserves the right to bar consistent property abusers from participating in MDA Schooling Shows. Decisions to bar any member from participation will be made by the MDA Executive board. Members must petition the Executive Board for reinstatement.

30. MDA shows are run by volunteers. Please be considerate! Competitors, spectators, parents, members, must display good sportsmanship at all times. Any discourtesy by a competitor, spectator, parent, or member towards any Maryland Dressage Association volunteer or show official , other exhibitors or spectators, whether verbal or written, may result in forfeiture of ribbons, tests, scores, placing or suspension from future MDA Shows.

31. Members are responsible to note and abide by changes and/or corrections to the Show Rules listed in this website or as printed in the MDA Newsline.

32. MDA judges hired for schooling shows must be licensed Judges through the USEF, or (L) Candidates who have graduated from the USDF program. For Intro classes only, MDA may hire potential L Candidates who are currently enrolled and attending L Candidate classes.

33. MDA is a Dressage show organization and our Liability Insurance does not cover jumping; therefore, jumping at all MDA events is prohibited.

34. Competitors have until the end of the show day to dispute any errors made when tests were calculated. By leaving with your test, you are accepting your score. If you cannot stay until your class is pinned, tests may be reviewed at the secretary booth and returned to the secretary. You may not leave the secretary stand with your tests. Also please check the scoreboard to make sure your scores on your tests matches the posted scores. MDA uses the scoreboards to verify scores for Year End Awards and to post results on web site. Competitors have 15 days from the date the scores are posted to dispute reporting errors.  Reporting errors are discrepancies between the scores posted one the scoreboard at the show and what is posted on the website.

35. MDA, Inc follows the USEF Helmet rule (DR 120.5) unless otherwise noted. Click to view this rule. Farm owners and show venues may impose more stringent rules that the USEF. Specific farm or venue requirements which exceed the USEF rule shall be posted on the MDA website.  Competitors who show in top hats or derbies are encouraged to bring an ASTM/SEI approved helmet if they are unsure as to a farm or venue’s specific rules.

36. Work Credits earned are posted on the MDA website.  The work credit log is updated frequently. Volunteers must check this log for accuracy and contact the Schooling Show Chairman if they find an error. Errors to the work credit log must be reported before November 15th.

Code of Conduct and Email Etiquette

Every organization needs good communication. Email can be a vital tool to an association whose membership is widespread and whose schedules vary.

Email can bring members together or tear them apart. It can bring news, information, query, and humor as well as devastation and destruction. Email etiquette is designed to make communication between the membership effective and efficient without malice or hurt. The guidelines for etiquette are to encourage and enlighten, not tear down or criticize. By following these guidelines, the membership will be ensured the respect entitled to each and everyone. Failure to follow these guidelines may mean sanctions from the board.

1. Always be professional, courteous, and kind while making a point. Be mindful of the tone that your email is bringing.

2. Never write a flaming email (flaming is a virtual term for venting emotion online or sending inflammatory emails. It is to avoid flaming emails because it tends to create more conflict and tension.)

3. Be brief and to the point.

4. Be correct; watch spelling, punctuation, and capitalization in the same way that you would in any other document. (Your writing says more about you than you realize.)

5. Do not send an email you would not want forwarded, especially when referencing the organization. (What you say/send cannot be taken back. Emails are public documents despite the fact that you may send an email to someone privately.)

6. Emails should not be used for disciplinary action, conflicts, or complaints. (This should be done formally or in person.)

7. Consider these things before sending an email:

A)   Would I say this to the person’s face?

B)   Am I putting the receiver in an awkward position?

C)   How would I feel if I got this email?

8.  Using emoticons and other virtual gestures may be appropriate in some cases, but not all. It is always essential to consider the type of relationship that you have with the receiver. If your relationship is more casual, using symbols is fine. If your relationship is more formal, then it is best to refrain from using emoticons. Remember: Be professional.

Maryland Dressage Association Email Policy

Maryland Dressage Association recognizes ( due to the recent history of email conversations becoming contentious and judgmental with resulting hurt feelings, alienation and communication shut-down) the need for an email policy to establish order and discipline in its email communications.

1)    This email policy applies to the use of email for any MDA business, by any person.

2)    Email is to be used only to communicate factual information and reports of MDA activities.

3)    Email shall maintain a civil tone and focus on presentation of facts. A Request for Email Action may be initiated when an email becomes argumentative, expresses anger, sarcasm and frustration that may silence the receiver, delivers an unhelpful or contentious tone, includes any kind of name calling or derogatory references, expands the subject to include past grievances and history, expands the scope of debate to additional receivers when the matter should remain restricted to persons who are part of the original dialogue.

4)    After a reasonable presentation of facts and opinions, anyone can call for a tabling of a particular email conversation.. Continuation after a reasonable call for tabling may stimulate a Request for Email Action.

5)    This motion creates an Email Committee consisting of the President, Vice President and one other board member.

6)    .At all times at least one member must be from the executive committee.

7)    An Email action requires the agreement of at least 2 Email Moderators.

8)    The email committee shall maintain and Email log for every Request for Email Action, including its date, names of Requestor and Originator, email Receiver(s), email date and text, and any pertinent details. This mail log is to be kept current with date and details of each Email action, including names and votes of the three acting Email Moderators. The MDA Board reserves the right to require full or partial disclosure of this Email log at any time, with the understanding of confidentiality.

9)    Anyone may Request an Email Action by contacting any Email Moderator or the MDA President:

a. This request may be in writing, by hard copy or by email, and shall include the name of the Requestor, date of  the request, and email details, including its date, Originator, Receiver(s), and text.

10) The Email Committee shall process each Request as follows:

a. This Request (and all subsequent relevant communication) shall be communicated immediately to all three Email Moderators.

b. The Email Committee shall communicate about the request as it sees fit;

c. The Email Committee shall act depending on the Originator’s history in its email log;

d. Any Email Action shall automatically become inactive twelve months after it is issued:

e. The Email Committee shall take one of the following five Email Actions and so notify the MDA Board, the Requestor and the Originator.

11) Email Actions

a. No email action

b. Private email Warning: If the Originator has no Private Email Warning, the originator is so notified by phone and email. Future requests that the Email Committee chooses to act upon, shall proceed with MDA Board action in the following sequence.

c. Board Email Warning: If the Originator has an active Private Email Warning, the Email Committee shall immediately notify MDA Board Members. Before its next Board meeting, the MDA Board shall issue a Board Email Warning to the Originator. The MDA Board meeting minutes will indicate this, including the names of the Originator, acting Email Moderators, and date and description of email.

d. Board Email Sanction: If the Originator has an active Board Email Warning, the Email Committee shall immediately inform the MDA Board. Before its next Board meeting, the MDA Board shall issue a Board Email Sanction to the Originator. The Board meeting minutes will include the statement that the Originator has committed actions, in the event of MDA Board Vote for sanctions as set forth in the MDA bylaws, Section 5, Articles of Disciplinary Action, leading up to  dismissal.

e. Board Email Votes of Dismissal: If the Originator has an Active Board Email Sanction, the Email Committee shall immediately notify the MDA Board. At its next meeting, the MDA Board will vote in accordance with its bylaws, Section 6, Part B Suspension and Expulsion.

12) Any Email Action shall stand as active for at least 30 days after which the Originator may request, and shall be granted a hearing at the next MDA Board meeting at which time a vote may be taken to deactivate disputed Email Action(s). The minutes of this meeting shall include a clear reference to the minutes at which the original Email Action was taken and that its status is now inactive. The Email Committee shall so update its Email Log.


Show Attire for MDA Schooling Shows
MDA Schooling shows are full dress shows.  If you have questions regarding MDA’s rules or USEF rules please contact MDA’s president.

Braiding the horses mane is optional.

The following Rules are quoted from the 2011 USEF rule book. You can find the rule book in its entirety at

USEF Dressage Rules direct link, PDF Icon

“DR120 Dress.
1. The dress code for Training through Fourth Levels is a short riding coat of conservative
color, with tie, choker or stock tie, white or light-colored breeches or jodhpurs, boots or jodhpur
boots, a hunt cap or riding hat with a hard shell, derby or top hat. A cutaway coat (modified
tailcoat) with short tails is permitted. Half chaps, gaiters and/or leggings are not allowed.
Gloves of conservative color are recommended. Exception: Riders through First Level may
wear half-chaps, gaiters or leggings in solid black or brown, without fringe, matching the color
of their boots, and made of smooth leather or leather-like material.

2. For all tests above Fourth Level, the dress code is: a dark tailcoat with top hat, or a dark
jacket with a bowler hat or hunt cap, and white or light colored breeches, stock or tie, gloves,
and black riding boots. Spurs are mandatory for FEI tests (except as noted above under
DR120.1). (See DR120.8)

3. At all test levels, riders may wear jackets in other colors within the international HSV color
scale, as described in FEI Dressage Regulations, Art. 427.1. Contrast coloring and piping is
allowed. Hats, stocks, ties, gloves and riding boots may be the same color as the coat.
BOD 1/17/10 Effective immediately

5. Riders at all levels of competition must wear one of the following: A hunt cap or riding hat
with a hard shell, derby or top hat, military/police cap or hat, or protective headgear. Any exhibitor
may wear protective headgear at any level of competition without penalty from the
judge. Exhibitors choosing to wear protective headgear must wear a short, dark jacket, dark
tail coat (only permitted for tests above Fourth Level), or Armed Services or police uniform (if
eligible), dark hatcovers (where applicable) and must otherwise conform to DR120 (see

7. In extreme heat and/or humidity in all classes including FEI classes at National Competitions,
management can allow competitors to show without jackets. However, competitors
must wear a regulation hat and solid or nearly solid colored long or short sleeved shirt with
collar, without neckwear, and without decoration except as described under .12 below. Tshirts
are not permitted. Members of the Armed Services or police units may wear summer
uniforms. BOD 1/17/10 Effective immediately

8. Competitors will be allowed to wear a hat cover and a transparent or conservative color
rain coat in inclement weather.

9. Spurs must be made of metal. The shank must be either curved or straight pointing directly
back from the center of the spur when on the rider’s boot. If the shank is curved, the
spurs must be worn only with the shank directed downwards. However, swan necked spurs
are allowed.
© USEF 2010 DR17
The inside arm of the spur must be smooth and one or both arms may have rubber covers. If
rowels are used, they must be blunt/smooth and free to rotate. Only blunt/smooth rowels are
permitted in USEF High Performance Championships, USEF High Performance qualifying
and selection trials, and observation classes. Metal spurs with round hard plastic knobs on the
shank are allowed (“Impuls” spur). “Dummy” spurs with no shank are also allowed. Only blunt
metal spurs, no longer than 1.5 cm are permitted for FEI Pony Rider tests. This restriction also
applies to warm-up and training areas, as well as during competition. Offset spurs without
rowels are permitted for riders having an appropriate Dispensation Certificate.

10. Riders in USDF Pas de Deux and Quadrille classes are exempt from the dress code requirements
of DR120.1-4, except that headgear and boots as required in DR120.1-4 must be
worn. Riders must follow the dress requirements outlined in the USDF Rules and Guidelines
for Quadrille Competitions and for Pas de Deux.

11. Individuals holding Federation Dispensation Certificates may be allowed exceptions, i.e.;
gloves not required if unable to wear them, half-chaps and black or brown riding shoes with
heels. If dispensation for modified shoes or boots is given, safety stirrups are required. Riders
may also be given dispensation for modified gloves, hand weights and arm belts. All exceptions
to required dress must be listed on the rider’s Dispensation Certificate.

12. When the only warm-up available is open to all horses and riders, riders with safety concerns
are encouraged to wear an orange vest. BOD 1/18/09 Effective 12/1/09

13. Cooling vests may be worn underneath a riding jacket. If coats are waived, a solid-colored
cooling or lightweight vest may be worn over a riding shirt as specified in DR120.6.
BOD 1/17/10 Effective immediately

14. When sponsorship is permitted in accordance with GR1306, the name and/or logo of the
individual’s sponsor(s) may appear on each of the two sides of jackets or top garments at the
height of breast pockets not exceeded 80 cm2 in size. Logos described under DR121.1 are
also permitted as above. BOD 1/17/10 Effective immediately”

Page last Updated: 11-May-16