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How many dressage riders in the US? And at what level are they riding?

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    How many dressage riders in the US? And at what level are they riding?

    I know the stats for eventing from a column Denny did a couple years ago (25K eventers competing both recognized and unrecognized; less than 1% compete at advanced, 3% at intermediate, 7% at prelim, 15% at training, 75% at novice and below).

    What are the stats for dressage? Someone asked me this weekend, and I couldn't find it out via googling. I couldn't even find out how many USDF members there are by going to the website.
    Hindsight bad, foresight good.

    USDF Membership:

    304 Business Memberships
    20,177 Participating Memberships
    15,214 Group Member Organization Memberships
    129 Affiliated Group Member Organizations
    37 Intercollegiate/Interscholastic Member Organizations
    850 Recognized Competitions

    The federation currently has more than 35,000 members:

    90% are adults
    96% are female
    66% are over the age of 41 years of age
    96% own at least one horse
    87% compete at least one horse
    37% own at least five acres of land
    70% have an income of $75,000 and above

    Competitive Dressage Horses:

    High insured values
    Large investment and long-term relationship between horse and rider
    Average competitive life is ten years
    Peak performance age average is twelve years
    Average age at which a horse is USDF lifetime registered is 7.5 years
    13,666 new horses have been registered since 2005
    92% increase in the horses competing at USDF recognized shows


      I'd almost be willing to wager that at least 75% are Training Level or First.
      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


        Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
        I'd almost be willing to wager that at least 75% are Training Level or First.
        I think that's probably about right, too. It's not surprising in eventing or dressage - not everyone plays in the MBA either.
        Treat Jockey for Spellbound and Smidgeon


          If you look up the report that the Nerd Herd did for the Qualification Standards Proposal, you'll get a very good snapshot of the relative attendance at each level.
          If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


            Original Poster

            Good idea, Poltroon! I just went to the report and found this:

            "Today, the number of entries decreases by 30% to 40% at each major step between Training/First level, Second/Third level, Fourth, PSG, Intermediate, and GP. There were 24,619 rides at Training and First verses 648 at Grand Prix. This produces a ration of about 40 Training/First rides for every GP ride."

            However, since a rider is more likely to ride multiple test in a day at Training than at Grand Prix, the number of rides doesn't exactly represent the ratio. And a portion of those Training rides may be Grand Prix riders on green horses, so separating them out from the strictly training level riders would also change the ratio a bit.

            There is a table on page 9 of the summary that shows the breakdown of "# of rides" a bit further:


            Again, this is "rides" not "riders," but I figured out the percentages from their chart and got the following:

            Training 30% of rides
            First 26%
            Second 15%
            Third 12%
            Fourth 8%
            PSG 4.5%
            Int 2.5%
            GP 1.5%

            So: 70% of rides are at second and below; fewer than 8.5% are at FEI.

            Would love to know how this changes if the we are talking "riders" instead of test rides.
            Hindsight bad, foresight good.


              So it's 1.5 GP riders on every 100 riders? Strange, I know local barns with multiple GP riders... I wonder in % will be higher if statistics are covering 20-40 year period?


                Originally posted by Dressage Art View Post
                So it's 1.5 GP riders on every 100 riders? Strange, I know local barns with multiple GP riders... I wonder in % will be higher if statistics are covering 20-40 year period?
                Actually, it makes a lot of sense, because there are many, many barns without a single FEI rider! Including the resident trainer. In fact, many don't have a single rider who has ventured out of 2nd level. Yeah, I can think of a few barns with several GP riders too (probably some of the same barns you are thinking of DA), but I can think of many more that have no FEI riders.

                AND, I'd venture a bit further. The geek squad analyzed USDF shows - those are the people who feel far enough along to show at a rated show. If you could gather schooling show data, people who are not bothering with rated shows, you'd probably see even more people in the Intro through 2nd Level. They are still dressage riders, still a core part of our community
       Friesian/Warmblood Crosses, the Ultimate Sporthorse
                Director, WTF Registry


                  Originally posted by Dressage Art View Post
                  So it's 1.5 GP riders on every 100 riders? Strange, I know local barns with multiple GP riders... I wonder in % will be higher if statistics are covering 20-40 year period?
                  i bet i know more places with more local barns with no one over 1st level than you do multiple barns with multiple gp riders outside of wellington and sandiego


                    Original Poster

                    Originally posted by Dressage Art View Post
                    So it's 1.5 GP riders on every 100 riders? Strange, I know local barns with multiple GP riders... I wonder in % will be higher if statistics are covering 20-40 year period?

                    It's 1.5 Grand Prix test rides out of every 100 tests ridden in recognized shows during the sample period.

                    The stats I'd like to find are for riders, but I haven't found those. I don't know how the percentages will change between rides vs. riders
                    Hindsight bad, foresight good.


                      somewhere I read that 92% of dressage rides in the US (test rides) are at training level. That includes eventing dressage.

                      I don't think you can go by the one or two big coast shows that has a lot of FEI riders.

                      I think there are very many more riders at Training Level than any other level. There are multiple huge classes at most shows every day for training level. The numbers at the other levels just aren't there.

                      Too, one has to consider, that without any qualification to ride at any level, what test people enter at a USEF show may not really indicate what level they are good or competent at.


                        There is no way to count riders for schooling shows - most of them are held/organized privately. Levels will be easier, and from my experience lots of Intro Levels, as much as 4 and 1/2 hours of Intro Level at one schooling show I judged. + some fun dressage classes like dressage for trail riders, lead rope class, prix caprilli... Many of those riders are not members of USDF/USEF/GMO and I personally think they ARE the true grass roots of US dressage.

                        Then there are even more riders who ride dressage, but never showed for various reasons. How do you count them?

                        The depressing side effect from this statistics is that we all have a whooping 1.5% in riding a GP test… What are the odds for Lottery? I wonder how many COTH posters rode recognized GP test in their life?


                          interesting post ! can this data found and be organized ?

                          Hi , does anyone have the time to fit all these details and stats above into one document that could be compiled and added to as more information is gathered ? Maybe Coth would give us a static thread that wouldn't slide away. Maybe Theo could chime in and tell us about Holland so we could look for similar growing trends. I'd like to hear about Germany too..Barnmice ? .actually, everywhere..... it will show us having multiple competitions every week, in every area actually grows the sports. We would need to ask these private competitions to share their info on the riders and rides. Maybe the Chronicle would help. Perhaps we could use this thread as a place for the unrecognized shows to deposit data to answer these questions. Is this a useful idea ?
                          Karin Offield
                          "Don't give up on anything that matters !"


                            Dutch info can be found at :


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