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$25,000 Debbie McDonald Fund for FEI Riders

Debbie McDonald and Brentina
Photo by Amy Dragoo

The Debbie McDonald Fund was established to provide funding for high-level training to horse and rider pairs who show potential to succeed at FEI Levels, and who may not otherwise have the opportunity for the training. 

Amount of Grant: $25,000 

Application Deadline: June 15 

Debbie McDonald, through her compassionate and effective training methods, has had a significant and positive impact on dressage training across the United States. To honor her role in the success of U.S. dressage as a trainer, competitor, and coach, the Debbie McDonald Fund for FEI Riders was established in 2023 to recognize Debbie’s unique contributions to the sport of dressage while enhancing the skill and effectiveness of the dressage community.  

Applicant Requirements: 

Applicant must: 

  • Be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident. 
  • Have declared the United States as the rider’s Sport Nationality with US Equestrian and/or the FEI. 
  • The horse and rider must be training and/or competing at Prix St. Georges or higher, including the Under 25 (U25) Division. The applicant and horse must have achieved three scores of 65% or higher at Prix St. Georges or above.  
  • Have a detailed and attainable training plan that may not otherwise be possible without the grant. 
  • Have a plan of how to expand dressage knowledge and skill in their region by sharing what is learned from this training. 
  • Be a demonstrated team player through volunteer work, donating resources, hosting educational events to help their dressage community, etc.  

Additional Grant Information:    

  • Training funded by this grant can start no sooner than two months after the application deadline date.  
  • Funding can be used for training, board, and competition but cannot be used only for competition. Funding cannot be used for vet and/or farrier expenses, living expenses, or the purchase of a horse or equipment.     
  • The recipients of this grant must use the funds within two years of the date of the award.    
  • Recipients are chosen by an independent selection committee comprised of dressage professionals who have had international success. The applications and discussions of the selection committee are confidential, and their decisions are final. 
  • The selection committee reserves the right not to award a grant in any given year if they determine that no candidate has met the criteria.  
  • If the grant recipient is unable to attend the event/training specified in their application, The Dressage Foundation must be notified as soon as possible. Approval for a change in the use of funds is at the discretion of The Dressage Foundation and the grant selection committee. 
  • An individual can only receive one $25,000 grant from The Dressage Foundation each calendar year. 
  • The Dressage Foundation feels strongly that this grant should be based on merit and need. If your financial situation permits you to pursue these goals without the help of TDF, we urge you to allow other riders who are not in that position to apply.

Reporting Information: 

  • For all recipients, 75% of grant funds will be paid prior to the recipient’s departure for training; 25% will be paid after the applicant has completed training and has submitted a training and financial report to The Dressage Foundation. 
  • The recipients of the grants are required to provide a training and financial report of their experience to The Dressage Foundation. The reports may be written, video, photo journal, or in other ways pre-approved by The Dressage Foundation. The report is due within two months following the completion of the training.  
  • Throughout their training, recipients are encouraged to share training/event updates with The Dressage Foundation via email or tag The Dressage Foundation on social media.   

History of the Debbie McDonald Fund:

Pacific Northwest Dressage Enthusiasts

In 2019, the Debbie McDonald Grant Fund was established by Pacific Northwest dressage enthusiasts to assist riders in the Region to pursue their goals of representing Team USA on the podium. The goal of the grant was to recognize Debbie’s unique contributions to the sport of dressage while enhancing the skill and effectiveness of the Pacific Northwest dressage community. 
Three $10,000 grants were awarded to support the developmental goals of Pacific Northwest FEI Riders, including those who were members of the USEF Dressage Development Program; for travel to the USEF National Championships, NAYC, or U.S. CDIs; or for other educational, training, and/or showing opportunities that furthered the development of the horse/rider pair. 
Past grant recipients: 

  • 2019 - Jennifer Williams (WA)
  • 2020 - Stephen Birchall (OR)
  • 2021 - Claire Darnell (WA)

In 2023, thanks to the generosity of Pamela S. Jones and the Jones Family Foundation—Malama Honua, the Fund was expanded and increased to offer $25,000 grants to FEI riders from across the country, to include riders in the Under 25 Division.   

Past grant recipients: 

  • 2023 – Nicholia Clarke (MT)