2018 Continuing Education for Instructors Fund Grant Recipient: Laura Ashley Killian (FL)

I firmly believe that I owe it to my horses and my students to constantly educate myself in the art of dressage. As their mentor, coach and trainer, they rely on my guidance to grow within the sport.  The USDF Instructor/Trainer Certification Program tested my depth of theory, teaching and training skills, while reflecting on my teaching style and ways to better communicate with my horses and riders.

Sometimes it feels very daunting to get a foothold in this challenging career path, especially living in Wellington, Florida. There are many factors I cannot control, but my education will never be one of them. I will continue to prioritize developing my skills so that I am ready to capitalize on the golden opportunity when, one day, it presents itself. All one can do is continue to better themselves, living each day as if they are only one step away from their ultimate goal. Thrusting myself into USDF’s Instructor/Trainer Program has given positive proof to the work I am putting in to reach my goals and prepare for a bright future in equestrian sport.

After becoming a USDF Certified Instructor/Trainer through First Level in the Spring of 2018, I knew immediately that I wanted to continue as far as possible with this program. Through the generosity of The Dressage Foundation and funding from the Maryal and Charlie Barnett Fund, it became possible to test through yet another level in the Fall. I am proud to say as of Fall 2018 I am a USDF Certified Instructor/Trainer through 2nd level and will be testing at 3rd/4th level in March 2019.

I am pleased to say that I have already been able to give back to this program that means so much to me. With help from the fabulous Kathie Roberston, USDF Education Department Manager, I was able to organize and host one of the USDF workshops and half of the final exam in 2018. This year, I have hosted all 3 workshops and will be providing horses and a venue to host a portion of the final exam again. I believe in this program and am thrilled to see so many talented young professionals taking part in this phenomenal learning opportunity while showcasing the skills they have to offer. Someday, I hope to be one of the faculty members chosen to educate the next generation. In the interim, I will keep doing all that I can to grow as a rider and instructor.

Once again, THANK YOU to The Dressage Foundation and the Maryal and Charlie Barnett Fund for making these exceptional educational opportunities more accessible to the young up-and-coming trainers, who are the future for the horses and sport that we all love so dearly.                

Photo: Laura (center) with other Instructor/Trainer Program participants