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2021 Trip Harting Fund for Pony Club Members and Graduates Grant Recipient: Amy Walsh (AR)

Amy Walsh photo by Troy Roane

The L Education Program is an “educational training program for teaching judges to evaluate correct training of dressage horses.” It is the first step to becoming a carded judge. The program is split into two parts, each made up of three sessions. The first half, known as Part One, including, Session A, Session B, and Session C is what I used my TDF grant from the Trip Harting Fund for Pony Club members, to complete.

This program was hosted by the Ohio Dressage Society and took place in Columbia, OH, at the Otterbein Equestrian Complex and at Milestone Farm. Session A took place July 24 and 25, Session B October 23 and 24, with C Session wrapped up on November 20 and 21.

In short, the L Program is a game changer. Whether you are a rider, a coach, a trainer, or all three, the L Program is an amazing resource to learn how tests are judged and how the sport is played. It’s eye-opening to see things from a judge's perspective for the first time. Even though I had a solid understanding of the rules and the pyramid of training, over the course of these three sessions I changed my approach to teaching and training to better align with the principles of the pyramid of training as I now understand them.

Having the opportunity to learn from all the amazing L Program faculty members, gain perspective from the wealth of knowledge and experience, and make connections with so many like-minded individuals is a gift in and of itself, but to have three full weekends of discussion, Q&A, and conversation was worth every penny that this program costs. I came away with a fire to finish earning my scores needed to apply to the second half and continue this education to become an L Program graduate, and move onto the small “r” program with goals to continue onto the large “R”.

While things with horses don’t always go the way we want them to, the opportunities and the doors opened from attending the first part in 2021 absolutely helped me to better my teaching and training techniques and to offer my students a higher level of understanding, both within the sport of dressage and to the principles of the pyramid of training. I am truly hoping to be able to apply for Part 2 within the next year, however even if I have to attend Part One again, it will be time well spent!