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Houston Dressage Society (HDS) hosts dressage shows at three different tiers. Each tier is progressively more challenging to help horses and riders grow in skills and experience. Each tier also has somewhat different rules and requirements although the arena with letters is the same.

All three competition tiers offer rider divisions for Youth, Adult Amateur and Open (mostly professionals). Each show will publish a prize-list containing entry information, rules and fees.

Here is a brief description of each competition tier:

HDS “recognizes” and promotes schooling shows in the community. Local dressage shows are often held at private barns and offer riders the widest variety of competition options including Traditional Dressage, Western Dressage, Eventing Dressage and Prix Caprilli (dressage tests with jumps). They usually do not require membership in any organization so are often less expensive than other show tiers.  Formal show attire is not typically required. While there are no prescribed schooling shows rules, most schooling shows, including those recognized by HDS, follow the rules outlined by the US Equestrian Federation (USEF). HDS hosts one open schooling show per year in conjunction with the annual HDS Schooling Show Championship.

These shows are licensed or “recognized” by the US Equestrian Federation (USEF) and must follow therules and requirements of this national governing body. Competition in these shows requires membership for horses, riders and horse owners in both USEF and the US Dressage Federation (USDF). Riders and owners must also complete online SafeSport training at no cost. Show attire and horse equipment are specifically outlined in the rules. These shows can be used to qualify for various regional and national championships. HDS hosts nine USEF recognized shows each year.

The Federation Equestre International (FEI) is the governing body for the top tier of shows. The international dressage shows, or CDIs, have the same rules across the world including the Olympics and World Championships.  These shows are licensed by the FEI and must follow the strictest rules and requirements of any dressage competition. These shows can be used to qualify for certain national and international championship shows. In the US, most CDIs are held alongside a national show so riders can chose between the two competition options. HDS hosts one CDI each year in April at the same time as the HDS Spring Classic I and II national shows.

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