USDF Membership Requirements - Simplified
Updated for 2017
By Mary Lou Gallagher, USEF
"r" Technical Delegate & NODA Recognized Shows Secretary
Recognized shows can be an expensive proposition so I am going to offer
3 approaches to meeting USEF and USDF Membership Requirements: an
inexpensive way, a reasonable way, and a “let’s go for it all”
way. We’ll start in the middle, the way most riders take.
This article hopefully will answer many of your own questions.
1. For riders
who plan to attend two or more Recognized Shows, but
are not interested in qualifying for the Regional Championships, here’s what you
need to do.
Annual membership fees for the USEF have dropped in the last few years
to $55 while USEF non-member fees per show have risen to $30. Simple
math will tell you that two non-member fees will cost more than the
membership itself. An added bonus for amateur riders is that the USEF
Amateur Card comes free with the membership—and you must have an
Amateur Card to enter any class designated as “adult amateur.”
NOTE: As of 2014, only active USEF members may obtain
(or any of the other Group Member Organizations of the USDF). Part of
your NODA membership fees pay for a USDF
Group Membership (a USDF requirement). This group membership allows you
to participate in USEF/USDF recognized shows without paying a USDF
non-membership fee ($25 per show). Group members can still submit
their scores for the USDF Rider Award programs such as Rider Performance
awards or the Bronze Medal.
a USDF HID.
A USDF HID (Horse Identification Number) is needed to enter all
recognized dressage shows. If your horse already has a USDF HID or
lifetime number registered in your name, you do not have to do anything
more. If your horse has never been registered with the USDF, you can
file the HID application online. It is a one-time fee of $25 and the
number will stay with the horse for its lifetime, If, however, your
horse has already been registered by a previous owner, you will have to
transfer the ownership to your own name after providing some proof of
the new ownership. (Go to the USDF website and search for the “Transfer
of Ownership” form. It might take over a month to get the HID
certificate back, so plan on doing this early.)
a USEF HID.
Although you do not need a USEF HID number for your horse at a
dressage show, I would still suggest getting one. When you enter a
recognized show, you need to provide proof of all your memberships. The
simplest way is printing out a USEF/USDF master verification sheet—and
it is much easier if your horse has both USEF and USDF numbers. If your
horse has not been registered already with the USEF, you can apply for a
USEF HID online for free. If your horse has been registered already by a
prior owner, you may not use that number until you have registered a
transfer of ownership with the USEF. (More on the master verification
sheet at a later date!)
e. Owners and
If you are not the owner of the horse you are showing, then the
owner must have the same USEF/USDF memberships listed above (or pay the
non-member fees) and the horse must have a USDF HID in the name of the
actual owner. One word of advice, only the owner may sign a Transfer of
Ownership form. If two or more people own the horse, only one of the
owners must be a member to avoid paying the non-member fees. When
filling out an entry form, make sure you list the owner who is the
2. For those
riders who plan to ride in the Regional Championships, things become
more complicated and expensive.
a. Join the
Non-members may not attempt to qualify for Regionals.
b. Apply for a
participating membership in the USDF.
A group membership does not make you eligible to qualify.
c. Get a USDF
lifetime registration for the horse.
If your horse already has a HID, then you only have to pay for the
upgrade. The horse number itself will remain the same—just the status
either a USEF Annual or lifetime recording for the horse.
The free USEF HID above is not valid for regional championships.
If you are not the owner of the horse, then the owner must have the same
USEF/USDF memberships that you have. The owner must also have the horse
listed with both the USEF and USDF.
If you had not originally planned
to qualify for the Regionals and later change your mind, you can always
apply for the USDF participating membership on line as well as upgrade
your USEF and/or USDF HID numbers. Another way is to contact the show
secretary about filling out the necessary forms when you get to the
show. Remember though-- if a transfer of ownership must be filed at the
show, then the owner must be present to sign the form.
New 2017 Information
One relatively new (and inexpensive) choice now exists for the riders who do
not want to spend lots of money this year but want the chance to
participate in the recognized shows. The way to avoid membership and/or
HID fees would be to sign up for only Opportunity Classes. These classes must have the word
“Opportunity” in the title. When you enter only Opportunity Classes, you are exempt from all
non-member and horse registration fees. The downside of the Opportunity
classes is that the results will not count for any USEF or USDF award
programs. The NODA Board, however, has voted to allow these score to
be used for schooling show awards.
New for 2017:
USEF Level 1, 2, and 3 competitions
are permitted to offer a limited number Opportunity Classes from
Introductory to Second Level, including Rider Tests (new for 2017).
The Level of USEF Competition determines which Levels/Tests may be
This is a simplified version of all the
USDF and USEF requirements for competing at Recognized Shows. If you have a specific question that cannot be
answered from the information above, feel free to contact me at