US Equestrian Launches Para-Equestrian Dressage Coach Certification Program

by US Equestrian Communications Department | Jan 15, 2019, 2:22 PM EST

Lexington, Ky. – US Equestrian is excited to announce the launch of the Para-Equestrian Dressage Coach Certification Program developed by Michel Assouline, USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage Technical Advisor and Head of Coach Development. This is a first of its kind coaching program for the industry in the U.S. The certificate program comprises of four levels: master coach, silver coach, bronze coach, and apprentice coach. In 2018, US Equestrian launched the pilot program, which played a role in the medal count for members of the U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team presented by Deloitte at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018.

The curriculum covers the principles of para-dressage coaching, including guided improvement process, coaching philosophy, and sport-specific skill acquisition. Moreover, it increases a coach’s ability to prepare athletes from grassroots education to international competitions, through progression of the certificate levels. With its goal of coach development, the program uses classroom lecture time as well as simulated lessons to give coaches information and feedback on their teaching, knowledge, and overall performance. Additionally, the program involves onsite practicums, self-study, online exams, and final assessments.  The certificate program takes three to six months to complete, with a fast-track program available to qualifying coaches. Currently, 31 participants from the pilot program aim to be fast-tracked in 2019.

“The new coaching program is there to develop better coaches but also a better system. I have always believed that a coach is not just a coach but also a networker, someone who brings a group together, that works with other professionals,” said Assouline, who introduced the program alongside US Equestrian Director of Sport Will Connell and US Equestrian Director of Para-Equestrian Laureen Johnson during US Equestrian’s Annual Meeting “Coaching, Youth, and Para-Dressage” panel. “To be a good coach, you have to understand your team, and you have to work with your team. [We also] arranged the program around that concept of working within a team.”

Assouline brings a decade of curriculum development and Paralympic coaching experience to the program. US Equestrian-approved faculty will join Assouline in accepting applications, delivering on-site practicums, and performing final assessments. The following are the 2019 dates of the US Equestrian Para-Equestrian Dressage Coach Certification Program:

Fast-Track Program: 

*Eligible candidates must attend one of the following

  • Option 1: Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center, Loxahatchee, Fla., March  3-4
  • Option 2: Tryon International Equestrian Center, Mill Spring, N.C., September 7-8

Formal Program:

*Accepted candidates must attend both of the following

  • Onsite Practicum 1: Tryon International Equestrian Center, Mill Spring, N.C., May 15-16
  • Final Practicum & Assessment; Tryon International Equestrian Center, Mill Spring, N.C., September 9-10

US Equestrian would like to thank the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for providing the Federal Adaptive Sport Grant, which has helped make the coach certificate program possible. This initiative has been conducted in partnership with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship with a goal of increasing awareness and coach education opportunities within Paralympic equestrian sports and to aid in the development of a US Equestrian coach database to support the competition pipeline for para-eligible athletes.

For more information about the application process and certification levels, view the information booklet or contact Laureen Johnson at