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Northern Ohio Dressage Association

Our History and Today

Nurtured by a handful of Dressage pioneers during its inception in 1969, NODA has grown from a grass-roots organization into one with nationwide influence. NODA’s 300+ members represent a widespread demographic area and people of all ages. We include riders of every level who own or lease horses, have their horses in training or take occasional lessons on school horses. Their riding goals and NODA involvement vary with their available time and love of horses. Integrated within NODA’s membership are trainers, instructors, judges, technical delegates and international FEI competitors that provide educational support for the horse and rider. 

NODA was formed to promote and further interest in the understanding of dressage through education, active participation and support of local, regional, and national dressage activities.   Today we are a US Dressage Federation Group Member Organization (GMO).  NODA is one of the largest GMO’s in USDF Region 2 which consists of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, West  Virginia, & Wisconsin.

NODA came into being mainly as an educational organization at a time when dressage was still largely a mystery in the Cleveland area (as it was in much of the United States). The initial formative meeting of NODA took place at Red Raider Camp in response to a letter written by Joan Rapp, with personalized notes exhorting people to give dressage a try. Red Raider Camp became a center of dressage interest by virtue of the influence of Emmy Temple, Suzanne Jones, Dale Lappert, Lynn Fry and Gail Patton. They, along with Joan Rapp, who became the founding president of NODA, were instructors at Red Raider at the time. The organization held early meetings both at Red Raider and the Chagrin Falls Library.

Schooling Shows  were held at area stables with one or two people running the show. They took “the box” of show supplies to the show site. Together with the judge, this skeleton crew managed the show with anywhere from 12 to 60 rides. Today NODA offers a popular Schooling Shows Series each year with Championship Show.  Most of our schooling shows now have two competition rings, and often more than 70 rides.

Recognized Shows  NODA hosts and organizes two popular 1-day Recognized Shows each summer.   They are licensed by the U.S. Equestrian Federation and the U.S. Dressage Federation.   

Education  NODA is an educational organization. We have sponsored many clinics and workshops. The first one was presented by Lockie Richards in the fall of 1969, followed by one given by Emmy Temple in the spring of 1971. Since then we have had many others including Hans Moeller, Bodo Hangan, Violet Hopkins, Jean Froisard, Jessica Ransenhausen, Carol Grant, Gabor Foltenyi, Terry Ciotti-Gallo and Major Anders Lindgren (NODA hosted five USDF Instructor Seminars with Major Lindgren in the early 1990s).   During NODA’s 44 years, other educational programs have been held for members and non-members alike.   NODA has sponsored USDF “L” Programs, USDF Adult Camps, the Region 2 USDF/Premier Dressage Adult Clinic with Walter Zettl, and USDF Instructor/Trainer Certification Program.  

At NODA workshops and clinics, we’ve learned how to interpret and ride dressage tests (including the rider tests), create a musical freestyle, take care of our “show nerves” with sport psychology, fill volunteer positions such as tabulating or scribing at shows, breed a better sport horse, and improve our riding with the Alexander Technique, T’ai Chi and yoga.  Lectures have focused on such topics as equine health, trailer safety, approved bits, classical dressage, saddle and tack fit, helmet safety, and horse nutrition.   

Awards  To top off each busy year, NODA hosts an annual awards banquet. NODA offers year-end awards for scores earned in recognized and unrecognized (schooling) competition, as well as special awards and trophies with specific criteria. 

Leadership  Past presidents of NODA, under whose leadership all this has evolved, are Joan Rapp, Emmy Temple, Peter Nelson, John Bogert, Dagmar Zimmerman, Dianne Braden, Patti Ferris, Lisa Gorretta, Margaret McElhany, Susan Horst, Carey Smith, Cindy Gibbs, Karen Eisenhauer, Dale Lappert, Janice Lawrenz, Dee Liebenthal, and Barbara Soukup. Our thanks are given to all of the hardworking officers, Board members, and committee members who have served with them over the years.    

Volunteers   Everything we do ~ shows, clinics, workshops, newsletter, website, awards banquet, silent auction ~ is organized and run by hardworking volunteers.  We congratulate all NODA members past and present for their contributions, participation, and volunteer hours.  You have helped make NODA the equestrian association it is today.  Thank you!

NODA Lifetime Achievement Award

Initiated in 2011, this award recognizes and honors individuals who have devoted countless hours of service to NODA in the pursuit of excellence both to NODA and to our sport of Dressage. This award recognizes those individuals in our spotlight, in the trenches quietly just doing the work, the person you think of when something needs to be done, someone who would remember how it has been done in the past, or someone who served years doing our committee work. Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award helped to create the NODA we enjoy today. These are important people and should be remembered and honored.     

2011 recipients:  Joan Rapp, Emmy Temple, Pat Lightbody, Gretchen Singleton,  Patti Ferris, Ingrid Feder

2012 recipients:  Charles “Chuck” Kinney, Mary Dana Prescott

2013 recipient:    Dale Lappert

2014 recipients:  Mary Lou Gallagher, Carey Smith-Wilson, Dagmar Zimmerman

2015 recipient:    Lisa Gorretta

2016 recipient:    Fran Cverna

2017 recipients:  Gail Patton, Karen Eisenhauer-Shirring

2018 recipient:    Bonnie Gray

2019 recipient:    Dee Liebenthal

Honoring Senior Dressage Riders and Horses

The Dressage Foundation (see has a unique honor for senior dressage riders and horses. The Century Club recognizes Dressage riders and horses whose combined age totals 100 years or more. Horse and rider perform a Dressage test of any level, at a Dressage show or event, and are scored by a Dressage judge or professional. Among the horse/rider combinations nationwide who are members of the Century Club, are/were NODA members Beverly Van Nieuwal and John Claridge.

It does not matter how good you are .  .  . it matters if you have the passion!

Dressage is an approach to the training of the horse.

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Constitution, Code of Regulations and Bylaws 

Proposed Bylaws Change 2024 To be voted on at the July 2024 Board meeting

Board Member Job Descriptions

Our website is continually changing and growing. Check back frequently for new updates and information!  

Copyright © 2020  Northern Ohio Dressage Association. All Rights Reserved. NODA is a 501(C)3 Educational Organization. All donations and contributions are tax deductible.

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