American has lost another luminary and USDF Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Elizabeth F. Searle, a leading force in dressage and equestrian sports in the United States, passed away January 8th after a long illness. With the loss of her good friend Lazelle Knocke on Christmas day, and USDF founder Lowell Boomer in November, it is the end of an era where those who did so much to lay down the foundation for the success American Dressage. Searle, a resident of San Juan Bautista, California, served as vice president of the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) for nine years, as program faculty for the USDF “L” dressage judge education program, and as chair of the USDF judges committee for eight years. Searle was known as a key player in Dutch Warmblood (KWPN) breeding in the U.S. A well-respected FEI judge, Searle participated in the Olympic, Pan American, World Championship, and World Cup events as a judge. In 2003, she received the USA Equestrian Pegasus Medal of Honor. She also earned the USDF Lifetime Achievement Award.
Co-founder of the California Dressage Society, she was also instrumental in introducing the equestrian discipline known as vaulting in America, co-founding the American Vaulting Association in 1968 and serving as president of the organization for 15 years. She was also national vice president of the U.S. Pony Club.
As an equestrian competitor, Searle trained under highly respected European cavalry instructors, carrying their teaching into the U.S. dressage world. She competed in dressage, hunter-jumper and three-day eventing shows during her riding career.
Searle played a key role in instructing American riders in musical freestyle, pas de deux, quadrille and other top-level dressage exercises and bringing these movements to stateside horse shows.
Searle’s additional professional equestrian affiliations included:
California Quadrille Association
Keuring Jury of the North American Department of the Dutch Warmblood Association
Senior AHSA Dressage Judge