The Dressage Foundation’s Carol Lavell Gifted Memorial Fund Awards 11 Grants to Adult Amateur Riders

Aileen Williams - PC Neigh Okay Equine Therapy

Edited Press Release

November 17, 2023 – The Dressage Foundation (TDF) is proud to announce the 11 recipients of grants from its Carol Lavell Gifted Memorial Fund for Adult Amateurs. Each will receive a grant of up to $1,500 to enable them to set aside quality time in concentrated training with their horse. 

The following Adult Amateurs were chosen as recipients from their respective USDF Regions:

Region 1: Aileen Williams (PA, Lehigh Valley Dressage Association): Aileen will spend a week creating a Third Level freestyle with Lauren Annett.

Laura Adriaanse – PC Liz Crawey Photography

Region 1: Laura Adriaanse (DE, Eastern States Dressage & Combined Training Association): Laura will spend five days with Ashley Madison with the goal of confirming her lead changes.

Jennifer Kaiser – PC J. Klein Photos

Region 2: Jennifer Kaiser (MI, All Dressage Association): Jennifer plans to spend nine days training with Laurie Moore to work on Third Level movements.  

Jackie White – PC Laurie Young

Region 3: Jackie White (FL, Dancing Horse Dressage & Combined Training Association): Jackie will spend five days with Claudia Tarlov with the goal of better communication between herself and her horse.

Deena Helminiak – PC Huppert Photography

Region 4: Deena Helminiak (MN, Central States Dressage & Eventing Association): Deena plans to spend five days working with Jessie Olmsted and Sven Steffens-Smienk to work on Third Level work with a focus on groundwork and long-lining.

Marikay Asberry

Region 4: Marikay Asberry (MO, St. Louis Dressage Society):  Marikay will spend seven days working with Amanda Bailey with the goal of beginning upper-level movements.  

Ruth Edith Nielsen – PC Una Schade

Region 5: Ruth Edith Nielsen (CO, Rocky Mountain Dressage Society): Ruth plans to have an intensive training week with Jess Roberts and additional lessons with Simone Windeler. Her goal for training is to prepare for competitions to obtain her USDF bronze medal.

Shana Blum – PC Darsie Bell

Region 6: Shana Blum (WA, Equestrian’s Institute): Shana plans to use her grant funding for five days of lessons with Paige Ruhl. Her training week will also include daily Pilates and working with her young horse on transitions.

Shannon Lafaille

Region 7: Shannon Lafaille (CA, Foothills Chapter, California Dressage Society): Shannon is planning a week’s intensive training with Stephanie Schauer to work on strengthening the half pass and preparing to move to Fourth Level.  

Renee Surprenant – PC Meg McGuire

Region 8: Renee Suprenant (CT, New England Dressage Association): Renee plans to spend a week working with Ann Guptill and working on Third Level movements.

Diane Dougherty

Region 9: Diane Dougherty (TX, Houston Dressage Society): Diane will spend 10 days with Debbie Bowman with the goals of developing better communication with her horse and becoming a more effective rider. 

The Gifted Memorial Fund for Adult Amateurs was seeded with donations in remembrance of Carol Lavell’s great dressage horse, Gifted. The Fund’s purpose is for adult amateurs to set aside quality, concentrated time away from daily pressures to train and bond with their horses. The best applications include a training program of five to seven consecutive days with one trainer. Volunteerism is also an important requirement for this grant. Applications are due September 15. 

For more information about The Dressage Foundation and the Gifted Fund Grants for Adult Amateurs, visit or contact Sara Weiss, TDF’s Director of Grants and Programs, at (402) 434-8585 or

The Dressage Foundation

The Dressage Foundation is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, tax-exempt, donor-driven organization that is dedicated to educating, supporting, and advancing the sport of dressage. The organization solicits contributions, appropriately allocates donations, and awards grants to dressage riders, judges, instructors, breeders, high-performance teams, nonprofit equestrian organizations, and more. For more information, please visit