Debbie McDonald Resigns as USA Dressage Team Coach

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Debbie McDonald with Adrienne Lyle hugging Salvino owner Betsy Juliano. File photo. © 2022 Ken Braddick/

July 12, 2023


Debbie McDonald, an icon of American dressage as one of the most successful competitors and trainers, has resigned as the technical advisor or dressage team coach to the United States, effective Aug. 1.

The resignation of Debbie at the age of 68 comes six months after she was reappointed to the post of “Technical Advisor,” the official term for the team coach, that was to run through the Paris Olympics in 2024.

The U.S. Equestrian Federation was expected to announce a temporary replacement through the Pan American Games at the end of October and a permanent replacement about year’s end.

Debbie’s resignation came after the Nations Cup in Aachen, Germany where the United States team placed last among the eight countries vying for the title at the world’s most prestigious equestrian event.

She did not respond to a query from

But she has strong ties to her personal students including Adrienne Lyle, Laura Graves and Kasey Perry-Glass among others.

Debbie returned to the team coaching post on Feb. 1, exactly 14 months after the federation did not renew her contract following her leadership of the squad that won an historic silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics and coaching three of the four riders on the silver medal team at the 2018 World Equestrian Games . She shared coaching duties in Tryon with Robert Dover as he had announced his retirement.

As the rider of the mare Brentina, she was on American teams at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, the 2002 and 2006 World Games, and in 2003 became the first American to win the dressage World Cup.

No coach was named in December 2021 as a successor to Debbie. The U.S. went through 2022 including the dressage world championships in Herning, Denmark with no team coach.

Adrienne, based in Wellington, Florida and who is pregnant with her first child, rode Salvino on both the Tokyo Olympic and 2018 World Equestrian Games silver medal teams.

Laura Graves of the Orlando area community of Geneva, developed Verdades from a youngster to become the only American partnership ever to reach No. 1 in the world as well as earning bronze with the American team at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and silver at the Tryon WEG.

Debbie and Bob McDonald, her husband, declared earlier this year after their 44th wedding anniversary they had “moved on” after spending more than two years fighting unproven allegations of behavior almost a half-century earlier. A SafeSport arbitration was closed and led to the USEF reporting in August 2021 that Bob had been “fully reinstated.” A subsequent civil case in which the McDonalds were never served was dismissed.