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APRIL 2017

Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation

How to Maintain Your Dressage Arena

TRAINERS CONFERENCE Brings Judges and Trainers Together (p. 32)

Trainers Conference demonstration rider Elizabeth Caron on Schroeder

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USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum May 13-14, 2017 Isabella Farms, Cypress, TX

With Willy Arts and Michael Bragdell Internationally Respected Experts and Educators from Breeding to FEI Dressage

• Building a fundamental system for a correct foundation in the young equine athlete, with emphasis on the transition from in-hand to under saddle.

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Blake, Auburn, WA.

• For trainers, breeders and owners nationwide, presented in a live and interactive forum. Open to auditors and selected participants. 859-971-2277

USDF Sport Horse Education something for everyone





32 42


Trainers Conference brings trainers and judges together for the first time

4 INSIDE USDF Uh-Oh, What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

6 RINGSIDE The Storm Beneath the Calm

By Jennifer O. Bryant


From the USDF’s footing guide, how to protect your arena-surface investment

By Carol Tice

By Jennifer O. Bryant

14 CLUB CONNECTION Golden Anniversary in the Golden State

By Jennifer Walker

22 HISTORICAL CONNECTION American Dressage Legends: Lazelle Knocke 26 AMATEUR HOUR Top Guns

By Katherine Walcott

30 ALL-BREEDS CONNECTION Breed of the Month: Trakehner 52 THE TAIL END Sweet Sixteen



By Joni Zeccola


ON OUR COVER Demonstration rider and Dressage4Kids Winter Intensive Training Program participant Elizabeth Caron on Schroeder, owned by Kathy Hickerson, at the 2017 Adequan®/USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference. Story, p. 32. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.

Volume 18, Number 10


April 2017


inside usdf


Uh-Oh, What Have I Gotten Myself Into? Thoughts from the USDF’s newest regional director By Carol Tice, USDF Region 7 Director

421 Park Forest Way, Wellington, FL 33414 (937) 603-9134 • Fax: (740) 362-5539 VICE PRESIDENT


18120 Snyder Road, Chagrin Falls, OH 44023 (216) 406-5475 • SECRETARY

MARGARET FREEMAN 200 Aurora Lane, Tryon, NC 28782 (828) 859-6723 • TREASURER

remember to be very aware of the newbie in the volunteer pool. The firsttime runner of tests will have the same fears and excitement as the scribe who has been assigned a freestyle class for the first time. They too are asking themselves, “What have I gotten myself into?”, and they want to do a “10” job and not a “4.” So what have I gotten myself into? For starters, I’ve gotten myself into a group of people who have the utmost care and concern about dressage riders and their horses. I’ve gotten myself into a group of leaders who continue to generate appropriate programs for all aspects of dressage. I’ve gotten myself into working groups that will take the time to answer all questions with patience. I’ve gotten myself into working with a USDF staff that continues to help me in my learning curve. I’ve discovered that volunteering for the USDF is not too far off from what I’ve already experienced in my own USDF groupmember organization (GMO). Like the volunteers I’ve coached over the years, my fears have vanished and my excitement continues to grow. You might consider helping at your next GMO show or clinic, or perhaps stepping up to help on your GMO’s board of directors. Perhaps you could serve on a USDF committee, or even—gulp—run for a regional director’s position. Step out of your comfort zone, and grow excitement instead of fear. s

4 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION


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he last thing I wanted was to have a shaky voice when I said yes at the Board of Governors Assembly at the 2016 Adequan®/ USDF Annual Convention to my nomination as the new Region 7 director. My knees were already knocking so loudly that I was sure delegates sitting next to me could hear it! Once again, I was stepping way outside my volunteer comfort zone. And, as usual, my husband was asking why, and what was I getting myself into? As the volunteer coordinator for many shows and events in my home state of California, I regularly come across people who are hesitant to step out of their comfort zones. When I ask them to try their hand at a new task, they respond, “It’s too scary to try something new,” or “I don’t want to fail,” or “I have no idea what to do,” or “I don’t think I’m qualified for that.” But more often than not, they find that they truly enjoy learning something new. Nervousness vanishes, smiles appear, and the result is that we’ve developed a larger and more diversified volunteer pool. I know these things, of course, and so I’m sure the deer-in-theheadlights look and stuttering speech were not what people expected when I was asked to consider stepping into the shoes of the very capable Terry Wilson, who retired from the Region 7 director’s position at the end of 2016. I think I used every reason and excuse I just listed as to why I really shouldn’t do it. But after that, I listened to my mentors, asked a zillion questions about the regional director’s job, remembered the many times I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and didn’t die, and agreed to run. The experience reminded me to


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The Storm Beneath the Calm In dressage, sometimes you have to “fake it to make it”


y Junior is a social butterfly of a horse with more than a touch of anxiety. If I bring him in from the pasture to ride while his buddies are turned out, I endure various shades of equine upset, the degree of which depends on the day. Watching me tack up my moving target one worse-than-usual morning, my friend Cheryle said something like, “I admire the way you handle him. No matter how upset he gets, you stay so calm.” I laughed. Calm? I’m glad I appear that way on the outside, I replied, because on the inside I sometimes pingpong between feeling anxious myself in dealing with Junior’s anxiety, and feeling like I want to kill him for being a problem child. But then I realized that I’ve had to “fake it to make it” long enough that I actually have trained myself (or resigned myself, take your pick) to retain a measure of Zen when Junior gets unhinged. Despite knowing this, I’m one of those people who’s convinced that everyone else is calm, cool, and collected while I’m the only nervous Nellie in the room. So it was something of a relief to read Carol Tice’s confession otherwise in this month’s “Inside USDF” column (page 4). Carol, who became the new USDF Region 7 director at the beginning of the year, has had extensive volunteer and leadership experience—yet she says her “knees were knocking” when she accepted the Region 7 nomination. But she said yes anyway, having learned that stretching out of one’s comfort zone (and doing a little “fake it ’til you make it”) usually results in a rewarding experience. There’s a lot of “stretching” in dressage, I think. There is the kind I mentioned, in which I’m having to manage my own emotions separate from my horse’s. There is Carol’s kind, in which people who want to contribute to our sport take a deep breath, stick their

necks out, and volunteer for positions large or small. There is the kind exhibited by adultamateur rider Ruth Shirkey, profiled on page 26, who encountered that instinctive “Yikes!” reaction that so many riders experience when they first sit on a big-moving young horse. Shirkey overcame her fear to win the 2016 USDF/Dover Saddlery Adult Amateur Medal National Championship, and I don’t doubt that there was a measure of “fake it to make it” involved along the way. Finally, there is the stretching not just out of one’s comfort zone, but into completely uncharted territory. Our American dressage pioneers had to do a lot of that, and we salute two of them this month. One is the late USDF Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Lazelle Knocke, who served as the USDF’s very first vice president and made a host of other significant contributions. Read more about this remarkable lady on page 22. The other is not a person but an entity: the California Dressage Society, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. As far as American dressage is concerned, California got there first in many respects. We hope you enjoy the retrospective as well as some great archival photos, which begin on page 14. How have you “stretched” yourself in the name of dressage? E-mail me ( and let me know.

Jennifer O. Bryant, Editor @JenniferOBryant

6 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

USDF CONNECTION The Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Stephan Hienzsch 859/271-7887 •

——— Editorial——— EDITOR

Jennifer O. Bryant 610/344-0116 • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR


Melissa Creswick (CA) Margaret Freeman (NC) Lisa Gorretta (OH) Anne Gribbons (FL) Terry Wilson (CA)


Janine Malone Lisa Gorretta • Elisabeth Williams


Emily Koenig 859/271-7883 •


Karl Lawrence 859/271-7881 •


Danielle Titland 720/300-2266 • USDF Connection is published ten times a year by the United States Dressage Federation, 4051 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511. Phone: 859/9712277. Fax: 859/971-7722. E-mail: usdressage@usdf. org, Web site: USDF members receive USDF Connection as a membership benefit, paid by membership dues. Copyright © 2017 USDF. All rights reserved. Reproduction of articles requires permission from USDF. Other text may be reproduced with credit given to USDF Connection. USDF reserves the right to refuse any advertising or copy that is deemed unsuitable for USDF and its policies. Excluding advertisements, all photos with mounted riders must have safety head gear or USEF-approved competition hat. USDF assumes no responsibility for the claims made in advertisements. Statements of fact and opinion are those of the experts consulted and authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or the policy of USDF. The publishers reserve the right to reject any advertising deemed unsuitable for USDF, as well as the right to reject or edit any manuscripts received for publication. USDF assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. All materials must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Questions about your subscription or change in address? Contact USDF Membership Department, 859/971-2277, or POSTMASTER: SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO: USDF, 4051 IRON WORKS PARKWAY, LEXINGTON, KY 40511. Canadian Agreement No. 1741527. Canada return address: Station A, P.O. Box 54, Windsor, Ontario N9A 6J5.



USDF DRESSAGE SEAT MEDAL SEMI-FINALS Promoting and rewarding correct seat, position and use of aids, the USDF Dressage Seat Medal Semi-Finals celebrate excellence in equitation.

For rider divisions 13 and under, and 14 to 18.

For information on qualifying and locations, visit




Your Dressage World This Month


Debbie McDonald Returns as Development Coach


he’s back: Olympian Debbie McDonald, the national dressage developing coach for more than a decade, has agreed to resume the role in a revamped Development Program, US Equestrian announced February 1. McDonald, of Hailey, ID, had stepped down in 2016. Her title has changed slightly, to development coach. Through the Development Program, dressage athletes with perceived ability to make the podium or contribute to podium scores within the following two quadrennials will receive strategic guidance and resources. The Development Program is supported by USET Foundation trustee Akiko Yamazaki and the Red Husky Foundation. “This revitalized program is going to give more individualized support to athletes, as well as their trainers and owners,” McDonald said. “Through this program, we will not only be able to target our funding and educational resources into identified combinations, but we will be able to continue to provide educational opportunities

on a broad level. I’m very excited to be working again with US Equestrian and this unique opportunity that the Development Program is going to provide to our up-and-coming athletes.” The US Equestrian Dressage Sport Committee also signed off on the newly launched Elite Program, which will provide support and resources to athlete/horse combinations that have proven to be internationally competitive. The US Equestrian dressage technical advisor and managing director oversee the program, with oversight provided by the program selectors and the Dressage Sport Committee. At launch time, four rider/horse combinations met the criteria for Elite Program membership: Allison Brock, Wellington, FL, with Claudine and Fritz Kundrun’s Rosevelt; Laura Graves, Geneva, FL, with her own Verdades; Kasey Perry-Glass, Orangevale, CA, with Diane Perry’s Goerklintgaards Dublet; and Steffen Peters, San Diego, CA, with Four Winds Farm’s Rosamunde.

TEAM PLAYER: Watching Laura Graves school Verdades at the 2015 FEI World Cup Dressage Final with US dressage chef d’équipe Robert Dover



ecky Brown is a USDF-certified instructor at Training through Second Levels. She runs the Becky Brown School of Horsemanship at BuckBranch Farm in Wilmer, TX. I wanted to become certified because: I felt it was odd that professionals in all careers other than riding had to attend school and pass proficiency tests. Riding instructors, however, could just hang out a sign and teach—and not necessarily well or safely. This is why I went to England in the early 1970s and earned my British Horse Society certification. My certifications: In addition to BHS and USDF certification, I hold

US Eventing Association (Level II-Prelim) and US Hunter Jumper Association certification. I have also finished the first part of the USDF L program and hope to graduate from that program. Tip for instructors: It is important to understand this sport from all perspectives, as riders come from different backgrounds. I have had a riding school for more than 30 years, and I require all my instructors to be certified, too. Contact me: becky.brown6823@ or (214) 718-0562. WELL QUALIFIED: Brown

8 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

—Jamie Humphries


Becky Brown, Dallas, TX


Willy Arts, Trainer, Breeder, and Breed Official


ob titles: Co-owner and head trainer, DG Bar Ranch, Hanford, CA ( Board member, KWPN-NA (North American branch, Royal Dutch Warmblood Studbook), Lexington, KY ( What I do: I was chairman of the KWPN-NA board for the last eight years. This year, I’m just a board member. We moved our location last year from Oregon to Kentucky, so we had a busy year. Normally I try to focus more on the technical aspects, in the way of the keurings and the communication with Holland. And I’m on the committee for the harness horses. How I got started: I got started in [my native] Holland. When we were little, my dad bred ponies. As we got bigger, the ponies got bigger. After I went to the Dutch Equestrian School, I worked four years at a riding school

DUTCH TREAT: Arts with the KWPN mare Valeska DG, owned by DG Bar Ranch

in Holland, then worked four years at a breeding and stallion station in Holland, then came to the United States in 1984 and started working here at DG Bar. Best thing about my job: Being involved in the development of the KWPN horse. Worst thing about my job: Trying to get everybody thinking the same direction. My horses: We have usually between sixty and seventy horses. Tip: Be an active member of your breed organization. Visit as many inspections as you can. Use the best mares that you have access to. The KWPN has KWPN TV, where you can follow all the big shows from Holland and all of the inspections, so you can learn a lot and without traveling or spending a lot of money. —Katherine Walcott




US Equestrian Appoints New Dressage Team Veterinarian

r. Christina “Cricket” Russillo, a senior associate veterinarian at Virginia Equine Imaging, The Plains, VA, has been named the new US Equestrian dressage team veterinarian, US Equestrian announced February 24. Russillo takes the reins from Dr. Rick Mitchell, who is stepping down from the role after 14 years of service. Top-level competition will be nothing new to Russillo, who worked alongside Virginia Equine Imaging owner Dr. Kent Allen—himself a longtime US and FEI veterinarian—at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. She has served as US Equestrian veterinarian for both jumping and dressage on many occasions.

VIP VET: Dr. Christina “Cricket” Russillo

Russillo, who joined Virginia Equine Imaging in 2015, is a graduate of the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine (MA). For 13 years, she was a senior associate veterinarian at Mitchell’s practice, Fairfield Equine Associates, Newtown, CT. Mitchell, who will continue to practice at Fairfield Equine, said: “It is time to move on and do some other things. I will still be involved with US Equestrian while serving with the American Horse Council, and I will focus more attention on work for the American Association of Equine Practitioners Foundation. I will now have the opportunity to spend some summers at home with my practice and, hopefully, my family!” USDF CONNECTION

April 2017



Your Dressage World This Month THE NEAR SIDE


New Bilingual Illustrated Safety Guides for Horse Farm Workers


any workers at equine facilities speak primarily Spanish, which can pose challenges in teaching safe practices and communicating needed information, especially in emergencies. So researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health in Lexington undertook a community-based research project to develop bilingual resources outlining practical safety skills for horse-farm workers. The five-year Thoroughbred Worker Health and Safety Study culminated with January’s publication of 12 bilingual illustrated posters depicting safe practices when working with horses and farm equipment. There are also a guide for farm managers and employers, and 10 research briefs summarizing various health or safety topics on farms. The posters depict terms and phrases pertaining to horses and farm work, safe practices, and what to do and say in emergency situations. Download the posters and related guides for free at


9 10







7 17

6 5

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4 3


2017 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention

2 31 26


25 19

29 27


20 24

21 22


1 Horse (Stallion) 2 Ribs 3 Muzzle 4 Mouth 5 Nose 6 Head 7 Eye 8 Ear 9 Neck 10 Mane

Caballo (Garañón) Costillas Hocico Boca Nariz Cabeza Ojo Oreja Cuello Crin/Melena

e! t a eD h t e v a S

11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Withers Back Loin Croup Hip Haunches Dock Back legs Hock Cannon Fetlock (ankle)

Cruz Espalda Lomo Crup Cuadril/Grupa Ancas Maslo de la cola Patas traseras Corvejón Caña/Espenia Tobillo

22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32

Pastern Hoof Coronet Abdomen Shoulder Tendon Leg Knee Forearm Chest Throat


10 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

Cuartilla Casco/Pezuña Corona Abdomen Hombro Tendón Pata Rodilla Antebrazo Pecho Garganta

Welcome to our old Kentucky home

November 29-December 2 Lexington, KY

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Your Dressage World This Month


What you need to know this month GMO Members: Are You Eligible for a Refund? IF YOU ARE A MEMBER of a USDF group-member organization (GMO), you may request a refund of the USDF portion of the membership fee for any additional GMOs you join (limit three), less a small processing fee. REQUESTS MUST BE SUBMITTED IN WRITING between April 1 and August 1 of the current membership year using the Multiple GMO Dues Refund Request form, which is available on the USDF website. For voting purposes, a primary GMO must be declared. Send e-mail to gmo@usdf. org with any questions.

Save the Date for the 2017 Sport Horse Seminar THE 2017 USDF SPORT HORSE SEMINAR will be held August 5-6 at Iron Spring Farm, Coatesville, PA. This seminar, which will teach participants what to look for in a dressage sport horse, is also a prerequisite for becoming a USEF-licensed dressage sport-horse breeding judge.

Scores Do Not Expire for Horse Performance Certificates EVEN IF YOUR HORSE EARNED the scores last year, you still can submit an application for a USDF Horse Performance Certificate. Apply online via the USDF website under Awards. See the USDF Member Guide for complete award requirements.

Are You an Adult Amateur Competing at Second Level? IF YES, then we encourage you to participate in the USDF/Dover Saddlery Adult Amateur Medal Program. (Meet the 2016 national champion and learn more about the program on page 24 of this issue.) Visit the USDF website to locate a competition hosting the program near you.

Participate in the Dressage Seat Medal Semi-Finals RIDERS THROUGH THE AGE OF 18 may qualify to participate in the Dressage Seat Medal Semi-Finals by earning a qualifying score of 70 percent or above in any open dressage-seat equitation class held at a USEF-licensed/USDF-recognized dressage competition during the qualifying period, or by qualifying at any level (excluding freestyles) for the Great American/USDF Regional Championships. See the USDF website for more information.

12 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

2017 Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championships DATES AND LOCATIONS for all nine championships have been announced. Mark your calendars! Region 1: October 5-8 (NC) Region 2: September 14-17 (OH) Region 3: October 5-8 (FL) Region 4: September 28-October 1 (IA) Region 5: September 14-17 (CO) Region 6: September 21-24 (ID) Region 7: September 21-24 (CA) Region 8: September 21-24 (NY) Region 9: October 5-8 (TX).

Wear Your USDF Medals Proudly! USDF OFFERS LAPEL PINS to members who have earned USDF bronze, silver, or gold rider medals or freestyle bars. Order your lapel pins now from the USDF online store and wear them proudly when you go down center line.

club connection

Golden Anniversary in the Golden State The California Dressage Society celebrates 50 years By Jennifer Walker

members in different areas of the huge state could attend meetings, organize programs, and host competitions. CDS was one of the first organizations of its kind in the US. A charter USDF group-member organization (GMO), it was instrumental in the 1973 founding of the USDF and has served as a model for many other GMOs. CDS today boasts 3,600 active members, most residing in California but also from out of state and with enough from the Las Vegas area to warrant its own CDS chapter. “I’m really excited about our fiftieth anniversary and looking forward to what this year brings,” says CDS president Kevin Reinig, of Elk Grove. “It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in fifty years. Getting some enthusiasts

HALL OF PRESIDENTS: A group of CDS past presidents gathered for a group photo in 1997. From left: Maureen Van Tuyl, Loris Henry, Paquita Parker, Terry Wilson, Peter Lert, Lisa Beckett, Melissa Creswick, Alexsandra Howard.

14 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

THROUGH THE YEARS: Many things have changed, but the California Dressage Society still uses its original “knight” chess-piece logo, created by artist Diane Cobb

together to form a new society, see it through, and then grow it to this size is quite remarkable. Today, CDS is the largest GMO in the United States. We should be proud of that.”

CDS Trailblazers Although some of the notable pioneers of dressage in California are no longer with us—USDF Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Peter Lert, the Austrian-born dressage master and Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame member Lt. Col. Hans Moeller, and dressage Olympian and fellow USDF Hall of Famer Kyra Downton, to name just a few—a number remain actively involved. One such member of the “old guard” is Terry Wilson, of Ojai, a CDS past president who also just stepped down at the end of 2016 as USDF’s Region 7 director. “I first got involved with CDS in 1968,” says Wilson. “One of my students invited me to watch Kyra Downton being coached by Col. [Alois] Podhajsky [the late former Spanish Riding School director]. It was a turning point in my life, and since then I’ve been on the board of CDS in one way or another for all fifty years: historian, writing for [the CDS newsletter] Dressage Letters, USDF representative. I love the organization and have devoted my life to it.” Wilson has seen a lot of changes



lthough dressage found a home in California following the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, it would be a few decades before the sport truly caught on in the Golden State. International competition was for military officers only. A few civilian enthusiasts began studying dressage and organizing shows, but many riders had never even heard of the discipline, let alone seen or tried it. In 1967, 17 like-minded people met in the cherry orchards at the Molehaven Dressur show in Soquel and discussed the need for an organized effort to promote dressage. The California Dressage Society (CDS) was off and running. It grew quickly, soon expanding to form chapters so that

over the years. CDS, she says, “started as a group of like-minded individuals who became friends helping each other, with a lot of socializing. Early shows were part party and part show. When we started, everyone had Thoroughbreds and Arabians. We brought the first warmbloods to California in 1979, and now [the sport is] all warmbloods.” Another notable member, Paula Langan, is well known to all in CDS as the manager of the organization’s central office, in Carmel Valley. “I first became a CDS member in 1976,” Langan recalls. “I spent a term on the CDS Executive Board and organized the annual meeting with [longtime fellow CDS member and past CDS president] Maureen Van Tuyl. In 1988, I was hired as the central-office manager. For almost thirty years I have produced Dressage Letters, rosters, and the omnibus in addition to tracking show recognition, awards, and membership; but my most enjoyable part of the job is connecting and communicating with the members.”

Lipizzan photo by John Borys

The Legend in Your Future

Van Tuyl, of San Jose, also looks back fondly on the growth of dressage in California. “I became involved in the late 1970s, eventually becoming chapter chair and running shows along with Terry Wilson and Connie Davenport. I have been involved with the board on and off since the 1980s, including two terms as president. “Following the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, dressage really took off in California,” Van Tuyl continues. “The first CDI [FEI-recognized dressage

competition] in California was held at Flintridge not too long after, and others followed. These CDIs allowed our top riders to gain nationwide attention, and several of them became the basis for our Olympic teams: Debbie McDonald, Steffen Peters, Guenter Seidel.” In 2003, the late Peter Lert received the USDF Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of his volunteer contributions, most significantly toward establishing the USDF L Education Program out of CDS’s



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club connection

PRODUCING EXCELLENCE: Numerous top US dressage competitors are CDS members, including Olympic team bronze medalist Guenter Seidel (with U II in 2011)

PIONEERING: CDS held the first US dressage judges’ forum in 1968. In 1970, Col. Bengt Ljungquist conducted the CDS Judges’ Forum at Foxfield Riding School in Westlake Village.

apprentice-judge program. Lert’s daughter, the Scotts Valley-based dressage pro Tracey Lert, grew up immersed in dressage and CDS activity. “My father and I had a unique

and wonderful relationship,” says Lert, “and CDS and dressage were a huge part of that. Certainly for me there was the judge-apprentice program, which eventually became

the L program. CDS also sponsored a two-year instructor program with [the late Swedish-born US dressage coach] Major [Anders] Lindgren. One of the things that strikes me about the

CDS Living Legend: Hilda Gurney

16 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

LOOK OUT, WORLD: Hilda Gurney and Keen in 1972, four years before winning Olympic team bronze



nvolved with the California Dressage Society since early in her dressage career, Olympian Hilda Gurney is beloved in her home state for remaining committed to her local organization. Gurney organized some of the early CDS shows and clinics, has served as a demonstration rider at numerous CDS Judges’ Forums and symposiums, and was the head instructor for the CDS Instructors’ Symposiums. On a national scale, Gurney is a US Equestrian “S” dressage judge who has served on the USDF L program faculty. She won team bronze at the 1976 Montreal Olympics aboard her legendary Thoroughbred, Keen, and also won individual and team Pan American Games gold medals and competed in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. The list of successful horses she has bred, trained to Grand Prix, or both is long, and her championship titles and Horse of the Year awards are too numerous to mention. Now 73, she continues to ride, train, and teach at her Keenridge in Moorpark. She was inducted into the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame in 2007; Keen was inducted in 1997.

beginning of dressage in California is that there were some key people who were so focused on education. They gave of their time and knowledge. I can remember sitting with [the late judge and USDF Lifetime Achievement Award recipient] Liz Searle at the shows at Osierlea discussing rides and learning so much more than just judging, but also how to see what was happening with the horse and rider.”

Milestones in CDS History The first judges’ forum in the US was held by CDS in 1968, in Pebble Beach and led by Col. Podhajsky. The Apprentice Judge Training Program followed in 1972, producing numerous respected dressage judges. And Lt. Col. Moeller conducted the first Instructors’ Symposium in 1969. “CDS has had many firsts in the development of dressage,” Langan says. “We had the first judges’ program, the first scholarship program, first amateur program, first junior program.” [

CORE CURRICULUM: Education has always been at the heart of CDS’s activities. Olympian Debbie McDonald explains a point to rider Valerie Metcalfe at a CDS Adult Amateur Clinic.

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club connection

Thank You for Supporting USDF

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The GMO is known for supporting its members in their educational and competitive efforts. CDS scholarship programs—funded by donations, a dollar-per-horse scholarship fee at CDS-recognized shows, the CDS Stallion Service Auction (an innovative program founded in 1981), and other means—help CDS members to attend major competitions across the country and the world. The GMO has served as a role model for like organizations in other states. “It’s incredible to me how much influence CDS has had,” Wilson says. “There have been out-of-state CDS chapters, but then they formed their own GMOs. It’s been very rewarding to see the influence.” Van Tuyl says: “CDS has been and continues to be innovative and attempts to try to meet the needs of our members. We have always been a volunteer organization, and we are not backed by any big-money interests.” Wilson points out that CDS “provides for all levels, with great competitions and clinics for juniors and amateurs. We’re one of the few GMOs in the country that supports young riders to the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships.”

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18 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

With much top-level US dressage competition held on the East Coast, California sometimes seems like an island unto itself. The “Left Coast” occasionally struggles with the Eastern pull of the sport (to date, efforts to draw the US Dressage Finals out West have not succeeded, for instance). Florida’s many wintertime CDIs are a magnet for high-performance riders from across the country, although the Las Vegas High Roller CDI enjoyed a successful debut in January (see “Inside USDF,” March). “As far as quality goes, we’re certainly in the same ballpark as the rest of the country,” says 1976 Olympic dressage team bronze medalist Hilda Gurney, of Moorpark, another early

CDS member. “We have the weather, the riders, and the horses. California is one place you can ride all year long. We do lose competitors to Florida because you can ride seriously all through the winter there, and there is more prize money. However, only a select group of people can do the elite competition. The majority of riders in this sport are amateurs who are riding, learning, and enjoying their horses, and California is ideal for them. Florida is too far and too expensive for many of these riders. In California, we have great programs for education and national shows for amateurs.” Gurney is right: CDS members can take advantage of Junior Championships in northern and southern California; three Regional Adult Amateur Competitions and Adult Amateur Clinics; the CDS Annual Championship Show, with open, amateur, and junior/young rider divisions; and numerous other clinics, shows, and awards programs.

“Our level of competition definitely rivals anything that’s going on in the rest of the country and the world,” says Reinig. “Some of the top competitors in the world, including Olympians, ride right here in California and are members of CDS. With the number and quality of shows and horses we have, and the quality of the riding and training, I’d put it up against anywhere in the US.”

The Next 50 Years “As for what the future holds for the organization,” says Reinig, “we do the best we can to focus on so many programs and events. We’re making some changes to the Junior Championship show this year, so we’re watching to see how that works. It’s time for that show to grow and move to the next level. The Regional Adult Amateur Competition has been great and is continuing to grow, and the amateur riders love it. The various show venues in California continuously make im-

provements as the sport gains popularity, and that helps to take California showing up to the next level. “Dressage is growing, and this is a transitional time,” Reinig continues. “There will always be challenges. Growth takes money, and we’re trying to facilitate that growth without putting too many additional costs onto the competitors. We are growing our sponsorship program, which is now in its third year, and we have attracted some interesting and generous new sponsors. I feel very optimistic about how that will help us expand the sport and keep costs down for the competitors.” Going forward, Wilson believes, eTRAK Extra

Read “The Clubs That Launched USDF” for more on CDS and the start of USDF at



club connection

Anniversary Bash


n January, the California Dressage Society commemorated its 50th anniversary with an all-star symposium. Held in Del Mar, CA, in conjunction with the organization’s annual meeting, the two-day symposium featured California-based stars Charlotte Bredahl-Baker, Steffen Peters, Hilda Gurney, and Christine Traurig. A party, an awards dinner, and special performances capped the golden-anniversary festivities.

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“We need to keep spreading interest in dressage, particularly with young people. We’ve had a focus on education from the very beginning, and we still try to do that. We had our big symposium in San Diego in January with educational activities to draw people in. I think it will continue to grow.” There’s no doubt that American dressage owes CDS a debt of gratitude for its members’ vision and tireless

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20 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

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VIP CLINICIANS: Olympians Hilda Gurney, Charlotte Bredahl-Baker, Christine Traurig, and Steffen Peters (with demonstration rider Craig Stanley on Habanero CWS) led the CDS 50th anniversary symposium in January

dedication to our sport. Happy 50th anniversary, CDS! s Jennifer Walker, author of Bubba Goes National, has written about a variety of disciplines in several equine publications for more than 10 years. A lifelong equine enthusiast, she has been a dressage rider—and a California Dressage Society member—as well as an exhibitor at Arabian breed shows.

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historical connection

Early USDF Lifetime Achievement Award recipient was a true dressage pioneer


ome of the most important people in American dressage aren’t famous riders or trainers. Instead, they make significant behindthe-scenes contributions that better our sport. Some do so through volunteer involvement with the USDF on a national scale, and the USDF honors these most influential and dedicated contributors with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

A Life Filled with Firsts Somebody has to be first in any endeavor. In Knocke’s case, that somebody was usually herself. The Readington, NJ, horsewoman was among the small group of US dressage enthusiasts who helped to get things started back in the 1960s. She helped to establish the Maryland-based Potomac Valley Dressage Association and the Pennsylvania-based Delaware

DEDICATED TO DRESSAGE: Lazelle Knocke and trainer Gunnar Ostergaard in an undated photo

Valley Combined Training Association. “Then I said, now you have got to help me out,” Knocke told USDF Connection in 2003. “I want to get something going in Jersey.” That something was the Eastern States Dressage Association (now the Eastern States Dressage

22 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

Podcast Alert


The Lifetime Achievement Award was initiated in 2002, and one of the first two recipients that year was Lazelle Knocke. Knocke died in 2011 at the age of 94, but her contributions to the USDF and to US dressage live on. Let’s meet her now.

and Combined Training Association), founded in 1969. All three clubs would become charter group-member organizations (GMOs) of the USDF upon its establishment in 1973. And of course Knocke was there for that, too, answering Lowell Boomer’s call for regional dressage-club representatives to gather in Lincoln, NE, to found a national dressage organization. Knocke was tapped to serve as the USDF’s first president but declined, instead serving as vice president under Stephen Schwartz from 1973 to 1974. She was the USDF VP again from 1983 to 1988 (under Boomer), finally taking the presidential reins from 1989 to 1993. From 1976 to 1977, she served as an “Eastern representative”—that being a precursor position to today’s regional directors. “We only had three regions in those days—East, Middle, and West—because there weren’t enough clubs,” Knocke recalled. “Then, as more people got twenty-five folks together and made another club, we got enough people so we could have more regions. [USDF] was the fastestgrowing nonprofit organization in the US for many years.” As president, Knocke said, she discovered an effective strategy for getting things done: “If you can convince three or four other people that they thought of it first, they’ll take it and run with it.” Knocke, who was a US Equestrian and an FEI dressage judge, had the idea of establishing a USDF Judges Council, and she planted the seed with her vice president, the late Elizabeth Searle (who received the other USDF Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002). Searle, a fellow judge, was enthusiastic about the idea, and

Check out podcast 150 for more on Laszelle Knocke at


American Dressage Legends: Lazelle Knocke

USDF LEADER: As USDF vice president in 1988. Knocke became president a year later.

their efforts eventually became the USDF’s flagship L Education Program. Another program that commenced during Knocke’s presidency was instructor certification, which she called “one of the more important things” that her administration accomplished. Although she was justifiably proud of the achievements, in interviews she was reluctant to take credit, saying that “things were just evolving anyway. I was just lucky that some of the ideas caught on quickly and came to the forefront.”

One dream of Knocke’s that did not come to fruition was her desire for the establishment of regional dressage schools around the country, funded either by the USDF or by an independent benefactor. An aspect of her wish, however, has seen the light: her hope that such a school would offer “some wonderful basic curriculum work that goes through the whole triangle of training.” Much “basic curriculum work” is now offered not only through the L and certification programs, but also to all USDF members via eTRAK, its online educational database. A former surgical nurse (who co-wrote the book Orthopedic Nursing with her husband, Dr. Frederick Knocke), Knocke was a lifelong rider, trainer, and instructor at her Hobby Horse Hill Farm in Readington. In 1996, she achieved another first in dressage: becoming the inaugural member of The Dressage Foundation’s Century Club (for riding a dressage test aboard a horse whose combined

PARTNERS: With her Century Club mount, Don Perignon, in an undated photo

age with the rider is at least 100) with her horse Don Perignon. Knocke also served on The Dressage Foundation’s Board of Directors. All of us in US dressage owe our sport’s pioneers a debt of gratitude. We’ll always remember Lazelle Knocke for her contributions and her can-do spirit. s

Honoring US Dressage’s Greats



ee the list of USDF Lifetime Achievement Award recipients, Roemer Foundation/ USDF Hall of Fame inductees, and USDF Members of Distinction at, where you can read their stories and view photos. Do you know of a person (or a horse) worthy of consideration? The annual nomination deadline is May 1. Find complete award criteria and download nomination forms from the above webpage.



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amateur hour

En route to the 2016 USDF/Dover Medal National Championship, a former Navy pilot disovered a new “need for speed” By Katherine Walcott


n 2016, Ruth Shirkey won the USDF/Dover Saddlery Adult Amateur Medal National Championship. She also spent the year convincing her mare that it’s OK to let someone else be the boss. Shirkey, 56, of Livermore, CA, topped the leader board of the Dover National Merit Award winners with an average score of 73.455 percent on

Sweet as Wyleigh may be, she’s also an “alpha mare” who thinks, “I’m supposed to be the one that protects and takes care of everything,” according to her owner. This tendency led to discussions as who’s in charge when the pair trots down center line. By the end of the 2016 competition season, Wyleigh had “arrived in her comfort level and was believing

VICTORIOUS: After sweeping the 2016 USDF/Dover Saddlery Adult Amateur Medal National Championship with her Wyleigh Princess, Ruth Shirkey went on to win the California Dressage Society’s Six-Year-Old Amateur Futurity

Wyleigh Princess, her now seven-yearold black Hanoverian mare (Weltmeyer – Heiress B, His Highness 2). Shirkey describes “Wyleigh” as personable and sweet. “She’s Miss Popular at the barn. From the day she moved in, everybody fell in love with her.”

in us together as a partnership,” says Shirkey. Finally willing to cede control to her rider, Wyleigh capped a successful year by winning the California Dressage Society’s Six-Year-Old Amateur Futurity title. “The takeaway of this whole year has been that she makes it look easy,”

26 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

Big Shoes to Fill Shirkey says she wasn’t set on buying a mare. “I had certainly seen people having ‘mare experiences,’” she says. “Some of the mare experiences were not so great, and some of the mare experiences were amazing.” But when she started horseshopping in 2008, doing what she calls “succession planning” for her Grand Prix horse, PEC Womanizer, Shirkey knew that she wanted to buy a foal from the same sire line. PEC Womanizer’s sire, Watch Me, is a son of the legendary Hanoverian Weltmeyer. In 2009, she learned of an in-utero offering by Hidden Acres Farm in Adrian, MI, of a Weltmeyer baby out of a dam by another sire Shirkey admired, His Highness. She put down a deposit, hoping for a black colt. She got half of what she wanted. Shirkey was also taking a gamble on Wyleigh’s eventual size. At 5' 8" with a 33-inch inseam, Shirkey has a long leg and needs a horse with some size. Wyleigh’s dam is 16.1 hands, and to Shirkey’s relief, Wyleigh grew to that same size herself—which happens to be the exact height Shirkey was hoping for. After the filly was old enough, she moved to her new home in California. Her first stop was in Elk Grove, outside Sacramento, at KEFA Performance Horses with trainers Ericka and Kevin Reinig (the latter of whom is the current CDS president). “As she came along, we delayed a lot of things because she was always a little underdeveloped for her age,” says Shirkey. At the end of Wyleigh’s fourth year, Shirkey brought her closer to home to work with trainers Dirk and Katrin Glitz in Danville, CA. In Shirkey’s first lesson, she recalls, Katrin Glitz told her, “OK, now we go forward.” “I had to get comfortable with


Top Guns

Shirkey says of her talented partner, “but underneath there is the horse that is saying, ‘I know you’re in charge, but I need to be OK with that because I’m usually the lead mare.’”

her speed because she wants to go,” Shirkey says of her mare. “With a young horse especially, you want to encourage the forward. It always is about forward. This was my first real challenge. So I learned a lot in the first six months of this process.” There is irony in someone’s having to tell Shirkey to go forward and to get comfortable with speed: Before making the transition to a civilian managerial career, she spent four years as a Navy pilot. (And yes, she admits, the Glitzes tease her about it.) “You would think that someone with that disposition would have no trouble bounding forward with a young horse,” Shirkey says wryly. “It’s just that their turning ratios are a whole lot less predictable than an aircraft. You know what to expect with a mechanical operation. With a horse, it’s a whole different story.” The Glitzes may be Shirkey’s trainers, but the amateur rider has done most of Wyleigh’s training and riding herself.

“Katrin really expected me to figure things out, and so that’s basically what I was doing, figuring things out,” Shirkey says.

Changes of Direction Although a self-confessed horse-nut kid, Shirkey did not grow up riding. After high school, she bought her first horse and learned about eventing before selling him and starting college. Established in her first job after graduation, Shirkey returned to riding, this time focusing on dressage. But two years later, she gave up horses again and turned to other activities, including 10 years of triathlon competition. In 2000, Shirkey’s sister suggested sharing a horse at a nearby dressage barn run by the FEI-level trainer and competitor Tracey Lert, and the sisters bought PEC Womanizer. Eventually, Lert moved away, the Glitzes moved in, and Shirkey’s sister lost interest. With PEC Womanizer, Shirkey struggled to master the requirements of Second Level. Some people advised

her to skip the level. “I thought, ‘No. There’s something to be learned here, and doggone it, I’m going to work on this. I’m going to check out this Dover Medal program and let that motivate me.’” The plan worked: With Womanizer, Shirkey rose all the way to Grand Prix, along the way earning all three USDF rider medals and the three USDF freestyle bars.

To Second Base and Beyond As the 2016 show season progressed, Shirkey realized that she and Wyleigh might have a shot at the USDF/Dover national title. Volunteering at their first show of the season, Shirkey had time to ride only one test. She chose the Dover Medal class. “I’ll just give that a shot and see how that goes,” she recalls thinking, “and she surprised me” by winning with a score of 73.537 percent—despite the fact that Wyleigh “was in charge. I was very pleased with the result, but I knew there was way more.” [

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amateur hour

About the USDF/Dover Saddlery Adult Amateur Medal Program


he USDF/Dover Saddlery Adult Amateur Medal is awarded to the highest-scoring adult amateur who meets the eligibility requirements and has obtained a score of at least 60 percent in a designated class, which is the required Second Level Test 3 or applicable Dover Medal test-of-choice class. Riders who win three Dover Medals in a competition year receive a USDF/Dover National Merit Award. National Merit Award winners qualify for consideration for the annual USDF/ Dover Saddlery Adult Amateur Medal National Championship title. The rider with the highest average from his or her top three scores in designated Dover Medal classes wins the championship and a $1,000 Dover Saddlery gift certificate. The reserve national champion wins a $500 Dover Saddlery gift certificate. The national awards are presented during the Salute Gala & Annual Awards Banquet held at the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention. For more information, visit and select Awards/Performance/Dover Medal Program.

When the pair clinched their third Dover Medal of the year on a score of 73.780, “I thought, ‘Wow, this is impressive. We might have a shot at this national thing.’” A part of Shirkey had been eyeing that top spot from the start. “My inner competitive person, which I only unleash at the horse shows, said, ‘Oh yeah!’ I wanted to present her to my

best ability and really show everybody what she’s all about.” Armed with $1,080 in gift certificates—her prizes from the individual Dover Medal classes plus the nationalchampion $1,000 award—Shirkey hit the Dover Saddlery store in Moraga, CA, the day after Christmas. “I reinvested the money, if you will, back into my horse. I couldn’t have done that if

I hadn’t had this wonderful certificate. It’s like Christmas all over again.” Of course, Shirkey hopes that Wyleigh, like Womanizer, will successfully move up the levels. “She’s an FEI horse; she’s got it in her.” But the rider/owner is taking her time, making sure that her mare builds the strength required for collection and self-carriage. “You just have to be careful that you

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Tel: (402) 342-7788 * Fax: (402) 342-5444 28 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

don’t ask too much because she’ll give some time for my husband, and my you everything she’s got.” three dogs, and this wonderful horse Shirkey is working on her off-horse that I have been so lucky to receive,” skills as well. Last year she graduated Shirkey says. s with distinction from the USDF L Education Program, and she’s waiting to en- Katherine Walcott is a freelance writer ter the US Equestrian “r” judge-licensand a lifetime USDF member. She ing program. She remains active with writes the monthly “Behind the Scenes” the California Dressage Society, serving column for USDF Connection and on the CDS Scholarship Committee contributed the profile of Dark Horse and volunteering as time permits. Chocolates’ Phyllis LeBlanc to the That time can be scarce, thanks November 2016 issue. not only to Shirkey’s riding commitments—besides Wyleigh, she now owns the mare’s two-year-old halfbrother, out of the same dam—but also to her job as North America tax senior manager at Lumileds LLC, a manufacturer of LED lights and auto• Laura Graves: How I achieved motive lighting products. Responsible “the elusive 80 percent” for all corporate tax-related issues in the US, Canada, and Mexico, “I have • Second Level collection: How a job that requires me to work fifty much do you need? hours a week at a minimum.” On top of that is her two-hour commute in • Brain training for riders California’s notorious traffic. 1 2/16/17 5:24:00 PM “I try toUSDF-Connection-April2017-Part2of3-20170216OL.pdf fit all that in, and dedicate




all-breeds connection

Venerable sport-horse breed excels in dressage


n the 1920s and 1930s, the Trakehner breed was famed for its sport-horse performance abilities. Trakehners won gold and silver medals in two Olympic Games of the time, including four dressage gold medals for Germany in Berlin 1936 alone. The breed was nearly exterminated during World War II. Trakehners and horses of Trakehner blood began to appear at Olympic Games and other championships once again by the middle of the 20th century. Despite

WINNING TRAKEHNER: Tanzartig *Ps*, owned and ridden by Dr. Rebecca Armstrong (CA)

their relatively small numbers worldwide, Trakehners are consistent highperformance winners. The Trakehner has a distinctive breed type: with a well-defined, expressive head; a large eye; a well-shaped neck and sculpted muscles; and correct, clearly defined limbs. It has impulsive, ground-covering, elastic movement. A good character, intelligence, willingness to work, and endurance

and hardiness during work are particularly apparent characteristics of the Trakehner’s internal traits. In fact, perhaps the breed’s most outstanding attribute is its temperament. It is alert and intelligent, yet stable and eager to please. Trakehners you might know: The most famous American Trakehner Association-registered dressage horse is the stallion Peron *Pg*, who with rider Michelle Gibson was the highest-scoring horse on the bronze-medal-winning US team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Pg (short for “Performance Gold”) is an ATA designation signifying a horse’s outstanding record in sport. Besides Peron, others include Leonidas *Pg* and the approved stallions Hailo *Pg* and Martini *Pg*. In 2013, USDF Region 3’s Lindsey Holleger won the Junior Individual gold medal at the FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships aboard her Trakehner, Friedensfürst. With her Syncro, Laura Noyes earned her USDF bronze, silver, and gold medals; won Young Rider Freestyle gold and YR team silver at the 2008 NAJYRC; and qualified for the USEF Young Adult “Brentina Cup” Dressage National Championship in 2010, 2011, and 2012. The American Trakehner Association: Established in 1974, the ATA has grown from its original 11 organizers into a vital organization with members throughout North America. The ATA is committed to maintaining the selective breeding standards established in Trakehnen, East Prussia (now parts of Russia, Poland, and Lithuania) in 1732, to encourage the development of a riding horse of “beauty and harmony, great endurance, mental and physical balance, and possessing an excellent character.”

30 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

All-Breeds awards offered: Champion and reserve, open, Jr/YR, Adult Amateur, Musical Freestyle, DSHB, and Materiale categories. How to participate: The horse must be registered with the ATA, and the owner must be a current ATA member. Thoroughbred and Arabian horses approved for breeding but without any Trakehner blood are not eligible to earn All-Breeds awards through the ATA. Learn more: AmericanTrakehner. com. s

For the Breeds, by the Breeds


ach month, “All-Breeds Connection” spotlights a USDF All-Breeds awards program participating organization and the breed it represents. Information and photos that appear in this column are furnished by the breed registries. USDF does not endorse or promote any breed or registry over another. The All-Breeds program is designed to recognize the accomplishments of specific breeds in dressage. All participating organizations offer “open” yearend awards from Training Level through Grand Prix, and some offer awards in additional categories, such as adult amateur, junior/young rider, and dressage sport-horse breeding. Registry representatives are usually on hand to help bestow awards at the banquet held during each year’s USDF convention. All-Breeds award eligibility requirements include memberships and horse registrations with both USDF and the participating organization. For details and a list of current participating organizations, visit For more information about All-Breeds awards program participation, send e-mail to


Breed of the Month: Trakehner

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On the Same Page Trainers Conference brings trainers and judges together for the first time STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY JENNIFER O. BRYANT

32 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION


he work of dressage trainers, instructors, and judges is inextricably entwined. Trainers and instructors want to understand how judges critique, to better their scores and those of their students. Judges want to be able to recognize good training and riding, to reward it appropriately and to correctly identify areas in which a competitor is lacking. But until this year, educational events for instructor/ trainers and those for judges were largely kept separate— until the USDF and US Equestrian (formerly the US Equestrian Federation) decided to try an experiment: combining the 2017 Adequan®/USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference with a portion of the 2017 US Equestrian Judges Forum. The Trainers Conference, held January 16-17 at High Meadow Farm in Loxahatchee, FL, adhered to its usual format: high-quality demonstration horses and riders working with world-class clinicians, with the audience sitting ringside and given ample opportunities to ask questions of the presenters. This year, the trainer attendees sat along the long sides of host Mary Anne McPhail’s covered arena while the judges occupied bleachers on the short side by “C.” The dual-purpose format created a bump in attendance: about 390 registrants, up from 300-plus in 2016. It also created a challenge for the presenters, the recently retired FEI 5* judge Lilo Fore of California and the FEI 5* judge Hans Christian Matthiesen of Denmark. Aware of the eventstructure change and eager to appeal to both the trainers and the judges, Fore and Matthiesen both said afterward that doing so was a balancing act.

Tag-Team Training

MUTUAL APRECIATION: Judges and trainers alike had high praise for the demonstration pair Nora Batchelder and Fifi MLW

There are not many FEI 5* dressage judges, and so having Fore (who judged her final CDI at Devon in Pennsylvania last September before “aging out”) and Matthiesen in the same arena was a rare opportunity for participants to learn from two of the world’s most experienced dressage judges. Fore is equally well known to USDF members as a longtime instructor-certification examiner and an outstanding teacher, trainer, and coach. Matthiesen, an equine veterinarian by profession, is a former FEI Dressage Committee member and has served as the Danish team veterinarian for nine years. At the Trainers Conference, Fore did most of the trainer’s-perspective commentary while Matthiesen took the judge’s role, with Fore offering additional judging insights. In Trainers Conferences, the demonstration horses and riders work with the presenters both days. Day one of the 2017 event was fairly traditional, with Fore and Matthiesen instructing for about 30 minutes of each pair’s 45-minute USDF CONNECTION

April 2017


see if we can improve them. It seemed both sides were happier with that concept than just us working with the riders.”

Training Tips

COMRADES: Conference presenters Hans Christian Matthiesen and Lilo Fore frequently lightened the mood with humor

session, then taking limited audience questions. But “We heard comments from both parties [trainers and judges] that they would like to have a little bit more discussion,” Fore said. “So we decided, for each horse we [would] pick a few movements, we let them do the movements, and then we discuss the movements with the judges and trainers and

Fore helped the Canadian international competitor Karen Pavicic bring out even higher quality in her seven-year-old Oldenburg mare, Beaujolais (by Bordeaux). “Take care the frame doesn’t shorten in collection,” Fore said. “In the moment that you use your seat to collect, use the leg to say ‘keep going.’” Fore gave Pavicic a simple exercise for developing and testing the balance needed for canter pirouettes. Starting along the wall, Pavicic rode Beaujolais in walk into the corner of the arena, then made a five-meter turn so that she was headed in the opposite direction. After horse and rider got the feel for the exercise, Fore had them repeat it in canter. “If the horse can do that in absolute balance,” said Fore, “that is your canter pirouette.” Fore has a rich “toolbox” of gymnastic exercises. Another of her pirouette-development exercises worked well for



he USDF is grateful to the sponsors, riders, horse owners, and volunteers who helped to make the 2017 Adequan®/USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference a success: Adequan® Gardy Bloemers Mary Anne McPhail, owner, High Meadow Farm Dressage4Kids Winter Intensive Training Program Nora Batchelder, Williston, FL, riding her own Fifi MLW Elizabeth Caron, Lebanon, CT, riding Schroeder, owned by Kathy Hickerson Alexandra du Celliee Muller, Little Rock, AR, riding her own Rumba Dana Fiore, Loxahatchee, FL, riding her own So Special Debbie Hill, Gurley, AL, riding Cartier, owned by Robbie Rice Beatrice “Trixi” Marienau, Wellington, FL, riding her own Stefano 8 Karen Pavicic, Surrey, BC, riding her own Beaujolais Brian O’Connor, event announcer And all of the dedicated volunteers.

34 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

YOUTHFUL ENERGY: Participants in Dressage4Kids’ Winter Intensive Training Program (with D4K founder Lendon Gray, back row, right of horse; and including demo rider Elizabeth Caron on Schroeder) volunteered at the Trainers Conference

THANK YOU! Gifts and flowers to conference presenters Hans Christian Matthiesen and Lilo Fore, and to High Meadow Farm owner Mary Anne McPhail

LUCKY WINNER: Sponsor Gardy Bloemers (right) raffled off a Dressage Rider Training fitness program package, which was won by Heather Bender (left)

Dana Fiore and her seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding, So Special (by Sandro Hit). As Fore explained her “canter triangle exercise,” “The triangle becomes the pirouette turn.” She instructed Fiore to “Ride a normal corner in walk” on the right rein from A to K. “Walk from K to X; then ride a turn on the haunches from X toward F. Then walk to F to make a triangle.” Continue riding a turn on the haunches at each corner of the triangle, thinking of turning the horse’s shoulders in the desired direction. “Let your eyes do their magic: Look where you want to go,” Fore told Fiore. In her own training sessions, Fore said, she frequently varies the horse’s positioning and stride length, both to gymnasticize and to help avoid fatigue. “Sixty meters of shoulder-in is very difficult to maintain,” she said. “If you were to walk sixty meters, you’d be amazed how much your stride length differs.” Fore had Fiore ride So Special in shoulder-in on a diagonal line, calling the exercise an effective way of developing the half-pass while preventing the horse from “falling” onto its inside shoulder. Fore also likes to alternate between shoulder-in and travers (haunches-in): “Travers is fourtrack” (with each leg on a distinct “track” or line of travel),

she pointed out. “Shoulder-in is three-and-a-half track. So travers has more positioning.” Fiore and So Special demonstrated another of Fore’s gymnastic exercises for developing suppleness and straightness: In collected trot, ride a 10-meter circle in the corner of the arena and then proceed down the long side in travers. After a few strides in travers, make a transition to walk while maintaining haunches-in positioning. Straighten the horse in walk and then trot off. Repeat the exercise on both reins.

Work with the Horse’s Design The Trainers Conference audience got an illuminating insight into the benefits of working with—instead of against— a horse’s individual conformation and way of going. The 17.1-hand Cartier is a high-necked, eye-catching horse with a powerful forehand and extravagant knee action. Rider Debbie Hill explained that the nine-year-old gelding is a Dutch Harness Horse who started life as an Amish driving horse. When he proved too “hot” for the work, he was sent to the infamous New Holland (PA) auction. A heartwarming success story, Cartier is now an FEIlevel dressage horse with a gift for passage. [


April 2017


SUCCESS STORY: The Dutch Harness Horse Cartier shows off his passage under Debbie Hill. Cartier started off as an Amish work horse and was sent to auction before finding his niche in dressage.

As Matthiesen noted, Cartier’s natural way of going is with knee-snapping movement and a slightly dropped back. “So is he a ‘leg mover’ or a ‘back mover’?” Matthiesen asked the audience, referring to a horse whose movement comes primarily from its legs versus one that lifts its back and allows the movement to come “through” its entire body. “A leg mover for sure,” he said, answering his own question. “That is his design. Do we work with or against the horse’s design? ‘Deep, low, and round’ doesn’t work with all horses. Don’t always work against the horse’s tendency.” Fore coached Hill in creating a steadier contact and a quieter leg—not easy tasks with Cartier, whose movement, Fore pointed out, is difficult to sit. Fore’s empathy for the rider became evident when one Judges Forum participant criticized Hill’s riding. Fore countered by explaining the difficulties—and said flatly, “I’d like to see you ride it.”

An Eye-Opener for Judges If there was a standout takeaway from the 2017 Trainers Conference, it was this: It takes time for “greener” judges to gain the experience and confidence to reward a quality performance, even while accounting for any mistakes.

36 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

“When you are less experienced, you are trying to get all the comments—to notice everything,” Matthiesen said. “But when you do that, you kind of lose the bigger picture. You have to focus not only on what went wrong.” On day two of the conference, scoring discrepancies between “junior” judges and their more senior counterparts became evident, starting with the first demonstration pair of the day, Nora Batchelder and her seven-year-old Hanoverian mare, Fifi MLW (by Fidertanz). After the clinicians had Batchelder run through a Third Level movement series—shoulderin/half-circle/half-pass—Judges Forum participants varied in their scores, with some coming in as low as 6. “If we give this horse a 6,” responded US Equestrian “S” judge Janet “Dolly” Hannon, “then I have a real problem with [how to score] the rest of my class.” Matthiesen agreed with Hannon. “There was some loss of balance in the half-circles, but [a score] lower than a 7 is too tough.” The topic came up again when rider Alexandra du Celliee Muller demonstrated three flying changes on the diagonal, a Fourth Level movement, with her nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Rumba (by Rotspon). Some of the judges gave a score of 6 or 6.5, commenting that the changes were

INTO THE LIGHT: After a difficult first attempt, Elizabeth Caron and Schroeder execute an improved canter pirouette

not completely straight or were not “through.” “If the changes were clean, if they were OK placed, if they were fairly straight, then they have to be at least a 7 or you’ll have nowhere to go when a horse makes a mistake,” Fore said. Later in the day, a Grand Prix-level horse missed a one-tempi change in an otherwise excellent series of 15, and Fore again warned against penalizing one mistake too harshly: “The younger judges have to make sure they don’t forget the positives and don’t let the negative run the score. Like the horse with one mistake in the changes. Everybody said, it got one wrong. Well, can we start with the fourteen really good ones? Were they straight? Yes. Was there expression? Yes. Were they all clean? Yes. Was the horse on the bit? Yes. OK, well, there was one flying change not so good. So if you give [the movement] a 4, then you have only judged that change. What happens to the rest?” Fore and Matthiesen advised the judges in attendance to adhere carefully to the definitions of the gaits and movements they are judging, a point that emerged when some Judges Forum participants gave Batchelder and Fifi MLW conservative scores for their medium trots. “We sometimes forget that it says medium,” Fore cau-

tioned. “The thing is, where are you going to go for your extension? We have to be careful to show a difference. The last one [Batchelder performed], I was very close to a 10.” The reverse in judging apparently also holds true: The veteran judges, who were more willing than their less-experienced counterparts to give high marks, were also more willing to use lower numbers when a mistake warranted. Demonstration rider Elizabeth Caron had trouble with a sequence from the FEI Intermediate II test: medium canter MXK, with a flying change at K/P-X half-pass left/straight ahead at X, with a pirouette left at I. Caron’s mount, the twelve-year-old Hanoverian stallion Schroeder (by Sandro Hit), got “stuck” in the pirouette on the pair’s first attempt and failed to show the movement adequately. Much discussion over the score ensued, with the “junior” judges weighing in around a 4 and the “seniors” going lower, to 2 or 3. Matthiesen contended that a mark of 4 was too high because Caron did not meet the minimum requirement for the movement. “We must make a difference in our scores or the judge will be in trouble scoring the rest of the class,” he said. Switching to trainer mode, Fore coached Caron through some gymnastic work to improve the separation of SchroUSDF CONNECTION

April 2017


STRETCH ANALYSIS: Beaujolais, owned and ridden by Karen Pavicic, shows a quality stretch in the trot, with no tension or restriction in the neck or throatlatch area

eder’s hind legs in the pirouette turn and to help teach the stallion to bring his shoulders around. Starting in canter on a 20-meter circle, “Your hands and hips stabilize, but your leg still asks for energy,” Fore told Caron. “Think that you could have a little inside flexion.” In preparation for the pirouette, “the horse curves around the rider’s inside knee,” Fore said. She had Caron bring the circle in, decreasing the diameter while maintaining this positioning: “Think [the horse’s] shoulders turn[ing] around your inside leg.” Eventually, the small circle evolved into a relaxed and correct pirouette turn.

Real Life Meets the Ideal Dressage observers can be quick to criticize behind-thevertical positioning of the horse’s profile. Fore explained that she weighs several factors in assessing a horse that appears BTV at times. “In a relaxed, stretching walk, the nose is slightly behind the vertical,” Fore noted of Pavicic’s mare, Beaujolais. “But is she restricted in the throatlatch? If there is no tension or restriction in the neck or throatlatch area, then it is a good stretch. The horse’s neck has a curve. Some [of the resulting profile] depends on the horse and how the neck is placed.” Similarly, said Matthiesen, a horse in a double bridle is

38 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

not automatically being held too tightly on the curb rein if the curb’s shanks are not vertical. “The angle of the curb can’t always be straight, even without rein pressure,” he explained. “It depends on the bit and the horse’s mouth.” Matthiesen, who works in a veterinary clinic north of Copenhagen (he called dressage judging “my hobby”), shared in an evening lecture some of his knowledge of physiological issues that can affect a horse’s training and performance. Some contact problems are caused by mouth issues— and not necessarily the usual-suspect dental problems, he said. The hyoid apparatus and related joint, which connect to the horse’s tongue and larynx, can become diseased and cause decreased mobility. Such issues as opening the mouth, headshaking, and head-tilting can be neurological, caused by pressure on the facial nerves. (Recent years have seen an advent of new bridle and noseband designs that purport to alleviate facial-nerve pressure. Matthiesen says that some designs may help certain horses, and he advises seeking input from one’s veterinarian and other experts to help guide choices.) Is your horse spooky? “Sometimes it’s glaucoma,” Matthiesen said. “It’s easy to diagnose by measuring the pressure in the eye. It’s easy to treat with medication if it’s caught early.” Equine gastric ulcers remain a concern, with Matthie-

sen estimating that 60 to 70 percent of performance horses show ulcer problems with endoscopy. Matthiesen likes to use kinesiotape, particularly in conjunction with mesotherapy (needling the horse’s back or other problem area), “to make the horse more aware of a particular area, like the core.” The veterinarian said he himself used kinesiotape after sustaining a shoulder injury, and was surprised at its effectiveness. To remind the audience that clinical findings aren’t absolute, Matthiesen cited the case of three equine full broth-

ers that competed at the FEI levels into their twenties, despite radiographs that might have scared buyers away had Matthiesen not done some persuading. One, the late Grand Prix-level Finale, had “kissing spines” and spondylosis yet had a long and successful career, competing for Denmark at the 2003 European Dressage Championships and going on to carry several Danish young riders and juniors to their championship competitions, he said. [

Judge Education at the USDF Trainers Conference By Jayne Ayers


any US Equestrian-licensed dressage judges enjoy attending the Adequan®/ USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference. Understanding the nuances of the progressive training—how the horse’s athleticism and skills build over time—is essential in developing the insight needed to make rapid, accurate assessments from the judge’s box. A good judge at any level understands the whole picture of where a horse is now in its training and where it is going. Competitive dressage is really about this progression. Judging standards are based on the pyramid of training. The Training Level tests are meant to assess how well the foundation is being laid for later work. Each level builds new skills, strength, and suppleness to allow for the possibility of trying the challenges of the next level. No level, except for Grand Prix, is seen as an end in itself. The judge must always assess the correctness of the performance through the lens of what is necessary for success in future work. For instance, the judge must understand that a lack of control over straightness will later affect the flying changes, lateral work, degree of collection, and more. Judges of lower-level tests have a huge responsibility: to help competitors prepare in the best way for the future. To encourage more judges to take advantage of an amazing opportunity to grow in their knowledge, it was decided to offer a US Equestrian Judges Forum in conjunction with the 2017 Trainers Conference. The experience was designed to deepen the judges’ foundation and perspective, not to have them practice giving numbers and comments. During the conference, it became apparent

HIGH STANDARDS: The 2017 Trainers Conference was an opportunity for both judges and trainers to deepen their dressage knowledge. US Equestrian Judges Forum participants (in bleachers) and Trainers Conference participants look on as Dana Fiore rides So Special.

that even highly talented horses with excellent riders have to work to perfect the basics: control the shoulders, adjust the tempo, bend through the whole horse, keep the poll up—all the things that are the focus of judging at Training Level, but in a different balance and in different exercises. The opportunity to see horses that could consistently earn scores between 7.5 and 10 was a rare treat. It is essential that all judges renew their eye for horses like this. Such horses may be at the top of the range of what a typical judge sees on a dayto-day basis, but they must always be part of that range in principle. The gaits, impulsion, and submission of all competitors must be scored in light of what is excellent. Some judges in attendance expressed disappointment that the conference did not focus on the level or quality of horses that they usually see. I would encourage judges to embrace the opportunity to broaden and deepen their knowledge, and to strengthen the foundation needed to improve their skills to progress through the levels of judging. Jayne Ayers is an FEI 4* dressage judge and a former chair of the US Equestrian Dressage Committee.


April 2017


HER JEWEL: The Grand Prix-level Stefano 8 knows his job and needs no drilling, said Lilo Fore (standing), who trains rider/owner Beatrice “Trixi” Marienau. Their daily work focuses on the basics, with short tune-ups prior to competition.

By Victoria Trout


he day after the 2017 Adequan®/USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference wrapped, presenters Hans Christian Matthiesen and Lilo Fore and a group of USDF-certified instructors met at Jenny Longston’s barn in Loxahatchee, FL, for a day of continuing education. Drawing on his expertise as an equine veterinarian, FEI 5* dressage judge, coach, and rider, Matthiesen explained his method of addressing “stiff” and “hollow” sides of the horse. The goal: to address crookedness in the horse’s way of going through gymnastic exercises, rather than through forceful leg and rein aids. Matthiesen had the demonstration riders do transitions on a 20-meter circle, particularly trot-walktrot and canter-walk-canter. Canter-walk transitions, he said, require the horse to flex its lumbosacral joint longitudinally, just as it does in each canter stride. Shoulder-in on the center line revealed each horse’s asymmetries, and then Matthiesen guided the riders through some simple lateral exercises,

40 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

favoring transitions between shoulder-in and travers, with frequent changes of direction. (With lowerSTRIVING FOR STRAIGHTNESS: Hans level horses, Christian Matthiesen with demonstration rider he said, the Lauren Chumley rider can use shoulder-fore instead of shoulder-in and “second position”—baby haunches-in—for travers.) This approach helps to prevent the rider from focusing on using the reins to try to straighten the horse. The USDF thanks Jenny Longston for the use of her facility; and demonstration riders Jaralyn Finn, Noel Williams, and Lauren Chumley and their lovely horses. Victoria Trout is a USDF senior education coordinator.


Continuing Education for Trainers: “Stiff” vs. “Hollow” Horses

Like dressage riders, dressage horses need strong core muscles; in fact, a strong core may be what enables horses like Finale to overcome the potential negative effects of kissing spines and other back-related problems, Matthiesen said. Riding in water (if you have access) is a good corestrengthening exercise, as is cavaletti work, he said.

Stronger Together Fore and Matthiesen, whose easy rapport and frequent humorous exchanges made for a relaxed and lively presentation, said they both enjoyed the two-clinician format. “I think [the audience] had a good feeling that we are in the same game,” Fore said afterward of the format. “I really like it, especially with that many people. You have two different ways of explaining things, even if we have the same goal.” Both also expressed satisfaction that they helped to unite dressage trainers and judges. “I thought that was a success—that we brought the trainers and the judges back on the same side,” said Matthiesen. “We weren’t quite sure how to juggle the judges and trainers,” Fore admitted. “In my opinion, this is a trainers

conference, and I did not want to let the trainers down because this is really geared toward trainers. But of course we had the judges, so we had to give them something also in return. It was a bit of a struggle to make sure both sides were satisfied.” In the end, though, “we were successful in getting everybody involved and realizing that we all have the same goal in mind.” That goal, of course, is “good training: proper, correct basics, which then make a good Grand Prix horse,” said Fore. “Everything takes time, and every horse is an individual. You cannot force a training method onto a horse. You should have respect for them as horses and give them the best training method for them to become successful.” s Jennifer Bryant is the editor of USDF Connection. eTRAK Extra

Watch the video “Using the Shoulder-in for Training” from the 2017 FEI-Level Trainers Conference at

“Paint at Sea” by Amy Severino


2017 USDF Arts Contest


2 Divisions Art and Photography 3 Age Groups 15 and under, 16 to 21 and Adult

ENTRY DEADLINE JULY 1 The grand prize winning entry will be used as the cover art for the USDF Member Guide. (awards/other awards) for complete contest rules and entry form


April 2017


Arena Maintenance Shouldn’t Be a Drag

A DIFFERENT KIND OF GROOMING: Careful tending will help keep footing (pictured: at Dressage at Devon) performing optimally for years to come

42 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION


From the USDF’s footing guide, how to protect your arena-surface investment


ooting knowledge and technology have made great strides (so to speak) in recent years. We know a lot about how to prepare arena surfaces for optimal dressage performance. But sometimes, as we deal with the day-to-day demands of horse care and facility maintenance, tending to those surfaces becomes a lowpriority item—and that’s a mistake. Even if your footing is perfect, it won’t stay that way without regular maintenance. Left untended, surfaces become uneven, compacted, dusty, or worse. This exclusive excerpt, adapted from the USDF’s guide to arena surfaces, Underfoot, is a primer on how to keep your indoor or outdoor arena-surface investment performing at its best.

Does Your Arena Need Help? Here are common indications that an arena surface needs maintenance, listed from least severe to most severe. • Footing has shifted to reflect traffic patterns. Some areas are deeper than others, and there is less footing on the track. A circular pattern is forming where horses are lunged. • Footing is dry and dusty. • Arena foundation is uneven. • A trench is forming along the track. • It is difficult to see through the dust. • Wet or slippery spots have become chronic. • Stones or dirt clods are appearing. • Potholes or gopher holes are appearing.

An Ounce of Prevention It’s easier to prevent problems than to treat them. To keep footing problems from developing, you’ll need to redistribute and level the material regularly, using a tractor and drag. Footing material that has migrated out to the edges of the arena will need to be pulled back in. You’ll also need to develop a system for watering your arena, to keep dust down and ensure the right amount of “spring” and particle adherence under foot.

Dragging Drag your arena regularly, before footing shifts significantly or the surface compacts and hardens. Here’s how to determine how often to drag: Notice when the footing begins to shift (e.g., there are circular wear areas from lungeing, or a “track” begins to form along the rail). Drag slightly more often than it takes to develop those wear patterns—which can range from daily to weekly, depending on how heavily the arena is used.

Choose harrows and drags that are a foot or two wider than your tractor so that there are no wheel tracks after dragging. Too wide and you’ll have problems steering; six to eight feet wide usually works best. A disc harrow (sets of concave discs that can be set at variable angles) is good for breaking up the soil of a hardpacked surface, such as clay. It’s not recommended for use on an arena with a prepared base, however. Follow it up with a tine or spike-toothed harrow to aerate the surface and further break up the chunks of clay. Finish with a chainlink harrow to smooth the surface. The goal is to produce approximately two inches of soft footing. For use on surfaces containing sand, stone dust, sawdust, or shavings, choose a short-tine, adjustable harrow on a frame, a spring-tooth harrow (usually also adjustable), or a chain-link harrow with short spikes (spiked-link). Take care that the spikes or tines do not penetrate the base material beneath the riding surface, or the base layer will sustain permanent damage. A chain-link harrow without spikes is the tool of choice for leveling surfaces containing shredded wood and bark. Unlike sand, wood-fiber footing is best when matted down so that horses work on top of the footing, rather than in the footing. You can make a basic chain-link drag by attaching heavy chainlink fencing to a 2" x 4" board. Raising the edge closest to the

Get the Footing Bible


he USDF was the first US organization to publish a comprehensive guide to dressage-arena construction, maintenance, and repair. Sponsored by Premier UNDERFOOT Equestrian LLC and newly revised in 2015, the 74-page illustrated Underfoot contains detailed instructions on how to prepare the base, choose materials, solve problems, and care for the finished arena. Chapters focus on footing materials, footing’s effects on equine soundness, the environmental impacts of various footing materials, and selecting and installing arena mirrors. Underfoot: The United States Dressage Federation Guide to Arena Construction, Maintenance, and Repair is available for $10 from the USDF store. To order, visit or download via the USDF app, USDF: Your Dressage Connection. The United States Dressage Federation Guide to Arena Construction, Maintenance, & Repair

Sponsored by Premier Equestrian, LLC

Underfoot_Cover.indd 1


11/17/2015 10:18:01 AM

April 2017



1 2 3

FIGURE 18: Pattern for dragging an arena DRAG PATTERN: Proper technique

for dragging an arena There are several patterns you can follow to drag an arena. It is important to vary the pattern, so that you do not drag the arena the same way each time. corner, elevate harrow if possible, intointhe corner, Using the same dragthe pattern can cause low and back high spots your footing.

lower harrow, pullthe forward a couple times. Make onethe or two passesand around entire arena. Then, of turn down If theyou centerline, being careful to drive a fairly straight line. At the far end, can’t remove arena fencing, you may need to hand-raketurn thein the same direction and make a pass just inside, and slightly overlapping, corners. the passes you made near the fence (see Figure 18). Make one or two passes around the entire arena; then

Continue making passes just to the inside of the previous pass, until you have turn down thearena. center line. thethe farshort end,sides turn same dragged the entire If you do At it right, of in thethe arena will bedirection patterned with loops, where the harrow came just short of and overlapping make a pass just inside, and slightly overlapthe previous track in each successive pass. Finish up with a few more passes ping,the thetrack, passes you made near the around one inside the other, untilthe thefence, loops atas theshown top andin bottom illustration. making end of the arena Continue are smoothed out. passes just to the inside of the

previous pass until you have dragged the entire arena. If you The Rail-Side Rut do it right, the short sides of the arena will be patterned Even the most diligent harrowing won't keep an arena in good shape all the along harrow justthe short bywith itself.overlapping Whenever youloops, notice awhere rut forming the came track near rail, special should be takenintoeach level successive the footing. Ifpass. you let horsesup wear the of thecare previous track Finish with footing off the track until a trench is formed in the base itself, the arena a few more passes around the track, one inside the other, base will be permanently damaged. Edging attachments added to your until the at with the build top and end of the arena are groomer can loops also help up onbottom the edges. smoothed out. On a sand arena, use a shovel with a flat bottom edge to pull the edges back onto the track. Dodrag this before dragging theyou arena. an arena withlow average Vary the pattern so that doInnot create and use, this will need to be done every fifth or sixth time you harrow (or about high spots in your footing. every 10 days). If, with average use, a rut forms sooner, your footing could likely benefit from the addition of a bonding/absorbing agent.

44 April 2017 USDF CONNECTION On a wood mix or rubber mix surface, use a pitchfork, or landscaping rake, to pull in the footing. These surfaces will need hand raking less often than sand, but you should evaluate the needs of your particular arena surface for yourself.

The Rail-Side Rut Even the most diligent harrowing won’t keep an arena in good shape all by itself. Whenever you notice a rut forming along the track near the rail, special care should be taken to level the footing. If you let horses wear the footing off the track until a trench forms in the base itself, the arena base will be permanently damaged. On a sand arena, before you drag, use a shovel with a flat bottom edge to pull footing material from the edges back onto the track. In an arena with average use, this will need to be done every fifth or sixth time you harrow (or about every 10 days). Edging attachments added to your groomer can also help with buildup on the edges. If with average use a rut forms sooner, your footing could likely benefit from the addition of a bonding or absorbing agent. On a wood-mix or rubber-mix surface, use a pitchfork or a landscaping rake to pull in the footing. These surfaces will need hand-raking less often than sand, but you’ll need to determine the ideal frequency for your particular arena surface. Follow rail-side maintenance with a thorough harrowing of the entire arena to redistribute excess footing material from the edges back to the middle of the arena.

Watering Watering is probably the best arena-maintenance tool. It does much more than control dust. If applied in the proper amount, water firms up footing yet makes it more resilient and springy. Water lubricates and reduces the breakdown of sand particles. On a wood-fiber arena, adequately moistened fibers bend rather than break under impact from hooves. However, water will aid in the decomposition of wood fibers. Arena watering is an art. Proper application, amount, and frequency must be monitored closely. Make adjustments based on the type of footing material; the intensity of use; and the wind, humidity, and temperature your arena is subjected to, all of which will affect the amount of water lost through evaporation. A general guideline is to water as often as necessary to keep the riding surface damp throughout. If the top inch or two are allowed to dry out, it will be much more time-consuming to re-saturate the footing, and some of the material will blow away. The riding surface should generally be kept to a moisture level of 8 to 12 percent. Use a moisture meter (available from most garden- or forestry-supply catalogs) to measure the level.


tractor slightly off the ground will prevent the footing from balling up behind the leading edge. Use a log or steel beam, if necessary, to smooth the footing after harrowing. Rubber-mix arena surfaces don’t require dragging as frequently because rubber doesn’t compact. When you do work the arena, a chain-link-fencing drag works best. Most commercial drags, which are designed to aerate, are too heavy for rubber. If the footing starts to buckle up, the drag is too heavy. Grooming textile-based footing (synthetic textiles and fibers) requires specialized equipment. Simple drags and rakes tend to clump fibers together, disturbing the surface. Groomers for textiles typically feature tines, a leveling bar, and a roller. Each component provides a specialized function and, depending on the groomer, may work together or be used individually. The illustration below shows proper dragging technique. If possible, start by removing the corner fencing or the entire short end of the arena rails. If you can’t remove the fence, begin by making one pass around the track, next to the fence and as close as possible. When you come to a

NECESSARY CHORE: Removing manure isn’t a glamorous task, but it’s an essential part of arena maintenance

Using a hand-held spray nozzle, a movable sprinkler, or a built-in sprinkler system, water all areas of the arena evenly. Frost-proof overhead permanent watering systems are now available for indoor applications. For outdoor arenas, in-ground sprinklers whose range is large enough to cover the entire arena surface can be placed outside the arena. Whatever type of watering system you use, take care not to create puddles or wet spots that could become boggy and potentially harm the base. Portable sprinklers must be moved frequently, with any leaking connections repaired before continuing to water. Watering at night and allowing the moisture to soak in completely can be very beneficial. Dragging the arena before riding will help to distribute the moisture, as well. Until the water soaks in, most of it is in the top inch or two of footing and is easily lost to evaporation. Particularly dry arenas might require a few drag-and-water cycles to distribute the moisture deeply enough that it does not evaporate too quickly.


Competition and Multi-Use Arenas The needs of competition or multi-use arenas (used for both dressage and jumping, for example) are more complex than those of single-purpose surfaces. In addition to practicing the maintenance steps we’ve outlined, some arenas may benefit from being rolled after dragging. Rolling produces a firmer and more level surface that can be much appreciated by both the dressage competitor and the jumping rider. With sand or mixed footing, a heavy roller (nine to 10 tons) is usually necessary for optimum packing and leveling. Most equipment-rental services have rollers available.

Note that arenas with stone-dust footing should not be rolled, as they already have a tendency to be too hard.

Outside the Arena To facilitate drainage, don’t forget to maintain the area around the outside of your arena. Piles of excess surface material around the outside edges of the arena will block runoff and need to be cleaned up periodically. Usually, this is material that is pushed out of the arena during the course of normal use and can just be added back to the footing. If you have swales or drainage ditches, keep them mowed and free of debris.

Footing Is Fundamental Protect your arena investment—and horses’ soundness—by establishing the right type and frequency of footing maintenance. Consult your footing manufacturer for specific maintenance advice for your chosen material. A good arena-maintenance program also includes a pitchfork and a muck tub. Manure not promptly removed hardens or dries and crumbles, making footing dusty and compromising the integrity of the material. Well-kept footing is not only a pleasure to ride on; it’s also important in helping to keep horses sound. The choice of footing material, its depth, its moisture content, and other factors affect the amount that the hoof slides forward on landing, rotates when turning, and provides resistance during push-off. For dressage-specific research findings and arena-maintenance advice, see Underfoot. s USDF CONNECTION

April 2017


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The 2017 USDF Online Stallion Guide is now LIVE! This annual online stallion guide is released by the United States Dressage Federation for the dressage community. The guide is available both through the USDF website and the USDF app. Featured article this year is, “The Hottest Bloodlines in Rio” which looks at what sport-horse pedigrees were represented in the 2016 Olympics.

2017 USDF Online Stallion Guide

We continue our look at breeding statistics from USDF’s major championships, adding Great American/USDF Regional Championshps. Once again we have the “Index of Progeny for Advertised Stallions,” which includes progeny that have ranked 1-100 in Adequan®/USDF Year-End Awards. It also includes horses that have placed in US Dressage Finals, Great American/USDF Regional Championships, and Great American/USDF Breeders Championships from 2009-2016. This guide contains interactive links to give you all the information you need to make a favorable breeding decision. Whether interested in breeding, or looking for a breeder with offspring already on the ground, this is a great way to learn more about dressage breeders throughout North America.

The Hottest Bloodlines in Rio

Trending Stallions in the Sport Horse Arena: USDFBC Statistics

Pursit of Excellence: Regional Championship Statistics

Finals by the Numbers: US Dressage Finals Statistics




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and show season essentials. Training and Reference Books and DVDs

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Check the USDF Store website for more USDF merchandise.

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USDF CALENDAR To make sure we provide our members with the most up-todate deadlines and events, the USDF Calendar has moved online.

Visit for • • • • • •

USEF licensed/USDF recognized competitions Breeders’ Championships Regional Championships USDF sponsored events USDF University accredited programs All the important deadlines and dates you might need

50 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

W W W. U S D F. O R G

MARCH 2010

Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation


NEW TRAINING SERIES: What Other Disciplines Can Teach Dressage Riders Basics of Freestyle Creation


For specific staff contacts visit the USDF Web site.



Accounting......................................................................(859) 271-7891....................................... Address and E-mail Updates............................................(859) Adult Education Programs ..............................................(859) 271-7882......................................... Adult Team Competitions.................................................(859) 971-7360...................... All-Breeds Awards ...........................................................(859) Applications Submitted at Competitions...........................(859) Breeders & Materiale Championships Series......................(859) 271-7894........................................ Demographics and Statistics............................................(859) 271-7083................................................. Donations........................................................................(859) Dover Medal Program......................................................(859) 971-7361...................................... eTRAK..............................................................................(859) Group Membership..........................................................(859) 971-7048................................................. Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Awards...............(859) 271-7882........................................ Horse Performance Certificates.........................................(859) Horse Registration............................................................(859) Horse/Rider Score Reports. .............................................(859) Human Resources/Career Opportunities............................(859) 271-7885..................................................... Instructor Certification.....................................................(859) Insurance Certificates for Competitions............................(859) 271-7886........................................... Junior/Young Rider Clinics................................................(859) L Education and Continuing Education.............................(859) 971-7039.......................................... Mailing Lists.....................................................................(859) NAJYRC Criteria and Procedures.......................................(859) 971-7360............................................... National Education Initiative............................................(859) 271-7882......................................... Nominations – Delegates, Regional Directors....................(859) 271-7897..................................... Participating and Business Memberships...........................(859) 271-7871..................................... Podcasts..........................................................................(859) 971-7039............................................ Prize List Questions..........................................................(859) Regional Championships Program....................................(859) Rider Awards...................................................................(859) 971-7361...................................... Score Corrections.............................................................(859) Secretary/Manager Services .............................................(859) Show Results...................................................................(859) Sponsorship Opportunities...............................................(859) 271-7887...................................... Sport Horse Education.....................................................(859) 271-7894........................................ Store Merchandise...........................................................(859) 971-7828..................................... University Accreditation and Credit Check.........................(859) 271-7876.......................................... Year-end Awards..............................................................(859) 971-7361............................................. Young Rider Graduate Program........................................(859) Youth Outreach Clinics.....................................................(859) Youth Programs...............................................................(859) Youth Team Competitions................................................(859)

Make the connection

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Connection wants YOU to be a contributor. Here’s how.

air Your Views USDF Connection welcomes letters to the editor. Please send your digital submission by e-mail to jbryant@usdf. org. Please include your hometown, state, and daytime telephone number. We’ll publish letters as space allows; all submissions are subject to editing. Unsigned letters will not be considered, although writers may request that their names be withheld. All letters become the property of USDF.

ask a Question Do you have a dressage- or USDFrelated question? Send it to “FAQ” and you may get an expert response in a future issue of USDF Connection. Send your question, along with your full name, hometown, state, and daytime telephone number to Include “FAQ” in the subject line of your message.

Share Your Story... …or your views on a topic pertaining to dressage or USDF in “The Tail End,” USDF Connection’s member-written “back page.” Share your dressage discoveries, “aha” moments, challenges, and oberservations. Short “guest editorial” essays are also considered. All “Tail End” columns are the opinions of the writers and not necessarily those of the editors or USDF. Submissions accepted by e-mail only. Send submissions, along with your full name, hometown, state and daytime telephone number to, subject line should read “The Tail End.” Please be prepared to supply a clear color digital photograph of yourself if your piece is accepted. Simultaneous submissions will not be accepted.

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Advice, Guidance, & Insight




April 2017


the tail end

It's the lucky number of a USDF member who saw her gold-medal dream come true By Joni Zeccola


t was a long time ago that I turned sixteen. But on a very hot day last May, I was able to be “sweet sixteen” once again. You see, I was the sixteenth adult amateur that my trainer, Karen Lipp, coached to the USDF gold medal—and I earned my gold in 2016 aboard my 16-year-old Connemara cross, Moses. My journey with Moses began in 2005. I saw a video of a five-year-old chestnut gelding with all that chrome

thinking about him and his canter while on a subsequent horse-shopping trip through Florida. And to this day, I love riding his canter. What does it take to get to the Grand Prix level? It takes an unbelievable amount of dedication, courage, work, and the support of many people along the way. I’ve been able to ride Moses with some of the most talented trainers in the area, including Adam Lastowka, Sandy Osborn,

IT TOOK A VILLAGE: The writer and her USDF gold-medal partner, Moses

and thought, Hmm, now that could be interesting. A friend and I drove to Big Bear Farm in Pine Mountain, GA, to try him. He was not at all what I had on my list of “dressage horse requirements,” but I couldn’t stop

and Amanda Persons, to name a few. Linda Todenhagen taught me the importance of a good seat. Hokan Thorn took Moses and me from Training Level to Great American/ USDF Region 3 Adult Amateur Fourth

52 April 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

Originally from New York, Joni Zeccola moved to Avondale Estates, GA, in 1988. A retired librarian, she and her husband, Alan Dion, foster rescued shelter dogs and live with three dogs and a 19-year-old cat. Joni began riding in her twenties and rode hunters before switching to dressage.


Sweet Sixteen

Level reserve champion in record time. Kayce Redmond brought Moses’ tempi changes to a whole new level. And Karen Lipp continues to teach me how to ride effectively and elegantly and to embrace Moses’ unique personality. We ended 2016 as the Great American/ USDF Region 3 Adult Amateur Intermediate II reserve champions. Getting to Grand Prix takes encouragement from my friends and supporters, who were always there when I needed a hug or a celebratory glass of wine. My gratitude for your kind words is forever. Getting to Grand Prix takes a horse that stays ridable—and that requires a village: a farrier (thank you, Chris Brooker). A veterinarian who knows when to say no to all the crazy ideas I’ve read about (thank you, Dr. Jim Nash). A place to train and ride that understands the proper care of an elite athlete (thank you, Christi Meyers and the wonderful Top Hat Dressage staff ). A husband who supports me while shaking his head in wonder at all I do to stay in the sport (thank you, Alan, and I love you). Above all, getting to Grand Prix requires a special horse, and so I have to thank Moses most of all. We are in many ways an unlikely success story— a small, opinionated horse and his mature, athletically built petite rider. But we both are strong-willed. Tell us we can’t do something, and we respond, “You wanna bet?” Moses humored and tested me along the way to Grand Prix. Neither of us knew what we were doing, but we learned and continue to learn together. It’s been a long and wonderful road, and as in any relationship, there have been some extreme highs and a few lows, but we did it. Here’s to 2017. I can’t wait to see what’s next! s

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April 2017 USDF Connection  

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United States Dressage Federation Official Publication

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