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J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 7

Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation


DISTANCE LEARNING Schoolwork Solutions for the Traveling Young Equestrian

Young rider Emily Smith and Dublin

Axel Steiner: US Dressage Needs More Judging Panels Lebanon Junction, KY Permit # 559





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November 29-December 2 Hyatt Regency Lexington • Lexington, KY

2017 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention Welcome to our old Kentucky home

Regis tratio n Availa ble Onlin e






28 34 38 44


Schoolwork and showing aren’t an either/or decision. Here’s how some young dressage riders manage. By Catie Staszak


Emma Claire Stephens found her place in the dressage arena at a young age, but that’s only the beginning By Megan Brincks


USDF offers much more than Jr/YR clinics. Discover our full roster of youth programs. By Jan Scarbrough


Top-class training, community spirit highlight the USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum By Katelyn Kok


8 10 27 48 50 50 51


4 INSIDE USDF Spirit Planting

6 RINGSIDE Precious Resources

By George Williams

By Jennifer O. Bryant

16 THE JUDGE’S BOX Dressage Judging: National vs. International

By Axel Steiner

20 HISTORICAL CONNECTION American Dressage Legends: Lt. Col. Hans Moeller 24 ALL-BREEDS CONNECTION Breed of the Month: Cleveland Bay 46 REVIEWS Fact or Fiction?

By Jennifer O. Bryant

52 THE TAIL END Impressions of Omaha

By Kay Kamish


ON OUR COVER Young rider Emily Smith (on Dublin at the 2017 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival in Florida) had to find ways to keep up her academic studies when she’s away from home training and competing. Story, p. 28. Photo by SusanJStickle.com.

Volume 19, Number 3


July/August 2017


inside usdf




Spirit Planting

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

At the annual Executive Board meeting in verdant Lexington, sowing seeds for USDF’s future


for adults. Learn more at the USDF website (usdf.org) under the Education tab. We continue to move forward with US Equestrian’s (formerly the US Equestrian Federation) transitioning its training and continuing-education programs for dressage licensed officials over to the USDF. The plan is for this to happen over two years, with the final phase of the rollout happening during the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The USDF Executive Board selected the location of the 2019 Adequan®/ USDF Annual Convention: the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa in Savannah, GA. (The 2018 convention will be held at the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek in Salt Lake City.) The dates and locations for the 2018 Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championships were approved. The complete list is available on the USDF website. We continue to discuss and study the feasibility of relocating the 2019 US Dressage Finals to the Murieta Equestrian Center in California per a proposal put forward last fall by the western USDF regions. Perhaps the biggest project is one we really started working on at the 2016 convention in St. Louis last December. It has been a number of years since the USDF Executive Board undertook the strategic-planning process. The old one needed more than updating; it needed a complete redo. A Strategic Plan Working Group was

4 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

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By George Williams, USDF President t is hard to imagine anywhere being greener than Lexington in the spring. It is beautiful, and I always look forward to our Executive Board meeting at the USDF National Education Center at the Kentucky Horse Park in April. This year, we were able to condense what usually is a two-day meeting into one productive day. We did cheat a little by covering some of the more routine business items on a lengthy conference call earlier in the week, which allowed us more time for face-to-face discussion on some of the bigger projects in the works, which I’ll share with you here. By now, many of you have visited the revamped USDF website, phase one of which was completed in April. My favorite part is that it is friendly and designed for use on different platforms. Best of all, I can now easily access it on my smartphone. A new Regional Adult Amateur Equitation Program has been proposed. It is still very much in the development stages and has not yet been approved by the Executive Board. As the proposal states, we hope that the program will “serve to educate riders in correct and effective riding.” The program is “designed to recognize adult amateurs competing in equitation and promote correct seat, position, and use of aids in dressage.” This year, the USDF is launching the new Adult Education Program, officially known as the National Education Initiative. This program has been developed over the past two years, with the goal of making educational programs more accessible to our adult members by allowing regions and USDF group-member organizations (GMOs) more flexibility in what and how they offer educational programs


appointed: 26 members, consisting of time reaching a consensus on what, the Executive Board as well as others exactly—and in as few words as actively involved in all aspects of dres- possible—should be the USDF’s sage around the country. We were ascore values. We came up with sisted by key staff members and were three: welfare of the horse, quality ably led through the process by a coneducation, and fair play. sultant from the Washington, DC,How should the USDF demonarea firm Tecker International, with strate these core values? As the experience in helping nonprofit orgaworking group determined: through nizations plan for the future. “respectful service to members and There is no doubt that the USDF is the dressage community with honesty, an organization in the midst of middle integrity, and accountability,” and age—and like a lot of middle-aged through “adherence to international folks, we have to ask ourselves: How dressage standards of excellence.” do we stay relevant in today’s world? I The working group also came up believe it is a very healthy exercise for with four key areas that it believes the USDF to take the time to reflect should be the organization’s focus on its strengths and weaknesses. for the near future: competition, We then need to determine how to education, infrastructure, and build on those strengths and, more membership. They then set a goal for important, determine how we should each. Those goals were defined by address our weaknesses. objectives, and they formulated stratThe Strategic Plan Working Group egies to achieve each objective. agreed unanimously that the USDF With so many of American is dedicated to the promotion of dressage’s best minds in the room, dressage. Although no one disagreed and with so many great ideas being USDF-Connection-June2017-Tina-20170331OL.pdf 4/17/17 3:46:44 PM with the principles, we spent some bounced1 around, it was extremely

helpful to have a consultant who could give us a structure to the process. I believe that the new USDF strategic plan is a good working plan. It outlines in comprehensive steps how we can move forward in a way that keeps us connected to our roots. At the same time, it allows us to embrace the future and to continue to be a leader in dressage in the US. Or, as our “big audacious goal” states: “USDF will be the recognized and trusted resource for quality dressage education, competition, and recognition of achievement.” That is our vision—not that different, I am sure, from the vision that the founders of USDF had in mind back in 1973. Through the years, the USDF has built many good programs, establishing a relatively solid foundation. Working closely with our members, US Equestrian, and the horse community at large, we will continue our journey of working toward reaching our big audacious goal. Read the full plan at usdf.org. s


July/August 2017



Precious Resources

Dressage needs two things to survive: interested kids and open space


ur roundup of USDF’s educational and awards programs for its youth members (“Youth Opportunities,” page 38) highlights the many ways that kids can expand their dressage knowledge, earn recognition for their achievements, and even obtain funding to help pave the way. But one statistic in the article is sobering. Of USDF’s participating members (those who join USDF directly), only about 11 percent are youth. There are additional kids under the USDF umbrella, because some have memberships in affiliated dressage organizations, known as group-member organizations or GMOs. Nevertheless, we’re still talking about a pretty modest number. As our story points out: “Unless young dressage enthusiasts remain involved in the sport and the organization as they move into adulthood, American dressage will be sorely lacking in both athletes and leadership.” All sports require that the next generation pick up the mantle. Equestrian sports have a tougher time attracting new blood than some athletic pursuits because the barriers to entry are fairly formidable. You need, um, a HORSE for starters, and rather a lot of specialized and pricey equipment, and access to the kind of open space that’s conducive to horsekeeping. Well, open space in this country is rapidly dwindling, which means that fewer people live within range of an equestrian facility. Land prices and other factors have driven up the prices of horses and horsekeeping. Although a certain tier of equestrian sport has always been elitist, even “grass roots”-level involvement may be becoming more unattainable for the average American family. The entire US horse industry should be alarmed about this, if we want to see our children and our children’s children have the equestrian

access that we enjoy. Did horses change your life when you were a kid? Don’t you want the horse-crazy kid down the street to have the same crack at fulfilling her dreams that you did? If you answered yes, then maybe you’ll join me in launching your own unofficial dressage-outreach campaign. I live down the street from a horse-loving kid, and this summer I’m going to invite her to the barn to meet Junior and watch some of the horses do their dressage thing. Maybe the encounter will stoke the equestrian fires and keep this kid going so that someday she’ll be a horse owner or even an equine professional. Of course I’d be thrilled if she were taken with the sight of some “dancing horses” and got the dressage bug. Could you do something similar for a kid in your area? On a related note, many of you are concerned about the loss of open space in our country, and so is the USDF. That’s why the USDF has partnered with the Equine Land Conservation Resource to offer the Equine Land Conservation Achievement Award, which will recognize outstanding efforts by an individual or organization in protecting land or access to land for equine use. Know a worthy person or entity? Submit a nomination today (they’re due August 31). Download the nomination form at usdf.org under Awards / Service.

Jennifer O. Bryant, Editor @JenniferOBryant

6 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

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

Stephan Hienzsch 859/271-7887 • stephh1enz@usdf.org

——— Editorial——— EDITOR

Jennifer O. Bryant 610/344-0116 • jbryant@usdf.org 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 • ekoenig@usdf.org


Karl Lawrence 859/271-7881 • klawrence@usdf.org


Danielle Titland 720/300-2266 • dtitland@usdf.org USDF Connection is published ten times a year by the United States Dressage Federation, 4051 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511. Phone: 859/971-2277. Fax: 859/971-7722. E-mail: usdressage@usdf.org, Web site: www.usdf.org. 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 usdressage@usdf.org. 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.



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member connection

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

Lebanon Junction, KY Permit # 559



Great question, Alice. A place to start is equine-biomechanics expert Dr. Hilary Clayton’s article “Horse Health Connection: Footing Selection and Maintenance” in the June 2014 issue of USDF Connection, which touches on your question. We asked Dr. Clayton to expound on the subject, and she responded: Disposal of footing can be a problem, especially synthetic surfaces, which don’t reintegrate into the environment. I shudder to think about what’s going to happen to the vast amounts of synthetic materials that are currently being used in dressage and jumping arenas. Depending on the type of footing, it may be possible to repurpose it for a landscaping project. The reader could offer it to local landscapers or advertise it on Craigslist or a similar platform. It’s unlikely to be worth money, but if someone is willing to haul it away and use it for making pathways or whatever, then that would be a good outcome in my opinion.

Stretching Exercises Your question asking how USDF members have “stretched” themselves

Value Judgments I just reread your “Ringside” column (“The Oasis,” March) and have some questions. I have had horses since age nine. I have ridden dressage since the 1970s, and I will be 70 myself this fall. I cannot imagine life without my animals. However, when I see the amount of money that is spent on horses, equipment, training, and so on, I wonder at the value systems of those who choose that lifestyle. Sure, it would be fun to go to Germany

8 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

The 80-Percent Score Analyzed Kudos to Jennifer USDF CONNECTION Bryant and Laura THE ELUSIVE 80-PERCENT SCORE Graves for tackling what it takes to score in the 80s in international championship competition (“The Elusive 80 Percent,” May). Whether you blame it on score inflation or the oft-cited ever-greater quality of top horses, scores below 80 just don’t medal any more. It was refreshing that Ms. Graves did not suggest that the answer to US medaling is to buy better horses, and that she reaffirmed the single-minded dedication to learning and training required—not just to reach the top, but to stay there and win there. Her respect for the mental and physical risks to the horses of training by drilling was also highlighted, as was the need to carefully seek outside and different input. It was, however, a sad statement about the current state of dressage training and judging that taking the statistics-based advice of a physicist was what she feels helped her achieve the elusive 80 percent, especially when following that U S D F. O R G

M AY 2 0 1 7

Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation

Laura Graves Tells How She Did it

Best New Show-Prep Strategies (p. 14) Judge Marilyn Heath Explains Second Level Collection (p. 18)


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

and see the sales, or to Aachen, or to winter in Florida. But I taught school for 25-plus years and was distressed to see that my horses had better foot care, food, and medical care than many of the kids in my classes. Maybe I’m judging wrongly. Maybe people who focus large amounts of resources on their horses also underwrite humans in need and just don’t say anything about it. I would wish that to be true. Where is the balance between making the world a better place for all creatures and being passionate about an art form, which to me is dressage? I haven’t found a good answer yet. Susan Reed Albuquerque, NM


The footing in my USDF CONNECTION indoor arena is over 20 years old (“Arena Maintenance Shouldn’t Be a Drag,” April). It is a combination of sand, shredded tires, and wood chips. How does a person dispose of old footing material in an environmentally green fashion? I’ve read Underfoot, the USDF’s guide to arena installation and maintenance, but I’ve never seen any disposal guidelines anywhere. I spoke with several footing vendors at the FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha, and I’ve contacted several magazines. No one has provided any suggestions. Alice Antczak Elkhorn, WI

in the name of dressage (“Ringside: The Storm Beneath the Calm,” April) spoke to me, as I’m in the process of stretching myself further than I ever thought possible. I managed to find my dream horse—a fit, athletic, calm, and reasonable horse that is already trained through Grand Prix!—and am learning how to ride him. I have pushed myself harder than I have ever pushed myself to learn anything so that I can be the rider he deserves. I had a solid grounding in the basics, but I had never done flying changes before. I had never done lateral work above a trot. There were times that I had to stop riding him and let my trainer keep his training intact while I learned more on other horses. I have finally learned enough that I can ride him full time and keep his training intact, and I’m continuing to grow in leaps and bounds. Riding this horse is educating me in putting all the pieces together so that the “tricks” will be relaxed and harmonious, and from a strong, thoroughly conditioned horse that is enjoying his job. The good horses pull us forward: They teach us and create the space for us to grow into if we continue to ask questions of ourselves and learn to listen to them. Thank you for such a provocative question. Chris Uyyek Seattle, WA

Lebanon Junction, KY Permit # 559

Can Old Footing Be Disposed of in an Environmentally Friendly Way?


USDF Store Spring Catalog See page 9

advice led her to eschew improving her horse’s carrying of weight on the hindquarters in the piaffe, the Grand Prix’s most important test of true collection. As she says, it made strategic sense to perfect their passage-extended walk transitions and to get her horse over his pre-ring entry tension so that she could knock out even bigger extended trots early on in the test. Some years ago, one of our team riders quipped that all you need to make the US dressage team is good piaffe, passage, and pirouettes, and the rest could be pretty poor. Ms. Graves is certainly doing well the job she is essentially being paid to do; but the judges who reward, for example, piaffes that advance with high croups and passages with hindquarters trailing are not doing theirs. Who, then, is going to be the brave one to show or stand up for the collection and other requirements of the highest levels of dressage: a top dressage rider with the street cred of Charlotte Dujardin or Laura Graves, who performs a test with such purity of the gaits, true collection, and throughness that no judge could give it less than an 80, even if it looks very different than today’s 80-plus rides? Or the judge who starts applying, movement by movement, the judging criteria in the FEI Dressage Handbook? Name withheld by request In Laura Graves’ defense, regarding Verdades’ piaffe, she said that he “sits” in the movement in training but sometimes less so in the excitement of the show environment. Because she can’t replicate that electric atmosphere at home, she’s limited in the extent to which she can address the issue through schooling. Presumably, over time, the horse will become increasingly relaxed at shows and the difference will diminish. Still, she said, at this point in his career Verdades typically earns marks of 7 to 8.5 on his piaffe—not too shabby.

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July/August 2017



Your Dressage World This Month


Dressage Festival Crowns 2017 National Champions


Champions Lyle and Blythe allowed to compete after FEI lifts provisional suspensions

ack at its traditional Gladstone, NJ, location, the 2017 Dutta Corp. US Dressage Festival of Champions saw elite competition for the annual US Equestrian national championships at the Grand Prix, Intermediaire I, and Young Adult levels. The historic Hamilton Farm, headquarters of the USET Foundation, hosted the May 18-21 event.

In the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship, Lyle was back for another awards ceremony, this time leading the victory lap. She topped the field of 16 riding Horizon, a 2007 Oldenburg mare owned by Betsy Juliano, to an overall score of 70.967 percent. The I-I reserve national champions were Jane Cleveland, Wellington, FL,

LAP OF HONOR: 2017 USEF Grand Prix national champion Kasey Perry-Glass on Goerklintgaards Dublet (right) and reserve champion Adrienne Lyle on Salvino

Seven horse-rider combinations vied for the USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship, with 2016 Olympic team bronze medalist Kasey Perry-Glass, Orangevale, CA, on Diane Perry’s Danish Warmblood gelding, Goerklintgaards Dublet, taking the title on an overall score of 71.575 percent. Olympian Adrienne Lyle, Ketchum, ID, won the GP reserve championship aboard the Salvino Partners LLC’s 2007 Hanoverian stallion, Salvino (71.344). Third was Olivia LaGoy-Weltz, Haymarket, VA, on her 2004 Danish Warmblood gelding, Lonoir (70.927).

and her 2009 Danish Warmblood mare, Monique (70.768). Third was Lyle again, this time riding Harmony’s Duval, a 2008 Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by the Duval Partners LLC (70.466). Seven rising stars competed in the USEF Young Adult “Brentina Cup” Dressage National Championship presented by Dressage Today. The title went to Kaitlin Blythe, Rougemont, NC, on Don Principe, a 1999 Hanoverian stallion owned by Maryanna Haymon (66.769 percent). Aboard Peacock Ridge LLC’s 2001 KWPN gelding, Unlimited, Natalie Pai, Wellington, FL, took the reserve

10 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

championship on 66.444. Third was Molly Paris, Charlotte, NC, on her 2002 Danish Warmblood mare, Countess (65.992). Lyle’s and Blythe’s wins were undoubtedly even sweeter considering that both riders had been under provisional suspension by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). Lyle’s mount Horizon and Blythe’s mount Don Principe had tested positive for the banned substance ractopamine—a feed additive sometimes given to swine, turkey, and cattle to promote the building of lean muscle—at FEI dressage competitions in Florida in February. Lyle and Blythe successfully petitioned the FEI for a lifting of the suspensions so that they could compete at the Festival of Champions, with both submitting evidence that a feed supplement given to the horses had been contaminated. On May 9, US Equestrian announced that the supplement manufacturer, Cargill, had


I-I CHAMPIONS: Adrienne Lyle and Horizon


Planning to Compete at the US Dressage Finals?


isit usdressagefinals.com as you begin your preparations to compete in the 2017 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. The 2017 prize list is now available online, and declarations are open. Reminder: Horse/ rider combinations must declare their intention to participate by completing the Declaration of

Intent form by midnight on the day prior to the first day of their Regional Championship competition (including any day of open classes before the start of championship classes). There is no fee to declare, but horse/ rider combinations must declare at the level(s) and eligible division(s) in which they intend to compete.



BRENTINA CUP WINNER: Kaitlyn Blythe on Don Principe

acknowledged the ractopamine contamination of the product that caused Horizon’s and Don Principe’s positive test results. US Equestrian quoted a statement by Cargill: “Through our investigation, we identified that Progressive Nutrition Soothing Pink, a nutritional supplement used to prevent gastric upset, contained an ingredient that included trace amounts of ractopamine. Upon learning of this trace finding, we immediately withdrew our Progressive Nutrition Soothing Pink product from the market. At this time, we have identified and isolated the ingredient that was the source of the contamination, and we have completely stopped use of the ingredient in all products.” Digital Edition Bonus Content

Watch the top-placing freestyles and other classes from the 2017 Dutta Corp. US Dressage Festival of Champions.


Joan M. Humphrey

ormer USDF secretary and US Equestrian “S” dressage judge Joan M. Humphrey, of Fort Myers, FL, died May 6 of complications related to Parkinson’s disease. She was two days shy of her 78th birthday. A horse lover from an early age, Humphrey was involved with equines all her life. She competed through Grand Prix dressage, and from 1997 to 2002 she was a member of the USDF Executive Board, serving as USDF secretary. From 2002 to 2012 she was a faculty member of the USDF L Education Program. “I met Joan in 1980 when I examined a group of ‘r’ candidates; Joan was one of them,” recalled friend and fellow dressage judge Marianne Ludwig. “I always appreciated Joan’s honesty, great attitude toward competitors, and cheerful personality. As the years went by, and especially after my husband and I also had moved to Florida, we became close friends. This friendship outlasted our professional careers until she died.” Humphrey loved to travel, visiting such exotic locales as Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, China, New Zealand, and Morocco. She is survived by her husband of

52 years, John Humphrey II; son John III and daughter Heather; and two grandchildren. Memorial donations may be made to the therapeuticriding center Special Equestrians (specialequestrians.net).

WORLD TRAVELER: Humphrey (left) in 2005 during a trip to Turkey with her friend and fellow dressage judge Marianne Ludwig


July/August 2017



Your Dressage World This Month



Hat Trick for Jung at 2017 Rolex Kentucky

ichael Jung made history at this year’s Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover. The two-time German Olympic eventing champion became the first rider to win the Rolex title three consecutive years—aboard the same mount, FischerRocana FST, no less. Previously in the competition’s 39year history, only three riders had ever managed to win two years in a row.

12 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

CELEBRITY GUESTS: Champions Live! moderator Jim Wofford (left) and panelists Melanie Smith Taylor, Silva Martin, and Phillip Dutton

“I thoroughly enjoyed this,” said audience member Julie Williamson, of Culpeper, VA. “We get to read about these people and watch them, but to actually see them up close and personal is a real treat. Most of us are here on a semi-vacation, and this is a big deal to have some time with our heroes.” Rolex ends title sponsorship. In May, event organizer Equestrian Events Inc. announced that after a 38-year run as title sponsor, Rolex is reducing its sponsorship to “official timepiece sponsor.” The competition will now be known simply as the Kentucky Three-Day Event, and it has a new logo and website, KentuckyThreeDayEvent. com. —Emily Koenig

Digital Edition Bonus Content

Watch Land Rover’s 2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event highlights video.


Hopes of a USA win were effectively dashed on cross-country day. A crowd of 35,677 watched Jung go clean with 1.6 time penalties, putting him atop the leader board. First-time Rolex competitor Maxime Livio of France ended the day in second place with a perfect trip aboard Qalao des Mers. Great Britain’s Zara Tindall and her 2012 Olympic eventing team silver-medal partner, High Kingdom, were third on 46.6 after cross-country. In show jumping, Jung dropped one rail to finish on 42.7, just ahead of Livio and Tindall, who put the pressure on by going clean. The fourth-placed finisher, the 2016 US Olympic individual bronze medalist Phillip Dutton, took home the Roger Haller Memorial Trophy for the WITH THE GREATEST OF EASE: Jung and FischerRocana FST Rolex/USEF CCI4* cantered away with their third consecutive Rolex Kentucky title Eventing National Championship Of the 59 entrants, Jung was riding Mr. Medicott (54.6). It was a favored to win the event, which was record fifth national championship for held April 27-30 at the Kentucky Dutton, who now has an astounding Horse Park in Lexington. But he had 40 completions at Rolex under his to settle for second in the dressage belt. phase, earning a score of 37.1 to USDF co-hosts new panel leader Clark Montgomery’s (USA) discussion at Rolex. The morning 33.6 aboard Loughan Glen. of show jumping, equestrian enthu“I was really happy,” said siasts got a Q&A opportunity with top Montgomery, who had recently riders at Champions Live! The panel moved to Lexington, KY. “He came discussion, moderated by US eventing out this morning for his pre-ride and Olympian Jim Wofford, featured was little on the muscle, so I didn’t Dutton; jumping legend and NBC know what he was going to be like in equestrian-sports analyst Melanie the test. But he came back out from Smith Taylor; and the Grand Prixwarm-up and felt good, and in the test level dressage competitor and trainer he felt great.” Silva Martin. Equestrian Events Inc., Another American, the three-time the US Eventing Association, and Rolex Kentucky winner Kim Severson, the US Hunter Jumper Association was third after dressage with 41.0 on a co-hosted the event along with the new mount, Cooley Cross Border. USDF.


Laura Romfh, Equestrian Apparel Designer


ob title: Founder, partner, and designer, Romfh Equestrian Apparel, San Diego, CA (romfh.com) What I do: Like many business owners, I wear a lot of different hats. First thing in the morning, I’ll answer e-mail. After that, I do product testing: get feedback from riders, go to local stores, or reach out to my sponsored riders. Last year, I took a total of 17 trips. This year, I wanted to spend

more time with my horses and focus on product development. How I got started: I worked briefly for a company in the surf industry. There were these young surfer guys who had never gone to design school, and they all had their own companies. I thought, All right, if these guys can do it, I can. Best thing about my job: Interacting with riders. Worst thing about my


Ashley Navarro, Grantville, PA



shley Navarro is a USDF-certified instructor at Training and First Levels. How I got started in dressage: I was immediately intrigued with the beauty and elegance of the discipline of dressage. I rode many disciplines growing up, but I was never truly content until I started dressage. The challenge every ride brings you, paired with the complexity of working to harmonize your movement with that of your horse, can be difficult at times but very rewarding once achieved.


job: Spreadsheets. My horses: I grew up doing Pony Club and dressage and eventing. After college, I did dressage for 20 years. About five years ago, I decided that if I was going to jump, I better do it now. So I switched from dressage to jumpers. I have two mares. Tip: Play around with sizes because each brand is sized a little bit differently. —Katherine Walcott

DESIGNING WOMAN: Laura Romfh and her horse Fanny


Highlight of the Instructor/Trainer Program: The knowledge and confidence I gained was truly invaluable. I was taught the importance of building a solid foundation using classical methodology, with a focus on safely and correctly training both horse and rider. I feel very prepared to start my business and would highly recommend that others consider going through the program, as well. My horses: Lorenzo, my nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Lauries Crusader, has shown through Prix St. Georges. Sunny’s Quest, my ten-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding by LA Baltic Sun, has started schooling Third Level.  Training tip: Really study and understand the pyramid of training and the terminology. Contact me: tripointstables3@aol.com or (717) 861-4367. —Jamie Humphries USDF CONNECTION

July/August 2017



Your Dressage World This Month


What you need to know this month Update to Great American/USDF Regional Championship Rule E10 UNDER PENALTY OF DISQUALIFICATION from all championship classes for the horse/rider combination, at no time during or 24 hours prior to a US Equestrian/USDF Regional Championship competition may any horse entered in that championship competition be ridden by anyone other than the rider entered in the championship competition on that horse (exception: grooms riding on loose rein). Further, any horse entered in a championship competition, even entered at two levels, must be ridden by the same rider throughout the competition (US Equestrian DR127.6). This applies throughout the entire competition, even after a horse has completed its championship classes.

See You at the Great American/USDF Regional Championships! CHECK THE REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP COMPETITORS page on the USDF website to verify that you’ve qualified for the 2017 Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championships. If you believe you’ve qualified, make sure you’re listed on the preliminary qualified horse/rider list and that all applicable scores are correctly designated as qualifying on USDFScores.com.

2018 Regional Championships Qualifying Fee Increase EFFECTIVE AS OF THE START of the 2018 Great American/USDF Regional Championships qualifying season, eligible competitors must be given the option to enter an applicable class as “USDF qualifying” for an additional fee of $15, which must be paid to the show secretary prior to riding in the class. Half of each qualifying fee will continue to be deposited into the Regional Championships prize-money fund.

USDF/Dover Saddlery Adult Amateur Medal Program Discontinued EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 1, 2017, the USDF/Dover Saddlery Adult Amateur Medal Program will be discontinued. Please remove all information about this program from prize lists and programs from competitions beginning on or after October 1, 2017.

14 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

Check Your Scores CHECK YOUR SCORES on USDFScores.com. If you spot an error, e-mail scorecorrections@ usdf.org or call (859) 971-2277. All score corrections must be reported by October 15 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

Apply for a Grant ONE DESERVING USDF GROUP MEMBER will receive the Ruth Arvanette Memorial Fund Grant to attend the 2017 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention in Lexington, KY. The grant includes full convention registration and partial reimbursement for travel expenses. See the USDF website for an application, which is due in the USDF office by August 31.

Don’t Miss the All-Breeds Declaration Deadline THE DEADLINE to declare a horse for the 2017 USDF All-Breeds Awards Program is August 1, so get your horse’s breed/ performance registry papers and completed All-Breeds Awards Declaration Form to the USDF office, stat!

the judge’s box

Dressage Judging: National vs. International Yes, there is a difference—for both judges and competitors. Here is a potential solution to help close the gap. By Axel Steiner


t is widely accepted that the United States has one of the most comprehensive training systems for dressage judges in the world. It is also widely known that we are one of the very few countries that allows classes at all levels to be adjudicated by a single judge. The rest of the world almost always has two or more judges. At national-level (US Equestrian-licensed/USDF-recognized) dressage shows in the US, panels of multiple judges are used only at regional

gap that leaves many licensed judges unable to progress in their careers and their knowledge.

Up the Ladder in the US National System In the US system, a prospective dressage judge who graduates “with distinction” from the USDF L Education Program is eligible to apply to our national federation (US Equestrian) to


pass the riding requirements, the expense, and insufficient judging opportunities to fulfill annual requirements for number of shows judged. Let me address this last point in more detail. Many “r” and some “R” judges cannot get enough show appointments to fulfill the annual requirements. The problem often has little to do with their abilities, and much more to do with the fact that show managers have little use for “r” judges, as they can only judge limited classes (Training through Second Level). For a similar amount of money, a manager can hire an “R” judge (Training through Fourth Level) or even an “S,” who can judge all levels.

The Jump to FEI The few dressage judges who make it all the way to “S” level by their mid-fifties can begin the application

and national finals, and in some qualifying classes (more about these later). Although the US has an outstanding judge-training system, I have come to believe that both judges and competitors would benefit from the adoption of a multiple-judge format. In this article, I’ll explain how dressage judges move up the ladder and how the US might begin to close the

sit for the entry-level judge’s license (called “r,” for “recorded”). After the candidate becomes a licensed judge, the promotion ladder is long and steep for those who wish to advance to the highest levels of judging. From “r” to “R” (Registered) to “S” (Senior) takes around 10 to 12 years. Many will fall by the wayside on the way up. Often-cited reasons for dropping out: failure to

16 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

process to become an international (FEI) judge. Once accepted by the FEI as a three-star (3*) judge, one’s judging world changes dramatically for the better because an FEI judge may judge international events (FEI-recognized dressage competitions, known as CDIs) on a panel—and that is the greatest learning experience there is for a judge!


THE MORE, THE MERRIER: Most US dressage competitors ride in front of only one judge (left). Panels of two or more judges (right) offer better education to competitors and give judges valuable experience, as well.

Here one finds out that after judging for many years, mostly by oneself, that there is still a lot to learn. That learning process is now aided by working with much more experienced colleagues, most of whom are willing to guide by example and through many conversations. Now it is possible for judges to compare individual and total marks, and even compare marks given around the world, for the same test. An FEI judge is in a constant learning and calibration mode in order to maintain long-established standards, and FEI judges also face exams and are required to attend regular seminars. As you can see, an FEI judge has a huge advantage over a national judge, who might be just as good but for whatever reason hasn’t made it to the FEI level. Yes, our national judges must also attend regular seminars to stay current. However, based on my more than 40 years of judging experience (more than 30 of which were as an FEI judge), nothing is fairer and

more educational to our riders than to routinely be judged by a panel of experts. Nothing is fairer and more educational to riders than to routinely be judged by a panel of experts.

The Case for Panel Judging Because our national judges do not have the constant advantage of calibrating their eye and their standards, it is easy for them to drift away and start deviating from those standards. This in turn fosters in some riders unrealistic expectations when they receive undeservedly high or low scores. It also fosters discontent when the next judge, whose standards are more confirmed, scores a similar ride quite differently. This variation in results unfortunately affects qualifications for regional and national finals,

as well as our extensive annual awards programs. Dressage judges are only human, and some deviation in scores is to be expected. But we can greatly improve our judging system by encouraging more classes to be judged by two or more judges. The fact that the US is one of the very few countries that allows a single judge to officiate must change. In panel judging, individual preferences tend to be mitigated, and a more cohesive result usually occurs. The biggest beneficiaries are the riders, who have an extra set of eyes on their performances. My suggestion is to ask all judges, especially “r” and “R” judges, to make themselves available to show management at reduced rates in order to judge in panels. These judges will not only enjoy a great learning opportunity, but they will also will find it much easier to fulfill the annual judging requirements in order to move up the judging ladder. Panels would be excellent additions to unrecognized (schooling) shows, as

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the judge’s box

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a shot in the arm. FEI riders at CDIs have a huge advantage over our national riders by being able to compete in front of multiple, experienced judges. Our national riders should have the same advantage—and excellent judging will help to elevate more riders and horses to the top of the pyramid. s Axel Steiner is a retired FEI 5* dressage judge who judged at Olympic Games, Pan American Games, FEI World Cup Dressage Finals, and numerous other championships. He continues to judge national-level shows as a US Equestrian “S” and is also an active dressage clinician and commentator. A native of Germany, he immigrated to the US in 1961 and joined the US Air Force, from which he retired as a lieutenant colonel. He is a USDF founding member, a longtime faculty member of the USDF L program, and a former member of the USEF Dressage Committee. He lives in southern California with his wife, the equine photographer and artist Terri Miller.

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well—great practice for the L graduates and the “r” judges who judge most of these shows. I know that a collective howl just went up from every show manager in the country. And I fully understand. We do not want to overtax our show managers, as they are what keeps competitive dressage going in the country! Perhaps with some reduced judging fees and (please don’t shoot me) a small increase in entry fees— and with increased goodwill from riders and trainers—this might be possible. I realize that some managers are already doing this in a limited way. But we need many more to jump on this bandwagon. Our sport needs qualified judges at all levels. Our riders deserve the best evaluations, based on worldwide established standards, from multiple judges. Our elite riders and horses have improved greatly over the years, and our FEI dressage judges are on a par with their colleagues around the world. Now it is time to give our national sport

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George Williams USEF Dressage Youth Coach Internationally Respected Instructor and Trainer USDF Gold Medalist USDF Honorary Instructor

October 7-8, 2017 Stellar Stables, Parker, CO October 21-22, 2017 The Paddock Riding Club, Los Angeles, CA November 18-19, 2017 Hilltop Farm, Colora, MD

Jeremy Steinberg

2010-2014 USEF Dressage Youth Coach Internationally Respected Instructor and Trainer Recipient of the Fiona Baan “Pursuit of Excellence” Memorial Trophy and Albers Award

October 7-8, 2017 Timbach Farm, Depauw, IN

Charlotte Bredahl-Baker USEF Assistant Dressage Youth Coach Olympian FEI 4* Judge USDF Honorary Instructor

October 21-22, 2017 Carbery Fields Farm, Lebanon, CT

For more information on these and other clinics, visit www.usdf.org Auditors are welcome!

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American Dressage Legends: Lt. Col. Hans Moeller From early influence in California, this Austrian expatriate had a profound influence on judge training in America


ot all dressage pioneers in the US were American-born. A notable example is Lt. Col. Hans Moeller (1912-1986), who was inducted into the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame in 2000.

When Nazi Germany took over Austria during World War II, all Austrian military officers were made members of the German forces. As such, Moeller spent time in France and then on the Russian front. He was

EARLY VIPS: Lt. Col. Hans Moeller (second from left), then also director of studies at the American Dressage Institute, at the ADI’s opening in July 1971 at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY. Also pictured: Michael Handler; Col. Hans Handler, director of the Spanish Riding School (and Michael’s father); ADI founder Margarita “Migi” Serrell; former Spanish Riding School Oberbereiter Franz Rochowansky; M. Lockie Richards; and former SRS Bereiter Werner Platzer.

Born in a suburb of Vienna to a non-horsey family, Moeller entered the military after high school and ended up in the horse-drawn artillery. From 1936 to 1938, he attended the Austrian Army’s Institute for Riding Instructors near Vienna. There he became good friends with Hans Handler, a future director of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna.

later captured by US troops and sent to the States as a prisoner of war. He was released when the war ended and returned home to Austria in 1946. After the war, Moeller worked for the provincial government and with the Marshall Plan. In 1952, he married Joan, a student at the Spanish Riding School. The couple moved to the Chicago area, where Moeller went to work

20 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION


for an advertising agency. But soon the lure of horses and riding beckoned, and he accepted a position at Mills College Stables in Oakland, CA. According to the California Dressage Society (CDS)—of which Moeller was a founding member—when freeway development threatened the future of that equestrian facility, the Moellers relocated to Atherton, CA. From 1956 to 1960 Moeller was based at John Galvin’s Rancho San Fernando Rey in the Santa Ynez Valley. There he coached Galvin’s daughter, Patricia Galvin, who would go on to win America’s first international dressage gold medal at the 1959 Pan American Games, and to compete in the 1960 and 1964 Olympics. Moeller also trained the future 1968 Olympian (and fellow USDF Hall of Famer) Kyra Downton. In 1960 the Moellers moved one more time, to Los Altos Hills in the San Francisco Bay area. Moeller also helped to educate several young event riders, and he would go on to be a major supporter of the US Pony Clubs. Another of Moeller’s interests was the fledgling American Dressage Institute, a dressage training center headquartered in Saratoga Springs, NY. He was one of the ADI’s earliest clinicians, and he helped to bring fellow dressage masters Col. Hans Handler, Gustav Niblaeus, and Col. Bengt Ljungquist to the US. Also a respected judge, Moeller officiated at many US dressage championships and selection trials. In fact, one of his most significant areas of contribution to American dressage was in the area of judge education. He helped to develop CDS’s judgeeducation program and the first formal dressage judges’ forums. His curriculum incorporating substantial theoretical instruction was so successful that today it is an element of the USDF L Education Program. USDF salutes Lt. Col. Hans Moeller’s contributions to American dressage. Now, read a training article he penned for the California Dressage Society.


historical connection

Once More with Feeling By Hans Moeller Originally published in Dressage Letters, 1967

In dressage, the more one progresses, the more one realizes how much depends upon feeling. And herein lies the irony central both to learning dressage and to instructing others in the art. For feeling cannot be explained in any but its own unexplainable terms. Feeling must be experienced. All an instructor can do is say “That’s it!” when his pupil at last produces the sought-after response in the horse—and all a pupil can do is ask himself at that precise moment, “What do I feel—in my body; in my horse? At this precise moment when my instructor says ‘That’s it!’ what do I feel?” Nor is this as easy as it sounds, for to have one’s body under control and to be able to feel exactly where that control is, what has induced it, and what it in turn induces requires, first of all, relaxation. And relaxation, paradoxically, would seem in this connection to provide not a prerequisite for the accurate exercise of power, but a contradiction in terms. How difficult it is to relax! How difficult it is to “let it happen,” to do nothing, to absorb like a sponge the reaction to action, rather than, in an effort to feel, to stiffen against feeling. Relaxation. That is the key. Relaxation, Balance, Rhythm. These are the basic requirements for riding with feeling. Only a relaxed rider can expect a relaxed horse— and this is where the vicious cycle begins. For feeling is a reciprocal thing. A relaxed rider with a correct seat should feel the rhythmically swinging back of the relaxed horse, not the stiff and hollow back that a lack of relaxation produces. Again, feeling is reciprocal: the rider’s legs must feel the sides of the horse; the horse must feel and accept the rider’s leg aids.

Learn to feel—first at the halt: If one hind leg is left behind or the horse rests on one hind leg, the relaxed, feeling rider will actually have an urge to correct his seat, to shift his weight, for he will be aware of a lack of support on one side. Learn to feel—in motion: In stepping over poles on the ground, a rider should feel in his knees and in his thighs the reaching shoulder—the foreleg—of his horse. In the posting trot, the rider

should not have to discover with his eyes whether or not he is on the correct diagonal. It is a matter of balance, not vision; the rider should feel the correct diagonal—first in the corners, then on the circle, then on straight lines. The same is true at the canter. The rider should learn to feel the correct lead; he should not have to look for it. Learn to feel—with the hands: Learn to feel the horse’s mouth with an elastic, stretching contact. Remem-

Reprinted by permission of the California Dressage Society.

USDF CONNECTION • July/August 2017


historical connection ber that “on the bit” is not synonymous with forcing a horse’s head and neck into a given position, though the common misunderstanding of the term would have it so. Learn to feel—through the seat; through the legs; through the hands. Then learn to coordinate all three! And therein lies the greatest difficulty. For coordination of the feelings experienced through the seat, legs, and hands requires that at the same time those feelings are noted subjec-

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tively they be examined judiciously, objectively. Am I sitting correctly? Is my weight where it should be? What about my leg aids? Are they clear enough to be understood by my horse at his present stage of training? And my hands. Do they have the right kind and degree of contact? Or are my reins flopping? Or am I pulling on them? Only when a rider is able to feel and coordinate all this will he be able to take corrective action. The successful coordination of his feelings will enable a rider to discover the source of a given difficulty. Too often, for example, a rider will attempt corrections with his hands alone, failing to realize—because he has failed to coordinate, to examine, to judge his feelings—that the cause of his problem is in, say, the hindquarters. Again, only a rider who feels and can coordinate what he feels can take effective corrective action. He will know where his problem lies because he will consciously feel it—just as he will consciously feel and know when his


22 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

problem is solved. The same principle exists as in driving a car. If engine trouble develops, one does not attempt to repair the difficulty by going to work on the steering wheel. Why, then, attempt such contrary measures with the horse? And now, let’s try it again. Once more—with feeling! s

IN THE NEXT ISSUE • How to prepare your horse for a long journey • Don’t ruin your horse’s walk! Pitfalls and best practices • Leadership training for GMO boards

Become a Patron Support the US Dressage Finals by making a tax deductible gift. Patron gifts received by October 16, 2017 will be recognized in the event program, the yearbook issue of USDF Connection, and receive a commemorative gift of appreciation. Patron levels of giving are: • Platinum $2,500+ • Gold $1,000 - $2,499 • Silver $500 - $999 • Bronze $250 - $499

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Hospitality Sponsorship Opportunity Show your support to competitors and event staff as a US Dressage Finals Hospitality Sponsor! Hospitality Sponsors will receive valuable onsite exposure to over four hundred of the top competitors from around the country, as they compete at this showcase event. Hospitality Sponsorships are available starting at $1000. Hospitality Sponsors will receive exposure in the event program and through onsite signage at hospitality events throughout the week. Additionally, Hospitality Sponsors have the opportunity to include a promotional gift item in the competitor gift bags.

For more information about Hospitality or other sponsorship opportunities, contact:

Ross Creech rcreech@usdf.org (859) 971-7038 USDF CONNECTION • July/August 2017


all-breeds connection

This endangered breed, native to England, is a great choice for dressage if you can find one


riginating in the North Yorkshire area in northern England, the Cleveland Bay is named for its home region, Cleveland; and its color, bay with black points. With only around 900 known “Clevelands” in the world, the breed is

and communicate well, the CB is a quick learner. The breed loves the challenge of dressage and thrives on the discipline required. Physical late bloomers, CBs tend to remain sound longer than other horses of similar size. The breed’s quiet nature is a boon to amateur and child riders. The CB’s sensibility really shines in the show atmosphere, where it tends to stay calm and focused. Cleveland Bays you might know: The late part-bred gelding Arun Tor and rider Ferdi Eilberg represented Great Britain at the 1994 and 1998 FEI World Equestrian Games. In the US, the Texas-based part-bred gelding Adante’s Image, owned by Nancy RARE GEM: Tynedale St. Dominic, a purebred Cleveland Bay stallion Kretschmer, was owned by Suzanne Mohler (CA) and ridden by Rebecca Cushman (CA) the Cleveland Bay high-score breed officially classified as endangered. It is awards recipient at the 2016 US Dresbelieved to be England’s oldest horse sage Finals presented by Adequan®. breed. And the purebred mare Twinoaks The Cleveland Bay is a calm, Spinnaker, owned by Michael Wall, sensible individual that does not suffer is competing at Second Level in the fools gladly. Some call him stubborn Pacific Northwest. Both horses plan or difficult, but in fact he is tractable to move up to Third Level this year. and deliberate. Breed enthusiasts like The Cleveland Bay Horse Soto say that one can ask a CB to do ciety of North America: Cleveland anything, but one cannot make him Bays have been in North America do anything. If you understand this since the mid-nineteenth century,

24 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

with their population peaking in the 1890s. The Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America was founded in 1885. The CBHSNA maintains a free online breed census and a DNA depository for both pure- and partbreds, and produces several print publications. It is the only Cleveland Bay organization actively pursuing research, and it is a paying member of our national rare-breeds organization, The Livestock Conservancy. All-Breeds Awards offered: Top three placings, open performance categories. Top two placings, Dressage Sport Horse Breeding, Materiale, and Musical Freestyle. How to participate: At least one owner of the horse must be a current CBHSNA member in good standing. The horse must be enrolled in the CBHSNA’s dressage awards program. Although the horse may be registered with any organization, its registration paperwork must document at least one-eighth Cleveland Bay blood in the pedigree. Learn more: ClevelandBay.org or (817) 431-8775. s

A Celebration of Breeds


he “All-Breeds Connection” column spotlights a USDF All-Breeds awards program participating organization and the breed it represents. Information and photos are furnished by the registries. The USDF does not endorse or promote any breed or registry over another. The USDF All-Breeds awards program is designed to reward the accomplishments of specific breeds in dressage, with recognition offered at the USDF Salute Gala & Annual Awards Banquet, and in the annual yearbook issue of USDF Connection. For eligibility requirements and a list of current participating organizations, visit usdf.org / Awards / All-Breeds.


Breed of the Month: Cleveland Bay


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Nov. 9-12, 2017 • Kentucky Horse Park

featuring $75,000 in prize money $50,000 in US Dressage Finals Travel Grant Funds Available To help alleviate some of the financial burden for those traveling the greatest distances to the US Dressage Finals, USDF is making up to $50,000 in travel grant funds available to eligible competitors.


Four Important Steps and Deadlines 1. Declare - Complete a Declaration of Intent for each level and division for which the horse/rider combination may qualify.

2. Qualify at one of the Great American/USDF Regional Championships. 3. Nominate - Each US Dressage Finals horse/rider combination is required to complete the nomination (preliminary entry) process.

4. Enter US Dressage Finals Deadlines Regional Championship




Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Thursday, October 5, 2017


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Above deadlines are midnight in the time zone of the specified Regional Championship

Entry Closing Date is October 26, 2017 midnight Eastern Time Deadline for Alltech stabling priority is five days after the nomination deadline for each region. See Official Prize List for more information.

For additional qualifying, declaration, nomination, and entry information visit


JUGGLING SKILLS: Dedicated young dressage competitors have to learn to balance academics with riding

Schoolwork and showing aren’t an either/or decision. Here’s how some young dressage riders manage to excel in both the ring and the classroom while away from home. BY CATIE STASZAK

28 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION


Distance Learning



mily Smith put the final touches on a braid halfway up her horse’s neck and took a step back—not to admire her work, but to rush over to her computer. She had a last-minute assignment to submit to her University of Florida online class before getting back to her dressage-show preparations. “I try to piece in as much little bits of schoolwork as I can while I’m also taking care of the horses,” says Smith, 20, of Belmont, MA. “When it comes to the shows, it’s much more difficult because it’s not such a steady schedule. Those tend to lead to more late nights to try to get assignments in on time, or I’m rushing to get an assignment in before quickly braiding my horse or getting on!” Smith, who recently completed her second year of studies as a computer-science and engineering major, is one of a special breed of young dressage rider: the serious competitor who is juggling away-from-home showing with schoolwork. Smith rode on the USDF Region 8 Young Rider team at the 2015 FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC), and she competed for the USA on the FEI Young Rider team at the 2017 Florida International Youth Dressage Championships in March. When USDF Connection caught up with her, she was conducting her studies in Wellington, FL, during the 10-week wintertime Adequan Global Dressage Festival while training, caring for, and competing her two horses, including her top mount, Dublin. “I’ve been coming down to Florida for three years,” Smith says. “I took a gap year between high school and college, and then I kind of got the bug for Wellington.” Smith—who aspires to work for NASA, SpaceX, or a big data company—spent her first semester of college at UF’s campus in Gainesville in the fall of 2015. Since then, she’s opted to take online classes exclusively, to give her the flexibility to pursue her riding goals. “I’m very lucky that the University of Florida offers an online option for a lot of its courses,” Smith says, “so I can do a lot of my prerequisites and general-education classes and some of the beginning classes for my major online. It allows for much more flexibility.” Many young equestrians face similar challenges to Smith’s. Florida in particular draws numerous high-school and college students who are training and competing on the winter dressage and hunter/jumper show circuits, and all have to find ways to crack the books when they’re not in the saddle. For this article, we looked at how some students balance riding with long-distance learning, and we got advice and recommendations from educators who serve this niche market.

ALWAYS LEARNING: College student and young rider Emily Smith competes at the 2017 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (FL) aboard her Hanoverian gelding, Dublin (by Desperados)

Get an Education! The lure of a career as a dressage professional might tempt some young people to abandon school altogether. That’s a big mistake, says dressage trainer and USDF FEI Junior/Young Rider Committee chair Roberta Williams, of Wellington, FL. She and her husband, George (the current USDF president and an international competitor and trainer who’s also the US Equestrian national dressage youth coach), encourage their young clients (including Smith, who trains with George Williams) to pursue an education, regardless of riding level or ability. “Education is important, period,” says Roberta Williams. “I always advocate that these kids go to college and get a degree because I really, truly believe in it. I think that they need to have a backup plan. You don’t make as much money in dressage as you do in jumping. We win six-dollar ribbons. Jumpers win $10,000 purses. It’s a hard life in dressage.” The high-school and college students who travel to Florida and elsewhere to train and compete have many educational options available to them. Some dis-enroll USDF CONNECTION

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from school for the season and work with tutors. Some, like Smith, enroll in full-time online academic programs. Combination programs using a blend of educational methods, such as tutoring and online schooling, work for some. The real road warriors remain in school at home full-time and travel to the shows on weekends. As Roberta Williams points out, not every option works for every student. The freedom afforded by taking classes online can be too unstructured for some. “I see a lot of kids who get down [to Wellington] and think they’re going to be able to maintain their workload for school, and they can’t do it,” she says. “Pretty soon they start floundering, and then we have a kid who doesn’t have the skills to right the ship. They start getting upset, and then you have family problems because the parents are standing there saying, ‘Well, we thought you said you were doing your homework,’ and the kid is lost.”

Hire a Guide: Tutoring Smith, for one, works with a private tutor to help keep herself on track with her studies. The two don’t meet in person but instead video-conference using the communications app Skype. Many educational companies have realized the demand for their expertise in this niche market, and several equestrian-geared tutoring services have sprung up at both the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and the nearby hunter/ jumper-oriented Winter Equestrian Festival. There are so many, in fact, that it’s a challenge to sort through the options.

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The “New School” Joanne Weiner is not an equestrian, but equestrians love her. Weiner began offering private tutoring in 1989 out of her art studio in Boca Raton, FL. Today she’s the founding and executive director of the Palm Beach International Acad-


BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Danielle Cooper came up through the hunter/jumper ranks as a junior. Now she owns and operates Grand Prix Tutoring, which caters to young equestrians.

Roberta Williams has referred many of her young clients to Grand Prix Tutoring, founded by 26-year-old Danielle Cooper. A former grand prix show jumper who juggled her own schoolwork with riding as a youth, Cooper went on to study math at New York University. Six years ago, after a colleague in the educational field recommended that she start tutoring, Cooper began her new career and started her own company last year. Grand Prix Tutoring employs about 10 tutors, some in Wellington and Ocala, FL (another winter equestrian hotbed), and others scattered throughout the country who work online. According to Cooper, the company works with about 30 students either face-to-face or online via e-mail, Skype, FaceTime, and other video technologies. “It’s more of a personal operation than a huge corporation,” says Cooper. “We have great relationships with the students, and we really focus on personalizing how we help our students and the structure and support for them.” Champion Jr/YR Bronwyn Cordiak, 19, of Dallas, TX, was a student of Cooper’s during the 2015 and 2016 winter seasons. Cordiak opted to temporarily dis-enroll from her home high school, Ursuline Academy of Dallas, a Catholic college-preparatory high school for girls. She’s now a prebusiness major at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. “We ended up being able to have Danielle work with my school,” Cordiak says. “They would send everything to her, so I wouldn’t have to communicate with school. She was in charge, and she talked to my counselor and got my tests through that, and she would administer them. I worked with her, and she made it really easy.” At times, making it easy for her pupil involved Cooper’s going to great lengths. “I took Mandarin Chinese in high school, so Danielle was able to find a teacher at a nearby high school in Florida who came once a week to work with me,” Cordiak recalls. “She found that teacher, and that teacher was even using the same textbook that I was using at my high school, so it worked just about perfectly.” “We weren’t completely sure what to expect [of tutoring] because we’d never done it,” says Bronwyn’s mother, Kristin Cordiak. “She graduated magna cum laude last year, so it clearly worked well. She did it her junior and senior years, and she got into the university that she was really interested in going to.”


emy, which she describes as the “new school.” PBIA, with bases in Wellington, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach, combines online schooling through accredited distancebased learning programs with a one-on-one instruction model, as well as “small group” studies and enrichment for elementary- and middle-school students. PBIA offers both full-time and seasonal programs as well as a university-level program, summer and springtime camps, college counseling, and standardized test prep. “We’re kind of like a one-stop shop,” Weiner says of her operation. With a staff of about 125 tutors and 25 employees and administrators, PBIA serves 100 full-time students and another 100 to 125 during the winter show season. The seasonal students may choose to bring work from their home schools or to take the academy’s own courses. “I would say we work with about 30 or 40 schools from around the country during season,” Weiner says. “We have about 10 different programs that we work with for our highschool diploma program, and then we have four or five universities that are degree-granting universities, and we have over 800 courses on a university level.” PBIA’s structure, as Weiner puts it, is “non-structure.” Students attend school a minimum of four days a week for one of two shifts—morning or afternoon—depending on their riding or show schedules. During that time, they spend 30 to 45 minutes in a tutorial and 15 to 30 minutes receiving reinforcement for each subject. “You can go to school for five solid hours, and you’re done,” Weiner says. “You don’t have to go to school for nine hours and then have four hours of homework. Who wants to do that? Our program is about 20 hours a week. We have five subjects, four hours a day. Then we also try to give the students, especially the high-school students, a subject that they do on their own so they’re learning independently.” PBIA is open to all students, not just riders—Weiner counts tennis players, golfers, hockey players, and kids who just seek an alternative learning method among her clientele—but the program has definitely found its niche in the equestrian market. “I think equestrians do one-on-one very well because they are interested, motivated, focused people, and I think that our program has worked around them, as well,” Weiner says. “[A traditional school model] just doesn’t fit for who they are. We understand it. You might be on a horse for an extra hour, so classes don’t have to start exactly as planned.” The flexibility doesn’t mean that PBIA’s program isn’t academically rigorous, however. Weiner says her goal has always been to prepare students to succeed in college and be-

THE RIGHT MOVE: Young rider Bronwyn Cordiak’s work with Grand Prix Tutoring paid off: She’s now a student at her first-choice college, Texas Christian University

yond. As evidence, she points to two current high-achieving dressage-riding clients: Juan Matute Jr., 19, a winner of the Under 25 Grand Prix at Aachen and a bronze medalist at the European Under 25 Championships (he rides for his native Spain); and Helen Claire McNulty, 17, a young rider with aspirations to attend an Ivy League college and eventually to work on Wall Street. “The flexibility is key,” said Matute, who now calls Wellington home. He graduated from high school this spring and planned to begin an online college program. “We all know how demanding riding and days at the barn can be: It’s not really like working in an office, when you know when you’re going to come in and the exact time you’re going to be leaving. For your tutors to have planned your schedule to fit your riding, and to be able to do both things at the same time, is really important for us riders, especially for someone like me. I want to be a rider in the future and have it be my profession, but I also want to pursue a degree and an education. It’s very important for me to keep both priorities.” As McNulty tells it, she’d spent “two or three” winter seasons in Wellington before her entire family decided to move there permanently, relocating last July from Holland, MI. It was a win-win in terms of both academics and dressage, she says. “I came from a very small town, and the [dressage] training options were not so great, and the school I went to was pretty bad. Being here, I have the opportunity to take great classes and really excel, because I want to get into a top university. At my old school, I couldn’t do that. No Advanced Placement classes were offered—nothing. It just made the most sense.” [ USDF CONNECTION

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over it because I’m also interested in politics and history and the whole current-events theme, so maybe I’ll aim toward something in public health.” “In this school, there are so many electives,” adds fulltime PBIA high-school junior Natalia Bacariza, 15, who’s based in Wellington but rode for Spain on the FEI Junior team at this year’s Florida International Youth Dressage Championships. “They are open to so many electives that other schools aren’t. At a normal school, I don’t think I’d be able to take psychology or business as an elective—it’s normally just art or drama—and you’d only be able to pick [a few]. Here, I can take as many as I want. I’ll take those over the summer and, depending on which I like better, I’ll study that more.”

BRAG BOOK: The Palm Beach (FL) International Academy posted this photo on Facebook of student Juan Matute Jr. (center), who hit the books with tutors Deb Coleman and Shelly Mayes within an hour of winning the FEI Grand Prix CDI 4* March 16 at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival

PBIA students also profess that the school has helped them develop clearer career interests. If a student is interested in a subject that PBIA doesn’t offer, the staff will find the class at another institution and move it into the student’s transcript. “Coming here and being able to take harder courses and expand on my learning has helped me see what I really want to do,” says Mathilda von Guttenberg, 15, of Greenwich, CT, a seasonal high-school sophomore who rides both dressage and hunter seat. “I take education very seriously next to my riding, and this school has helped me further my goals and really see what I’m interested in. I’m very interested in genetics and medical engineering—the whole science field. I’m a little torn

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Although the equestrian lifestyle can make academics more challenging, being a serious dressage athlete usually means that a young rider possesses the strong-willed, laser-focused mentality necessary to succeed. “Dressage riders are really dedicated across the board— riding and schoolwork,” says Cooper. “I think that’s because dressage is so detail-oriented, so they apply that to their schoolwork also.” Riding dressage “enhances your ability to focus, without a doubt,” says Matute. “It’s a discipline that encourages you to pursue perfection—even though perfection doesn’t really exist, because it comes in a variety of ways. But still, it helps you focus and gets your priorities set, and you understand that there’s no time to waste. You put all your effort into whatever it is that you’re doing, and you get it done.” “In the old days, if you really wanted to take equestrian sport seriously, you couldn’t go to school,” Weiner says. “There were certainly programs [available], but they weren’t of a high academic nature. I really feel like we started something fantastic in the world of education, thanks to the generosity of our equestrian families. We satisfied their needs for what they needed for their lifestyle, and as a result, we’ve created something that is taking off.” s

Catie Staszak is a host, reporter, and show-jumping analyst, leading broadcasts around the globe and writing stories along the way. When she’s not working, she’s pursuing her own competitive goals in the saddle and spending time with her retired horse, who’s now 23.


Focused on Success

Juggling 101: A Dressage Rider’s Guide to Academic Success



ind a strong support system. “If you’re not surrounded by people who take your schoolwork seriously, then you will have a hard time taking your schoolwork seriously,” says dressage competitor and University of Florida student Emily Smith. “It’s really important that you talk with your trainer and that they understand that school is important. I’m lucky to have [trainers] George and Roberta [Williams], and they’re very supportive of my schoolwork, and it makes it much easier.” Maintain a designated study space. “Learn to block horses out while you’re in school, whether that’s going to your car or physiNICHES FOR LEARNING: Tutors and students work in inviting “spaces” at the Palm Beach cally leaving the barn and going International Academy to the library,” Smith advises. “You’re still in your breeches, to have one notebook or binder per subject to keep and you’re only five minutes down the road, but just everything organized. Sometimes students try to fit changing the scenery makes such a big difference.” everything into one folder, especially if they’re flying. Stay in touch with your school back home. They’re trying to save space, and that just creates a “Stay in communication with your teachers, or have bit of a mess.” your tutor stay in communication with your teachers,” Get ahead whenever you can. “If you have says Grand Prix Tutoring founder Danielle Cooper. any time where you’re not doing anything, try to “Have someone who’s organizing the work.” get yourself ahead, even if it’s only by a week, bePut goals and deadlines in writing. “We use cause you never know what’s going to come up the pace charts a lot: a list of the weeks and what you’re next week,” advises Jae Mackie, 18, of Stevensville, going to complete each week, what assignments MI, a recent high-school graduate who studied need to be done that week,” says Cooper. “Usually an through the Michigan Virtual School while participatassignment book is [organized] daily, but you really ing in Dressage4Kids’ Winter Intensive Program in need to have the broader targets also. Organization is Wellington in 2016. key.” Don’t go it alone. If you opt for an online-only “Each week,” advises Texas Christian University program, supplement it with a tutor. student Bronwyn Cordiak, “look at what you have, “The down side of online schooling,” says whether it’s just training or a clinic or a show, and try Mackie’s mom, Alloyd Blackmon, “is that a lot of kids to see where you can fit in schoolwork. If you have then think they’ve got more than enough time to get exams, see what days work best for you during the caught up—but that’s really not the case because the show schedule.” more you get behind, it just compounds over time.” Lighten the load (literally). If you’re a commuter, Write it down. “Take notes, take notes, take instead of lugging textbooks, snap photos of the notes,” says Mackie. “So much is going on that you’ll pages you need. forget what you did two days ago. You got to meet “I’ve seen students fly back and forth [from home Steffen Peters or Robert Dover, and you’re like, ‘Oh to the show circuit] with five or six textbooks, and my gosh, what did I just learn in math?’ That hapit’s just challenging,” says Cooper. “It’s also helpful pened a couple times!”


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r e n i a t r e t En

a age aren s s e r d e e in th her plac he beginning d n u o f ens ly t ire Steph e, but that’s on la C a m Em ng ag at a you N C KS N BR I

IN THE LIMELIGHT: 12-year-old Emma Claire Stephens and De Nouvelle Vie won the FEI Children’s team and individual tests at the 2017 Shoofly Farm CDI, Katy, TX, in April

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mma Claire Stephens has spent most of her life in the spotlight. She started taking acting classes at the age of five, which eventually led to accepting roles in theater productions, TV commercials, and print ads. A talented singer and guitarist, she has performed the national anthem at the Lone Star Horse Park in Arlington, TX, before a night of horse racing. But for all of that, Stephens shines brightest in the dressage arena. At the age of 10, she became the youngest person in USDF history to earn her bronze medal, and at 11 she earned her silver. Last year, she received The Dressage Foundation’s Cynthia Aspden Youth Development Fund Grant—nearly $1,000 to help with her training.

Bitten by the Dressage Bug The Midlothian, TX, girl climbed on her first horse around the age of eight—bareback, bareheaded, and on a barely trained horse, she recalls. “I’d have a heart attack now!” mom Jennifer Stephens says of her daughter’s escapade. “She came home and said, ‘I want to take horseback-riding lessons.’ I didn’t even know where to start.” The family found a nearby Western stable, and Stephens began taking lessons. Soon, however, she found she preferred English riding, and the Stephenses found a mare for their daughter to jump. But then they discovered that the horse had a bone chip in her shoulder and was no longer a suitable jumping candidate—which was just fine with Stephens. “It really scared me,” she admits. “I’m not a fan of heights. I wasn’t going that high—maybe 18 inches—but it felt really high. When I tried dressage, it was like, all four feet are on the ground, I’m good!” In May 2014, the young equestrian made her dressage show-ring debut, riding Introductory Level tests aboard a 2001 Thoroughbred mare named Sweet Sissy Slew (Seattle Bound – Baby Sweets). That same year, the pair competed at Training Level at the Great American/USDF Region 9 Championships.


Stepping Stones to Silver Stephens’ next dressage mount was Tango, a 2001 Arabian cross (King of Hearts – Sheba). The gelding was a low-level schoolmaster who took her through First Level before he was sidelined with a knee surgery. In 2015, Persona Grata, a 1997 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Cocktail – Candy) who had competed through Grand Prix, kicked Stephens’ riding up a notch. As she learned

FIRST FEI HORSE: With the late Persona Grata (“Moose”), with whom she earned her USDF bronze and silver medals

“Moose’s” buttons she moved rapidly up through the levels, earning both her USDF bronze and silver medals that same year. Going for gold looked like a possibility by 2017 when, sadly, Moose died after a colic episode. “I know how to do things because Moose taught me so much,” Stephens says of her schoolmaster. “He could read your mind.” In 2016, Moose was recovering from tie-back surgery, so the Stephenses began hunting for a younger horse for the future. With the help of Olympian and Dressage4Kids founder Lendon Gray, Stephens tried De Nouvelle Vie (Vivaldi – Issandra) at a five-day clinic. Unsure that “Vivi” was the right horse, the family kept on looking—but “Every single horse [I tried], I asked, was he as good as Vivi.” She was attracted to the 2008 Dutch Warmblood gelding’s maturity and personality. At the clinic where she tried him, she recalls, someone opened an umbrella just as she USDF CONNECTION

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and Vivi rode by, and the gelding barely shied. “My horses have always been spooky, like, ‘Oh, my gosh, a squirrel ran by, I’m going to die!’ That was one of the reasons I was really drawn [to Vivi],” she says. And “No one’s ever going to be as sweet as him, that’s for sure.” With the help of a sponsor, the Dallas-based law firm Sifford, Anderson & Co., PC, Vivi joined the Stephens family. (Stephens is also sponsored by Precision Joint Solution and by County Saddlery.)

Mentors When she first switched from Western riding to dressage, Stephens had difficulty finding a local trainer to work with on a consistent basis. At home, mom Jennifer Stephens— who isn’t an equestrian—serves as her daughter’s eyes on the ground. A former gymnastics coach and judge, she helps Emma Claire with the mechanics of body awareness and movement. “I don’t tell her how to hold her hands or anything like that,” Jennifer Stephens says. “I more just tell her things

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Finding Words When Stephens was very young, her parents noticed some extraordinary things about their daughter. Her intelligence was obvious: She was reading long books and acing quizzes on them. But she couldn’t play matching games to save her life. She struggled in settings like school, where the atmo-


SILVER MEDALIST: Stephens receives her medal at the 2016 USDF Salute Gala & Annual Awards Banquet from USDF executive director Stephan Hienzsch

I can see from the ground, like ‘A little straighter in the haunches,’ and I ask her what she’s feeling and then ask her how to fix that. “She’s never been in full training,” Jennifer Stephens continues. “Sometimes we’d go do one lesson a month, and then I would just help her on the ground, taking what I’ve learned at lessons or clinics. Her mind just works that way and has the ability to do that. She’s a very smart child. She’s got amazing timing and feel with the horses.” But when Vivi arrived, the family decided that it was time to find a regular trainer to make sure the new team could reach its full potential. They turned to Berndt von Hassler, head trainer at Proud Meadows in Waxahachie, TX. “He’s helping me train the horse,” Emma Claire Stephens says. “I didn’t want to put Vivi in a training program; I wanted to do it all myself, but I realized I needed help training him before I can train an eight-year-old by myself.” She says she appreciates von Hassler’s high standards and the way he challenges her while being respectful and compassionate to the horses. “In our test lesson, I was very surprised that Emma Claire was so open,” says von Hassler. “A lot of times it’s a question of relationship between a trainer and a student. When you have a first lesson with someone, you need to figure out if you can get this relationship.” With 45 years of equestrian experience—he earned his Berufsreitlehrer’s (master trainer/instructor) license in his native Germany before joining Proud Meadows in 2008— von Hassler usually teaches adult riders. But he says he was impressed with Stephens’ open-mindedness and work ethic, as well as her realistic expectations about her new partnership with Vivi. “I really appreciate that they made this decision and are not expecting for me to push them,” von Hassler says. “For me, pushing is negative. It needs to be developed in a positive way—that they both have fun, the rider has fun. You have to bring it together and then try to improve it. So do that at a lower level, and try to improve it, then increase it, and then go up to higher levels instead of over-challenging them.”

sphere could be noisy with multiple conversations happening at once. And although she was reading far above her grade level, she found it difficult to read aloud in class. Eventually Stephens was diagnosed with spatial processing disorder and auditory processing disorder, both learning disabilities that make it difficult for an affected person to focus on and comprehend auditory information, especially in noisy settings. As Stephens explains, school “wasn’t a great environment for me to be in, so we started home-schooling.” Even now, when it’s just her and her mom on opposite sides of a desk, “sometimes I have to let it be quiet for a second, take a deep breath, and then answer questions one at a time.” Depending on how things are phrased, Stephens can find it challenging to comprehend others’ statements. People close to her have learned to put things in what they refer to as “Emma Claire words.” “Sometimes [my mom will] say something: ‘You have to do this, this, and this.’ And I’ll just be like, wait, what does that mean? And then she’ll say it differently so I’ll understand.” Jennifer Stephens knows to give dressage clinicians and trainers a heads-up—that “She’s listening, but if she doesn’t understand, just try to say it in a different way. Like, if you tell her [to ride] letter to letter, she can do it. But if you were to say ‘Go down the long side,’ her brain doesn’t process that.”


Different Kinds of Stages Stephens has proven comfortable in the dressage spotlight, but that’s not the only way she publicly showcases her talents. At the age of five, to help her with her learning disabilities, her parents signed her up for an acting class. Although the endeavor started as a just-for-fun undertaking, Stephens showed an affinity for the entertainment world. She began singing and playing guitar, and she’s worked in TV commercials, promotional videos, and musical theater, among others. (She even has an agent.) “I love country and pop,” says Stephens. “My dad is so into rock, and now that I’m older and understand rock, he’s brought me into the rock world. I’ve been to Kiss, L.A. Guns [a forerunner of the better-known hard-rock band Guns N’ Roses], and Alice Cooper, and those are some of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.” Says mom Jennifer: “She does so well in dressage because of the rhythm and tempo; it’s all a metronome in her mind. That’s been really helpful.” Not surprisingly, “She’s done three different musical freestyles, and she does really well with them.” For the time being, although Emma Claire still sings and

PARTNERS: With help from trainer Berndt von Hassler, Stephens and “Vivi” have become a winning team

plays guitar regularly, acting has taken a back seat to dressage. The youngster, who turns 13 this August, aspires to compete at Grand Prix and, like many young riders, dreams of someday riding in the Olympic Games. No young rider achieves success in dressage without support. Besides the efforts of Jennifer Stephens, Joe Stephens, himself a former rider, attends as many of his daughter’s dressage shows as he can, when his busy schedule as a high-school English teacher permits. Stephens says she recognizes how fortunate she is to have a family that’s helping her to reach for her dreams. “For Christmas, my dad got us t-shirts that say Team Stephens on the front. On the back it says Flying Moose Ranch, which is what we want to call our ranch. It’s not just about me; it’s about the whole family.” Dressage world, look out: Stephens may be rocking an arena near you soon. s A former staff reporter for The Chronicle of the Horse and the American Paint Horse Association, Megan Brincks lives in Midland, TX, where she works at a local community college. She’s spent time in almost every kind of saddle over the years and continues to ride as often as possible. USDF CONNECTION

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Opportunities USDF offers much more than Jr/YR clinics. Discover our full roster of youth programs.

TAKE IT FROM THE TOP: Olympian and US Equestrian assistant youth coach Charlotte Bredahl-Baker visits with young dressage enthusiasts during a USDF Junior/Young Rider Clinic

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Our children are 20 percent of our population, but 100 percent of our future. —Richard Riley, former US Secretary of Education


lthough Riley’s quote is about the US education system, it can also be applied to the youth members of USDF. Youths constitute a small percentage of USDF’s total membership—at the end of 2016, there were 17,564 participating members and only 1,965 youth participating members—but unless young dressage enthusiasts remain involved in the sport and the organization as they move into adulthood, American dressage will be sorely lacking in both athletes and leadership. The USDF mission statement is “Dedicated to education, recognition of achievement, and promotion of dressage.” Youth programs, which are key components of the USDF Education Department, help develop youth members into competent riders and the sport’s leaders of tomorrow. These programs include educational opportunities, awards and recognition, scholarships and grants, and competitions. Here’s an overview of what the USDF has to offer.

Educational Opportunities


USDF’s educational programs are aimed not just at teaching young people to ride better, but also at introducing them to other aspects of the equine industry and at helping to prepare them for a future in the dressage community. For the aspiring dressage pro. The USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program targets those young adults who are transitioning from the YR ranks to the professional world of teaching, training, managing a dressage business, and possibly international competition. This biennial program, which is designed for USDF members between the ages of 20 and 28, is a weekend classroom seminar focusing on topics of interest to those planning a career in the equine industry. The Dressage Foundation and US Equestrian provide funding support.  Mark your calendar: January 13-14, 2018, West Palm Beach, FL. For the sport-horse enthusiast. USDF has developed a program for youth and young adults to gain sporthorse-related education at some of the nation’s top breeding farms. These seminars, held over two days, incorporate aspects of mare and stallion management, the handling and training of foals and young horses, judging conformation and movement, and showing horses in hand.  Mark your calendar: Check the USDF website for upcoming opportunities in 2018. For the FEI-level junior or young rider. The USDF Junior/Young Rider Clinic Series offers exceptional opportunities for Jr/YRs to work with such top instructor/ trainers as George Williams, Charlotte Bredahl-Baker,

Anne Gribbons, and Jeremy Steinberg. Each clinic consists of two days of private lessons, theory sessions, and auditing.  Mark your calendar: The next Jr/YR clinic will be in Region 5 (Parker, CO), October 7-8, 2017, with George Williams.

TOMORROW’S PROS: 2016 USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program participants group photo

TOP INSTRUCTION: Olympian and USDF Jr/YR clinic instructor Charlotte Bredahl-Baker works with Molly O’Brien on Telurico

For the kid who’s getting started. The newest USDF youth program is the USDF Youth Outreach Clinics. The goal of this program is to introduce our “grass roots” USDF youth members who are dedicated dressage riders but not

Did You Know?


any of USDF’s educational programs, including the Junior/Young Rider Clinics, are open to auditors—of all ages, not just youth members. To learn more about auditing opportunities, visit usdf.org and click on the Education tab.


July/August 2017


yet competing at the FEI level to the USDF “youth pipeline” and associated opportunities. Youth Outreach Clinics, which are held in conjunction with USDF’s Jr/YR clinics, offer a glimpse into the FEI and Jr/YR level of instruction and riding. Participants receive private lessons with the Youth Outreach Clinic instructor and also audit the rides and participate in the theory sessions of the Jr/YR Clinic.  Mark your calendar: Watch the Youth Outreach Clinics page on the USDF website (under the Education tab) for listings of upcoming events.

Everyone likes to be recognized for outstanding achievements. USDF is pleased to be able to offer some special opportunities for recognition and awards to our youth members, who never fail to impress us! For all-around achievers. The Youth Dressage Rider Recognition Pin Program was introduced in 2015. This program encourages youth members to participate in activities “outside the ring.” Earning a pin requires a GPA of at least 2.5, 16 hours of equine education, and 20 hours of volunteer service (not restricted to equine activities) as well as riding scores. This program proved quite popular in its first year, with 32 youth members qualifying to receive pins.  Mark your calendar: The program year runs from July 1 to June 30. For exceptional sportsmanship. The Shining Star Award acknowledges those youth members who have exemplified “going above and beyond” the sportsmanship that is expected of all youth. The USDF Youth Programs Committee defines good sportsmanship as including the traits of courage, good judgment, integrity, kindness, respect, perseverance, responsibility, and self-discipline. Shining Star Award nominations must be based on one specific outstanding act of sportsmanship witnessed.  Mark your calendar: Nominations may be made at any time. Find the nomination form on the USDF website under the Youth tab. For outstanding volunteerism. The prestigious national USDF Youth Volunteer of the Year award recognizes a USDF youth member who demonstrates a commitment to USDF’s mission through exceptional volunteer effort and dedication. Any current USDF participating or group member may nominate a deserving youth for this award. Nominees must be current USDF youth members.  Mark your calendar: Nomination deadline is August 31.

40 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

YOUTH VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: 2016 honoree Sophia Chavonelle (left) with USDF youth committee reps Roz Kinstler and Roberta Williams, and USDF Youth Programs Advisory Subcommittee chair Catherine Chamberlain

For national-level sportsmanship and promotion of equestrian sport. USDF youth participating members may apply for the USDF nomination for the US Equestrian Youth Sportsman’s Award. The Youth Sportsman’s Award was designed by equestrian sports’ US national governing body, US Equestrian, to help develop leaders in the equine industry from all the US Equestrian breeds and disciplines, including dressage. Each year, the USDF puts forward a nominee for this national award, which annually honors a US Equestrian junior member who demonstrates an ongoing commitment and dedication to both US Equestrian and the breed or discipline affiliate organization through their promotion of the horse. In 2016, the USDF national nominee, Brianna Relucio (CA), was named the reserve overall winner of the US Equestrian Youth Sportsman’s Award.  Mark your calendar: Apply to the USDF by September 5. For artists and Pony Clubbers. In addition to the programs I’ve mentioned, the USDF offers youth members the opportunity to participate in the annual USDF Arts Contest and to earn US Pony Clubs/USDF Dressage Recognition Awards.  Mark your calendar: Arts contest entry deadline is July 1. USPC/USDF awards application deadline is November 15 (submit to the USPC national office).

Scholarships and Grants Two USDF programs offer financial assistance to deserving youth members who seek to further their dressage educations. For future dressage leaders. The Youth Convention Scholarship program encourages USDF youth participating members to attend the Adequan®/USDF Annual


Awards and Recognition

Convention. Each year, as many as four scholarships of up to $1,000 each may be awarded, to help defray the expenses associated with attending the convention. Recipients must each write an essay about the experience. Past recipients agree that the convention experience is memorable not only for the education, but also for the new friends they made.  Mark your calendar: Application deadline is August 31. For Shining Stars. The Ravel Education Grants were developed as part of the USDF Shining Star Award program (described above). All USDF Shining Star Award recipients who are current USDF participating members are eligible to apply for these grants, which may be used to cover expenses associated with attending an educational dressage event of the winner’s choice. Up to four $500 Ravel Education Grants may be awarded each year.  Mark your calendar: Those eligible to apply will receive a letter and an application form (due September 30) from the USDF office.

Competitions For team players. Youth Regional Team Competitions are open to anyone age 21 and under riding between Introductory Level and Grand Prix. These competitions feature

Excellence in Equitation


he purpose of the USEF/USDF Dressage Seat Medal Program is to promote and reward correct seat, position, and use of aids in dressage for youth riders. There are two ways a competitor can qualify for the USDF Dressage Seat Medal SemiFinals: by earning one qualifying score of 70% or above in any open Dressage Seat Equitation class, or by qualifying for the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championships. The SemiFinals are split into two age divisions: 13 and under, and 14 through 18. Riders may compete in any region, and the qualifying period for the Semi-Finals is August 1, 2016 through July 31, 2017. Riders placing in the top two in the Semi-Finals are automatically invited to the Finals. The 2017 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals will take place at the Lamplight Equestrian Center on August 24-27.

an educational component as well as fun team-based activities, such as stall decorating and costumes.  Mark your calendar: Check the USDF events calendar (online at usdf.org) for dates. [


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For equitation enthusiasts. The USEF/USDF Dressage Seat Medal Program encourages excellence in equitation and strives to develop a solid foundation for future success in the international dressage arena. To qualify for the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals, riders must compete at a USDF Dressage Seat Medal Semi-Finals, held at a Great American/USDF Regional Championships. The top two from each of two age divisions receive invitations to the Finals.  Mark your calendar: The 2017 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals will be held August 24-27 in Wayne, IL. SemiFinals held at this year’s Great American/USDF Regional Championships will serve as qualifiers for the 2018 Finals.

NAJYRC WINNERS: 2016 Young Rider Individual dressage medalists Rachel Robinson (silver), Nicholas Hansen (gold), and Lexy Donaldson (bronze)

For FEI juniors and young riders. Top juniors and young riders from the North Americas strive to qualify for their annual continental championships, the Adequan®/ FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North. In dressage, US riders take part in the USDF North American Junior and Young Rider Dressage Championships portion of the NAJYRC, which also offers competition in the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) disciplines of eventing, jumping, paraequestrian dressage, reining, and endurance.

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 Mark your calendar: The 2017 NAJYRC dressage competition will be held July 18-23 in Saugerties, NY. Check the USDF website for rules and information about the 2018 qualifying period.

Get Involved! We encourage our youth members, their coaches, and our local USDF leaders to check out all of these programs. The USDF would love to see even more participation in its youth programs, as we feel they definitely add to the development of our future leaders. For more information about USDF’s youth programs, visit usdf.org or contact the youth-programs liaison at youth@ usdf.org or (859) 971-2277. s Jan Scarbrough is a USDF senior education coordinator. Podcast Alert


Listen to episode 158, the Youth Special Edition, with Adrienne Lyle, Catherine Chamberlain, and Christine Traurig at usdf.podbean.com.

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July/August 2017


OFF TO A GOOD START: The writer rides Caravaggio, owned by Delinda Ruffino, at the 2017 USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum

Building Blocks to Success Top-class training, community spirit highlight the USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum BY KATELYN KOK

44 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

from Region 9. With a weekend full of lungeing demonstrations, in-hand work, and lots of riding, it was easy to walk away with a notebook full of thoughts and a new perspective. (Learn more about the presenters in “Give Your Horse the Right Start,” May.)

The Takeaways Both Arts and Bragdell focused on the importance of a forward-moving young horse that pushes forward to a light contact with the bit. They emphasized making corrections in a forward manner; taking the time to establish balance, straightness, and scope within each horse’s limits; and set-



he 2017 USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum was held May 13-14 at the beautiful Isabella Farms in Cypress, TX, with support from the Houston Dressage Society. The forum addressed many aspects of a young horse’s path from field to successful FEI dressage prospect, and all the hiccups in between. I was fortunate to be chosen as a demonstration rider, and in this report I’ll share highlights of the event. The presenters, Hilltop Farm (MD) head trainer Michael Bragdell and DG Bar Ranch (CA) head trainer Willy Arts, shared their knowledge with an attentive group of auditors and the 10 demonstration horse/rider combinations, all



he USDF thanks the demonstration riders, horse owners, volunteers, and others who helped make the 2017 Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum a success. Isabella Farms Houston Dressage Society Erin Bell-Altman, Bulverde, TX, riding her own I Rose’s Bloom Bonnie Canter, Hockley, TX, riding her own Shakira 467 Erika-West Danque, Willis, TX, riding Lucca, owned by Sally-Jo Dalton and bred by Oak Hill Ranch LLC Cynthia Hall, Houston, TX, riding her own Sovereign WS and Churchill WS, both bred by Janice Graham Marquardt Katelyn Kok, Rockwell, TX, riding Caravaggio, owned and bred by Delinda Ruffino John Mason, Conroe, TX, riding Ion SWF, owned and bred by Mary Nuttall Regina Milliken, Folsom, LA, riding Oliveira, owned by Richard Freeman and bred by Bodil and Jan Pedersen; and Ricardo, owned by Oak Hill Ranch LLC  Marta Renilla, The Woodlands, TX, riding her own WEC’s Senor Rubinstein.

ting the horse up for success to the best of the rider’s ability in all situations. “Allowing something to happen is teaching,” said Arts, referring to the process of setting guidelines and boundaries for young horses. “This classical system of riding a horse from back to front—from the leg to the hand—starting on day one is the ultimate building block that must be established to achieve anything further down the line. It was incredible to see the different exercises and solutions from both clinicians to achieve this same goal,” said demo rider John Mason. One valuable point that Arts and Bragdell made that applies to all riding: A quiet hand is a hand that is quietly in sync with the natural movement of the horse’s head and neck. In other words, there is a difference between a quiet hand and a stationary (fixed) hand. As Arts added: “You can only pull a horse when you are walking in front of him. When you are riding, you must drive him with the leg.”


Listen to “Goals for the Three-Year-Old Horse” with Willy Arts at bit.ly/WillyArts.

SHARING THE LEARNING: Many auditors were volunteers from the Houston Dressage Society, who came to learn from co-presenters Michael Bragdell (pictured) and Willy Arts

A Memorable Weekend Isabella Farms was an ideal host facility, with its large, airy covered arena that enabled auditors to get up close to the action during the rides. The helpful Houston Dressage Society volunteers kept everything running smoothly throughout the weekend. The HDS even sponsored a lovely evening on Saturday for riders and auditors after a jam-packed day of learning. The organization went above and beyond in supporting its members in their educational efforts, offering free auditing to any member willing to volunteer at the event. This was a generous opportunity for the dressage community. Do not miss out next time! The bartering offer offset the costs of attending for many HDS members, who gained valuable knowledge in how to uphold the training scale and set their horses on a path to success. This forum may have focused on young horses, but the points reviewed daily apply to horses and all riders of all levels. So the next time this forum rolls into town, grab a friend and come watch your region’s quality horses and riders work with the best. I guarantee you’ll take home a notebook full of quotes, thoughts, and exercises to keep you focused and challenged in your dressage journey. s Katelyn Kok is the assistant trainer at Black Star Sport Horses in Dallas, TX (blackstarsporthorses.com). She is a USDF bronze and silver medalist with many accomplishments in the national and FEI ring.


eTRAK Extra

Demonstration rider Erika-West Danque called the forum “a fantastic learning experience for all involved, with the horses and riders well chosen to show auditors how to work through correctly developing a wide variety of horses with very different conformation and strengths.” “The training information I gained at this forum was invaluable and very unique,” said demo rider Regina Milliken. “The ability of the clinicians to pick apart conformation and analytically create a training plan to address the weaknesses and enhance the strengths of each pair was really profound.”

Podcast Alert

Listen to our Sport Horse special episode 155 at usdf.podbean.com.


July/August 2017




Fact or Fiction?

Whatever your preference, we've got it for your summer reading and viewing pleasure By Jennifer O. Bryant

From the Modern Master She had the great, enviable advantage of being the daughter of the late legendary German dressage master Dr. Reiner Klimke. Ingrid Klimke carries on the family legacy and then some, excelling in dressage—although her primary sport is eventing—and becoming what many call the world’s finest horseman of our time. Students of dressage know the Klimkes through their classic book, now called The New Basic Training of the Young Horse. Ingrid Klimke builds on that text with her new book, Training Horses the Ingrid Klimke Way (Trafalgar Square, 170 pp.). This isn’t a standard how-to dressage text. Instead, it’s the closest most of us will come to spending an extended period of time in the Klimke stable. Klimke takes us through “My Guiding Principles for Training,” including the equipment and the people who help keep Team Klimke and its horses happy and healthy. She discusses the elements of her training programs, from cavalletti to jumping exercises. In the final third of the book—perhaps the most fascinating—Klimke discusses “My Horses: Character Types from Shy to Go-Getter.” She introduces some of her top horses, describes their personalities and strengths and weaknesses, and outlines her training plan for each horse. It’s a wonderful insight into a top rider’s training decisions and how she customizes the work to suit the individual horse.

A Fictionalized Romp Through the Dressage World Dressage enthusiasts first made the acquaintance of the Georgia-based USDF-certified instructor/ trainer and USDF L graduate with distinction Karen McGoldrick through her first novel, The Dressage Chronicles. In that book, readers met Lizzy, a dressage working student embarking on an uncertain equestrian career. Lizzy’s journey has since carried her through two sequels, and now there’s a fourth installment in the Dressage Chronicles series, called Rings of Fire (Deeds, 397 pp.). Thanks to McGoldrick’s dressage expertise, all of the details in her books have the ring of authenticity. She doesn’t shy away from using dressage terms, but the stories are still accessible to those who aren’t steeped in the lingo. And the characters—if you’ve been around the barn for a while, you’ll recognize all of these people. The Dressage Chronicles novels are fun reads, whether you’re inside or outside the dressage arena.

Healing Touch One of the key players on Olympian Ingrid Klimke’s team (see review above) is the veterinarian Dr. Ina Gösmeier, who specializes in

46 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

such methodologies as acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In Acupressure for Horses (Trafalgar Square, 152 pp.), Gösmeier shows horse owners how to use acupressure, the non-needling form of stimulating acupuncture points, to help relieve their animals’ minor aches and pains and stimulate their well-being. Beginning with explanations of the concepts of TCM and a guide to determining your horse’s dominant element according to TCM principles, Gösmeier provides a step-by-step guide to this noninvasive way of helping horses feel and perform better. Ample clear color photos show the meridians, acupressure points, and techniques.

Have a Ball I was skeptical the day my instructor handed me two dimpled, slightly squishy green balls— about the size of tennis balls— and told me to put one under each seat bone as I sat in the saddle, then ride as usual. Feeling slightly oddly perched over my saddle, I was sure the balls would slip out and fall to the ground as my horse trotted and cantered. But they stayed in place (OK, they’re not for rising trot), and although the feeling was weird it wasn’t uncomfortable. And they helped me tap into the way my instructor was trying to get me to use my seat. They’re called Franklin balls, whose inventor and namesake, Eric Franklin, is a Swiss bodyworker and founder of the Franklin Method, which has been used to teach dancers, physical therapists, and others to move in a more integrated way. Franklin balls, as I discovered, can also be used to help give riders the feeling of using the seat differently in the saddle. In their new DVD, Riding with Franklin-Balls (Pferdia TV; distributed by Trafalgar Square),

the noted rider-biomechanics expert Eckart Meyners and riding instructor Sybille Wiemer show how varied uses of the balls can improve a rider’s seat, position, aids, and even rein contact.

Another Equine-Bodywork Method If acupressure points aren’t on some horse owners’ daily radar, then neither, perhaps, are fascial restrictions. The principles of myofascial release are that fascia—the web of connective tissue beneath your horse’s skin, as well as your own—can become tight and restricted, leading to pain or stiffness. Physical trauma or emotional tension can also manifest as fascial restrictions, the theory goes. Some human chronic-pain sufferers find relief through visits to a myofascialrelease practitioner, and equine bodyworker Margret Henkels brings the principles to horse owners in her book, Is Your Horse 100%? (Trafalgar Square, 162 pp.). Henkels calls her method Conformation Balancing, and like acupressure it’s a noninvasive technique of helping the horse’s body restore its own equilibrium. If you’ve ever experienced myofascial release, you know it’s not massage in the traditional sense but rather a method of bodywork—sometimes gentle, sometimes with a stronger touch—that can explore areas of pain and stiffness and help the body find release. Clear color photos show how Henkels works her magic.

The Classic Naughty Pony Is Back The late Norman Thelwell was a British artist whose first cartoon appeared in the satirical magazine Punch in 1952. A generation of stiff-upper-lip equestrian types grew up cackling over Thelwell’s uncanny depictions of horse-mad children, fat hairy ponies with a stubborn

streak, exasperated riding instructors, and weary parents. The humor and the countryside depicted in Thelwell’s three classic books of equestrian cartoons—Angels on Horseback, A Leg at Each Corner, and Thelwell’s Riding Academy—are British,

aC g n i p o l e v De

but horse lovers everywhere related to the depictions of Thelwell’s characters and their willful equines. Now all three are back in print in collected form: Thelwell’s Pony Cavalcade (Trafalgar Square, 346 pp.) celebrates the 60th anniversary of Angels on Horseback. The hunt caps and the baggy jodhpurs may be dated, but horses and riders haven’t changed and Thelwell is as funny as ever. Buy this book and treat yourself or a horse lover in your life to some guaranteed belly laughs. s

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The 2017 USDF Online Stallion Guide is now LIVE!

2017 USDF Online Stallion Guide

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. 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

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

Visit www.usdf.org/calendar 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 July/August 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....................................... accounting@usdf.org Address and E-mail Updates............................................(859) 971-2277............................................changes@usdf.org Adult Education Programs ..............................................(859) 271-7882......................................... education@usdf.org Adult Team Competitions.................................................(859) 971-7360...................... adultteamcompetition@usdf.org All-Breeds Awards ...........................................................(859) 271-7895...........................................allbreeds@usdf.org Applications Submitted at Competitions...........................(859) 271-7880...........................................affidavits@usdf.org Breeders & Materiale Championships Series......................(859) 271-7894........................................ 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971-7361.............................horseperformance@usdf.org Horse Registration............................................................(859) 271-7880...............................horseregistration@usdf.org Horse/Rider Score Reports. .............................................(859) 271-7894..............................................reports@usdf.org Human Resources/Career Opportunities............................(859) 271-7885..................................................... hr@usdf.org Instructor Certification.....................................................(859) 271-7877........................instructorcertification@usdf.org Insurance Certificates for Competitions............................(859) 271-7886........................................... compins@usdf.org Junior/Young Rider Clinics................................................(859) 971-7360...........................................jryrclinics@usdf.org L Education and Continuing Education.............................(859) 971-7039.......................................... lprogram@usdf.org Mailing Lists.....................................................................(859) 971-7038.........................................mailinglist@usdf.org NAJYRC Criteria and Procedures.......................................(859) 971-7360............................................... najyrc@usdf.org National Education Initiative............................................(859) 271-7882......................................... education@usdf.org Nominations – Delegates, Regional Directors....................(859) 271-7897..................................... nominations@usdf.org Participating and Business Memberships...........................(859) 271-7871..................................... membership@usdf.org Podcasts..........................................................................(859) 971-7039............................................ podcast@usdf.org 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Programs...............................................................(859) 271-7876................................................youth@usdf.org Youth Team Competitions................................................(859) 971-7360................................................youth@usdf.org

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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 editorial@usdf.org. 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 jbryant@usdf.org, 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




July/August 2017


the tail end


A dressage pro's takeaways from the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final By Kay Kamish


t is hard to know where to start (or stop!) when trying to describe the experience of seeing top riders perform at an event like the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final. I was fortunate to attend the competition in Omaha, and I’ll share the general impressions that I hope to apply to my own riding and instructing. Details, details. Every competitor rode into every corner, which required horse and rider to focus on the precise

on total straightness, which requires more strength and might have caused her to miss the timing. Cooperation. Some horse/rider pairs showed a mutual respect and trust that went beyond mere obedience. It seemed that Verdades was waiting for Laura Graves’ every aid, ready to say yes every time she made a request. He clearly understands and trusts her, and he has developed so much self-confidence as a result.

SAVORING THE PARTNERSHIP: The writer and a friend

balance of each footfall. As a result, the horses were already “standing up” as they came out of the corners, so the riders didn’t have to rebalance before beginning the next movement. Preparation. I noticed this most with Steffen Peters and Rosamunde. It was wonderful to watch how he set the still-developing young mare up for success. In the one-tempi changes, for instance, it appeared that he allowed Rosamunde to swing her haunches from side to side rather than insisting

The impression was that the horse “owned” the Grand Prix. Forward. Without exception, the horses in Omaha were in front of the leg. To my eye, the best looked as if they were pushing against the skin of their chests from the inside out with their willingness to move forward. Correspondingly, the best riders appeared so soft in the connection, with a “giving forward” look to their arms and supple hips that moved with the horse.

52 July/August 2017 • USDF CONNECTION

Kay Kamish owns and operates Rivendell Farm, a small private facility in Claremore, OK. A retired flight nurse who worked for Tulsa Life Flight for 28 years, she is a USDF bronze and silver medalist and a USDF L graduate with distinction. She wrote this article for the Oklahoma Dressage Society, whose newsletter published an expanded version of the text.


Impressions of Omaha

Patience. This was especially evident during the arena-familiarization day prior to the start of competition. Some riders entered at a walk on long reins, letting their horses have plenty of time to look around. The sessions were relaxed yet productive. The riders seemed unrushed, and there was no pressure on the horses. Accuracy. Deciding points can easily be lost if a horse is not exactly at the letter for a transition or movement. Practice now, at Training, First, or any level. No careless riding. Make accuracy a way of life. Have fun. If it isn’t fun for you, it won’t be fun for the horse. We are all supposed to be doing this difficult thing called dressage because we love the sport, love the feeling of connection with our horses, and most of all, love the horses. Many of the World Cup riders hugged their mounts after the final salute. One pointed to her horse (“It’s him, not me”) as the audience applauded. Some shed tears. Most touching to me was seeing Isabell Werth’s groom struggling not to cry (and not succeeding) during the awards ceremony, her chin trembling, burying her face in Weihegold OLD’s neck. These events are extraordinary on many levels. To draw together so many people who share the love of horses is an amazing experience. Nothing compares to seeing it live. To see this caliber of riding in person is inspiring and exciting. If you ever have the opportunity, do not let it pass you by. You will be thrilled, touched, and moved. You will get a clearer vision of what we riders aspire to by seeing how it is done at this level. s



TE R Photos by April Raine

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July/August 2017 USDF Connection  

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United States Dressage Federation Official Publication

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