USDF CONNECTION U S D F. O R G
Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation
WORLD CUP DRESSAGE FINAL COVERAGE
Disaster Preparedness: Protect Your Horse and Farm (p.46)
Isabell Werthâ€™s Master Class (p. 24)
World Cup Dressage Final champions Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD
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IN THIS ISSUE
OMAHA WAS WERTH THE TRIP
Isabell wins and venue wows at the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final By Jennifer O. Bryant
4 INSIDE USDF Contracts Make Lasting Friendships
6 RINGSIDE There’s a Reason They Call It “Horse Crazy”
WHEN THE BIG ONE HITS
Extreme weather events are becoming more common. Get your equine disaster plan in place. By Natalie DeFee Mendik
By Carolynn Bunch
By Jennifer O. Bryant
14 HORSE HEALTH CONNECTION Are You Bad for Your Horse’s Health?
By Jennifer O. Bryant
20 FREESTYLE CONNECTION Judges’-Eye View of Freestyles
By Janet “Dolly” Hannon
24 CLINIC Isabell Werth’s Master Class
By Jennifer O. Bryant
28 ALL-BREEDS CONNECTION Breed of the Month: Morgan 30 CLUB CONNECTION Let’s Stay in Touch!
IN EVERY ISSUE
8 10 27 60 62 62 63
MEMBER CONNECTION HEADS UP SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT SHOP @ X USDF CONNECTION SUBMISSION GUIDELINES USDF OFFICE CONTACT DIRECTORY ADVERTISING INDEX
By Colleen Scott
54 USDF PARTICIPATING MEMBER DELEGATE NOMINEES
64 THE TAIL END The Near Side: Dressage Scribe Emojis
By Jody Lynne Werner
ON OUR COVER Germany’s Isabell Werth was the queen of Omaha, winning the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final aboard Weihegold OLD (p. 34) and impressing with a training demonstration (p. 24). Photo by Jennifer Bryant.
Volume 19, Number 2
USDF OFFICERS & EXECUTIVE BOARD PRESIDENT
Clear advance communication is key to preserving your horse-world relationships By Carolynn Bunch, USDF Region 6 Director
ou’ve heard the saying that fences make good neighbors. Well, I’m here to tell you that, in the horse world, contracts make lasting friendships. In our equestrian lives, there is a lot of crossover between friendships and business relationships. We spend a lot of time and money on our equine partners and therefore with the people surrounding that relationship. I myself would not want to feel like just a paycheck to my trainer, or an unwelcome visitor at the boarding barn. But cordial relationships can quickly go south when business disputes arise, and that’s why I’m an advocate of contracts in equine business dealings. I am not a lawyer, but here are some situations to consider. Boarding contracts. Most of us are familiar with boarding contracts. If you are at a boarding barn without a contract, well, go with your gut on that one. Lease agreements. Leasing a horse is a great way to mix friends and money. I am guilty of both leasing and being the lessor without a contract, and I have had a friendship damaged in the process. A written contract would have prevented most of the issues we encountered. Be clear on the details of a lease agreement. Are you “care” leasing or “paying” to lease? Care is normally paying the horse’s expenses; in a paid lease, the lessee pays the expenses and also pays a fee for the use of the animal. The contract should spell out who will pay for which expenses during the lease term—board, farrier, regular veterinary care, major-medical vet bills, hauling off site, showing, and insurance (loss of use, mortality, and liability).
4 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
Showmanagement contracts. The licensee is the person or group who applies for the license to host a dressage competition. The licensee may not be the show manager or secretary, however. A dressage competition requires many people, all with differing responsibilities. If you don’t clearly outline who is supposed to do what, something is going to get missed or duplicated. The competition-related contracts need to stipulate the many details, from who hires the judges and who rents the port-a-potties to who will transport the officials to and from the airport and who will renew the show’s license for next year. What about insurance for the show staff? Are they responsible for procuring their own, or will the show provide coverage? Are staffers independent contractors? Who owns the documents created in the course of producing the show— the vendor list, volunteer list, prize list, program, sponsor list? You can quickly see how the relationships we grow in this industry can go in the wrong direction if we aren’t clear with one another. If you are worried that you are going to offend someone when you want to talk about a contract, be honest with that person. Tell them you want to make sure that everyone is covered, that all are clear on the responsibilities, and that you continue to have a great working relationship or friendship. s
421 Park Forest Way, Wellington, FL 33414 (937) 603-9134 • Fax: (740) 362-5539 email@example.com VICE PRESIDENT
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AT-LARGE DIRECTORS ACTIVITIES COUNCIL
9508 Bridlewood Trail, Dayton, OH 45458 (937) 272-9068 •firstname.lastname@example.org ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL
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COURTESY OF CAROLYNN BUNCH
Contracts Make Lasting Friendships
e r e r c a a C n b a e g a n i P p u o l zzle e v e D
Photo courtesy of BobTarr.com
The USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program
Can Be Your Key Piece January 13-14, 2018 w West Palm Beach, Florida Visit www.usdf.org for eligibility requirements, application and information. Application deadline is September 30, 2017. Applications will be accepted between October 1 and October 15 at an increased fee.
With Funding Support Provided by The Dressage Foundation
There’s a Reason They Call It “Horse Crazy”
Addicted to dressage? That may not be far from the truth
was a horse-crazy kid. Maybe you were too. I happily called myself horse-crazy, and I didn’t mind—in fact, I fancied it a compliment—when other people referred to me that way. I never stopped to think about the “crazy” part. Because horse people are, in fact, a little nuts. And us dressage people? Certifiable. Don’t think so? Consider this: Is there another sport that causes participants to obsess about the minutiae the way dressage does? Imagine if a football player did all the wacky stuff we do. He would spend non-practice hours thinking about his football, worrying whether it was in good shape, well cared for, and ready for tomorrow’s game. He and his fellow players would regularly discuss their footballs’ individual quirks and foibles— why John’s always goes in such a nice straight line while Bill’s is crooked and unpredictable, and does John have any exercises or special gizmos that might help Bill’s football perform better? A researcher trying to design an addictive reward system couldn’t do a better job than dressage, which is so mind-blowingly splendid when the stars align that we’d sell our grandmothers to get that feeling again, but so difficult that we’ll toil in obscurity for months or years (or forever), slaves looking for the next high of throughness and harmony. We see top dressage horses and riders, like the ones who contested this year’s FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Omaha (story, page 34), and we try to imagine what sitting on one of those magnificent creatures must feel like. There may be a hint of wistfulness in that imagining, for most of us know we’ll never get that chance, or be that good. But that doesn’t stop us from striving to get just a little bit closer to the dream.
6 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
What with all the blood, sweat, and tears, there had better be some light moments to leaven the dressage “journey” (a euphemism if I ever heard one). It can’t all be Deadly Serious Discipline or we’d truly go crazy. Sometimes we need to step back and laugh at ourselves and our wonderful, beloved, loony horses, and that’s where Jody Werner comes in. Jody is the gifted cartoonist who draws “The Near Side” panel that appears in every issue of this magazine. For this issue, we really let Jody loose. A while back, she created a series of images that gently poked fun at the hunter/jumper world—and I knew she had to do something similar for all the beleaguered, carpal-tunnel-suffering dressage scribes out there. Jody and I had fun dreaming up all the symbols and emojis scribes (and judges) might wish they could use on the test sheets—and let me just say up front that every one of them could rightfully have been used on my own tests at one time or another. Jody did such a great, expansive job that this month’s “Near Side” cartoon appears on page 64 as “The Tail End” entry. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. And yeah, I fully expect to get at least one emoji on my dressage tests this season. You could say I’ve asked for it.
Jennifer O. Bryant, Editor @JenniferOBryant
USDF CONNECTION The Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
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Danielle Titland 720/300-2266 • email@example.com USDF Connection is published ten times a year by the United States Dressage Federation, 4051 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511. Phone: 859/9712277. Fax: 859/971-7722. E-mail: usdressage@usdf. org, Web site: 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
USEF/USDF DRESSAGE SEAT MEDAL PROGRAM USEF DRESSAGE SEAT MEDAL FINALS
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PHOTOS: SUSANJSTICKLE PHOTOGRAPHY
Excellence in equitation begins at the USDF Dressage Seat Medal SemiFinals, held in the fall at each of the the nine Great American/USDF Regional Dressage Championships. For more information including dates and locations, visit usdf.org.
member connection A Question of Balance In Jayne Ayers’ article “Judging SelfCarriage” (“The Judge’s Box,” March), a photo is captioned “Level balance: A horse demonstrating a balance that’s neither uphill nor downhill.” In fact, the horse’s balance clearly is downhill. Both hind feet are off the ground, as is the left front foot. The horse’s right front foot has not yet left the ground, and its center of gravity is clearly in front of the foot that is still on the ground. There could not be a better example of a horse with downhill balance! Shan Lawton Omaha, NE Jayne Ayers responds: The reader makes a good observation about the dissociation of the diagonal pairs of the feet of the horse. We might want to come to a different conclusion about what this means, however. The hind foot is leaving the ground a bit earlier than the diagonal front foot because it landed earlier than the front foot—what is called
BALANCE DEBATE: Is this horse level or “downhill”?
hind-first or positive dissociation. The USDF Glossary of Judging Terms defines it as follows: Diagonal Dissociation (also Diagonal Advanced Placement or DAP): The hooves of a diagonal pair of limbs (in trot or canter) do not contact the ground at the same moment. The dissociation may be hind-first, which is also called positive DAP, or frontfirst, which is also called negative DAP. In the trot, hind-first dissociation is usually associated with the horse being uphill. In canter, hind-first dissociation
occurs, for instance, in the bounding canter of a young horse and in the pirouette canter. So the dissociation we see in the photo suggests uphill rather than downhill balance. This picture is interesting because there are other factors that lead the viewer to believe that the horse is traveling downhill, but are not in fact true indicators of balance. First, the horse has rather long hind legs as compared to his front legs. It looks as if the hindquarters might measure taller than the withers when the horse is standing still. Second, the neck is very nicely shaped but not as long as might be ideal. These two conformation issues contribute to the impression that the horse is downhill, when in fact it is likely in fairly good self-carriage. The contact that the horse is taking appears correct and rather light. The throatlatch is nicely open, the underneck slightly concave, topline arched upward, mouth closed—all indicators of good contact for this level. The
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rider’s arms appear to be relaxed enough, not bracing or supporting a heavy weight. These are things the judge looks for in a lower-level horse that is showing correct self-carriage. Jayne Ayers in turn consulted equinebiomechanics expert and USDF Connection contributing editor Dr. Hilary Clayton, who is currently researching the biomechanics of equine
balance. Dr. Clayton shared the salient findings to date: The observations the reader makes—that the forelimb is the last limb of the diagonal pair to leave the ground and that the center of gravity is ahead of the fore hoof at this time— are correct, and this is exactly what is expected at this moment of the stride in any horse, regardless of its state of balance.
My research shows that balance doesn’t depend on the position of the center of gravity (also called the center of mass, or COM) per se, but rather on the turning forces (torques) around the center of gravity. When the hooves push against the ground, the resulting forces tend to rotate the body either nose down (onto the forehand) or nose up (onto the haunches). This is the essence of balance.
he following are corrections to awards listings and photos in the 2016 yearbook issue of USDF Connection (February 2017). An incorrect photo was published for Valiant, owned USDF-Connection-June2017-Tina-20170331OL.pdf 1 4/17/17 and ridden by
Anne Hempy (CA), the Training and First Level Adult Amateur All-Breeds champion for the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association. The correct photo appears here. Photo by TerriMiller.com. The name of USDF silver medalist Cheri Theis’s mount was misspelled in her photo caption. The horse’s name is Sultar.
The photo of Laura Graves and Verdades that opened the May feature “The Elusive 80 Percent” was incorrectly credited. The photographer is Arnd 3:46:44 PM Bronkhorst/arnd.nl.
Your Dressage World This Month
WORLD EQUESTRIAN GAMES
Tryon 2018 Unveils Logo, Announces Schedule
ighteen months before the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 get under way, representatives from the 2018 WEG organizing committee unveiled the event logo and promotional video as well as the schedule of events. The Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, NC, will host the 2018 WEG, September 11-23. On hand at the March 31 press conference in Omaha, NE, during the 2017 FEI World Cup Finals were TIEC CEO Mark Bellissimo, TIEC president and sports director Michael Stone, FEI secretary general Sabrina Ibáñez, US Equestrian president Murray Kessler, and WEG press officer Jennifer Wood. The TIEC is part of Tryon Resort, a 1,600-acre property that opened in 2014. “When we built this,” said Bellissimo, referring to himself and Stone, “it was built for the WEG. We didn’t think we’d get it until 2026.” But when Bromont, Canada, backed out of the 2018 hosting contract, the TIEC
THE REVEAL: The Tryon WEG 2018 logo (on backdrop) was unveiled at a press conference with (from left) WEG press officer Jennifer Wood, FEI secretary general Sabrina Ibáñez, US Equestrian president Murray Kessler, Tryon International Equestrian Center CEO Mark Bellissimo, and TIEC president and sports director Michael Stone
stepped up and won the rebid. Bellissimo said he is unfazed by the shortened time frame: “We would rather do it in two years than five,” he said, referring to the usual lead time from host-city bid award to opening ceremony. He said that key staffers sometimes turn over in the longer lead-up and that he believes that’s less likely to happen between now and next year.
Bellissimo, who is known for setting and executing “big audacious goals” in the horse industry, said: “Our goal is to make Tryon the Aachen [Germany] of America. When [the 2018 WEG] is over, we hope they’ll say, ‘Aachen is the Tryon of Europe.’” Tickets to the 2018 WEG will go on sale this month, Bellissimo said. The opening ceremony will be held September 11, and the closing ceremony is scheduled for September 23. Dressage competition is set for September 12-16. To view the complete competition schedule for the eight WEG disciplines and to get updated ticket information, visit Tryon2018.com and follow @Tryon2018 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Digital Edition Bonus Content
Watch the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 promotional video.
BEHIND THE SCENES ob title: Editor, Dressage Today magazine, Gaithersburg, MD (DressageToday.com) What I do: The majority of my job is spent in the office: writing, editing, assigning stories. We also get to travel—some trade shows, but mostly training and horse shows. Then we try to get out to local clinics. How I got started: I studied journalism in school and tried desperately to get a job out of college with a magazine, but no one was hiring at the time. I did marketing. I went to work for an ad agency that had a lot of equine clients. I went outside the industry for a little bit. Then in 2009, I started with Dressage Today. Best thing about my job: Dealing
ON THE JOB: At the 2017 FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha
10 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
with horse people every day is pretty phenomenal. I work with a fantastic group of people, both directly and indirectly. Worst thing about my job: Deadlines. My horses: Sadly, I’m horseless. Up to this point, I’ve done a little bit of everything. I grew up doing hunters, then dabbled in eventing, and then did foxhunting. I would like to specialize in dressage—practicing what I preach. Tip: It’s nice to hear from our readers. We love getting constructive criticism and suggestions for what our readers want to see, what they want to read. —Katherine Walcott
FEI/LIZ GREGG; JENNIFER BRYANT
Jennifer Mellace, Magazine Editor
US DRESSAGE FINALS
$50,000 in Travel Grant Funds Available
o alleviate some of the financial burden for those traveling the greatest distances to the 2017 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, the USDF is making up to $50,000 in travel-grant funds available to eligible competitors. US Dressage Finals competitors who fall into the following groups (based on the rider’s address of record as associated with the USDF membership) will be eligible to apply for travel grants: Group 1 (WA, OR, CA, HI, AK, MT, ID, AZ, NV, UT) Group 2 (WY, NM, CO). Group 1 competitors are eligible to apply for grants of up to $1,200. Those in Group 2 are eligible to apply for grants of up to
$900. Group 1 applicants will receive priority allocation. Grants will be based solely on the rider’s residence of record. Grants will be awarded to the horse/rider combination. A rider may apply for a grant with each eligible horse entered. Riders are permitted to receive additional grants from other entities. To be considered for a grant, the competitor must submit a grant-request application with the entry, which can be done through the online entry process. Grants will be awarded only after the horse/ rider combination is verified as having arrived on site at the Finals, which will be held November 9-12 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
JENNIFER M. KEELER
National Pony Cup Offers Year-End Awards for Small Horses
hether your dressage pony is pint-sized or “oversize,” there’s now a place for him in this year’s National Dressage Pony Cup year-end awards program. Beginning this year, the NDPC will offer year-end awards in its newly created Small Horse division in addition to its year-end awards for ponies, NDPC founder Jenny Carol announced. Year-end championships through eighth place will be awarded in open, adult amateur, and junior/young rider divisions at all levels from Intro through FEI, including freestyles. “While the size of the horse or pony should not be an issue in the performance of a dressage test,” said Carol, “we’ve found that some riders can feel at a disadvantage or that they are not taken as seriously as they might have
been if their mount had been over sixteen hands. They can feel a lack of appreciation for the performance and dedication that they bring to the sport, so we created this program to provide recognition and rewards for their achievements in the show ring,” Any equine that measures taller than 149 cm but shorter than 162 cm (163 cm with shoes) is eligible to participate in the new NDPC awards program. A practicing veterinarian must measure the small horse and complete an NDPC measurement form. The 2017 NDPC Annual Show will be held in conjunction with the Kentucky Dressage Association Classic I & II shows, July 7-9 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Learn more about the NDPC and its awards programs at DressagePonyCup.com.
SMALL AND SMALLISH: The National Dressage Pony Cup now offers year-end awards for both ponies and small horses
Your Dressage World This Month
What you need to know this month Register Today for the 2017 USDF Sport Horse Seminar
Renew Your Access to the L Website
THE 2017 USDF SPORT HORSE SEMINAR will be held August 5-6 at Iron Spring Farm, Coatesville, PA, with noted US Equestrian “S” and DSHB “R” judges Kristi Wysocki and Susan Mandas. It is geared toward the education of anyone interested in learning about the qualities to look for in a dressage sport horse, and it serves as a prerequisite for becoming a US Equestrian-licensed dressage sport-horse breeding judge. Registration forms and waivers are on the USDF website.
US EQUESTRIAN DRESSAGE JUDGES, USDF L graduates, and those enrolled in the USDF L Education Program: With the 2016 year having ended April 9, it’s time to renew your access to the L website. The website material has been updated to reflect the changes in the US Equestrian dressage tests. New for 2017, the site has been enhanced with a biomechanics module containing six educational videos. E-mail email@example.com with any questions.
Submit Annual Change of Region Requests for Regional Championships PLANNING TO COMPETE IN THE 2017 Great American Insurance Group/ USDF Regional Dressage Championships? USDF presumes that qualified horse/rider combinations will compete in the region in which the rider resides (as determined by the address associated with the rider’s membership information on file as of July 1). To verify your region, use the “What’s My Region?” feature on the Regional Championship Competitors page of the USDF website. If you wish to compete in a region other than your region of residence, you must submit a Change of Region form (which can be submitted online) and the applicable fee. Find the link on the Regional Championship Competitors page.
Great American/USDF Regional Championships Info Hub IF YOUR 2017 SHOW GOALS include the Great American Insurance Group/ USDF Regional Championships, be sure to check out the Regional Championship Competitors page on the USDF website. You’ll find helpful links and information about championship dates, qualifying periods, program rules, score checks, change of region forms, and US Dressage Finals information.
Applying for USDF Rider Awards Is Simple ONCE ALL AWARD REQUIREMENTS are met, log into the USDF website, click on the Rider Performance Awards application, enter your USDF member number, select your award and enter payment information, and you are done. Apply by September 30 to receive your rider award for the 2017 competition year.
Get more from Duplicate and Replacement Awards Available USDF OFFERS DUPLICATE and replacement All-Breeds awards medals, rider medals, and rider and horse performance certificates for a nominal fee. If you’ve lost yours, or if you’d like to give your trainer a duplicate All-Breeds medal, contact the USDF office for assistance.
12 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
USDF Connection magazine. Go online and login to access bonus features. WWW.USDF.ORG
MEET THE INSTRUCTOR
Allyssia Bryant, Livermore Falls, ME
llyssia Bryant is the head trainer and instructor at Peaceful Pines Stable in Livermore Falls, ME. She earned her USDF instructor certification at Training and First Levels in March 2016.
COURTESY OF ALLYSSIA BRYANT; BOBTARR.COM
DRESSAGE DISCOVERY: Bryant
How I got started in dressage: I began riding at a young age and quickly fell in love with dressage. Over the last four years, I was able to build my own dressage training business. Why I think certification is important: I saw certification as a way to branch out and distinguish myself in my small Maine dressage community. Highlight of the Instructor/ Trainer Program: The exercises and workshops forced me to think outside the box and gave me new tools for my teaching “toolbox.” I look forward to passing these tools on to my students. Training tip: I teach a lot of “up-down” kids and enjoy watching them learn and discover new things. Don’t let the joy of learning something new get lost in your everyday riding! Contact me: aenterxhalt@gmail. com or (207) 320-3778. —Jamie Humphries
Janet Foy Promoted to FEI 5* Dressage Judge
anet Foy, Colorado Springs, CO, is one of six dressage judges worldwide newly promoted from 4* to 5* status, the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) announced March 24. According to Foy, the new designation takes effect July 1. Only FEI 5* dressage judges may officiate at major FEI championships, including Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games, and World Cup Dressage Finals. The ground juries for the 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final and the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 have not yet been announced. Foy is a faculty member of the USDF L Education Program, a member of the USDF Judges and L Program Committees, and a member of the US Equestrian Dressage Sport Committee. Her appointment brings the number of US 5* judges back up to four after last year’s FEI-mandated retirement of Lilo Fore upon reaching age 70: Foy plus Anne Gribbons, Gary
TOP OF THE LIST: Foy
Rockwell, and Linda Zang. The other new 5* dressage judges are Maria Schwennesen (AUS), Maria Colliander (FIN), Raphaël Saleh (FRA), Irina Maknami (RUS), and Francisco Guerra Diaz (ESP).
Do a Health Check with These Free Interactive Tools
ould you like to assess your horse’s risk for colic? Check to see if you’re doing everything you should to help prevent barn fires? Learn the best ways to keep your horse cool in the summer and warm when the mercury plummets? Equine Guelph, an education and research center at the University of Guelph, ON, offers a variety of free online horse-health-related tools at its website, equineguelph.ca. The tools are evidence-based and interactive, according to Equine Guelph representative Jackie Bellamy-Zions. So check out the Lameness Lab, the Biosecurity Calculator, and other tools and start clicking your way to a healthier horse and a safer barn.
CLICK AND LEARN: Screen shot of available tools from Equine Guelph
Are You Bad for Your Horse’s Health? How rider biomechanics affects the horse By Jennifer O. Bryant
orld-renowned researcher Dr. Hilary Clayton is known for her groundbreaking findings in the areas of equine biomechanics. We don’t tend to think of her as focusing on the rider, but that’s exactly what she did at her session on “Rider Posture and Mechanics” at the 2016 Adequan/USDF Annual Convention in St. Louis.
Your Effects on Your Horse You give aids; your horse responds. But what’s actually happening in the process? The rider has various effects on the horse, according to Dr. Clayton. One kind is the type we tend to think about in dressage, which is known as behavioral effects. These are the mus-
TIME FOR SOME LESSONS? This isn’t “real” bad riding (it’s Aussie horsemanship guru Tristan Tucker doing his “Brett Kidding” dressage parody exhibition at the 2017 FEI World Cup Finals), but it shows the look of a rider who isn’t coordinated with the horse’s movement
As dressage riders, we know that we use our bodies to influence our horses. What we don’t necessarily know is how, or how much. In her session, Dr. Clayton deconstructed some fundamental rider-biomechanics findings and offered some research-based explanations of how, exactly, skilled riders use their bodies differently than novices.
cular responses in the horse’s body that we train him to produce when he feels our leg, seat, and weight aids. But the rider’s body actually produces other, profound effects on the horse’s body, according to Dr. Clayton. The rider’s mass, or the way that mass is distributed in the saddle, has inertial effects: It produces changes in
14 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
the horse’s movements or energy expenditure. The more weight the horse is carrying, the higher his heart rate and the greater his body’s production of lactic acid, which is a byproduct of exercise. Greater weight carried also increases the duration of the horse’s stance phase, which is the period of time in any gait that one or more limbs is in contact with the ground— not desirable in dressage, as longer stance phases make the gaits look more grounded and less “floating.” You don’t have to be a larger person to affect your horse, however. “Carrying an unpredictable rider— one whose movements are not well controlled and synchronized with the horse’s movement—disturbs the horse’s balance and uses more energy,” Dr. Clayton said. In other words, good riding isn’t just about presenting a nice picture or doing well in competition; it’s actually better for your horse’s body. Which leads us to the topic of equitation. What is “good riding position,” and how does it help our horses? “Correct rider alignment is good posture. Good posture minimizes effort, maximizes shock absorption, and facilitates the correct application of the aids,” Dr. Clayton said. Key to good posture is correct spinal alignment. “A human baby doesn’t have spinal curvature,” Dr. Clayton said. “The curves develop as the muscles strengthen and the baby is able to support its head and neck. The thoracic (upper back) curves develop first, and the lumbar (lower back) curve comes later as the lower body strengthens.” The ideal posture is what’s known as neutral spine—with your natural spinal curves aligning such that you stand balanced from head to feet. Try Dr. Clayton’s method of determining your own neutral-spine position: Stand with your back against a wall, heels a couple of inches in front of the wall. Stand with your chin level and your nose pointing straight forward, and with the back of your head, the backs of your shoulders, and your buttocks touching
horse health connection
the wall. “You should be pretty close to neutral spine,” she says. However, some spinal abnormalities, such as lordosis (a hollow back or “swayback”) and kyphosis (“humpback”), can make achieving neutral spine challenging or impossible, said Dr. Clayton. Knowingly or unknowingly, the rider can exaggerate or minimize a horse’s mild lameness, said Dr. Clayton. On a sound horse, the sitting trot weights both diagonals equally. But the rising trot weights the “sitting” diagonal more than the rising one—meaning that, depending on which diagonal the rider chooses to post, a mildly lame horse may appear either more sound (if the rider sits on the lame diagonal) or less sound (if the rider sits on the sound limb) than he actually is. Because of the inherent uneven weighting in the rising trot, it’s important to change diagonals frequently, Dr. Clayton said. The horse has the most freedom of movement when the rider’s seat is not in the saddle at all. Two-point or “halfseat” position, with the rider standing slightly in the stirrups, increases the rider’s stability in terms of movements of the center of gravity, and also evens out the effects of the rider’s weight on the horse’s back over the course of the stride. It is a useful riding position, especially for young horses or for giving the horse a break from the driving or collecting seat, Dr. Clayton said. One “rider problem” may actually be the result of lameness. A study showed that saddle slip can be associated with hind-limb lameness. The uneven movement behind displaces both the saddle and the rider off to one side.
the findings of the modest studies that have been conducted. In one study of 12 riders, subjects were asked to sit on a flat surface with equal weight on both seat bones. But using a pressure mat, the researchers discovered that in fact most of the riders weighted their left seat bones more heavily than the right. Ten of the 12 riders showed more outward rotation of their right hips as compared to their left. The subjects’ handedness was not noted.
“Generally, a right-handed person’s left leg is stronger and more stable,” Dr. Clayton noted. “The right leg is more mobile and dexterous.” Another study looked at the torso movements of 17 female riders, all right-handed, in the walk, trot, and canter. In the walk, trot, and left-lead canter, the riders’ right shoulders moved more than their left shoulders. In the right-lead canter, both shoulders moved an equal amount—and the riders’ right legs were longer than their left legs. [
Existing Findings Considering the extensive body of equine-biomechanics research, and the time and effort (not to mention money) riders invest in improving their skills, it is surprising that “the [equestrian] industry is lacking a large and more comprehensive study of riders,” Dr. Clayton said. She summarized USDF CONNECTION • June 2017
horse health connection
The Riding-Position Fix You Can Make Today
egardless of your skill level, you’ll improve your position and effectiveness in the saddle if you adjust the length of your stirrup leathers correctly. In a misguided attempt to achieve our sport’s coveted long, elegant leg position, many dressage riders actually ride too long. “If you ride with your stirrups too long, it doesn’t help your posture on the horse. You need correct angles to sit properly,” said biomechanics expert Dr. Hilary Clayton. For most riders, the correct length has the bottom of the stirrup iron falling somewhere between the ankle bone and the heel when the foot is out of the stirrup and the leg is resting against the horse’s side in the correct position. If you tend to ride with your toes pointed down, or if you frequently lose your stirrups even when your legs are stretched downward, try shortening your stirrups one hole at a time until you find a length that gives your legs some support without your heels feeling rammed down or your upper legs being jammed against the thigh blocks of the saddle.
POSITION CONTRAST: The novice rider’s heel (left) is drawn up, a sign that the stirrups may be too long. Compare this leg position with that of a skilled rider whose stirrups are adjusted properly (right): The leg has proper hip, knee, and ankle angles, and the toes are not lower than the heel.
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Correct riding position starts, literally, with your pelvis, which Dr. Clayton calls “the rider’s direct connection to the horse.” When you sit in the saddle, the contact points are your two seat bones. The rider’s pubic bone “is not normally in contact with the saddle,” Dr. Clayton said. When dressage instructors talk about “using the seat,” they’re referring to the rider’s ability to control the angle and movement of the pelvis in order to influence the horse. You can use your core muscles to rotate your pelvis backward (posterior pelvic tilt) or forward (anterior tilt). (The rotation is indicated by the direction the top of the pelvis moves.) “An anterior pelvic tilt hollows the rider’s back and slides the seat bones backward, which is not an effective position for riding dressage,” Dr. Clayton said. “A hollow back, with its
Achieving Better Posture in the Saddle
tight lumbar and hip-flexor muscles, is associated with rider tension. The rider’s chin may jut forward. This position is often seen in disciplines such as saddle seat and hunter seat, but it is not effective for dressage because we can’t influence the horse properly.” A “following seat” in dressage is in more of a neutral-spine alignment. As horse and rider move up the levels, the rider begins to spend more time in a posterior pelvic tilt, which Dr. Clayton called “the collecting seat.” The rider engages her lower abdominal muscles and her gluteal and hamstring muscles, and her seat bones “glide to the front of the saddle.” The pelvis is tilted backward, allowing the rider to actively influence the horse, and “in collection there is posterior pelvic tilt throughout the stride. The center of pressure under the saddle moves closer to the withers, and the loaded area on the horse’s back decreases,” she said. The amount of upward pressure exerted on the rider varies throughout the horse’s stride, Dr. Clayton
said. The pressure is highest after the middle of the diagonal stance phase: “The horse pushes himself and the rider upward into the next suspension; then, as the horse starts to descend, the rider actually unloads the saddle.” A rider’s core strength is important not only for pelvic control, but also for spinal stabilization. “You must stabilize your spine before moving any other part of your body,” Dr. Clayton said. A dramatic example of the core at work is the biomechanics of riding a half-pass, in which the horse trots or canters on a diagonal line while bent in the direction of travel. “In the half-pass, your core holds your body over the horse’s inside shoulder. You actually pull the horse in the desired direction,” she said, “instead of ‘pushing him over’ as some dressage texts describe.”
Coordinating for Harmony and Influence We aspire to ride in harmony with our horses, and “harmony between
horse and rider” is actually a collective mark in the US Equestrian rider tests. Biomechanically speaking, what is harmony? As Dr. Clayton defines it, harmony happens when the movements of the horse and the rider are so closely synchronized that the rider appears to be “just sitting there” doing nothing while the horse performs of his own accord. Easier said than done, of course. And some researchers have studied how, exactly, skilled riders do it. The easiest gait to ride in terms of coordinating one’s movement with the horse is the canter, Dr. Clayton said. The most difficult: no, not the trot! It’s actually the walk, in which studies show the rider’s movements are the least well-coordinated with the horse’s. Why, we’re not yet sure. “My theory is that it’s from the rider trying to push the horse into a bigger walk by wiggling the pelvis back and forth,” she said. “If the rider limits the forward pelvic tilt and sits more still, the coordination improves.” [
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The Legend in Your Future
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Pluto Virtuosa 47
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4 mL For Intravenous Use In Horses Only 2 mL For Intravenous or Intra-Articular Use In Horses Only BRIEF SUMMARY Prior to use please consult the product insert, a summary of which follows: CAUTION Federal Law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. INDICATIONS LEGEND® Injectable Solution and LEGEND® Multi Dose Injectable Solution are indicated in the treatment of equine joint dysfunction associated with equine osteoarthritis. CONTRAINDICATIONS There are no known contraindications for the use of LEGEND® Injectable Solution and LEGEND® Multi Dose Injectable Solution in horses. RESIDUE WARNINGS Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. HUMAN WARNINGS Not for use in humans. Keep out of reach of children.
PRECAUTIONS Complete lameness evaluation should be conducted by a veterinarian. Sterile procedure during the injection process must be followed. Intra-articular injections should not be made through skin that is inflamed, infected or has had a topical product applied. The safety of LEGEND Injectable Solution and LEGEND Multi Dose has not been evaluated in breeding stallions or in breeding, pregnant or lactating mares.
ANIMAL SAFETY WARNING For LEGEND Injectable Solution 4 mL and LEGEND Multi Dose Injectable Solution – Not for Intra-articular use. The Intra-articular safety of hyaluronate sodium with benzyl alcohol has not been evaluated.
their horses, but actually to influence their rhythms and tempos. “An expert rider coordinates her movements with the horse, adapts to and controls its movement patterns, and makes the gaits more consistent and stable,” Dr. Clayton said. Horses ridden by skilled riders show more consistent rhythms and tempos than those ridden by novices—but even a less-skilled rider can improve the consistency of the horse’s movement. Finally, a poor-fitting saddle will at least partially negate the influence of a skilled rider. Horses ridden in properly fitted saddles move more consistently than those whose saddles do not fit, Dr. Clayton said, because the horse in an ill-fitting saddle is constantly changing his movement pattern to seek a position that makes the saddle feel more comfortable. s
In episode 157, Dr. Clayton talks about rider conformation as part of a fourpart series on rider biomechanics at usdf. podbean.com.
Meet the Expert
ADVERSE REACTIONS No side effects were observed in LEGEND Injectable Solution clinical field trials. Side effects reported post-approval: Following intravenous use: Occasional depression, lethargy, and fever. Following intraarticular (LEGEND Injectable Solution – 2 mL only) use: joint or injection site swelling and joint pain. For medical emergencies or to report adverse reactions, call 1-800-422-9874. ANIMAL SAFETY SUMMARY Animal safety studies utilizing LEGEND Multi Dose Injectable Solution were not performed. LEGEND Multi Dose Injectable Solution was approved based on the conclusion that the safety of LEGEND Multi Dose Injectable Solution will not differ from that demonstrated for the original formulation of LEGEND Injectable Solution. LEGEND Injectable Solution was administered to normal horses at one, three and five times the recommended intra-articular dosage of 20 mg and the intravenous dose of 40 mg. Treatments were given weekly for nine consecutive weeks. No adverse clinical or clinical pathologic signs were observed. Injection site swelling of the joint capsule was similar to that seen in the saline treated control horses. No gross or histological lesions were observed in areas of the treated joint. For customer care or to obtain product information, including a Material Safety Data Sheet, call 1-888-637-4251 Option 2. ®LEGEND is a registered trademark, and ™ the Horse Logo is a trademark, of Merial. ©2016 Merial, Inc., Duluth, GA. All rights reserved.
18 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
LEGEND_PI_InBrief_2016_USDF CONNECTION.indd 4/26/16 1 10:27 AM
ilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Diplomate ACVSMR, MRCVS, is the professor and Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair emerita. She was the firstever Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, East Lansing, from 1997 to 2014. At the same time, she was also a professor in MSU’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. A world-renowned expert on equine biomechanics and conditioning, Dr. Clayton is president of Sport Horse Science, LC, which is dedicated to translating research data into practical advice for riders, trainers, and veterinarians through lectures, articles, and private consultations. A USDF gold, silver, and bronze medalist, she is a USDF Connection contributing editor and a former member of the US Equestrian Federation Dressage Committee.
COURTESY OF DR. HILARY CLAYTON
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Novice and expert riders vary significantly in their ability to coordinate their movements with their mounts’. In the sitting trot, expert riders synchronize their pelvic and trunk movements with their horses; they also sit more upright (novices tend to lean forward), carry their heads upright with less nodding, and show less opening and closing of their elbow and knee angles, Dr. Clayton said. In the canter, expert riders show an equal degree of sideways trunk “roll” on both leads. They also have less trunk movement than novices, Dr. Clayton said. “An expert rider synchronizes her upper-body and arm movements with the vertical motion of the horse’s back during each stride,” Dr. Clayton said. “Novices will be in sync in the suspension phase, when horse and rider are highest, but not in the middle of the diagonal stance, when the elbows and wrists move further downward than the torso before starting the next ascent. The rider needs to maintain sufficient positive muscle tension through the shoulders and arms so the entire upper body moves as one unit.” The most skilled riders have the ability not just to coordinate with
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IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: The safety of LEGEND has not been evaluated in breeding stallions or in breeding, pregnant or lactating mares. The following adverse reactions have been reported following use of LEGEND Injectable Solution: Following intravenous use: occasional depression, lethargy, and fever. Following intra-articular (LEGEND Injectable Solution — 2 mL only) use: lameness, joint effusion, joint or injection site swelling, and joint pain.
What the judge is looking for in a lower-level freestyle, plus tips for successful freestyle creation By Janet “Dolly” Hannon
he musical freestyle has become a popular part of many dressage shows. Audiences love them, and riding a freestyle is on many dressage competitors’ “bucket lists.” If you’re just starting out in freestyle, chances are your first one will be at the national levels (Training through
the test progresses. At the conclusion of the ride, the judge gives technical collective marks as well as scores for artistic impression (harmony, choreography, degree of difficulty, music, and interpretation). Most judges use a system of checks, pluses, and minuses to assess a freestyle’s artistic strengths and
BUCKET-LIST EVENT: The beauty and fun of freestyles has made them a goal of many dressage riders. Crowd-pleasers Joao Victor Marcari Oliva and Xama Dos Pinhais of Brazil perform at the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Omaha.
Fourth). The USDF Freestyle Committee wants you to have a fun and successful freestyle experience, so we asked committee members to tell us what they want to see in a national-level freestyle. Here’s what they had to say.
Freestyle Judging Basics The judge or panel of judges gives technical scores for the freestyle’s required movements and transitions as
weaknesses so that they can come up with consistent and fair scores for the artistic marks. The artistic marks are not a direct reflection of the competitor’s technical proficiency, but they can be negatively impacted by excessive tension or by difficulties in performing the movements in harmony. Generally speaking, two factors elevate a freestyle toward the top of the class: excellent technical performance of
20 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
the required elements in a clear and logical pattern, and suitability of the music. You may have a good grasp of what the judge is looking for in terms of technical execution, but some riders are less certain about what makes an artistically pleasing freestyle. Let’s take a closer look at the artistic-impression side of the freestyle score sheet.
Music Of the five artistic-impression scores, the least affected by the technical performance is the score for music. How does the judge assess the competitor’s music choices? Above all, the music should suit the horse—his gaits and paces, and his physical type and personality. Done well, it appears that the horse is dancing to the music. Music that appears to be “background music”—unrelated to the horse or the choreography— will result in a lower score for both music and interpretation. Close your eyes and listen to the music. You should hear the gait in the music, or at least be able to picture which gait the horse might be doing. Choose music that fits your horse’s gaits and paces (changes of stride length and energy) fairly well, especially at trot and canter. The walk and the canter are fairly close in tempo (beats per minute), so sometimes a softer part of the canter music can be used for the walk. The tempo (speed) of the music should be close to the gait or at least suggest the gait or pace. Although the use of strict tempos (matching the footfalls of the gaits exactly) is not a requirement, we see many high-scoring freestyles that tend to do so. Most freestyles incorporate at least three pieces of music, although the exact number varies. However many pieces you use, make sure that your freestyle soundtrack sounds like a cohesive composition and not a disjointed mix of genres, styles, or orchestration. Cuts within a song should be smooth and well executed, and pieces of music should be well blended from one song to the next. Short fades can be used, but overly long ones do not work.
Judges’-Eye View of Freestyles
ttend the show’s sound check before your freestyle class, and be careful not to request that your music is played at too high a volume. Competitors are increasingly using high volume for “impact,” but excessively loud music makes it difficult for the judges to do their jobs. No judge wants to have to shout at the scribe to be heard. Keep in mind, too, that some horses do not like loud music. If you want your freestyle music played loud, make sure that your horse can handle the higher volume. Some horses are sensitive enough that certain genres of music don’t work well for them, so consider your horse’s sound tolerance during the music-selection process.
Dressage judges are trained not to assess music according to their personal tastes. However, the USDF Freestyle Committee advises competitors to choose music with a wide appeal and that most people appreciate. Vocals are permitted in freestyle competition and can be used to great advantage, especially in clarifying the theme of the freestyle. The use of vocals is becoming more prevalent, but take care that any vocals you choose do not become distorted or overpowering when played at high volume. As you consider music selections, keep in mind that you’ll have to listen to your soundtrack many times as you learn your freestyle and then in competition—so make sure you like your music. To earn a high score for interpretation, you must be able to stay “with” your music and not get ahead of or behind it as you ride. Try to hit your final halt and beginnings of movements or
Listen to to a recording from the the 2013 USDF Annual Convention for more insight into how freestyles are judged. Link bit.ly/TerryGallo
NOT TOO LOUD: Attend the sound check, and make sure your music won’t be played too loud. CD in hand, Germany’s Isabell Werth listens at the 2015 Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Las Vegas.
transitions when the music changes. If you have to stand in the final halt and wait for your music to end, or if the music ends before you halt, your freestyle has less of an impact and you’ve given the judge a poor final impression. The music should build to the final halt, not stop abruptly or fade away. [
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freestyle connection Choreography Familiarize yourself with the USDF freestyle score sheets (online at usdf. org) before you design your freestyle. The score sheets contain important information, such as lists of the compulsory elements for each level. Pay close attention to which movements and transitions are allowed for your level. In general, you cannot include movements and transitions from a higher level unless they are listed in the “additionally allowed” section at the bottom of the test sheet. The judge will deduct four points from your technical score for each movement in your freestyle that is forbidden (over the level). Good freestyle choreography is clear, well planned, and well executed. The judge should never have to guess at what you’re trying to do. Your “floor plan” should be balanced—making good use of the entire arena from front to back and from side to side. It has some patterns and lines that are visually interesting because they do not mimic exactly those found in the regular dressage tests. Clever choreography highlights a horse’s strengths and helps to minimize any weaknesses. It contains enough variety
Do It Yourself?
fter you determine the appropriate freestyle level to show and have earned the required prerequisite score, you’ll have another decision to make: whether to create the soundtrack and choreography yourself, or to hire a professional freestyle designer. The route you choose will depend largely on how musical you are, how computer-savvy you are, how much time you have to devote to the project, and your budget. If you decide to hire a pro to help with all or part of the process, there are many options and price ranges. Start your search online, or ask friends who compete in freestyle for recommendations.
that the pattern doesn’t seem to be an excessive repetition of one movement. In all freestyles, the rider must show at least 20 meters of continuous walk (free, medium, collected, or extended, depending on the level). A great deal more walk than is required is not advisable, however, because it is visually uninteresting. Be careful about including walk pirouettes, turns on the haunches, or turns on the forehand because these are generally not judged movements (except for the FEI Junior Freestyle, which must include one walk pirouette). Most freestyle competitors know that the entry and final halts and salutes must be done facing the judge at C, but many seem not to realize that the halts do not have to be at X or even on the center line. To be eligible to enter a freestyle class, you must have earned a score of 60 percent or better at the highest test of the level that you wish to show. The USDF Freestyle Committee recommends riding your freestyle at a level below your current competition level. The appearance of harmony between horse and rider is very important in freestyle, and proficiency at the level will enhance that harmony. In addition, you’ll be able to increase the difficulty of the choreography—and degree of difficulty is another artistic-impression score. Increasing the degree of difficulty means taking well-calculated risks— not by doing movements or transitions that are above the level, but by increasing the difficulty of permitted elements. You could ride a leg-yield or a half-pass at a steeper-than-normal angle, say, or perform a combination of movements that is more challenging than the standard test patterns. Know your horse’s strengths and weaknesses, and don’t overface him. Try to show off what he can do well. Keep in mind that difficult movements done poorly could bring down your difficulty score. Particularly at the lower levels, keep your freestyle short and to the point. There are maximum times allowed, with penalties if you exceed the time limit— but there is no minimum time! An overly long freestyle, with repetitions of several
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required movements, is a bore to watch and a chore for the judge to score.
Preparation Is Everything Riding and developing a musical freestyle is a lot of fun, and although it can be challenging, it is well worth the time and effort. Judges will appreci-
From the Horse’s Mouth
hat do the experts want to see in a lowerlevel freestyle? We polled six members of the USDF Freestyle Committee. Sarah Geikie, judge: Correct technical execution with music that matches and fits the horse’s paces. Terry Ciotti Gallo, freestyle designer: If the ride is not harmonious, I don’t enjoy the artistic presentation as much. Jeanne McDonald, judge: I want to smile and feel as if I’m dancing along with the horse and rider. The degree of difficulty is a very minor factor in these tests. Riders should not be desperately searching for every possible degree of difficulty, especially if it sacrifices fluid harmony and musical interpretation. Joan Darnell, judge: Logical and interesting choreography that the horse can easily manage with music that shows good phrasing and use of dynamics. Natalie Lamping, judge: Clear, recognizable lines. Not too many unnecessary circles. Pleasant music that fits the horse and movements. Anne Howard, judge: Use of musical phrasing so that there is more than the “background music effect.” Clear patterns with logic and creativity. Secure technical efforts.
ate and reward your hard work when they see a harmonious and technically correct performance with suitable and well-chosen music. Before you get started, make sure you understand the rules governing freestyle competition. Rules, guidelines, score sheets, and definitions for national-level freestyles are on the USDF website under Competitions. Don’t miss the helpful articles and podcasts on USDF’s eTRAK database. And be sure to review the US Equestrian rules (online at usef.org) regarding dressage freestyle (DR 129). Want to learn more about how judges evaluate freestyles? USDF has an excellent one-day Continuing Education in Freestyle Judging program, which all USDF members are welcome to audit. This program can be hosted by a USDF region, group-member organization (GMO), or other approved organization; hosting grants are available from The Dressage Foundation’s Edgar Hotz Judges Fund. Learn more at usdf.org / Education / L Education Program / Continuing Education. s Janet “Dolly” Hannon, of Arvada, CO, is a US Equestrian “S” dressage judge and the chair of the USDF Freestyle Committee. With her seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, Electra, she was the 2016 Great American/USDF Region 5 First Level Freestyle champion and was seventh in the year’s Adequan®/USDF First Level Musical Freestyle rankings.
IN THE NEXT ISSUE • Annual youth issue • Balancing schoolwork and showing • Guide to USDF youth programs • Report: USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum USDF CONNECTION • June 2017
Isabell Werth’s Master Class Besides winning the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Omaha, the decorated German Olympian demonstrated her methods Story and photographs by Jennifer O. Bryant
n international championships usually isn’t a learning opportunity in the traditional sense. The 2017 FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha, NE, were a noteworthy exception. Before the March 29-April 2 event, organizers announced that German dressage rider Isabell Werth would headline the Dressage Showcase, an exhibition held on the “dark day” of FEI World Cup Dressage Final competition. Werth’s “road to FEI” presenta-
BETTER AND BETTER: Olympian Isabell Werth fine-tuned the international pair Lucky Strike and Endel Ots, improving the horse’s connection and adjustability
tion, using three pairs of demonstration horses and riders, capped off an afternoon of freestyle performances, musical numbers, and dressagethemed entertainment. Given the lighthearted nature of the showcase and the time con-
straints, I was expecting little more than cursory demonstrations while Werth made some general remarks about how dressage training can benefit every horse. Boy, was I wrong. The formidable Werth—the most decorated Olympic equestrian in history and the heavy favorite to win in Omaha (which she did; see page 34)—should never be underestimated. The 47-year-old champion is a trainer at heart, and for about an hour she worked so intensively and enthusiastically with the three demo pairs, losing track of time in the process, that announcer Nicho Meredith was pretty much begging her to wrap it up so that the jump crews could get the ring set up for that evening’s jumping competition. (Funniest moment: Meredith gave Werth a gentle prompt to end the session, which Werth ignored. The multilingual Meredith repeated his request in German. Werth shot back in English: “I don’t understand German”—and kept on training for a few minutes more.) Werth’s clinic was a crash course in what she looks for in a young dressage horse and how she starts her prospects on the road to Grand Prix. Her teachings and expert eye, combined with the high quality of the demo horses and riders, made for an educational treat that many spectators surely wished had continued for hours longer. Here’s what we learned.
Learn It, Know It, Live It: Inside Leg to Outside Rein First up was the Canadian international competitor Karen Pavicic riding the five-year-old Hanoverian stallion Totem (Totilas x Donnerhall).
24 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
SWING TIME: To allow the horse to move freely with his inside hind leg, he must connect correctly from the rider’s inside leg to her outside rein. Karen Pavicic rides the five-yearold stallion Totem.
As Pavicic warmed up, Werth explained: “We look for three very good gaits without weaknesses” in a dressage prospect. Werth had Pavicic show the basics: 20-meter circles, changes of direction, transitions, leg-yield, shoulder-in. “It might look boring, but this is basic work,” Werth said. “This makes a horse supple.” The young horse must go freely forward, Werth emphasized. “Let the swing come out of the horse; don’t interrupt the swing. Let the horse find the good contact into both reins.” How many times has your instructor chanted that dressage mantra, “Inside leg to outside rein”? That phrase is a favorite of Werth’s, as well, and judging by the number of times she used it with Pavicic, it’s a tenet that bears repeating even to the most accomplished riders. Werth noticed right away that Pavicic tended to overuse the inside rein a bit to position the horse (something we’ve all been guilty of). The problem, Werth explained, is that doing so blocks the horse’s inside hind leg and therefore interrupts the inside leg-outside rein connection and the all-important swing. Instead, Werth counseled Pavicic to “always think a bit shoulder-in. Let go the inside rein. Inside leg. More inside leg. Outside rein. Free swing. Let him go.”
Then, taking Totem into canter: No slow, flat canter allowed. “Jump, jump, jump first. Really clear, big jump for a young horse.” Once Pavicic had established sufficiently bounding canter strides, “Try to collect him a little bit: Sit, sit, sit a little without losing the jump.” Typical for a young horse that needs to develop strength, as Pavicic brought Totem’s strides shorter and more active, the stallion broke to a trot. “Doesn’t matter,” said Werth, who pointed out that timing is critical: “That was one second too long [collecting the canter] before going out.” As a competitor in Omaha, Werth received high praise from the judges for the straightness that her mount, Weihegold OLD, showed in her tests. Werth is a stickler for this critical basic—which again goes back to the horse’s correct acceptance of being ridden from the rider’s inside leg into the outside rein. “He’s always discussing on the inside rein—‘Give me, give me,’” Werth observed of Totem. As Pavicic worked on the right rein, Werth instructed her to “flex him to the left a little bit. Tak-tak-tak,” she chanted in the desired rhythm of the gait. “Uphill. Outside rein to get him straight and keep him in front of you.”
to take longer, sweeping strides or shorter, more cadenced steps. “I would start with much more flexion and bending, to try to make him a little quicker and smaller,” Werth said. “Less trot. Little, quick steps. Sit, sit. Flex him so he’s not running against your reins in a straight way. Keep the [inside] leg. Long with your [inside] leg.” With these instructions, Werth was not asking Ots to flex Lucky Strike laterally or to shorten or restrict the gelding’s neck. Rather, she saw that the horse likes to move with huge, ground-covering strides and with fairly even contact into both reins. But to develop greater collection, the horse must “give” through his rib cage (from the rider’s inside leg, of course) and become a bit more connected into the outside rein so that he can bring his shoulders slightly to the inside of his haunches—in other words, to become straighter—while moving with that all-important unobstructed swing from the inside hind leg.
“You have to make the inside hind leg more active, more jumping, but you will only get it when you have him in a little bit of shoulder-in [positioning],” Werth said. In the half-pass work, Werth told Ots to keep his outside rein low, where it can better stay connected and influence the positioning of the horse’s shoulders. “Free shoulder in the half-pass. Give the inside rein.” “Lightness” in dressage can be a misunderstood concept. Some lightness is a good thing, but insufficient contact indicates a lack of connection, Werth said. It was subtle in Lucky Strike, but “there is not enough weight in the reins,” she said. “The horse needs the confidence to come into the reins; then you will get more forward [energy] and a freer back.” She emphasized that her instructions to the demo riders were not intended as “quick fixes”: “This is months and years [of training], not ten minutes.” The horse should always want to stretch into the contact. “When he
Training the Trainer It was with the second demonstration pair that Werth really lost track of time. As she worked with Endel Ots, Wellington, FL, and the seven-yearold Hanoverian gelding Lucky Strike (Lord Laurie x His Highness), the session turned into essentially a private lesson that the audience was fortunate to witness. With Ots, Lucky Strike represented the USA at the 2015 FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Dressage Horses. In Omaha, the gelding was clearly stronger and able to work in a greater degree of collection than the five-year-old Totem. Lucky Strike is an extravagant mover, but Werth pointed out that a dressage horse must learn to be adjustable— USDF CONNECTION • June 2017
bring a good change.” When Lucky Strike became overflexed to the inside: “He’s crooked. Forget the inside flexion, and come with the leg and outside rein. Flex a little bit to the outside, and come with the inside leg.” With the horse straightened, the canter quality improved and the changes were easy.
Shifting the Balance
NO EMPTY REINS: The horse must always want to stretch into an elastic contact. Endel Ots develops the stretch with Lucky Strike in the walk.
WEIGHTING THE HINDQUARTERS: To develop free swing in Hellohalli’s half-passes and other movements, Werth had rider Sabine Schut-Kery sit a bit more heavily and ride deliberately to help the mare find relaxation in an unhurried tempo
26 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
A Peek Behind the Curtain Werth’s master class was over far too soon, but she packed a remarkable amount of education into the short time. Given that she went on to win the World Cup Dressage Final title in Omaha, the Dressage Showcase was a unique opportunity for the audience to deconstruct her competition performances and get an inside look at the living legend’s approach to training. Werth’s straightforward, nogimmicks approach produced notable differences in the demonstration horses and proved that, all the way up to the highest levels, excellence in dressage is all about the basics. s Jennifer Bryant is the editor of USDF Connection.
asks for a bit more stretching, you give him,” Werth told Ots during a walk break. “He should look for the reins; don’t throw away the reins!” she said when Ots made a too-quick transition from contact to “on the buckle.” Werth wrapped up Ots’s session with some canter work and flying changes. “You only go in the canter when the horse walks,” she said, meaning a quality marching walk into the contact. It’s basics first for Werth before any “tricks.” As Ots prepared to ride some flying changes: “Before you change, first straight canter and a good canter. Only a good canter can
Besides the fact that it couldn’t last longer, the only disappointment of the clinic was the fact that Werth’s running over time with Ots and Lucky Strike left her with less time to work with the final pair, 2015 US Pan American Games team gold medalist Sabine Schut-Kery, of Thousand Oaks, CA, aboard the eight-year-old Hanoverian mare Hellohalli (Hochadel x De Niro). “We see here a lot more self-carriage already,” Werth said, comparing Hellohalli to the seven-year-old Lucky Strike. She noted, however, that the mare likes to go with her croup a bit higher than is ideal for the upper-level work. “We have to try to bring the croup lower and lower,” Werth said. She advised Schut-Kery to “sit heavy so she comes a bit lower behind with a free swing. We have to improve the mouth [the connection] and that the horse stays a little bit lower behind.” Lateral work helped the slightly spooky and tense Hellohalli find tempos in which she could relax and Schut-Kery could influence the mare effectively. Werth emphasized the importance of first establishing correct connection and positioning in the exercises, and only then asking for a gradual development of freer and more forward strides. In preparing for tempi changes, Werth wanted Schut-Kery to keep that same heavy, “wet towel” seat to help Hellohalli lower her croup; then “ride contact to both reins in between the changes.” Again, Werth said, a correct canter with straight, relaxed flying changes comes before the rider can ask for more volume and “jump” in the changes.
After Hellohalli demonstrated easy lines of three- and two-tempi changes, Werth asked Schut-Kery to try a onetempi change. Even though Hellohalli hadn’t practiced them, Schut-Kery’s correct riding and excellent timing produced two separate correct “oneone” changes. Ending with a bit of developing passage and piaffe work, Werth told Schut-Kery to position the mare “in a little bit shoulder-in so she is not jumping in the passage, so you can ask a little bit more for the diagonal. Slowly, slowly.” In shoulder-in and half-pass positioning, “Think slowly. Find the rhythm.” Similarly, a tactfully ridden passage-piaffe transition while allowing Hellohalli to find her balance resulted in a quality transition and the maintenance of clear rhythms in the gaits.
Listen to podcast 156 for an interview with Isabell Werth at usdf. podbean.com.
Meet the Clinician
ext to the late legendary Dr. Reiner Klimke, Isabell Werth is arguably the most STAYING POWER: famous Germany’s Isabell Werth German has been at the top of the dressage sport for 25 years rider in history. Werth has enjoyed remarkable longevity, winning her first Olympic medals (team gold and individual silver) at the 1992 Barcelona Games at the age of 23. Her partner at those Games—also with an impressively long career—was the legendary Gigolo, with whom Werth would go on to medal in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. Now 47, Werth set an Olympic equestrian record when she won her tenth medal in Rio 2016 (individual silver, which followed a team gold) aboard the Oldenburg mare Weihegold OLD, who was also Werth’s mount for the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final. Werth credits much of her success to her trainer and mentor, the German master Uwe Schulten-Baumer. Just as Klimke did before her, she has worked as a lawyer while continuing to train and compete in dressage. Werth has a notable depth to her dressage string, typically with one or more currently competing Grand Prix horses as well as small-tour horses, plus others in the pipeline. In 2001, Werth conducted the USDF National Dressage Symposium.
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USDF CONNECTION • June 2017
Want to “buy American”? This born-in-the-USA breed might be the perfect choice
he Morgan horse is steeped in American history. Descendants of the original Morgan horse worked hilly New England farms, pulled family buggies, and even raced as trotters, and during the Civil War they were favored as officers’ mounts. Bred at the US Government Morgan Farm in Vermont, stallions were used extensively by the US Remount Service to improve horseflesh in the
and are famous for their versatility. Morgans appeal to many dressage hobbyists, as they are often less expensive than many warmbloods. The breed’s smaller size (most are well under 16 hands) makes the Morgan a good choice for many youngsters, petite women, and beginning riders. Morgans you might know: The versatile Avatar’s Jazzman is competing in Grand Prix dressage as well as traininglevel eventing, jumping, and hunter paces. The gelding West Mt Winston (pictured) famously showed in a Grand Prix dressage test and a Grand Prix Freestyle, took a six-year-old child around the arena, and carried his amateur owner on a rugged trail ride in the Wasatch Mountains—all in the span of four days! ALL-AMERICAN: West Mt Winston (Far Well’s Brooks – West And in 2012, Mt. Santana), owned by Karin Weight (UT) and ridden by David Whippoorwill MacMillan (UT), was the 2008 USDF Intermediate II All-Breeds champion for the American Morgan Horse Association Ebony, a former Grand Prix dresWest. Today the Morgan breed is sage horse, was successfully shown at an international force in combined Fourth Level at the age of 26. driving, can be found in the Grand Morgans bred and trained by Prix dressage arena, is a popular show USDF member Deb M’Gonigle (IL) horse, and is considered an ideal famhave earned many USDF All-Breeds ily pleasure horse. awards up to the FEI levels, including Morgans are enthusiastic and eathe stallion Rapidan Imperial and ger to work. Their agility and smaller his son Forsite Zephyr and grandson size give them an advantage in certain Forsite Renoir. disciplines. Smart, trainable, and The American Morgan Horse adaptable, they enjoy new challenges Association: The Morgan Horse
28 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
Club was founded in 1909 to support the Morgan breed. The club grew and evolved, and after a 1971 reorganization it was renamed the American Morgan Horse Association to reflect its increasing responsibilities. Since 1988 the AMHA has been headquartered in Vermont, birthplace of the Morgan breed. Affiliated with the AMHA is the Morgan Dressage Association (morgandressage.org), which promotes Morgans in dressage and offers scholarships and other programs. All-Breeds awards offered: Top two placings in all performance and DSHB categories. How to participate: Owners and riders must be AMHA members. The horse must be registered with the AMHA, the Canadian Morgan Horse Association, the British Morgan Horse Society, or the Swedish Morgan Horse Association, and shown under its registered name with its registered owner listed. Learn more: morganhorse.com or (802) 985-4944. 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: Morgan
American Connemara Pony Society American Hackney Horse Society American Haflinger Registry American Hanoverian Society American Holsteiner Horse Association American Morgan Horse Association American Mule Association American Mustang & Burro Association American Paint Horse Association American Quarter Horse Association American Rhineland Studbook American Saddlebred Registry American Shire Horse Association American Trakehner Association American Warmblood Registry American Warmblood Society and Sporthorse Registry Appaloosa Horse Club Arabian Horse Association Belgian Warmblood Breeding Association Canadian Hanoverian Society Canadian Horse Breeders Association Canadian Sport Horse Association Canadian Warmblood Horse Breeders Association Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America Curly Sporthorse International Draft Cross Breeders & Owners Association Fell Pony Society of North America The Foundation for the Pure Spanish Horse FPZV USA Friesian Heritage Horse & Sporthorse International Friesian Horse Association of North America Friesian Horse Society Friesian Sport Horse Registry Friesian Sporthorse Association
Gypsy Cob and Drum Horse Association Gypsy Horse Association Gypsy Horse Registry of America Gypsy Vanner Horse Society Hungarian Horse Association of America International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association *International Drum Horse Association International Friesian Show Horse Association International Georgian Grande Horse Registry International Rescue Horse Registry International Sporthorse Registry/Oldenburg NA Irish Draught Horse Society of North America Knabstrupperforeningen for Danmark KWPN of North America New Forest Pony Society of North America North American Danish Warmblood Association North American Shagya Arabian Society North American Thoroughbred Society NorthAmerican Sportpony Registry Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry Oldenburg Horse Breeders Society NA Division of GOV Performance Horse Registry Performance Shagya-Arabian Registry Pinto Horse Association of America Rheinland Pfalz-Saar International Spanish-Norman Horse Registry Swedish Warmblood Association of North America United States Lipizzan Federation United States P.R.E. Association United States Trotting Association Welsh Pony & Cob Society of America Weser-Em Ponies & Small Horses Westfalen Horse Association *Denotes a new Participating Organization for 2017.
A complete listing of the AdequanÂŽ/USDF All-Breeds Awards Participating Organizations, program rules, and award standings are available on the USDF website at www.usdf.org. For questions e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
2017 All-Breeds Participating Organizations
These organizations, in partnership with USDF, promote and recognize a high standard of accomplishment within their breed, through their participation in the AdequanÂŽ/USDF All-Breeds Awards Program.
Let’s Stay in Touch! Communications solutions for GMOs By Colleen Scott
emember fax machines, with their long rolls of slippery paper and smeary ink? Trips to the 24hour copy shop and the post office to get that omnibus out to the membership? Answering machines? Back in the day, all of these were game-changers in terms of how USDF’s group-member organizations, or GMOs, communicated with their members. Today, the above equipment is only vogue in vintage stores, and print shops and the USPS are having to reinvent themselves. According to a
through the many options and choose the communication methods they believe best suit their members’ needs. We asked GMO representatives how technology has helped them streamline communications, expand their outreach, and even attract new members.
The Staples: Websites, Facebook, and E-Mail Far and away, every GMO rep we talked with cited the organization’s website and Facebook page as key tools in
show entries. The online entry form saves competitors time, paper, and postage, says FCCDS vice president Lisa Beardsley. Other GMOs capitalize on their Facebook pages, using them not just to publish general information but also as a direct-communications medium. June Brewer, website manager and marketer for the Georgia Dressage & Combined Training Association, has found that one of the most effective ways to communicate with GDCTA members is by messaging them via Facebook. “That way, even if I don’t have their phone number, I can still put a call through using Facebook Messenger,” says Brewer, who adds that individual and group texting is another effective tool. E-mail, including mass-marketing platforms such as MailChimp (MailChimp.com) and Constant Contact (ConstantContact.com), has saved GMOs countless hours and dollars. The hard-copy newsletter and omnibus is mostly a thing of the past, with most GMOs now using e-mailers to distribute electronic versions of their publications. Brewer, for one, finds Constant Contact particularly useful for the 700-plus-member GDCTA, as the app doesn’t charge for the first 2,000 email addresses. She estimates that the GDCTA uses Constant Contact once a month to communicate with members, on topics ranging from clinics and shows to social events.
THE NEW FACE-TO-FACE: Video conferencing is among the tech tools that are revolutionizing GMO communications and even encouraging members to get involved
Pew Research Center study, 91 percent of US adults now own mobile phones, and 84 percent own computers. We can get and disseminate information at any time. But keeping up with rapid technological change can prove challenging, and GMO leaders have to sort
their communications arsenals. The First Coast Classical Dressage Society, based in Jacksonville, FL, uses its website (fccds.org) in the traditional sense—to announce and promote events and to share news—but also to publish prize lists and solicit online
30 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
One of the biggest jobs faced by any GMO is recruiting and scheduling volunteers for shows and other events. In the old days, the process entailed multiple phone calls, the inevitable messages left and rounds of “phone tag,” countless drafts of schedules, and a final flurry of phone calls to remind volunteers of when and where to show up. Thankfully, those days are over. Enter SignUpGenius (SignUpGenius.com), an online scheduling and group-organizing tool. After schoolteacher and dressage schooling-show
manager Sally Burton recommended the app to her GMO, the Northern Ohio Dressage Association, the club embraced it and now uses SignUp Genius extensively. Here’s how NODA uses SignUp Genius to recruit and manage volunteers: “You set up an online sign-up sheet indicating times, positions, and locations,” Burton says. “We set up a group with all the GMO member email addresses, so any time I want to send out messages, everyone can see the sign-up link.” SignUp Genius has saved NODA’s volunteer coordinator hours of phone calls, says Burton. The tool is available as a simpler free version, or with additional features costing from $9.99 to $59.99 a month. NODA pays for an upgraded version, which according to Burton is well worth the cost. “Some of the nice features are that [when you volunteer] can put yourself on the sign-up where you want to be [working], double-check at any time what job you signed up for, and the times you are working. You can leave comments, as well—things like, ‘I’m volunteering after I show, so please make sure my ride times don’t conflict.’” Beardsley is another fan of SignUpGenius for volunteer management. She likes the fact that the site “sends reminder e-mails, and the final signup form is printed and given to show management the night before the show listing everyone’s name, position, times, and contact information.” Technology isn’t only for wrangling volunteers, however. Brewer uses a service called Eventbrite (Eventbrite.com) to handle entry and registration fees for the GDCTA’s shows and clinics. “It offers a lot of flexibility,” Brewer says of the tool. “We use it for everything from paying clinic and auditing fees to paying for actual rides or stabling.” Similar to SignUp Genius, the Eventbrite system provides users with a platform to register to participate in events, she says. While Eventbrite is complimentary to use for free events, organizers can
choose to pass along a minimal percentage or nominal flat fee to users for those events with participation fees or ticket sales.
The “Telecommuting” Board of Directors Although most of the communications tools we’ve discussed are helpful in organizing a GMO’s entire membership, one group has found an app to be particularly useful in keeping its board engaged. When the Long Island (NY) Dressage Association was founded in 1974, Skype video conferencing wouldn’t be introduced for another three decades. But today, the GMO relies on Skype (skype.com), a voice and video communications and conferencing app, for most of its meetings. In fact, it’s part of the reason the LIDA is still alive. “When I became president a year ago,” says Mary Mulcahy, “this GMO was on its last legs. Using social media and other communication formats has breathed life into our struggling GMO.” Mulcahy credits Skype with helping the LIDA attract and retain board members. “It’s been hard to get board members because we had to travel an hour or more to attend a meeting,” she says. “Recently we started using Skype for our board meetings, and it’s made a huge difference. We have a new board member specifically because we can Skype our meetings!” The LIDA stills holds general membership meetings three times a year and has some in-person board meetings, but Mulcahy doubts that her GMO will ever return to monthly face-to-face board meetings.
On the Horizon Most of the GMO leaders we interviewed predict that their organizations will eventually abandon print altogether in favor of the timeliness, convenience, and cost savings of electronic communications. Organizing tools such as SignUp Genius help streamline previ-
ously cumbersome and time-consuming jobs, which may make volunteering (and coordinating those volunteers) more appealing. And the experience of some GMOs suggests that video conferencing may erase some barriers to participation on boards of directors—and may even prove useful in facilitating more frequent or regular meetings, such as in areas of the country in which winter-weather cancellations are common. Savvy GMOs looking to increase volunteerism and member participation might do well to promote such uses of technology, to help make getting involved as easy and convenient as possible. At the same time, GMOs need to keep in mind that not everybody has a smartphone or a high-speed Internet connection. Every club probably has those loyal members who would rather receive a phone call and a printed newsletter than an e-mail and a download link. To keep those members engaged, note and accommodate their preferences. And no matter how high-tech your GMO gets, don’t forget the value of the personal connection. As Burton points out, NODA may have embraced SignUp Genius, but the GMO knows that not all members are comfortable with technology: “We do have a volunteer coordinator whom people can call and talk to if they can’t figure it out.” s Colleen Scott is a freelance writer and an equine pharmaceutical advertising account service supervisor who lives in Kansas City, MO.
Share Your Solutions
oes your GMO use an app, tool, or service not mentioned in this article that has streamlined communications or otherwise helped your organization? USDF Connection would love to hear about it. E-mail a short description of your GMO’s solution to email@example.com. We’ll share your tips in a future issue.
USDF CONNECTION • June 2017
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Werth the Trip Isabell wins and venue wows at the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY JENNIFER O. BRYANT
34 June 2017 â€¢ USDF CONNECTION
e US horse enthusiasts are always moaning that our sports deserve more exposure and need to attract new participants. Omaha-based amateur rider and Burlington Capital chair and CEO Lisa Roskens decided to do something about it. After her Omaha Equestrian Foundation persuaded the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) to award the 2017 edition of its annual dressage and jumping championships to the Nebraska city, Roskens and her fellow FEI World Cup Finals organizers did extensive local outreach. The result: A sizable swath of the Midwest got introduced to horses, and many spectators got their first-ever look at international-caliber equestrian sport. The March 29-April 2 event, comprising the FEI World Cup Dressage Final and the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final, set a new standard for how to meld the highbrow elements of top equestrian sport with family-friendly demonstrations and hands-on exhibits designed to introduce visitors to the wonderful world of horses. By all accounts, Roskens and her team knocked it out of the park. USDF Connection heard not one complaint about the city, the venue (the 1-million-plus-square-feet, nearly 19,000-seat, state-of-the-art CenturyLink Center, which easily accommodated the arena, the stabling, the warm-up, and the trade fair under its cavernous roof ), the footing, the competition, or the food. “Fantastic” was the most common adjective used by the riders to describe the event, with apparently unanimous agreement that they’d love to return to Omaha for a future Finals. The weather wasn’t great—temperatures hovering around 50, with persistent grim skies and rain—but nobody really cared because, once inside the spacious, light-filled CenturyLink, it didn’t matter. Hotels and restaurants were an easy hop away, some within walking distance. And the Midwestern hospitality charmed even the most travel-weary visitors.
The Top 18 16 Pairs in the World
THE QUEEN OF OMAHA: 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final champion Isabell Werth on Weihegold OLD
The FEI World Cup Dressage Final is an individual championship. Only 18 horse-rider combinations can qualify, with quotas from each participating “league,” or group of nations. (Currently there are four leagues: North American, Western European, Central European, and Pacific. A competitor from a non-league nation may qualify if the appropriate red tape is completed.) Assuming qualification requirements are met, last year’s winner gets an automatic invitation. For Omaha 2017, that would have been the Netherlands’ Hans Peter Minderhoud and Glock’s Flirt. Unfortunately, the 16-year-old Swiss Warmblood gelding came up lame just before they were scheduled to USDF CONNECTION
BONES ABOUT IT: A “Horse Discovery Zone” volunteer explains the equine skeleton to a young visitor
THE WORLD COMES TO OMAHA: Visitors browse trade-fair booths on the concourse of the CenturyLink Center
depart for the US, so the field dropped from 18 to 17. Then it fell to 16 when the number-two-ranked pair from the Western European League, Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Unee BB (who were third at the Finals in 2015 and 2016), had to withdraw when the 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion colicked at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam shortly before takeoff. (Both horses were expected to recover fully.) Despite the scratches, there was no lack of dressage excellence in Omaha. For starters, there were the favorites: the world’s top-ranked pair, 2016 Rio Olympics team gold and
individual silver medalists Isabell Werth of Germany on the 12-year-old Oldenburg mare Weihegold OLD. The USA was represented by the two top-ranked combinations from the North American League, 2016 Olympics team bronze medalists Laura Graves on Verdades and Kasey Perry-Glass on Goerklintgaards Dublet. As the World Cup Finals host nation, the USA was allotted one extra starting place, which went to our third-ranked pair, Steffen Peters on Rosamunde.
Up Close and Personal
t many major equestrian competitions, the warm-up arena is off limits to spectators. Not so in Omaha, where the warm-up ring was literally in the middle of the trade fair. Vendor booths lined the arena, and spectators could stand close enough to feel the horses’ hooves shake the ground as they went by. When you’re standing thisclose to the world’s best dressage horses, they look huge—so collected and “up” in their frames, and powerful in a way that doesn’t come across in a photograph or when seen from a distance. The access to the warm-up literally added a new dimension to the spectator experience.
36 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH: Trade-fair booths surrounded the warm-up arena, where German dressageteam coach Monica Theodorescu (back to camera) scrutinized Isabell Werth on Weihegold OLD before the Grand Prix
It’s All About That Bass (and Treble)
he FEI World Cup Dressage Final is a freestyle-centric championship. It’s through Grand Prix Freestyle scores that competitors qualify, and the GP Freestyle determines the Final champion. There is a day of Grand Prix competition, but it’s largely a formality because riders need earn only a score of 60 percent or better to advance to the freestyle final. Despite the music’s importance, freestyle spectators generally aren’t told much about the competitors’ soundtracks; so USDF Connection pieced together some musical notes of interest. Isabell Werth: The German champion has used pop tunes in her freestyles over the years, and her Omaha routine was no exception. An instrumental version of Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” worked well with Weihegold OLD’s trot tempos. Laura Graves: Her music wasn’t so surprising considering that Verdades is a powerhouse: a collection of National Football League TV themes whose bombast the big Dutch Warmblood gelding carried well. Kasey Perry-Glass: The 2016 US Olympic team bronze medalist chose music from The MOVIE MOGUL: Music from The Avengers and The Lord of the Rings trilogy suited Goerklintgaards Dublet, ridden by the USA’s Kasey Perry-Glass Avengers and The Lord of the Rings films, edited by Tom Hunt, who’s best known as Mai Tofte Olesen: Movie soundtracks are a freeBritish superstar Charlotte Dujardin’s freestyle style staple, and the Danish rider’s routine with designer. Perry-Glass said the music fits Goerklintgaards Rustique was no exception. Olesen’s music was a Dublet perfectly: “It’s bold, but it’s also subtle and soft. medley of tunes from the animated feature film Spirit: He just kind of relaxes in it, and he really loves it.” Stallion of the Cimarron by the well-known composer Joao Victor Marcari Oliva: There seems to be an Hans Zimmer. unwritten rule that every Latino rider must choose Steffen Peters: Rosamunde’s freestyle was a blend Latin music. In the Brazilian’s case, his freestyle with of new and old. Peters favors pop and rock tunes, the Lusitano stallion Xama Dos Pinhais featured— and his Omaha freestyle started out with Phil Collins’ what else?—“The Girl from Ipanema.” 1980s smash “In the Air Tonight” (including vocals). Maria Florencia Manfredi: Ditto Oliva, except the Toward the end, fans of Peters’ legendary now-retired Argentinean rider chose—what else?—tango music, including the famous “La Cumparsita,” for her mount, partner Ravel recognized selections from that horse’s freestyle music, including Coldplay’s “The Man Who Bandurria Kacero. Sold the World” and The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy Judy Reynolds: The Irish star had the “poppiest” for the Devil.” As Peters explained afterward, he freestyle of the competition, with a collection of 1980s “diva” hits including The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited” wasn’t happy with some of “Rosie’s” new trot music, and Ravel’s trot music fit the 10-year-old Rhinelander and Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time.” The walk was set mare perfectly, so he decided to reuse it. to Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time.”
Grand Prix Sets the Stage for a Werth-Graves Showdown
LUCK OF THE DRAW: Dressage competitors Judy Reynolds of Ireland and Carl Hester of Great Britain did the honors at the draw party
Audiences love it when the most highly anticipated competitors are last to go, heightening the excitement. That’s what happened in the World Cup Dressage Final Grand Prix—purely by chance. In a CDI (FEI-recognized dressage competition), riders are not assigned start times; instead, there is a random draw for the starting order. In Omaha, the drawing took place the night before the Grand Prix at a “draw party,” which is basically an excuse for riders, officials, sponsors, and other VIPs to get dressed up, go someplace fun, and eat, drink, and make merry. The crowd was bused to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, where in the IMAX theater dressage competitors Judy Reynolds of Ireland and Carl Hester of Great Britain plucked names and order-of-go numbers out of fishbowls. The USA’s Laura Graves and Germany’s Isabell
Dressage Goes Higher-Tech
uring the 2017 FEI World Cup Finals, the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) announced that the German software corporation SAP has been named the global analytic sponsor of the FEI’s World Cup Dressage series. SAP sponsors a range of sports; equestrian sports, which joined its portfolio in 2013, are the latest addition, said SAP sponsorship representative Henrike Paetz. SAP technology—performance tracking, customized training programs, and course visualization—aids athletes and coaches. Real-time statistics and apps, she said, get fans closer to the action. That involvement is what the FEI is after. As FEI commercial director Ralph Straus put it, “Fan engagement is high on the priority list for the FEI. It’s not just being able to watch what is going on; it’s about education, learning the rules.” SAP and the FEI YOU BE THE JUDGE: Using the believe all those boxes Spectator Judging app, the audience are checked with can input scores and compare marks with friends the new Spectator Judging app, which they officially rolled out just a couple of hours before the World Cup Dressage Final freestyle. A free download from iTunes and Google Play, Spectator Judging allows users to input their own scores while they watch a dressage test, to compare scores with friends, and to learn about the riders and horses. (App developer Daniel Göhlen and his company, Black Horse One, are also the creators of the Floorplan Creator and Judge Assistant software now being used in the judging of THE AUDIENCE SAYS: Average scores from Spectator Judging app users were flashed on the jumbotron during the freestyle, allowing dressage freestyles; see “Dressage Freestyles Move into spectators to compare their scores with the judges’ the Future,” July/August 2016.)
38 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
FROM SERIOUS TO SILLY: The USA’s Steffen Peters was one of several competitors who showed his versatility (and good humor) in Omaha. After finishing ninth in the World Cup Dressage Final aboard Rosamunde (left), Peters and a slightly smaller mount delighted the crowd by participating in Pony Club celebrity mounted games.
Werth got ride slots 15 and 16, respectively. Aboard Weihegold OLD (Don Schufro x Sandro Hit), Werth easily topped the field in the Grand Prix with a final overall score of 82.300 percent. All seven judges—Katrina Wuest (GER), Andrew Gardner (GBR), Maribel Alonso de Quinzanos (MEX), Mariette Sanders van Gansewinkel (NED), Leif Törnblad (DEN), Anne Gribbons (USA), and Raphaël Saleh (FRA)—had Werth in first place. For a while, Werth’s score was hovering in the range of what Graves (79.800 percent) had achieved. Weihegold had a mistake in the two-tempi changes, took a couple of walk steps into the halt, and (despite the fact that Werth schooled and corrected unsquare halts repeatedly in the warm-up) the halt before the rein back wasn’t square. But once the pair hit the piaffe-passage tour, it was all over. “It’s raining eights and nines here,” said the Californiabased retired FEI 5* dressage judge and USDF L program fac-
TOP RIGHT: SARAH MILLER
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Watch SAP’s promotional video for the new Spectator Judging app.
ulty member Axel Steiner, who did live audio dressage commentary via the Omaha World Cup Finals app. Steiner offered valuable insights leavened with humor and such effective visuals as “Isabell can ride a pirouette on a serving plate.” Steiner called Graves’ score on Verdades accurately, predicting that “it won’t break 80.” “Diddy” put in a solid and accurate test with just one unsettled moment as Graves gave the reins for the extended walk out of the passage, but the 15-year-old KWPN gelding’s (Florett As x Goya) piaffe is not as textbook-perfect as Weihegold’s, a fact that Graves discussed in last month’s issue of USDF Connection (“The Elusive 80 Percent”). “Finishing second to Isabell feels a lot like winning,” Graves said afterward. Third in the Grand Prix, with a score of 76.671 percent, was Great Britain’s Carl Hester and the 13-year-old KWPN gelding Nip Tuck (Don Ruto x Animo). Hester rode the extended trots conservatively, and “Barney” had a spook/ bobble moment in one corner and showed some loss of balance and energy as the test went on. (We later learned why: Traveling solo for the first time since the retirement of his stablemate Valegro, Barney was lonely and didn’t eat well in Omaha.) “But he gets a nine for accuracy and straightness,” said Katrina Wuest, who was head of the ground jury for the Grand Prix. [ USDF CONNECTION
eartwarming” isn’t the usual descriptor for a major international equestrian championships, but the 2017 FEI World Cup Finals were filled with warm fuzzies. As Finals mastermind Lisa Roskens promised, the event strove to promote horses and horse sports to the local community. Each morning, school groups streamed through the doors of the CenturyLink Center and headed for the Triple Crown Horse Discovery Zone in the trade fair. Youngsters got to sit in saddles, practice wrapping legs and braiding tails, and—for that gross-out factor kids adore—look at photos of equine parasites and watch as a volunteer pulled a long rope of pink tubing out of a box to depict the length of a horse’s intestines. Exhibit stalls held real live horses of various breeds, most of whose owners were on hand to answer questions. Demonstrations ranged from para-equestrians and a parade of breeds to vaulting and natural horsemanship. Selections from the Equus Film Festival were screened both on site and at a downtown theater. (One big hit: a showing of the NBC 2016 Olympics promo short Slow and Steady Wins the Race: The Story of Laura Graves and “Diddy,” with Graves on hand to sign autographs.) For the dressage enthusiast, the warmest fuzzy had to have been during the competition, when several times commentator and retired FEI 5* judge Axel Steiner reported that he’d received such elementary audience questions as “What’s the difference between a collected trot and an extended trot?” Steiner encouraged the questions and used moments in the tests to point out the answers. The exchanges were inclusive learning opportunities for all who tuned in.
RIDING HIGH: Groups of all sorts visited the World Cup Finals. These youths had fun getting their pictures taken while sitting in saddles.
ALL KINDS OF EQUESTRIANS: The World Cup Finals event included many exhibitions, including a para-dressage freestyle by Katie Jackson, who lost part of her right leg to cancer, riding Royal Dancer
40 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
GOTCHA! A gleeful Isabell Werth sprays Carl Hester with bubbly after dousing second-place finisher Laura Graves
Kasey Perry-Glass on the 14-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Goerklintgaards Dublet (Diamond Hit x Ferro) finished seventh in the Grand Prix on 73.828. “Dublet” showed accuracy, good stretch over his topline, and a relaxed yet expressive way of going that prompted Steiner to comment, “I think she has what it takes to really move up [on the international scene].” Right behind Perry-Glass was eighth-placed Steffen Peters on Rosamunde (72.257). Very talented but still green at Grand Prix, the 10-year-old Rhinelander mare (Rock Forever x Fidermark) is so supple longitudinally that she tends to get herself “stuck” in the piaffe and in canter pirouettes, her hind legs coming so far beneath her body that she can get that “elephant on a pedestal” look. The resulting loss of balance leads to problems with the transitions, and “Rosie” can waver in her straightness, but Peters said he was happy with his newest star’s effort. One incident marred an otherwise uneventful Grand Prix: Wendi Williamson on Dejavu MH was eliminated when the post-ride equipment check revealed blood in the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding’s (De Niro x Anamour) mouth. Adding insult to injury, the pair failed to earn the minimum score of 60 percent required to advance to the Grand Prix Freestyle. It was a tough blow for Williamson, who had made the grueling trip to Omaha to become the first rider from New Zealand ever to compete in a World Cup Dressage Final.
It’s Isabell’s Party Those who envision German dressage riders as staid, somber folk have never met Isabell Werth. Although she’s won every possible title (including two previous World Cup Dressage Finals, in 1992 on Fabienne and in 2007 with Warum Nicht FRH), Werth was far from blasé about her Omaha victory, clinching the 2017 World Cup Dressage Final championship on a final average score of 90.704 percent in the Grand Prix Freestyle. Atop the medal podium, she accepted the trophy, sash, and bouquet—then whipped out a bottle of sparkling wine, expertly popped the cork, and doused second-placed Laura Graves and thirdplaced Carl Hester with the spray before taking a hefty swig, offering the bottle to her competitors, and then hopping off the podium to pour some bubbly down the throats of all three waiting grooms, who stood holding the horses for the victory laps. “I’ll pay for the cleaning!” Werth exclaimed jovially afterward to the wine-dampened Graves and Hester. “I’m really thankful and happy,” Werth said of her win. “I’m really proud of ‘Weihe.’ She was so focused. Laura [Graves] pushed me to show the best we could show, and it worked. It was a fantastic atmosphere and a fantastic competition.” Of the Final competitors, Werth’s freestyle was among the most technically challenging, with a degree of difficulty USDF CONNECTION
THE WINNERS: Laura Graves (second), Isabell Werth (first), and Carl Hester (third)
Anne Gribbons: The View from C
he US FEI 5* judge Anne Gribbons was the president of the ground jury for the Grand Prix Freestyle at the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final. After the competition, she shared her thoughts on the challenges of judging three top horses of very different types. Weihegold OLD is like a ballet dancer—very light, very through, very “collectible”—but she’s not a powerhouse. She’s like a little feather. What MADAM PRESIDENT: Anne Gribbons of the USA (center) was head of the ground jury for she gains points for is her extreme ability to take weight behind, to stay the freestyle final light in the bridle, to react quickly, and to always look as if it’s easy. Her piaffe is by far the best in the world today; it’s incredibly good. Then you have Verdades. He’s almost the opposite. He has this big body, big bones; he hits the ground with fervor. He is not light, but he’s powerful. Because of the power in his movements and his nice clean gaits, he can also impress. It’s like the difference between a ballet dancer and an excellent football player. It doesn’t look light, and it doesn’t look like it’s easy, but it looks like he wants to do it. He turns on all this impulsion. You almost wait for it to explode. It’s positive tension; you wait for it to boil over, but of course it never does. That makes it fascinating. Nip Tuck is not as good an athlete as the other two. I would say he is extremely well managed. Of the three horses, he’s the normal horse. There’s nothing extremely special about that horse. He’s fabulous, but Carl [Hester] put it in. I think he made an athlete out of a horse that wasn’t born one. And of course his precision is remarkable. The horse never puts a foot wrong, and it looks as if somehow they’ve grown together. Because of these three different horses, with such excellent riders, it becomes extremely challenging to judge. I was not so convinced about Isabell the first day [the Grand Prix], as you could tell from the scores. (Gribbons had Werth ahead of Laura Graves by a mere 0.100 percent.) To me, the beginning of her test was very careful and didn’t show any great impulsion or engagement. As she went on it improved, but she had a mistake. Laura had no mistakes, and she gunned it from the beginning. I didn’t [know who was going to come out on top in the freestyle] until the very end. I had three percentage points between them [88.475 for Werth and 84.850 for Graves]. I still feel that the gap is closing because, sometimes when you have all that power in your hand and you can control it, like Laura did in the end, that’s going to be more exciting in a way.
42 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
THRILLING CHOREOGRAPHY: Laura Graves’ two-tempis on a curved line followed by a line of ones with Verdades had the audience cheering during her freestyle
CAREER BEST: Nip Tuck’s freestyle was his best test ever, said rider Carl Hester, who finished third
of 9.37, according to Steiner. Weihegold showed great activity and superb transitions in the piaffe and passage work, and the choreography included such difficult combinations as a double canter pirouette to a line of one-tempi changes. (For details on Werth’s and the other competitors’ musical choices, see “It’s All About That Bass (and Treble)” on page 37.) The Toughest Freestyle award goes to Ireland’s Judy Reynolds, whose test with the 15-year-old KWPN gelding Vancouver K (Jazz x Ferro) had a degree of difficulty of 9.78—“the highest I’ve ever seen,” said Steiner. Half-pass to double pirouettes, extended trot right into piaffe pirouettes—the tight turns and tricky transitions never stopped coming. But Reynolds’ effort was received unevenly by the judges, with three placing her fourth, three fifth, and one ninth, for a final score of 79.571 and fourth place overall. By contrast, Graves’ freestyle with Verdades was not quite as challenging, with a degree of difficulty of 8.91. It was a crowd-pleaser, however, with ripples of applause breaking out when Graves rode curved lines of two-tempis followed by diagonal lines of ones. There was an extended canter to a double pirouette, and the big finish was left and right piaffe “fans” to an extended trot that thundered down center line to the final halt and salute—the timing of which Graves said she had to guess at because the cheering was so loud she couldn’t hear her music. All but one judge had Graves in second place, and second is where she finished, on a score of 85.307.
“I changed my final center line,” Graves said afterward. “We wanted a surprise at the end after the piaffe fans, so at the last minute we threw in the extended trot to the salute.” There was some disappointment on Graves’ face at the post-competition press conference, and the 2016 Olympic team bronze medalist admitted it. “I think I didn’t even realize how badly I wanted to win,” she said. “I’m very competitive. When I saw Isabell’s technical score go so high and then [the TV broadcast crew] cut to a shot of the World Cup [trophy], I thought, ‘Oh, I want that so badly!’ Still, Graves repeated the line she used after the Grand Prix—that finishing second to Werth “still feels an awful lot like winning.” As in the Grand Prix, Perry-Glass bested Peters, finishing seventh on 77.068 to Peters’ ninth with 75.879. Relaxation and accuracy were hallmarks of Perry-Glass’s freestyle, which highlighted Dublet’s piaffe and passage. Her choreography included sweeping passage half-passes, piaffe fans, and a difficult transition from passage to extended walk that drew praise from Steiner: “That’s what an extended walk should look like, with the horse stretching to the bit.” Peters’ challenging choreography (degree of difficulty: 9.4) showed off Rosamunde’s suppleness and ability to collect with steep half-passes and transitions from canter pirouettes directly into piaffe. [ USDF CONNECTION
World Cup Final Grand Prix Freestyle Results 1. Isabell Werth (GER)/Weihegold OLD...........................90.704% 2. Laura Graves (USA)/Verdades......................................85.307% 3. Carl Hester (GBR)/Nip Tuck..........................................83.757% 4. Judy Reynolds (IRL)/Vancouver K.................................79.571% 5. Madeleine Witte-Vrees (NED)/Cennin..........................79.046% 6. Edward Gal (NED)/Glock’s Voice.................................78.921% 7. Kasey Perry-Glass (USA)/Goerklintgaards Dublet........77.068% 8. Inessa Merkulova (RUS)/Mister X................................76.414% 9. Steffen Peters (USA)/Rosamunde................................75.879% 10. Kristy Oatley (AUS)/Du Soleil.......................................75.868% 11. Mai Tofte Olesen (DEN)/Rustique................................74.300% 12. Marcela Krinke-Susmelj (SUI)/Smeyers Molberg.........74.146% 13. Maria Florencia Manfredi (ARG)/Bandurria Kacero.....70.696% 14. Joao Victor Marcari Oliva (BRA)/Xama Dos Pinhais.....70.321%.
ELITE COMPANY: 2017 World Cup Dressage Final competitor group photo. From left: S. Peters, C. Hester, I. Werth, M. F. Manfredi, M. Witte-Vrees, J. Reynolds, W. Williamson, I. Merkulova, L. Graves, M. T. Olesen, K. PerryGlass, M. Krinke-Susmelj, K. Oatley, E. Gal, J. V. M. Oliva.
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www.usdf.org/join 44 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
The USDF Connection
he USDF was well represented in Omaha. Among the dressage officials were FEI chief steward Elisabeth Williams (left) and assistant steward (and USDF VP) Lisa Gorretta (right), both of whom are USDF Connection technical advisors. Not pictured: USDF Region 4 director Anne Sushko, who was also an assistant steward. Of course the USDF had a booth in the trade fair, run by staffers Betsy Hamilton (left) and Sydney Manning (right).
Carl Hester seemed nearly as thrilled with his thirdplace finish aboard Nip Tuck (83.757) as Werth was with her win. There were a few bobbles in “Barney’s” transitions, and the piaffe didn’t always “sit” behind; but the notoriously spooky gelding appeared relaxed and totally focused—and his overall work was correct and arrow-straight. Hester called it the best freestyle test Barney had ever done. Hester has talked openly about the challenges of bringing Barney up to this level, and to have the big horse rise to the occasion—especially after nearly a week of not eating
well—clearly gave the British Olympian great satisfaction. “If somebody says to you, are you disappointed to be third, how can I be disappointed in a horse that did his absolute best?” Hester said. Spoken like a true horseman—and horsemanship, from the intro level to the very top, is what these World Cup Finals were all about. s
Jennifer Bryant is the editor of USDF Connection.
2017 USDF Arts Contest 2 Divisions Art and Photography 3 Age Groups 15 and under, 16 to 21 and Adult The grand prize winning entry will be used as the cover art for the USDF Member Guide.
ENTRY DEADLINE JULY 1 www.usdf.org (awards/other awards) for complete contest rules and entry form USDF CONNECTION
When the Big One Hits Extreme weather events are becoming more common. Get your equine disaster plan in place. BY NATALIE DEFEE MENDIK
IN HARM’S WAY: Are you prepared to get your horses out of danger if a natural disaster threatens?
46 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
he haunting photo went viral on social media: a woman on horseback, ponying two more horses, fleeing the flames of last summer’s catastrophic forest fire in and around Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada. The woman and horses in the photo were reportedly safe. But could such a scenario happen to you and your horses, or those in your care? No matter where you live, the threat of dangerous weather events is real, putting our beloved horses in peril. Dressage training and showing are all about meticulous preparation and attention to detail. Now it’s time to use some of those well-honed planning skills to figure out what you’ll do and where you’ll go should the day come that you and your horse need to get out of Dodge, stat. To help you get started, we asked disaster-preparedness experts as well as battle-scarred natural-disaster survivors for their best advice on avoiding becoming victims of nature’s wrath.
Envision Your Worst-Case Scenario Is your area prone to tornadoes? Earthquakes? Blizzards and ice storms? Start your disaster-preparedness planning by identifying the most likely weather events to strike your region. Keep in mind that even weather events that may not make headlines, such as thunderstorms and high winds, can cause property damage, power outages, fires, or other problems. “Having a plan that responds to all hazards that are most common where you live, and being able to enact that plan efficiently and effectively, takes planning and practice,” says Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, of Macon, GA, author of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, who leads equine-rescue and emergency training courses nationwide (tlaer.org). Those last steps—the planning and practice, or what Gimenez calls the “two Ps”—“are not something that everyone does,” she says. “It takes time, it takes prior coordination, and it takes effort to make it happen and keep it up to date.” If a natural disaster threatens your horse’s welfare, you may need to evacuate him. You and he may need to leave together if you keep him at home, in which case you’ll want to plan in advance where you’ll go and where you’ll take him. Let family members, friends, and your horse-community colleagues know of your plan. If your horse resides at a boarding or training stable, ask the facility owner or manager about their emergency strategy. And if you’re the owner or the manager, put the facility’s emergency and evacuation plan in writing, give copies to clients, and make sure all staffers know and understand the disaster protocol. [ USDF CONNECTION
NATURE’S WRATH: The Riverside Dressage facility in Colorado (the submerged arena is in the background) under water in 2013 (left). The floodwaters dumped massive piles of debris requiring extensive cleanup (right).
USDF silver medalist Jessica Naten, of Sacramento, CA, says she “evacuated from three fires in 2015 and two floods in the last thirty days,” referring to the floods that made national news early in 2017. From those experiences, Naten has learned that “First and foremost, it’s extremely important to have an evacuation plan that is well-prepared and gone over every year, especially if you have a boarding facility or numerous horses.”
Marshal Your Resources Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to stay current on imminent dangers in your area. Gimenez recommends downloading your choice of relevant smartphone apps and having a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) weather radio on hand. Some weather-related apps can be set to send text-message alerts when storms threaten.
“Hurricanes, high winds, and blizzards are pretty predictable these days if you pay attention to a weather app,” Gimenez says. Take advantage of local resources, too: from asking the fire marshal to perform a safety inspection of your facility to inviting an equine-rescue expert to speak at your farm. “Have a good relationship with your fire department, police department, or official within your community that understands your situation,” Naten recommends. “Our property looks like a small barn from the road, but there are actually a hundred horses. We stay in touch with our fire chief; if I didn’t have that relationship with him and keep that communication open, he probably wouldn’t realize we have so many horses. They really do keep you in mind; he lets us know when something is going on.”
48 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
COURTESY OF LAURA SPEER; DUSTYPERIN.COM
n advance plan for trailering should be part of every horse owner’s evacuation plan. If danger threatens, do you have a trailer and hauling vehicle in good working order at the ready? If not, does your horse have a spot on someone else’s rig? The nicest trailer in town will do you no good if your horse refuses to get on it. “I can’t say enough about having your horse load,” says dressage pro Laura Speer, who had to evacuate her flooded farm in Colorado in 2013. “All of our horses loaded right on up. There were sirens going off; you had to yell over the IS THIS YOUR HORSE? Teaching a horse to board a trailer roaring-river sound. The horses have to be able to get on a willingly could one day save his life strange trailer in a panicky situation.” “Loading is the number-one skill that a horse needs after good handling and leading skills—way before nice two-tracks and piaffes,” says equine disaster-preparedness expert Dr. Rebecca Gimenez. “We regularly see horses that get left behind in wildfires and floods, simply because they will not load. People make all kinds of excuses: My horse won’t load on ramps, likes shavings, doesn’t like the dark, et cetera. These kinds of excuses are essentially condemning your horse to death in an emergency. My horses load in any trailer at any time, and I purposely practice those skills.”
Where to Go? Resources for planning, evacuation, and rescue operations may include your county extension office, local emergencymanagement agency, sheriff ’s office, local welfare officers, humane organizations, state veterinarian’s office, state agricultural office, or state animal-response teams. In many cases, designated shelter areas, such as fairgrounds, are made available to evacuated horses. Explore these options, know the exit routes from your farm, and identify out-of-harm’s-way stabling options—before disaster looms. USDF member Susan St. Onge almost learned this last lesson the hard way. “What I learned from Hurricane Isabel is to always have an emergency plan,” says St. Onge, who owns Bel Laurel Farm in Williamsburg, VA, home base of the US Equestrian “S” dressage judge and USDF gold medalist Debbie Rodriguez. Of that historic 2003 storm, St. Onge recalls: “We didn’t have a plan in place but thankfully were able to evacuate to the Virginia Horse Center,” nearly 200 miles away in Lexington. “The ideal, and what we have in place now, is to have an ongoing agreement with another farm where you can take your horses.” If your horse won’t load on a trailer, you are essentially condemning him to death in an emergency.
COURTESY OF EQUESTRISAFE.COM
—Dr. Rebecca Gimenez “We make an order of operation for foreseeable events: We first evacuate school horses that aren’t used that much, then broodmares,” Naten says. “Thinning down the numbers helps in getting all the horses out. Finding a facility for stallions is tricky, so have that in your plan, too.” Laura Speer, owner and operator of Riverside Dressage in Evans, CO, was glad she’d done advance planning when a berm broke on the South Platte River during devastating flooding in 2013, unleashing a raging river onto her farm. “The entire flooded river ran through my property and my barn. I was in chest-deep water evacuating horses and cattle,” says Speer. Luckily, Speer had previously arranged with her veterinarian to use the veterinary clinic as an evacuation site. With her property engulfed, she moved the horses to the clinic, where they overnighted in pens. Her local dressage community then extended an offer to house the horses in show stabling until her farm was habitable again. The horses stayed at that facility for two weeks while nonprofit rescue groups and dressage enthusiasts came together to help clean and rebuild Speer’s farm.
ID TAG: Increase the odds you’ll be reunited with your horse if you get separated in an emergency. This horse is wearing an EquestriSafe fetlock band embroidered with his owner’s phone number.
Get Your Horse Some ID If you and your horse become separated during an emergency, proof of identification and ownership will facilitate your reunion. In the 2015 fires, Naten recalls, there were unidentified horses that had made their way onto Bureau of Land Management land. Without ID, it was difficult or impossible to reunite them with their owners. In its equine emergency-preparedness materials, the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Equine Health suggests photographing your horse—both full-body and close-up views—with all identifying characteristics displayed. Include yourself in the photos in the event that ownership comes into question. Make prints of identifying photos; don’t just keep digital images on your smartphone. How will others identify your horse and contact you? Permanent equine-ID methods include tattoo, brand, microchip (with completed registration), and eyeD™ (iris scan). In the event of an emergency, horses should have owners’ contact information on their bodies, says Gimenez. Attach a luggage tag to your horse’s halter bearing his name, your name, address, phone numbers, e-mail address, and the name and number of an additional contact person. You can also write the information on a piece of paper, seal the paper in a small waterproof plastic zip-lock bag, and attach it to the cheekpiece of his halter with sturdy tape. Commercially produced neck and fetlock ID bands, embroidered or engraved with your information, are also available. [ USDF CONNECTION
Trouble on the Road
ot all natural disasters happen at home. If you haul your horse to shows and clinics, for example, you could encounter bad weather en route or at your destination, particularly when long journeys are involved. “For example, if you live in Connecticut but travel to a show in Missouri,” says disaster-preparedness expert Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, “you might have to deal with a tornado warning, which could be new and scary.” That’s why Gimenez advises travelers with horses to “Do your research. Find out what types of hazards can occur in the area you are traveling to or along the route. This is part of a travel risk assessment that you should be doing for every trip. Do you have the phone number and name of a vet for several areas across the travel route? Do you have emergency stabling en route? We say, ‘Preparation for disasters is best done by following best practices and using risk assessments and practice for evacuations in everyday situations.’ Travel skills are a great example.”
Some horse owners use livestock marking crayons or spray paint to mark their animals with their names and phone numbers, or write on hooves with permanent markers. If you’re handy with clippers, you can even body-clip your information into your horse’s haircoat.
Essentials on Hand An important step in disaster preparedness is assembling essential paperwork and supplies. Place your horse’s identifying photos, documents (such as registration papers and insurance policy), and veterinary information in a watertight zip-lock bag that’s ready to grab in the event of an emergency. Make sure a current negative Coggins certificate is among your documents; you’ll need it to transport a horse across state lines, and it will help you claim ownership if you and your horse become separated. As a matter of course, keep your horse up to date on vaccinations, says Gimenez, who also urges horse owners to take biosecurity precautions at emergency shelters because other horses may not be up to date on their shots. Digital Edition Bonus Content
Download the UC Davis Center for Equine Health’s 10-step poster on creating an individual equine emergency-preparedness plan.
50 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
“We have a ‘go box’ with important documents, so we can just pick up one box and leave. With the horses, we’ve made a ‘hurricane list’ of supplies we need,” says St. Onge. “If there’s a threat that looks like it could conceivably come our direction, we get out the hurricane list and assemble everything that we want to put on the trailer. If the hurricane doesn’t hit us, we put everything back, but if it does come our way, it’s all ready. With a checklist, we know we have everything.” After an ice storm felled trees and power lines throughout the area, Bel Laurel Farm was left without electricity for ten days—which meant no operating well pump and therefore no running water. “We learned to fill the 150-gallon troughs in all the paddocks when any large storm is looming,” says St. Onge. Prepare human and equine first-aid kits. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), your horse kit should include medications, chlorhexidine scrub, triple antibiotic ointment, and assorted wraps and bandages. If you’re not sure what you need, consult your veterinarian. The AAEP recommends having the following emergency supplies on hand: tarps, chain saw (and fuel), knife, flashlights, batteries, wire cutters, scissors, hammer, nails, and battery-powered radio. Some farm owners invest in generators to power at least the essentials (such as a well pump and lights) in the event of an electric outage. If you own a truck and trailer, keep both vehicles in good repair so they’re ready to go at any time.
Go Time When bad weather heads your way, have your truck fueled, trailer hitched, rig in the driveway facing the road, and gear organized. Load the trailer with everything you might need; as Speer points out, just as at a horse show, temporary stabling tends to lack such essentials as water buckets and bucket holders. Prepare a one- to two-week supply of hay, grain, and any essential medications or supplements your horse needs. If water and wind are threats, wrap hay in plastic and put grain in waterproof containers. Fill plastic trash cans with water and seal lids, and fill water troughs to the brim (plan on 12 to 20 gallons of water a day per horse, the AAEP says). Tie down equipment. Don’t wait until the last minute to leave when a threat looms. In hurricanes, for example, evacuation routes may be over traffic capacity, and with their high profiles horse trailers can’t withstand high winds. In the event of manda-
COURTESY OF LAURA SPEER
DRESSAGE COMMUNITY PITCHES IN: Volunteers from Laura Speer’s GMO, the Rocky Mountain Dressage Society, remove debris from Speer’s farm after floodwaters receded
tory evacuation, authorities may even require you to leave your horses behind if you have waited too long. “Normally, local emergency management will put out information via TV, news, radio, and social media regularly in the area affected by the disaster. Find the sites that are most useful to you, and get updates several times a day,” advises Gimenez. “Remember, your cell phone and computers have to work to be able to do this, so plan ahead for batteries, chargers, and access to charging stations as well as Wi-Fi hotspots.” Share details of your plans with friends and neighbors. Prior to evacuating, post information in visible areas around the barn and farm. Naten’s facility makes use of a closed Facebook group to communicate and plan with one another when situations arise. Turn off circuit breakers in the barn to reduce fire risk, and do not try to ride out a storm in the stable with the horses, the AAEP advises.
The Aftermath After the storm or other event has passed, be alert for live electric wires, debris, and other hazards that could harm
horses or humans. Dispose of any wet hay and grain, which can sicken horses. If you had to evacuate your horse, you’re surely eager to get him home, but don’t rush the process, advises Gimenez. “Coming home should be coordinated, ensuring the facility is ready for the horses: fences fixed, obstacles and hazards identified and removed, such as wildlife carcasses, poorquality water sources left after a flood, or downed power lines that can electrocute animals and people. Don’t bother bringing horses home until the utilities are fixed and everything is running smoothly; leave them at the boarding facility or evacuation shelter until you are ready, especially if your home is affected also, or if you have lost family members or pets. Better to have the time to do it right and return with your horses when you have made it a safe home,” she says. Even if your property has been spared, you may encounter other sorts of difficulties. “Rarely will a true disaster leave everyone untouched,” says Gimenez. “You may have issues getting hay and feed in the local area, your previously nice grass pastures may be burned or flooded, and you may spend hours just trying to procure fuel for your vehicles and grocery and toiletry items for the humans.” [ USDF CONNECTION
Plan for the Worst; Hope for the Best
Want to Help?
hen natural disasters strike, organizations like the Red Cross step in to assist human victims. But when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated New Orleans and parts of the southern US within a month of each other in 2005, the lack of large-scale relief efforts for affected equines became painfully apparent. In response, US Equestrian (formerly the US Equestrian Federation), Lexington, KY, equestrian sports’ US national governing body, established the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund, to aid the equestrian community in both disaster preparedness and relief. In the aftermath of Katrina and Rita, “the USEF gave out money to organizations such as the Mississippi Animal Disaster Relief Fund, the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association, Habitat for Horses, and many others,” says Mark Coley, US Equestrian’s director of memberships and events. Monies from the fund similarly supported the efforts of veterinary schools, state animal-rescue teams, and others when the Baton Rouge, LA, area suffered catastrophic flooding last August. According to the US Equestrian website (usef. org), all monies donated to the fund are used “to prepare for disasters and assist equines of any breed who are victims of disasters, including but not restricted to hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, blizzards, and fires. Money donated to the fund is held by US Equestrian in an account dedicated for this purpose and distributed only upon authorization of the US Equestrian CEO.” Contributions to the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund are tax-deductible. To donate, go to usef.org/ donate or call (859) 258-2472.
Being prepared for any situation and planning ahead can’t be overstressed, says Gimenez. “Poor examples of ‘planning’ include owners leading their horses down the streets or even interstate evacuation routes, but somehow these always make the newspapers. The heroes are the ones that planned ahead and got out early,” she says. “These last-minute poor methods demonstrate the lengths to which people will go to attempt to save their animals, and confirm that most people fail to plan ahead. If your plan is to depend on someone else, you might want to rethink that plan.” There’s always somebody who tries to “ride out the storm,” but Gimenez urges horse owners to take evacuation orders seriously. She also advises against leaving horses behind, assuming they’ll manage OK either in the barn or out in a field. “There is a disconnect between the truth of what a wildfire or hurricane can do and what is in people’s minds,” she says, calling the decision to shelter in place “a very dangerous plan to enact that only should be attempted by the most organized and prepared.”
It Takes a Village While having a plan that you can enact yourself is critical to your safety and that of your horse, the kindness of others still sometimes saves the day. When her facility flooded, “the dressage community was wonderful,” says Speer. “All the river debris was in my barn. People came and helped clean up, donated blankets, and didn’t charge to keep our horses while we rebuilt.” s Natalie DeFee Mendik is an award-winning journalist specializing in equine media, whose personal horse passions include dressage and vaulting. Visit her online at MendikMedia.com.
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November 29-December 2 Hyatt Regency Lexington • Lexington, KY
2017 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention Welcome to our old Kentucky home
2017 Participating Member Delegate Nominees’ Biographies Listed below are the nominees who are running to become participating member delegates from the time they are elected in 2017, until the election in 2018. All current participating members are eligible to vote. These brief biographies were provided by the nominees.
Region 1 Nancy Lowey
I have been involved with the USDF and dressage for more than 30 years in the capacity of: past Participating and GMO member delegate, past member of the USDF Awards Committee, licensed show and clinic organizer, licensed ‘R’ judge and TD, and member of the Competition Management Committee.
USEF ‘R’ Dressage judge, ‘R’ DSHB judge, ‘R’ DTD and FEI Level 3 Steward; Past USDF Region 1 Director (1996-2001) and Secretary (for eleven years), and a USEF Vice-President; Received the first “ABIG/USDF Volunteer of the Year” award (1998) and a USDF Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. Past NCDCTA president; Current member of USDF Sport Horse and Regional Championship Committees; Previous US Dressage Finals Organizing Committee chairman and manager. Janine owns and operates Rosinburg Events LLC.
Anne loves to organize USDF/ USEF educational events, volunteers for DVCTA and Dressage at Devon. She shows her mare Grace PSG, and Grace’s son Rocky at training and first level. Anne is a member of the USDF Historical Recognition and Freestyle Committees. She is a USEF ‘r’ Dressage and ‘R’ Western Dressage judge.
I have been active in USDF for over 30 years as a competitor, show manager/secretary, and trainer/coach. I have earned my Bronze and Silver USDF medals, and am working on Gold on the horses I train. We need to support not only upper echelon riders, but those new to the discipline as well.
Owner of Chesapeake Equestrian Events, providing show management and secretarial
services since 2004. Region 1 recording secretary; Region 1 USDF Nominating Committee Representative; PM delegate for the past ten years; President and CEO of Dressage at Devon since 2009.
As Vice-President of SWVADA, I am also a VADA representative. I have competed up to Fourth Level and rode in the 2016 US Dressage Finals. As a show manager, L graduate, and judge at schooling shows, I strive to get more youth interested in our sport and advocate for more programs for adult amateurs.
As a dressage instructor, trainer and competitor, I have been honored to serve our sport and our region in the role of PM delegate multiple times. I am a long time member/former President of the NCDCTA and currently employed by Duke Health as a certified medical assistant. I look forward to serving in 2017, if elected.
I am a lifelong rider and competitive amateur dressage rider since 2000. Since moving to Virginia in 2003, I’ve served in volunteer capacities for our GMO (VADA) and GMO Chapter (VADA-CH). I’m a member of the Virginia Horse Center Foundation’s Board, and serve on the USEF Dressage Sport Horse Committee. As a result, I bring a wide angle lens to the role of PM delegate should I be elected.
Debbie, a PM delegate for the past eight years, is primarily focused on promoting our sport to youth and supporting youth development programs. In addition to being the FEI Jr/YR Coordinator and NAJYRC Chef d’Equipe for four years, Debbie has been involved with Lendon’s Youth Dressage Festival for eleven years.
As an active member of the USDF Region 1 for over 20 years, I have served as Vice President
of the NCDCTA, organized L Continuing Education Programs, served as a PM delegate for several years, and volunteered at numerous shows, symposiums and educational events. My husband, Michael and I live on a farm in North Carolina where I train and teach dressage. As an L graduate I judge throughout North Carolina and Southern Virginia.
Patti is an Adult Amateur and the owner/operator of Whinstone Farm which hosts dressage schooling shows and occasional clinics. She has served as a PM delegate for several years and was also the Competition Chairman for NCDCTA for three years.
I have been a lifelong horse lover and am currently a life member of USDF. My husband and I have a few broodmares and raise sport horses. I have been on the board of two different GMOs and have worked at several recognized and schooling shows over the past several years. I believe that I have a good feel for the needs of both show management and competitors. I would be very happy to represent Region 1 at the convention.
I am a USDF Bronze and Silver medalist. I am an active participant in our local dressage community and have served as a Region 1 PM delegate in 2015 and 2016. I am also a USDF L graduate with distinction enthusiastically in pursuit of my ‘r’ accreditation.
I have been involved with dressage for over 25 years as a rider, volunteer, competitor, show manager and secretary. I am active in my GMO Chapter (VADA/Nova) and run Regional Championships, Dressage at Devon and a number of other shows throughout Region 1. I am interested in promoting the sport of dressage at all levels, particularly to people new to the sport.
Region 2 Sue Hughes
Served on Midwest Dressage Association board for fourteen years and as president for four years; served as national USDF Nominations Chair for nine years and USDF Region 2 Director for nine years; served as PM delegate multiple times; served on USDF/Hopkins Symposium Committee for thirteen years; USEF ‘r’ judge in eventing and dressage and ‘R’ in Western Dressage.
Barbara L. Soukup
USDF Bronze and Silver medalist; L graduate with distinction; earned USDF University continuing education Platinum diploma; served as coach of Lake Erie College’s Intercollegiate Dressage Association team and won 2011 Nationals; serve on NODA GMO board; PM delegate for four previous terms.
Debbie has been active in the dressage community since 2002. She has over 39 years of accounting, financial, auditing, tax and management experience. Debbie is also president of Horse Show Solutions, Inc., a competition management company. She is a current PM delegate and member of the USDF Awards Committee.
Susan is a Bronze, Silver and Gold medalist, as well as a USEF ‘R’ judge. She has been around horses her entire life and started her riding career in Germany. She spent several years in California training and riding with Hilda Gurney. Susan is based in Lexington, KY out of Haylands Inc.
Kris actively volunteers in two Wisconsin GMOs (NEWDA and WDCTA); currently NEWDA’s Membership Recorder. Promotes all aspects of dressage by hosting educational sessions, clinics, live and virtual shows, and writing news articles.
Encourages, supports and recognizes others horsemanship journeys and employs progressive training of dressage to develop confident, balanced and athletic horses/riders.
As an AA competitor, I enjoy giving back to the dressage community in various ways. My activity and volunteer work enable me to help promote and grow our local GMOs, as well as USDF. It is very rewarding to see how much joy this sport brings to so many.
Reese is a USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold medalist, and has her Silver and Gold Freestyle Bar. A Certified Instructor through 4th level, Reese is the head trainer at Maplecrest Farm in Georgetown, KY. The farm specializes in all types of dressage training, along with having an active internship program for Young Riders. Reese is also an adjunct professor at the University of Kentucky.
Catherine B. Jacob
Bronze Freestyle medalist, Silver and Bronze medalist, Adult Amateur, and L graduate. Trained several horses to 3rd level; Held offices of The Dressage Company and member and/or volunteer for three other GMOs. Schooling show secretary, local TD, PM and attended all BOG meetings since 2001. Presently competing at PSG level. Region 2 Treasurer since 2002. Competed in Regional Championships and qualified for AA National’s.
Joann K. Smith
Many years as a competitor, owner, and supporter of dressage has instilled in me a deep appreciation for the necessity of a strong USDF. Working with other members is a great privilege and honor and serves to strengthen the organization.
USDF Bronze and Silver medalist earned on horses I have trained myself. USDF L graduate with distinction. USEF ‘r’ Judge. Competitor, trainer, instructor in the dressage community for almost 20 years in Region 2.
USEF ‘r’ Judges Program, USDF L graduate with distinction, PM delegate for the last fifteen years. A life member of the USDF and American Saddlebred Horse Association. USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold rider medal
winner. Have served on several committees over the years.
Jennifer is a USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold medalist and is a USEF ‘r’ judge. She is an active FEI competitor and trainer. She has been a PM delegate for the past five years and is looking forward to representing Region 2’s membership in the future.
Kristi Fly, of Bella Farm, MBA, USDF University Platinum Diploma (’17), Training Level Rider Award. Active member of the KY Dressage Association, the AHA Sport Horse/Dressage Committees, KY Thoroughbred Farm Managers, and ’14 and ‘16 PM delegate. Kristi shows her Arabians and OTTB’s in dressage, while raising racing and sport horse Thoroughbreds.
Past GMO President; current GMO Vice President and Competition Chair; professional teacher/trainer; L graduate; competed to Grand Prix; regular USDF convention attendee.
Attended most of the annual meetings as GMO and/or a PM Delegate and also carried proxies. One of the founders of MODA; served as president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, newsletter editor, awards chair, membership chair and organized many clinics. 17 years experience managing schooling and recognized competitions. Region 2’s rep on the USDF Competition Management Council for nine years. USDF Bronze medalist.
Region 3 Peggy (Margaret) Gaboury
I have been an active member of USDF since 1976, and have competed, taught and trained in all of those years. I now work as a show secretary, and enjoy my participation in the governance of my sport.
USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medal recipient; USEF ‘R’ dressage judge; active competitor, trainer and coach; faculty in Equine Studies at the College of Central Florida; Certified Horsemanship Association Clinic Instructor/Examiner for Facility Management and Site Accreditation; experienced PM and GMO delegate.
I’m an active amateur rider and competitor, have received my USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medals and am a USEF ‘r’ dressage judge. I am a board member for Arredondo Dressage Society, and an active volunteer for STRIDE and Northeast Florida Dressage. I was the Region 3 USDF Volunteer of the Year in 2015 and have been blessed to be awarded the Carol Lavell Scholarship from The Dressage Foundation.
Chair of the USDF Bylaws Committee; Prior delegate 20+ times; Active in local GMO (STRIDE) and also USDF Governance.
I have been riding dressage for about 20 years and as a retired teacher I now finally have the time to play with my horses. I am currently showing Third Level and am active in my local GMO.
A Lifetime member of USDF, Chair of the USDF Historical Recognition Committee, and USEF ‘S’ Dressage Judge. I have organized judges programs, and have been a manager, TD, breeder, trainer and instructor. All aspects of the sport interest me. I am serious about education and growth in dressage.
Retired ‘R’ dressage judge but am still riding and will do my best for you and your horse’s interest at USDF and USEF.
As an FEI Level rider and competitor and after working as an engineer in the automotive industry for 30+ years, I completely understand the demands and difficulties of working full time while trying to ride and advance a horse through the levels. I hope to use this experience to advance our sport.
Jen Thompson, formerly President of the Central Tennessee Dressage Association (CTDA), is an active trainer and competitor at local, national and FEI levels. She continues to volunteer for the CTDA as ex-officio Treasurer and Coordinator for Part 2 of the L Program. Jen is passionate about making dressage accessible and enjoyable for everyone.
Breeder of Freedom, approved Old NA stallion competing
successfully at Grand Prix and multiple premium and inspection site champion foals. Bronze and Silver medalist. L Program graduate. Board member of The Dressage Foundation. Prior GMO President. Many times prior PM delegate. Have attended the annual convention since the memory of man knoweth not.
Lisa Hyslop El-Ramey
In my over 23 years as a professional trainer, I have trained a variety of breeds to success locally, regionally, and nationally. I have achieved the same success for my students. My personal riding accomplishments include multiple regional and national championships and reserves, as well as wins at the international level (CDI competitions). In 1994, I began judging by completing the USDF L Program with distinction. In 2013, I was promoted to the USEF Senior dressage judge’s license.
Robert serves as a Dressage TD (R), FEI Steward (2) and a member of both the USDF TD and Bylaws Committees. He previously chaired several USDF Fiscal Committees and was a Region 3 TD Coordinator. He is a multi-Regional USDF Awards Coordinator and has managed both regional and international dressage championships.
Region 4 Melissa Ward
A dressage rider for 20+ years, I’ve served as GMO President, GMO Secretary, GMO Publicity Chairperson, Region 4 Communications Chair, Region 4 webmaster, GMO Delegate, and GMO Volunteer of the Year. I am fiercely dedicated to representing the interests of the average rider, and growing our sport in this country.
I am currently a PM delegate serving on the Region 4 Educational Committee. I am a past GMO President, six years. Recognized show manager and schooling show manager. I am also a technical delegate and FEI C1 Dressage Steward. I have well-rounded experiences, understanding both the competitor and management side, along with an understanding of the regional membership.
Laureen Van Norman
I am in the third year of my 2nd term as a board member of NDA,
serving as Vice President and chair of the Awards Committee. 2016 was a special year as I attained my Bronze medal! I plan to bring the perspectives of both a competitor and an active GMO member.
I’ve attended 29 USDF conventions as a delegate for Regions 2, 4 and 5. As Chair of the Technical Delegate Council, I championed the Warning Card rule, served on the committee to develop the first TD training program, Budget/Finance and National Championships Committees. Currently Chair of the Regional Championships Committee and on the Activities Council. As a 34 year USEF Licensed Official, currently ‘R’ TD, I look forward to using my experience as a strong voice for Region 4.
I started dressage in 2012. I rode my mare in the USDF AA Clinic with Kathy Connelly and Betsy Steiner in 2015. I hope to show my new Welsh Cob gelding this year. I am treasurer for NDA and Region 4. I volunteer at NDA activities, including the upcoming L Program.
Northern Colorado Dressage Association (part of RMDS) and look forward to representing the Region 5 members of USDF.
I have organized dressage shows, CDI’s, clinics, symposiums, USDF L Programs, USEF Judge’s Programs, and other educational events. I have served on USDF committees and been Chef d’equip for Young Riders. As a USEF ‘S’ dressage judge, I am also committed to education and being a contributing member of the USDF community.
Member of Arizona Dressage Association (ADA) since 1995, and have been on the ADA Executive Board for over ten years. I am past President and have been the association Treasurer for over five years. I am also a show secretary, past GMO and PM delegate, competitor, volunteer scribe, and L graduate with distinction. I’m currently working on my license as a Western Dressage judge. I have a wonderful nine year old, very talented PRE Andalusian gelding, and he puts a smile on my face every day.
Rusty Cook has raised and shown horses since 1973. She competes as an amateur. She became a Dressage Technical Delegate in 2008 and received promotion to ‘R’ in 2016. She has TD’d dozens of shows all over the country, and worked as a volunteer at the 2016 US Dressage Finals.
Founding member of the Utah Dressage Society; on the Board for 33 years as president or vice-president and currently the Board’s advisor. Experience as a competitor, show manager and show secretary. Students have competed at Regionals. Technical Delegate since 1989. Attended seventeen USDF conventions, several times as GMO delegate and for the last six years as a PM delegate. Have served on some USDF committees.
Started riding dressage five years ago and have never looked back! My horse and I love the sport and I am thoroughly enjoying being involved with its organization. I am currently Vice President of
Peter Rothschild has been involved with USDF regionally and nationally since 1996. He is a long time member of the USDF Bylaws Committee and is the Regional Youth Programs Coordinator. Peter is an AA rider aiming to get his Silver medal this year while still running several shows.
As an adult amateur dressage rider, I am deeply committed to supporting our sport and our Region 6 dressage community. In addition to riding and showing, I volunteer on the USDF Membership Committee, the EI Board, regularly at shows, and on the USDF Region 6 Championship Travel Fund Committee.
Escogido XXV (Esco) and I have been competing as Adult Amateur since 2012. We hope to earn our Bronze medal this season and of course eventually our Silver and Gold as we work through the levels. It has been quite the journey, but a good journey!
Thank you for electing me as your delegate last year. Experience: engineering, manufacturing, and currently working with my wife, Kari McClain, running a dressage training, boarding and sport horse breeding stable. I compete as an AA on my own horse and hope to earn the Bronze medal this year.
Mari St. Amand
I have been active in the sport of dressage for around 30 years, both locally at WEC and nationally. Events include several NAJYRC, 2010 WEG, numerous regional championship shows as head scorer, head equipment check and safety coordinator. National Finals – safety coordinator, awards ceremony safety officer for USDF.
Corinne Tindal Stonier
Oregon Dressage Society member and employee since 2001. Adult Amateur currently horseless, but volunteer on the USDF Group Member Organizations Committee.
Matt is a trainer based out of Pumpkin Farms. He has produced horses and riders that have won a regional championship, competed in CDI’s, competed successfully on the southern California circuit, won numerous classes and high points at shows, and most importantly showed improvement with horse and rider.
Team gold at 2001 AHSA/ Cosequin JDTC & Ind. Bronze at 2001 NAJDC. Member 2003 TDF Olympic Dream Program and former president of the USDF Youth Executive Board. Sixteen time attendee of the USDF convention, 20092016 PM Delegate, 2010-2016 ODS board member and resident trainer at DevonWood Equestrian Centre.
I have been in the horse industry for 45 years, 27 of which have been in dressage. I enjoy showing and volunteering behind the scenes. I also have been to eight USDF conventions and have been a PM delegate at most of those. I’m looking forward to many more!
Region 7 Lisa Blaufuss
Lisa Blaufuss has been involved with dressage as a rider,
competitor, volunteer and horse show organizer. She was a member of the San Diego Chapter Board of Directors for eight years where she volunteered in various areas: website, newsletter, sponsorship, marketing, programs and the chapter horse shows. With her company Crackerjack Productions, she professionally organizes dressage shows.
I am a veterinarian, practice owner, and Adult Amateur dressage rider and trainer. I serve on the Dressage Association of Southern California governing board and volunteer for my local SLO-CDS chapter. I presently ride and show my six year old Andalusian mare, who I have owned and trained since birth.
Jerry has been involved with horses since 2001, actively riding in competitive trail, hunter/ jumper, and working equitation and dressage. Jerry joined USDF in 2014 when he rode his wife’s Dutch Warmblood Kadence to the CDS-RAAC Championship and competed his Belgian Warmblood mare Waverly in 2015 and 2016. Jerry serves on the boards of CCCAHA and DASC, is webmaster for CCCAHA and SLO-CDS, and was named the 2015 SLO-CDS Volunteer of the Year.
Region 7 competitor, volunteer and Hanoverian breeder. USEF ‘r’ Technical Delegate, FEI Steward: Dressage/Reining. Participating member of the Dressage Technical Delegate Committee. USDF Awards Committee member. Prior Board member: CDS San Diego.
I have been involved in California dressage since 1968 and served on the USDF Executive Board for twelve years. Currently I manage a citrus ranch and teach high school English. Education is my main interest. As a former competitor, trainer, breeder and Regional Director, I will work for PM activities.
Cassidy Gallman has represented USDF Region 7 as a member of three North American Junior and Young Rider teams (2012, 2014, 2015) and is a three-time medalist at the event (two gold, one silver). She now serves as
the USDF Region 7 Jr/YR Coordinator and hopes to inspire future generations of elite riders.
Catherine Rose Chamberlain is a dressage trainer in Temecula, CA. She is a USDF Gold medalist, seven time NAJYRC medalist and competed internationally as a Young Rider. Catherine currently serves as a board member for The Dressage Foundation, the USDF Youth Programs Committee and the USDF Youth Programs Advisory Subcommittee.
Laurie has been involved in the dressage community for over 30 years. She has served on the CDS Board and on committees and served her local Chapter. As a show manager, secretary and competitor, she is concerned about the decisions that impact the sport, particularly decisions that impact the competitors. It would be her pleasure to again represent the USDF members of Region 7.
20+ years CDS Secretary. Own and operate Golden State Dressage, Inc. (provider of show management and secretarial services). Organizer of 30+ CDI competitions. Retired USEF TD. Frequent commentator on the state of the sport for Dressage Letters (CDS publication).
Ellie Hardesty, former NAJYRC competitor and USDF Youth Council member will represent your interests as PM delegate. She has competed more than fifteen years, earning Bronze and Silver medals. Currently San Diego chapter coordinator; attended seven USDF conventions; currently training with Dawn White O’Connor at Arroyo Del Mar and sales extraordinaire for Mary’s Tack & Feed.
Region 8 Karin D. Swanfeldt
I have been a PM delegate for Region 8 for the past nine years and have loved every minute of it! I am now working on the USDF GMO Committee with Cindi Wylie and enjoy this very much! I have also been a member and Board Member of NEDA for over 14 years.
I have been active in dressage for over 30 years. I trained and rode my Swedish Warmbloods, Genghis Gustaf and Marshal,
from Training Level to Grand Prix, earning my Bronze, Silver and Gold medals. I am secretary for eighteen Region 8 recognized shows and Chair of the USDF Competition Management Committee.
Linda is the co-owner of the Hanoverian breeding farm Hof Mendenhall. She competes in dressage and sport horse in-hand and has earned her Bronze medal. Linda is a member of the USDF Sport Horse Committee and the USDF Nominating Committee, and is an active volunteer for NEDA and Region 8.
Owner/Manager of the Dressage at Stockade competition series and 2017 Manager of ENYDCTA Dressage Days; long-time ENYDCTA member, current board member and 2016 GMO Delegate; NEDA member, regular volunteer at the Fall Festival; dressage rider and competitor. Thank you for this opportunity to serve as a Region 8 PM Delegate.
Fie Andersen, owner of Equito Dressage LLC, competing and standing Rocazino at stud. Fie has competed successfully through Grand Prix. Fie currently serves on the USDF Adult Programs Committee and the USEF Dressage Rules Working Group. After completing the L program with distinction, she is pursuing her ‘r’ judge status.
Owner of Rosebrook Farm in Georgetown, MA where she trains horses and riders through the Grand Prix Level; USEF ‘r’ Judge, USDF Certified Instructor, and USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medalist; Active member in the dressage community regionally and nationally since the late eighties, serving as both a PM and GM delegate; Current Chair of the USDF GMO Committee, where she has been a committee member for many years.
I am an Adult Amateur in the USDF. I currently own a KWPN mare. I plan on showing her this coming show season. I believe it is important for an Adult Amateur that shows to represent you at the convention. I also have taken on the role of region representative on the USDF Awards Committee.
Kathy Hickerson has been a long-time NEDA Board member volunteering in all types of NEDA membership, dressage, and sport horse activities. She has been breeding top horses for over 30 years and actively promotes the NEDA sport horse activities for all breeds. She leads NEDA Sport Horse, Stallion Auction, and KWPN-NA Stallion Committees and is also a member of the NEDA Fall Show Committee, KWPN Members Committee, USEF Breeders Committee and USDF Sport Horse Committee. She attends the USDF convention every year.
I have enjoyed my past work as a Region 8 delegate and hope to continue representing our region. I am an Adult Amateur, and have earned by Bronze and Silver medals. I enjoy judging schooling shows as an L graduate with distinction, and volunteering as my local GMO President. Thank you.
Current Vice President-Activities for NEDA. Prior Mounted Clinics manager, Education Coordinator, manager of the Ann Villani Schooling Show, co-manager of the Windswept Farms Sport Horse Breed Show, volunteer for multiple shows and educational events. Certified Instructor/Trainer, University of LaCrosse, WI. Former working student of Lois Heyerdahl.
Region 9 Elizabeth G. Clifton
Founder/manager of the MidSouth Dressage Academy (a non-profit riding school), owner/ manager of Clifton Farms Equestrian Center, competition organizer, show secretary, USDF Silver medalist, active competitor and owner of Top Hats & Under That (a dressage boutique), who has been attending the convention annually since 2006.
Former USDF Region 9 Director, often PM and/or GM delegate, have regularly attended the annual meeting for the past 25+ years, current USDF Nominating Committee Chair, current PM delegate. I would be honored to continue to represent Region 9.
I’ve lived in Regions 1, 5, and 9 and have volunteered and been an amateur competitor. I organized nine schooling shows yearly for
SVDA, and represented them on the VADA board. In Region 9 I host monthly clinics, am ADA stable manager, and volunteer for several clubs. I have served as a PM delegate for three years and serve on the USDF Awards Committee. I’d be honored to represent Region 9 again.
I am a USDF Bronze and Silver medalist, USDF L graduate and President of the Alamo Dressage Association. I have volunteered for Region 9 for many years having served as newsletter editor, competitor chair, and currently the omnibus editor. I am also a dressage mom of a junior rider.
Sarah Jane Martin
Her USEF licenses include C1 & C2 Steward, Dressage TD, FEI level 1 Dressage Steward, and Welsh, Connemara, Friesian Judge. She is a former Region 9 Director and was Executive Director of USDF. She is currently Chairman of the Southwest Dressage Championships and USDF Region 9 Secretary.
I have been an active USDF Participating Member since 1998 serving in many capacities: competitor, owner, breeder, GMO president, show secretary/manager, volunteer and USDF regional/ national committee member. USDF continues to grow and improve and I enjoy being part of that effort by serving as a Region 9 PM delegate and as a current member of the Competition Management Committee.
I have been involved in dressage for fifteen years. I am currently the President of the Oklahoma Dressage Society. I am retired from the USDA Forest Service where I worked in many aspects of the Federal Government as a program manager. This included working with many volunteer groups and non-profits.
A current PM delegate and representative for our Region 9 and national committee as a Group Member Organizations Committee member. I have many years experience at the local GMO level and as a trainer/rider. I would welcome the opportunity to continue to serve our dressage community.
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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
Gear up for show season at the
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Weâ€™re SPRING CLEANING at the USDF Online Store Shop new items added to our clearance sale.
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USDF CALENDAR To make sure we provide our members with the most up-todate deadlines and events, the USDF Calendar has moved online.
Visit 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
62 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
W W W. U S D F. O R G
Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation
ARENA FOOTING AND CONSTRUCTION
NEW TRAINING SERIES: What Other Disciplines Can Teach Dressage Riders Basics of Freestyle Creation
For specific staff contacts visit the USDF Web site.
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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.
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Advice, Guidance, & Insight
TAILORED TO THE DRESSAGE COMMUNITY
the tail end
to e d i u Dressage g
Circle not round No bend shown Circle and a half. Ish. No lengthening shown For god’s sake, more energy! Maybe not that much Your test reader has no clue Try Google Maps next time Tempo varies Too much bling Pick a frame, any frame It’s serpentine, not ovaltine
Some loss of balance
Ineffective whole halt
Jumping not required in this test
Well, here we go again
Capriole not required at all
For heaven’s sake, GO
You lost me at Salute
Please don’t make another scribe quit
Take some lunge line lessons
Take any kind of lesson
Try piano lessons
You put the can’t in canter
Whatever that was, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t supposed to look like that
You’re trending on Twitter
I’m not fooled by your black gloves
I can’t write any more
I honestly did not know horses could do that
Horse shows resistance
Great Piaffe! Haha, just kidding, it looked like this
Horse is overflexed
Need better seat to influence horse
Your circle laid an egg
Need more leg to influence horse
For heaven’s sake, STOP
Ugly, but you did it
Maybe try influencing the judge instead
Your horse has a nice tail
Congratulations on not crying
That gait is not in my handbook
© 2017 Copyright Jody Lynne Werner
YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO: Dressage scribes and judges, we offer these emojis for your consideration. (Just kidding. Sort of.)
64 June 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
Fast Eddy @FastEddy_theHorse • 30 mins
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United States Dressage Federation Official Publication