November/December 2020 USDF Connection

Page 1

Renew Your USDF Membership (p. 21)

November/December 2020

Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation

Secrets of Top Dressage Grooms (p. 32)

Retraining the Ex-Racehorse (p. 26) DIY Freestyle Music Editing Olympic and WEG medalists Kasey Perry-Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet

Lebanon Junction, KY Permit # 559



Be as one

...the secret to ignite your dressage performance


The Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Stephan Hienzsch (859) 271-7887 • EDITOR Jennifer O. Bryant (610) 344-0116 •

An official property of the United States Dressage Federation

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Hilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS EDITORIAL ADVISORS Margaret Freeman (NC), Anne Gribbons (FL), Roberta Williams (FL), Terry Wilson (CA) TECHNICAL ADVISORS Janine Malone, Lisa Gorretta, Elisabeth Williams

YourDressage delivers exclusive dressage stories, editorial, and education, relevant to ALL dressage enthusiasts and is your daily source for dressage! Look for these featured articles online at

SENIOR PUBLICATIONS COORDINATOR Emily Koenig (859) 271-7883 • GRAPHIC & MULTIMEDIA COORDINATOR Katie Lewis (859) 271-7881 • ADVERTISING SALES REPRESENTATIVE Danielle Titland (720) 300-2266 •

USDF OFFICERS AND EXECUTIVE BOARD PRESIDENT LISA GORRETTA 19 Daisy Lane, Chagrin Falls, OH 44022 (216) 406-5475 • VICE PRESIDENT KEVIN REINIG, 6907 Lindero Lane, Rancho Murieta, CA 95683 (916) 616-4581 • SECRETARY MARGARET FREEMAN 200 Aurora Lane, Tryon, NC 28782 (828) 859-6723 • TREASURER LORRAINE MUSSELMAN 7538 NC 39 Hwy, Zebulon, NC 27497 (919) 218-6802 •

EDUCATION “Exercise of the Day #10 – How to Switch the Dressage Whip” USDF Certified Instructor Eliza Sydnor Romm has been sharing lots of helpful exercises in the new “Certified Instruction” corner on YourDressage!

COMPETITION “Small But Mighty” A fiery Morgan gelding named Avatar’s Jazzman shows what his breed is capable of at the 2019 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®.


REGIONAL DIRECTORS REGION 1 DC, DE, MD, NC, NJ, PA, VA BETTINA G. LONGAKER 8246 Open Gate Road, Gordonsville, VA 22942 (540) 832-7611 • REGION 2 IL, IN, KY, MI, OH, WV, WI DEBBY SAVAGE 7011 cobblestone Lane, Mentor, OH 44060 (908) 892-5335 • REGION 3 AL, FL, GA, SC, TN SUSAN BENDER 1024 Grand Prix Drive, Beech Island, SC 29842 (803) 295-2525 • REGION 4 IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD ANNE SUSHKO 1942 Clifford Street, Dubuque, IA 52002 (563) 580-0510 • REGION 5 AZ, CO, E. MT, NM, UT, W. TX, WY HEATHER PETERSEN 22750 County Road 37, Elbert, CO 80106 (303) 648-3164 • REGION 6 AK, ID, W. MT, OR, WA PETER ROTHSCHILD 1120 Arcadia Street NW, Olympia, WA 98502 (206) 200-3522 • REGION 7 CA, HI, NV CAROL TICE 31895 Nicolas Road, Temecula, CA 92591 (714) 514-5606 • REGION 8 CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT DEBRA REINHARDT 160 Woods Way Drive, Southbury, CT 06488 (203) 264-2148 • REGION 9 AR, LA, MS, OK, TX SHERRY GUESS 18216 S. 397th East Avenue, Porter, OK 74454 (918) 640-1204 •

“Riding and Recovery” As part of our new equestrian mental health series, recovering addict Elyse H. shares how horses have helped her stay sober.

COMMUNITY “The Princess and the Bison” Adult amateur Stacy S. shares how her horse’s dressage training came in handy when facing, of all things, a herd of bison!

It’s YourDressage, be a part of it! Visit for all these stories & much more!

AT-LARGE DIRECTORS ACTIVITIES COUNCIL SUE MANDAS 9508 Bridlewood Trail, Dayton, OH 45458 (937) 272-9068 • ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL KEVIN BRADBURY PO Box 248, Dexter, MI 48130 (734) 426-2111 • TECHNICAL COUNCIL SUE MCKEOWN 6 Whitehaven Lane, Worcester, MA 01609 (508) 459-9209 • USDF Connection is published bimonthly by the United States Dressage Federation, 4051 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511. Phone: 859/971-2277. Fax: 859/971-7722. E-mail: usdressage@, Web site: USDF members receive USDF Connection as a membership benefit, paid by membership dues. Copyright © 2020 USDF. All rights reserved. USDF reserves the right to refuse any advertising or copy that is deemed unsuitable for USDF and its policies. Excluding advertisements, all photos with mounted riders must have safety head gear or USEF-approved competition hat. USDF assumes no responsibility for the claims made in advertisements. Statements of fact and opinion are those of the experts consulted and authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or the policy of USDF. The publishers reserve the right to reject any advertising deemed unsuitable for USDF, as well as the right to reject or edit any manuscripts received for publication. USDF assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. All materials must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Questions about your subscription or change in address? Contact USDF Membership Department, 859/971-2277, or POSTMASTER: SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO: USDF, 4051 IRON WORKS PARKWAY, LEXINGTON, KY 40511. Canadian Agreement No. 1741527. Canada return address: Station A, P.O. Box 54, Windsor, Ontario N9A 6J5.

2 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

USDF Connection


Volume 22, Number 4



4 Inside USDF

A Convention Like Never Before

By Lisa Gorretta

6 Ringside

Sabbatical Year

By Jennifer O. Bryant

Departments 16

Sport Horse

The New Equine-ID System By Penny Hawes

20 GMO


Not for the slacker, a job grooming top dressage horses is demanding but rewarding. Here, some behind-the-scenes heroes share their secrets to success.

By Colleen Scott


By Martin Kuhn

Retraining the Off-the-Track Thoroughbred

By Gerhard Politz

30 The Judge’s Box

The Adult Amateursʼ Champion

Clarity of Purpose

26 Clinic

Grooms to the Stars

By Penny Hawes

24 Free Rein


The 3 R’s of GMO Boards

2019 USDF Hall of Fame inductee Jane Savoie continues to defy the odds while helping others dream big

By Ellen J. Dempsey

Why Position Matters By Sarah Geikie

56 My Dressage



Freestyle Music Editing 101

By Sandra Beaulieu

Spread Some Cheer

By Jody Lynne Werner

With basic computer skills and a willingness to learn, you can DIY your own music editing. Get started with advice from a professional freestyle designer.


Because 2020

8 Sponsor Spotlight

Our carefully curated list of holiday-gift suggestions for the dressage enthusiast in your life By Jennifer O. Bryant

9 Collection 52 Rider’s Market 54 USDF Connection Submission Guidelines

On Our Cover US dressage star Goerklintgaards Dublet, ridden by Kasey Perry-Glass, has been retired. Read our tribute on p. 11. Then get some tips from Perry-Glass’s and other top grooms on p. 32. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

54 USDF Office Contact Directory 55 Advertising Index

USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Inside USDF A Convention Like Never Before Join us as we chart new territory with USDF’s first virtual convention


must admit that my initial reaction to the idea of a virtual USDF convention was inauspicious at best. But working with the USDF Executive Board and staff, I am now in a place of optimistic excitement about the prospect. As with all aspects of our lives, 2020 has brought a number of changes and challenges, so why should our convention be any different? The number-one priority for the Executive Board, staff, and myself is the health and safety of our members, and the decision to go virtual was made with that priority in mind. Planning a fully virtual event is new territory for me, for USDF, and for many of our stakeholders. It’s a daunting task for even the most experienced event planners. However, the USDF staff has been working diligently to develop a plan of action. We have discovered and utilized new tools to assist in the process, and they promise to make the 2020 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention one like never before. Experience has taught us that panel discussions and open forums are convention favorites. So this year, we will be combining open committee meetings with council panel discussions. The resulting integrated experience will also streamline the effectiveness of USDF’s governance structure by providing an opportunity for cross-committee discussion and planning, both for 2021 and for the longer term. Although going virtual means that nothing will be quite “business as usual,” this year’s convention will

still feature many of the aspects that make the event special. We will be honoring 2020 Roemer Foundation/ USDF Hall of Fame inductees Dr. Hilary Clayton, Gary Rockwell, and Verdades; the 2020 USDF Volunteer of Year, Jean Kraus; this year’s GMO award winners; and the annual lineup of rider and year-end award recipients. Other highlights will include the ever-popular (and sometimes quite lively) USDF Board of Governors General Assembly, a number of open forums and panel discussions, and a plethora of educational sessions covering a wide range of topics. In the coming weeks, as we lead up to this year’s event and more details are finalized, we will be disseminating more information on what attendees can expect during the virtual convention. Note that anyone who wishes to attend will need to register (at no cost to USDF members) through our online portal. Once registered, attendees will be able to manage their convention calendars and access many important documents through the online attendee dashboard.

4 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

For the most current information, visit the USDF website (, follow USDF on social media, and visit the USDF publications website, where we will be providing some previews as to what to expect. By going virtual and providing free access to USDF members, we expect many new faces to join the ranks of our convention regulars. With that in mind, many of the closed meetings have been scheduled outside the traditional convention time frame so that we can focus on providing attendees with a full lineup of fun, work, excitement, work, special presentations, work, and…did I mention work? The Executive Board and the USDF staff are striving to take advantage of every tool and opportunity possible to provide all USDF members with an educational, rewarding, and entertaining convention experience. Whether you’re new to the USDF convention or an “old faithful,” please join us for the 2020 Adequan®/USDF Virtual Convention, December 2-6. Come be a part of the sport of dressage in the US. We need your voice, your ideas, your leadership, your knowledge, and, most of all, your love of dressage. Love for our horses and love for our sport are truly what make this a dressage community. The future of dressage and the USDF are in your hands, and the future is now.


By Lisa Gorretta, USDF President

Ringside Sabbatical Year If ever there were a year to step away from showing, 2020 was it. I’m glad I did.

they should be to take them down center line. And every time he had to have time off or a lightened workload for one of those minor injuries, my horse slid down the fitness ladder a rung or so. The result was a months’-long training plateau that we just couldn’t seem to get past. It actually felt good to take a break, both mentally and financially, from showing. I feel about showing the way some writers feel about writing: I dislike doing it, but I like having done it. Competing exacts a huge price, not only on my wallet, but also on my nerves and energy. It saps me. During the years that Junior had to be a road warrior in order to learn to deal with the show atmosphere, I was in a perpetual state of anxiety and exhaustion. I’ve had plenty of other things to worry about in 2020, but at least showing wasn’t one of them. One of the dressage activities I’d planned to do this spring was a clinic with a US dressage Olympian. Like everything else, the clinic was postponed—a lucky break, as it turned out, as Junior was out of

6 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

commission on the original dates. By the time the rescheduled clinic took place, my horse was back in work, but he was still teetering on the edge of that training and fitness plateau. One two-day clinic later, we were surmounting that hurdle at last. The clinician gave us the necessary tweak and push, and things began falling into place. I shared the clinic video and my notes with my regular instructor, and we built on the clinic progress. For the first time all year, the challenges of the level felt within comfortable reach. And—surprise, surprise—I began to think about showing not with dread, but with a sliver of optimism. I’m glad I chose to sit out the bulk of the 2020 competition year. Junior and I both benefited from the breather. As we bid a don’t-let-the-doorhit-you-on-the-way-out farewell to 2020, I hope that your horse served, and continues to serve, as a bright spot amidst the darkness. Did you take a “sabbatical year,” as well, or did you choose to make the mid-year leap back into the show ring? Drop me a line at and let me know how it went. Wishing you a peaceful holiday season and—above all—a safe and healthy New Year.

Jennifer O. Bryant, Editor @JenniferOBryant



took a sabbatical this year. No, I’m not a university professor, taking a break from teaching in order to conduct research or to write my next book. I’m just a dressage rider who mostly put competition plans on hold in 2020. Early on in 2020, the universe sent me multiple signs that my horse and I should sit this one out. The most obvious, of course, were the COVID-19 shutdowns and the accompanying horse-show cancellations or postponements. I’d entered two spring shows, both of which were rescheduled until later in the year. Then during that down time came a series of (thankfully not major) soundness setbacks. Junior had a close encounter of the ovine kind, and while losing his mind at the sight of the neighbor’s escaped sheep developed a fat leg that turned into lymphangitis. Treatment and rest put him right, but we were just getting back into work when he got a hoof bruise. He had just gotten over that when, the day of a schooling show—our first outing since before the pandemic outbreak—he sustained (you guessed it) another oddball infirmity. Yeah, it was a sign: Stay home! Frankly, not showing much this year didn’t feel like a sacrifice. On top of the health concerns—I was unwilling to take the risks associated with travel, which naturally ruled out overnight shows—Junior wasn’t quite ready to move up a level. We could produce the movements, but they weren’t as smooth and oiled as


YOUR S O U RC E FO R S U P PO R T How can we help you in your dressage journey? Thanks to many generous donors, funding may be available for your dressage education. Visit to learn more or make a donation to help the sport you love.


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Adequan®/USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference Annual Convention and Awards

Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championships

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US Dressage Finals

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USDF Breeders Championship Series


Collection Bits and Pieces from USDF and the World of Dressage


2020 US Dressage Finals Canceled ★ Dublet Retires ★ Remembering Former USDF Treasurer Barbara Funk

IN THE FRAME Alice Tarjan and the other 2020 US Equestrian Dressage Festival of Champions competitors were happy that the show went off as scheduled. Tarjan won multiple titles including the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship aboard her Donatella M (pictured). Story, p. 12.

USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Collection US DRESSAGE FINALS 2020 US Dressage Finals Canceled Due to COVID-19 The COVID-19 pandemic led to yet another major competition cancellation with USDF’s announcement that the 2020 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® have been called off. The championships were have to been held November 5-8 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. In a September 17 open letter, USDF president Lisa Gorretta wrote that the decision to cancel the Finals for the first time in the event’s sevenyear history was made with “much regret, yet with my full confidence in the decision.” After exhaustive examination, the US Dressage Finals Organizing Committee and the USDF Executive Board concluded that they “simply could not be confident in our ability to overcome the obstacles beyond our control: the ever-changing picture of the pandemic from state to state, the requirements of the US Equestrian COVID-19 Action Plan to which the Kentucky Horse

Park requires strict compliance, the stresses of deep-cleaning the premises on the heels of the National Horse Show that would precede the arrival of our dressage horses, and the limitations of what we could provide for competitors, volunteers, and officials with the restrictions placed upon the Park itself,” Gorretta wrote. Aware that the 2020 Great American/USDF Regional Championships—the US Dressage Finals


qualifying competitions—were already getting under way at the time of the decision, the USDF also announced that competitors earning eligibility for the 2020 Finals will be able to carry over their eligibility to the 2021 event, as long as they complete the required declaration and nomination processes within an extended declaration period. Details and specific deadlines were not published with Gorretta’s announcement and were to follow shortly, she stated. “I feel compelled to repeat that this decision was not taken lightly, nor made without extensive research and modeling,” Gorretta concluded. “I know that many of you are deeply disappointed, yet I hope that all of you will keep striving to achieve your riding and training goals.” The USDF plans to hold the 2021 US Dressage Finals, which for the first time will include a junior/youngrider division, next November at the Kentucky Horse Park.


Equitana USA 2020 Canceled

Tokyo Games Competition Dates Set for 2021

The US Dressage Finals is not the only event at the Kentucky Horse Park to get the axe in 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns. In August, organizers announced that they had canceled Equitana USA, billed as “the world’s largest equestrian trade fair and expo” and scheduled for September 25-27.

The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has confirmed the 2021 competition schedule for the postponed 2020 Games. Dates are nearly identical to the original 2020 dates, the only adjustment being a shift to one day earlier so that the Games start and finish on the same day of the week as planned for 2020. Including horse inspections, Olympic dressage competition will be held July 23-28; eventing, July 29-August 2; and jumping, July 31-August 7. Paralympic Games dressage competition, including horse inspections, is scheduled for August 25-30, 2021.

D E L E CANC Equitana USA has been rescheduled for October 1-3, 2021, at the Kentucky Horse Park, organizers stated in an August 2020 press release. A “virtual celebration” launched in September 2020 on the website, which also contains socialmedia links and other information.

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TRANSITIONS Goerklintgaards Dublet Retired The 2003 Danish Warmblood gelding Goerklintgaards Dublet (Diamond Hit x Ferro), who won a 2016 Olympic team bronze medal and a 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) team silver medal with rider Kasey Perry-Glass, has been retired from competition. Perry-Glass announced the decision July 29 on social media. In addition to their Olympic and WEG medals, “Dublet” and PerryGlass placed seventh at the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Omaha, Nebraska, and fifth at the 2019 World Cup Dressage Final— the horse’s final competition—in Gothenburg, Sweden. Perry-Glass and her mother and sponsor, Diane Perry, found Dublet at Andreas Helgstrand’s stable in Denmark in 2012. Dublet had been trained to Grand Prix but had not competed at that level, and “he had some holes in his training and was a lot to handle,” Perry-Glass said in the book Riding for the Team. What’s more, the then 25-year-old Perry-Glass was not yet a Grand Prix-level competitor. The pair started slowly, beginning with Small Tour competition in 2013. Helped by then

GLORY DAYS: With rider Kasey Perry-Glass, Goerklintgaards Dublet was at the height of his powers at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games. He’s pictured after the individual Grand Prix Special, in which he finished sixth.

US Equestrian national dressage technical advisor Anne Gribbons and then USEF national dressage development coach Debbie McDonald, Perry-Glass and Dublet cemented their partnership as an elite pair to be reckoned with. Some

doubted that they would gain the polish and experience needed in time to realize Perry-Glass’s goal of making the 2016 US Olympic dressage team, but she proved the naysayers wrong, helping to earn a bronze medal for Team USA in Rio de Janeiro. The pair went on to win the 2017 USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship title. Perry-Glass had hoped to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Dublet’s swan song, but after those Games were postponed to 2021, she realized that it was not to be. “I have come to the conclusion that pursuing another year at the elite level is not in his best interest,” she wrote of her star-making mount. “He doesn’t owe me anything, and now I owe him the best retirement a horse deserves! Representing the USA has been one of the greatest honors of our partnership. We never took it for granted and did it with pride.” Dublet is the second top-level US team dressage horse to retire in 2020. His frequent teammate Verdades, owned and ridden by Laura Graves, stepped off the world stage in January. —Jennifer Bryant


Mette Larsen, Bitting Expert and Neue Schule Representative Job title: President, Neue Schule USA, Ocala, Florida ( What I do: We share information on how to evaluate and choose the right bit or bits for your horse. Then I also do work on growth and development, design, and contracts. How I got started: In about 2012, I was at a trade show in Germany. When I went past the Neue Schule booth, their CEO, Sarfraz Mian, pulled me into the stand. I was so impressed that I wanted to try the bits myself. When I did, my horses were dramatically better. So six months later, I suggested that I become the

GOOD CONNECTION: Larsen (left) greets Great Britain’s Princess Anne at the 2020 British Equestrian Trade Association International trade show

distributor for the US. I had no idea what that meant. I was certain of one thing: These were the best-quality

bits I had ever encountered in the world, and every horse should have the opportunity to be ridden in them. Best thing about my job: Seeing the transformation that occurs in both the horse and rider when they find the right bit. Worst thing about my job: When we just can’t figure it out. My horses: Right now I’m just training my own and some horses that I have for sale. Tip: Most people don’t realize that horses actually need different bits to rotate through. —Katherine Walcott

USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Collection CHAMPIONSHIPS US Equestrian Holds Socially Distanced Dressage Festival of Champions RS: Kasey Denny, Hutto, Texas, on Hemingway KW, an eight-yearold Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Amy Denny (84.000%) USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final, 14-18 CH: Averi Allen, Pleasant Hill, Missouri, on Superman, a sevenyear-old Hanoverian gelding (Scolari x Matcho AA) owned by Jonni Allen (86.000%) RS: Emma Teff, Renfrew, Pennsylvania, on Beaudacious, an 11-year-old RPSI gelding owned by Rhianna Pankhurst (84.000%)

DOUBLE TITLEIST: Averi Allen and Superman claimed both the Dressage Seat Medal Final 14-18 and the Junior championship wins

GRAND PRIX CHAMPION: Millione’s win was rider Jennifer Schrader-Williams’s first at the US Dressage Festival of Champions

RESULTS USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final, 13 and Under CH: Grace Young, Cazenovia, New York, on Maestro, a 20-year-old German Riding Pony (by Marco Polo) owned by Hailey Kates (86.000%)

CH: Pablo Gomez Molina, Wellington, Florida, on Easy Di Fonteabeti Ymas, a Rhinelander gelding by Grand Galaxy Win, owned by Cristina Danguillecourt and Yeguada Des Ymas SL (81.54%) RS: Alice Tarjan on her Oldenburg mare Summersby II (Sezuan x Sandro Hit) (80.80%) Markel/USEF Young Horse Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship CH: Marcus Orlob on the Westfalen gelding Spirit of Joy (Sir Calypso x Sandro Bedo), owned by Jeannette Pinard (87.92%) RS: Jennifer Schrader-Williams, Olympia, Washington, on the KWPN gelding Joppe K (Rousseau x Santano), owned by Joppe Partners LLC (80.68%) Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Dressage National Championship CH: Christopher Hickey, Wellington, Florida, on Stenagers Wyatt Earp, an eight-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Wilkens x Sandro Hit) owned by Cecelia Stewart (72.070%) RS: Jennifer Wetterau, Mission Viejo, California, on her own eightyear-old KWPN gelding, Hartog (Apache x Scandic) (70.750%)

Markel/USEF Young Horse FourYear-Old Dressage National Championship CH: Alice Tarjan, Oldwick, New Jersey, on her own Danish Warmblood mare Gjenganger (Grand Galaxy Win x Don Schufro) (86.60%) RS: Marcus Orlob, Annandale, New Jersey, on Alice Tarjan’s Danish Warmblood stallion Glory Day (Grand Galaxy Win x Deemster) (85.60%) Markel/USEF Young Horse FiveYear-Old Dressage National Championship

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DEVELOPING PSG CHAMPION: Chris Hickey and Stenagers Wyatt Earp


Illinois in August isn’t everybody’s idea of great summer weather, but in 2020 it was the perfect setting for a socially distanced, all-outdoors USEF Dressage Festival of Champions. A total of 175 horse-rider combinations gathered at Lamplight Equestrian Center, Wayne, Illinois, August 18-23, to vie for 14 national championships: USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals (13 and under; 14-18), FourYear-Old, Five-Year-Old, Six-YearOld, Developing Prix St. Georges, Developing Grand Prix, Intermediaire I, Grand Prix, Pony Rider, Children, Junior, Young Rider, and Young Adult “Brentina Cup.”

Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship CH: Alice Tarjan on her own nine-year-old Oldenburg mare, Donatella M (Furstenball x Jazz Time) (72.100%) RS: Alice Tarjan on her own eight-year-old KWPN stallion, Harvest (Connaisseur x Ulft) (69.180%) USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship CH: Endel Ots, Wellington, Florida, on Sonnenberg’s Everdance, an 11-year-old KWPN mare (Johnson TN x Zeoliet) owned by Sonnenberg Farm LLC (75.572%) RS: David Blake, Cardiff-by-theSea, California, on Heide Spirit, his own 10-year-old Oldenburg mare (Zack x Sir Donnerhall I) (72.368%) USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship CH: Jennifer Schrader-Williams on Millione, a 17-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Milan x Rawage Quintus) owned by Millione Partners LLC (70.824%) RS: Nora Batchelder, Williston, Florida, on W Gangster Girl, a 17-year-old KWPN mare (Sieger x Inxcess) owned by Sally Seaver (69.105%) USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship CH: Abby Fodor, Bloomsbury, New Jersey, on Slip and Slide, a 17-year-old Quarter Horse/Haflinger gelding (pedigree unknown) owned by Marie Fodor (68.227%) RS: Carmen Stephens, Saratoga,

PONY RIDER CHAMPION: Abby Fodor on Slip and Slide

California, on Woldhoeve’s Silco, her own 20-year-old KWPN/Welsh gelding (Wester Aikemas Adios x Downland Folklore) (67.657%) USEF Children Dressage National Championship CH: Lexie Kment, Palmyra, Nebraska, on Manatee, a 17-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (by Man from Elderado) owned by Jami Kment (74.354%) RS: Maren Elise Fouché-Hanson, Colbert, Georgia, on In My Feelings, her own 25-year-old grade pony gelding (73.781%) Adequan®/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship CH: Averi Allen on Superman (70.720%) RS: Annelise Klepper, McCutchenville, Ohio, on Happy Texas Moonlight, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Happy Diamond x Top of Class) owned by Shannon Klepper (69.620%) Horseware Ireland/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship

BRENTINA CUP CHAMPION: Sara Hassler on Harmony’s Boitano

CH: Hannah Irons, Queenstown, Maryland, on Scola Bella, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare (Scolari x HB I World Cup I) owned by Dressage4Kids Inc. (71.471%) RS: Katherine Mathews, San Marcos, California, on Solière, a 16-year-old Hanoverian stallion (Sandro Hit x Donnerhall) owned by Peridot Equestrian LLC (70.810%) Adequan®/USEF Young Adult “Brentina Cup” Dressage National Championship CH: Sara Hassler, Chesapeake City, Maryland, on Harmony’s Boitano, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding (Santano x Whinny Jackson) owned by Leslie Malone and the rider (69.269%) RS: Kerrigan Gluch, Wellington, Florida, on Vaquero HGF, a 13-year-old Andalusian stallion (Cuatrero IV x Idilio II) owned by Hampton Green Farm (68.457%).


USDF BULLETINS 2021 Membership Renewal

It’s time to renew for 2021! Renew your USDF participating or business membership by December 31 to receive the 2020 yearbook issue of USDF Connection.

Attention, 2020 Award Recipients

All 2020 rider and year-end awards will be mailed to award recipients by the end of December. Please contact USDF if you have not received your award by January 30, 2021. USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Collection OBITUARY Barbara Tuohino Funk Barbara Tuohino Funk, a noted Dutch Warmblood breeder who served as the USDF’s treasurer from 2000 through 2009, died July 12. She was 68. The treasurer’s seat on the USDF Executive Board was the perfect melding of Mrs. Funk’s dressage knowledge and her professional skills. She was a self-employed accountant and a federally authorized enrolled agent tax practitioner, as well as the owner and operator of Dove Creek Farm in Battle Ground, Washington. Mrs. Funk, who was also a US Equestrian dressage sporthorse-breeding (DSHB) judge and dressage technical delegate, bred sport horses for more than 30 years. Her mares produced regional champions, Adequan®/USDF Horse of the Year award winners, US Hunter Jumper Association zone hunter champions, USDF Breeders Championship Series qualifiers, and

PROUD BREEDER: Funk with one of her prizewinning Dutch Warmbloods

KWPN North America top-10 horses. To further her judging skills and to improve her breeding program, she studied in the Netherlands under some of the most respected Dutch breeders, judges, and riders. Mrs. Funk was also involved in equine-welfare issues, both

regionally and nationally. She managed the licensed Letter Perfect Dressage shows in Vancouver, Washington, from 2004 to 2013. She also found the time to serve as a Washington State University Extension small-farm advisor and as a KWPN-NA committee member. She is survived by her husband of 43 years, Russell Funk. “The USDF has always been blessed to have many dedicated and talented volunteers serving in all of the various positions,” said George Williams, who was the USDF president during Mrs. Funk’s tenure on the USDF Executive Board. “I feel especially blessed to have been on the Executive Board with Barb. Not only did she bring her passion, expertise, and attention to detail to the Board; she was also a joy to work with. What I’ll always especially remember and cherish is her compassion and sense of humor.”

OBITUARY Lawrence Wendell Haymon, PhD, who with his wife, Maryanna, bred top-quality warmbloods at their Marydell Farm in Columbus, North Carolina, died July 16 of complications from leukemia. He was 78. During Dr. Haymon’s service in the US Army, he was instrumental in the development of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). He went on to earn a PhD in food science from North Carolina State University, and he parlayed that expertise into such achievements as helping to develop Lipton Cup-a-Soup and canned iced tea. He was a worldrenowned expert in the manufacturing of hard sausages, in product quality, and in improving efficiencies in food product manufacturing. Dr. Haymon was not a horseman when he met his future wife, Maryanna, during a search for a horse for his daughter from a previous marriage. But

HAPPIER TIMES: Wendell and Maryanna Haymon with their stallion Don Principe

he embraced Maryanna’s passion, and “he became an enthusiastic supporter who wouldn’t compromise on quality,” she said. Interested in genetics, Dr. Haymon became fascinated with breeding horses and loved coming up with stallion and mare pairings. Together the Haymons developed a successful breeding operation at Marydell Farm. They campaigned their international Grand Prix stallion, Don Principe (Donnerhall x Prince

14 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

Thatch xx), later sold to Russia and now a contender for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics; Don Principe’s son David Bowie MF (out of EM Rotina, by Rotspon); and his grandson Debonair MF (Doctor Wendell MF – EM Rising Star MF, Rotspon). The farm and its horses have won numerous sporthorse-breeding and performance titles, including Adequan®/USDF Dressage Sport Horse Breeding Breeder of the Year, USEF Dressage Breeder of the Year, and USEF Dressage Breeding Sire of the Year. Although Maryanna Haymon planned to continue operations at Marydell Farm following her husband’s death, she also announced her intention to sell some horses to keep the farm going—a particular challenge given the current pandemic climate, she said. —Amber Heintzberger


Lawrence Wendell Haymon

FINANCIAL AID Perkins Receives George Williams Young Professional Grant Ali Perkins, a USDF-certified instructor/trainer through First Level from Rougemont, North Carolina, is the 2020 recipient of The Dressage Foundation’s (TDF) George Williams Young Professional Grant, TDF announced in July. Established in 2018 by friends and supporters of trainer/competitor



The chestnut Hanoverian Contucci (Caprimond x Lungau), a flagship stallion at Hilltop Farm in Colora, Maryland, for 22 years, died July 10 at the age of 27.


GREAT SIRE: Contucci


George Williams, formerly USDF president and now the US Equestrian national dressage youth coach, the grant aims to provide financial support for continuing education to instructors and trainers aged 25 to 35. It was awarded for the first time last year. Perkins, a former FEI Under 25 Grand Prix competitor, has been a full-time dressage instructor for four years. She plans use the $5,000 grant to travel to Wellington, Florida, this winter to train with Elisabeth Austin and to work with the Dressage4Kids Winter Intensive Training Program to improve her teaching and coaching skills. Learn more about this and other TDF charitable programs at

Bred in Germany by Klaus Storbeck, Contucci won the dressage portion of his 100-day test with an impressive 147.11 points. Hilltop Farm owner Jane MacElree purchased Contucci in 1998, and then Hilltop head trainer Scott Hassler trained, rode, and briefly competed the stallion. Contucci was the 2005 USEF Dressage Breeding Sire of the Year and the 2009 USEF Dressage Sire of the Year, among his many awards earned. He sired many winning offspring in both performance and in-hand competition, as well as licensed stallions and premium and elite mares. His offspring have been successful in hunters, jumpers, and eventing as well as in dressage. One of his most notable dressage get was the 2002 Hanoverian gelding Cabana Boy (Contucci – Britania, Bordeaux), who with rider Chris Hickey was the 2007 US entry at the World Breeding Championships for Young Dressage Horses. Cabana Boy went on to become the 2008 Markel/USEF Six-Year-Old national champion and the 2009 USEF Developing Horse national champion before his untimely death in 2010 following a catastrophic pasture injury.

Ken Levy, Noblesville, Indiana Kenneth Levy, PhD, MBA, is a USEF “r” dressage judge, a USDFcertified instructor/ trainer through First Level, and an active dressage ALL-ROUNDER: Levy competitor. A past GMO president and a former USDF Region 2 director, Ken is currently active in the Indiana Dressage Society. He and his wife, Barbara, own and operate Legacy Farm Dressage. How I got started in dressage: While living in Chicago and being an adrenaline junkie, I began to event a very talented Quarter Horse. I quickly realized that without a strong basis in dressage, I was never going to be successful. I took time off from my medical career to be a working student at Lamplight Equestrian Center, and I got hooked on dressage. I wanted to get certified because: The classical training that USDF teaches helped me as both a rider and an instructor/trainer. As a certified instructor, I learned not only the “what” and the “how” of riding, teaching, and training, but also the very valuable “why” we train horses the proper way. What surprised me the most about the process: How challenging the program was to complete. It tests your academic knowledge, your riding ability, and your teaching skills. I especially valued the lungeing aspect of the program—something I did not utilize nearly enough in my lesson program. My horses: I currently have six. Two are fully retired. My retired Grand Prix horse, Laramie, is used now and then for lessons, and I have two Hanoverians that I use in my lesson program. Tip: Look ahead to where you want to go. It is a simple tip, but it can make a big difference. Contact me: or (317) 373-9589. —Alexandria Belton

USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Sport Horse The New Equine-ID System The FEI and other entities already require microchipping. It’s not mandatory in dressage, but you might want to do it anyway, a top veterinarian says. By Penny Hawes companion animals, in the livestock and ranching industries, in zoos, and in wildlife research, to name a few. Although microchip technology has been around since the 1980s, it’s only within the past decade that the sport-horse world has begun to embrace “chipping”—and it currently isn’t required in US national-level dressage competition. Should it be? Regardless, should

ID VERIFIED: Using a scanning device, an FEI veterinarian reads a horse’s microchip at the 2016 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event

What are they? Microchips—tiny integrated circuits about the size of a grain of rice. Implanted in a horse, dog, cat, cow, or other animal, a microchip makes each individual uniquely identifiable. Inert until activated by a scanner, the device then becomes a transponder, emitting identification and location information. Because they can’t be removed without special equipment and aren’t subject to fading or tampering like brands or tattoos, microchips are the current gold standard for animal identification worldwide. They are widely used in

you microchip your horse for ID purposes and peace of mind? We asked experts to weigh in.

Microchip Technology Explained A microchip uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, which was developed in Great Britain during World War II as a means of verifying the identity of aircraft returning to base, with a radar scanner reading a reflector attached to the plane as it came within range. Known as “Identify Friend or Foe” (IFF), it was the first use of RFID technology. RFID technology has since

16 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

found its way into hundreds of applications. Those little tags attached to clothing items that trigger a store’s shoplifting warning system if someone tries to walk out without paying, keyless entry systems, and E-ZPass highway toll systems are a few of the more familiar uses.

RFID Technology and Animals In the mid-1980s, Great Britain’s livestock industry was devastated by an epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad-cow disease. Because there was no rapid or standardized method to trace the origin of the infected cattle, millions of cattle had to be slaughtered. Since then, Great Britain and the European Union have mandated the microchipping of all livestock, including horses. The use of microchips to help reunite lost pets with their owners has become widespread, as well. The New Jersey-based national pet-recovery service Home Again, which maintains a database of microchipped animals, claims to have helped more than 2 million lost pets get home. In the equine world, the NetPosse ID Registry, a service of the North Carolina-based Stolen Horse International, maintains a database of thousands of microchipped horses and has helped to reunite hundreds of stolen or missing horses with their owners. (The service now also is available for dogs, cats, and other animals.) The process of implanting a microchip in an animal is fairly straightforward. To “chip” a horse, a veterinarian uses a syringe-like device to inject the chip into the horse’s nuchal ligament, about halfway down the neck. A properly



he European Union has required them for more than 25 years. The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) has mandated them for seven years. The United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA), in partnership with US Equestrian (USEF), has required them for three. They’re also advocated by a host of animalrescue organizations.

TINY TECH: Typical equine microchip is about the size of a grain of rice

implanted chip won’t migrate away from the insertion site, and because the chip is inert (and coated with silicon), a horse’s body will not react to or reject the foreign object.


“Chipping” Comes to the Sport-Horse Industry

In 2017 the USHJA, the official USEF hunter/jumper national affiliate organization, began requiring horses to be microchipped in order to compete in classes that require USHJA registration. (USEF as a whole does not require microchipping, and most of its breed and discipline affiliate organizations, including the USDF, do not currently require it.) “We attempted to get a microchipping rule passed two years prior to our successful effort,” says USHJA president Mary Babick. But the membership soundly rejected that initial rule-change proposal, citing concerns about microchips themselves as well about the financial impact of a microchipping requirement. The organization realized that in order to argue its case for microchipping, it needed to do more research, promotion, and member outreach. “We spent much time doing research and conducting mythbusting informational sessions and articles,” Babick says. “The good thing about failing was that we understood the challenges that we were up against, and we could pre-answer many of the questions.” As part of its informationgathering, the USHJA sought advice from the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA), which “is composed of many state vets USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Sport Horse and US Department of Agriculture APHIS [Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service] representatives,” Babick says. USHJA representatives attended a NIAA conference on animal identification, which was “unbelievably helpful,” she says. “One of the questions that we worked on,” Babick says, “was whether we would require 840 chips.” (Bearing the numeric prefix 840 to designate a US identity, official 840 microchips may be manufactured only by companies approved by the US Department of Agriculture.) But “we decided not to go down this route, as they are more expensive and also require that the horse owner register their premises with the USDA. The idea that the government was going to get into our industry was a large concern.” Instead, the USHJA opted to require a 15-digit, International Standards Organization (ISO)-compliant 11784/11785 animal microchip. When it came time for the

USHJA to try again to get a microchip rule passed, it was armed not only with more details, but also with what Babick calls “a face”: “We chose Summer Stoffel, who is a breeder and IT [information technology] expert.” Stoffel, who breeds hunters and jumpers at her Silver Creek International near Tulsa, Oklahoma, “guided the membership through the process and did a wonderful job.” One of the things that quelled members’ fears was learning that microchips themselves are actually very inexpensive—costing only a few cents, according to FEI veterinarian C. Mike Tomlinson, DVM, MBA, of Thousand Oaks, California. The associated costs have more to do with “what you do with the data when you read it,” he explains. “If you simply write it in a book, it costs you the price of the book. If you want to have somebody maintain it for you in their database and display it in a beautiful website,” that service naturally costs more. Today the USHJA “promote[s] microchipping as an ‘integrity tool,’” says Babick: “Now people know that the horse is really the horse they are buying, since the microchip is connected to the record.” Likewise, the FEI requires that all horses being registered for the first time be microchipped with the same ISO-compliant 11784/11785 chip that the USHJA mandates.

us to walk up, identify the horse, and get their temperature,” Tomlinson enthuses. The temperature reading via microchip “is more accurate, instantaneous, and it’s a good core temperature,” he says, which “makes it useful in breeding and sport-horse facilities. Every day you can go down the shed row and go click, click, click [with the microchip-scanner device] and get everybody’s [temperature], and it does a really good job of telling you when that individual horse is out of normal. …You can catch something early. That makes a huge difference.”

The Compatibility Issue Just as there are different computer and device platforms, microchip standards vary. Multiple database registries exist, further complicating the issue. Most of the world uses the ISO standard for animal microchips: 15-digit ID numbers and a frequency of 134.2 kHz. But the US has developed a few standards, which vary both in numbers of digits used and in frequency. And that can be a problem: Not all chip readers are “universal,” meaning that some may not be able to detect an older, non-ISO chip. In this country, microchip scanners almost always can read multiple standards, but that’s not typically the case in the rest of the world.

Beyond ID: Microchip Uses A horse’s microchip can be linked to various databases, such as a breed or an animal-ID registry, which may be able to store a multitude of information about that animal. As Babick explains, “Emergency ID can happen through the database or the database of the microchip company if [the owner has] registered the chip with that company. Healthrecord access is [also] possible, but that happens through the individual microchip companies.” A relatively new capability is temperature monitoring. RFID technology “makes it very simple for

18 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

More About Microchipping


o learn more about the US Equestrian/US Hunter Jumper Association microchipping rule, visit equestrian-weekly/microchippingfaqs. Read the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) rule requiring microchipping (Article 1001) in the FEI Veterinary Regulations at

What’s more, because there is no single database for microchip ID numbers, it can be difficult to identify a horse by his ID number alone. And, as Tomlinson cautions, “you can, with significant technical knowhow, change the number reported by the chip.” In other words, microchipping “is not a good way of uniquely identifying [horses] anywhere you have incentive to cheat. When a horse is running wild due to a disaster, you have no incentive to cheat; you want to find out its identity. But in a sporting competition or when buying a horse, you cannot use just the chip [for identity verification] because those who have enough incentive to cheat will cheat. It is easy to use other identifying characteristics if you don’t get lazy and just use the chip alone.” To add one more potential wrinkle to the ID issue, it’s not uncommon to discover multiple chips in one horse, particularly in jumpers, says Tomlinson. “Dressage horses tend to stay with one owner much longer than jumpers. Jumpers tend to change owners and not always be checked for previous chips. I have seen a jumper with five!” Other issues can also lead to a horse’s being chipped more than once, Tomlinson says. For instance, a scanner with a low battery may fail to detect a chip, which “often leads to a new chip being implanted.”

Still Bullish on Microchipping Despite these issues, Tomlinson hopes that microchipping will move beyond its current “for higher-end competition horses only” perception to become standard practice for equine-ID purposes. To those who might dismiss the idea as irrelevant for their situations, he offers a

Online Extra Watch US Equestrian’s informational video about microchipping.

personal anecdote about loose and wandering horses: “One morning, about three in the morning, I woke up and thought, ‘Gee, who’s riding around at this time of night?’ Then I figured out, ‘Oh, those are my horses!’ They somehow got out.” Then there’s the horse owner’s nightmare of becoming separated from their animal in the event of a hurricane, wildfire, tornado, or other natural disaster. When these events occur, organizations from the Red Cross to the ASPCA typically step in to offer aid. Problem is, according to Tomlinson, such groups generally aren’t equipped to reunite lost or evacuated equines with their owners, and “emergency horse identification…has fallen through the cracks.” Microchipping, he believes, offers the best chance of identifying rescued or loose horses and locating their owners. Emergency ID, Tomlinson believes, is also the “hook” that will entice more equine organizations and individual horse owners to get on the microchipping bandwagon: “If organizations want to have chips [more widely] used in horses, they should say it’s for emergency identification, and then everybody would do it.” To encourage participation and compliance, he says, equine registries and organizations should promote the message: “Don’t just do it because we require you to; do it because it’s a good thing” for the safety and welfare of our beloved horses.

Penny Hawes is a writer and coach who lives in Virginia with her husband, their daughter, and various quadrupeds. Visit her at, and follow her on Instagram at @thehorseylifecoach.

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USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


GMO The 3 R’s of GMO Boards Our guide to recruitment, retention, and responsibilities


ust like the USDF itself, its affiliated dressage organizations—called group-member organizations, or GMOs—are governed by boards of directors. These elected officials wield significant power and influence in determining the direction and vibrancy of their organizations, not to mention their financial health. A small board may comprise the four traditional officer roles of president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer, plus perhaps a couple of at-large directors or committee chairs. The boards of larger GMOs may include additional directors’ positions, such as education chair,

tasks they probably would rather be doing, such as planning dressage shows and clinics. Serving on a GMO board is work, which is why many GMO members are happy to let someone else do it. But in order to have a well-run club, you need to find and (ideally) keep good people. Here’s how.

R Is for Recruiting GMO boards don’t (and, some would argue, shouldn’t) have to handle everything. If a club can draw from its general membership to fill committee positions, the load on each individual will be lightened. But some GMOs have trouble just

THE POWER OF TEAMWORK: When a GMO’s board functions well, serving is fulfilling and rewarding. Pictured is the 2020 Nebraska Dressage Association’s board of directors: at-large member Angie McClelland, president Melissa Ward, at-large member Gracia Huenefeld, atlarge member Michaela Schieffer, junior representative Mia Newman, vice president Margo Hamilton, secretary Jane Fucinaro, at-large member Heidi Helmer, and treasurer Lana Erickson.

awards chair, or marketing manager. A typical GMO board ranges in size from six to 10 members. As directors of small- to medium-sized nonprofit corporations, GMO board members are charged with fiscal duties and reporting obligations as well as with the

filling the necessary board seats. The Southern Eventing and Dressage Association (SEDA), with members in Louisiana and Mississippi, “always” has trouble recruiting new board members, according to current SEDA president Nicole Miller.

20 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

“Until a few years ago, the board had been pretty much the same people for quite some time, not because of an intentional monopoly but because no one stepped up to run against them,” Miller says. In some cases, a dose of newness and excitement motivates people to step up. Case in point: Wanting to start a group of like-minded enthusiasts, five years ago Kentuckybased eventer-turned-dressage-rider Kristen Young organized a dinner meetup. Her goal: “Let’s just see what people want out of this, if anything. And maybe it’s just a social go-to-dinner thing every couple of months.” Thirty-five people showed up for that first dinner, keen on expanding dressage educational opportunities in their area. Two years of get-togethers later, Young and her cohorts officially founded the Louisville Dressage Society (LDS), which celebrates its third anniversary as a USDF GMO this November. “That’s how we got our first board members: It was just people that really wanted to see things happening in Louisville,” Young says. “We started doing clinics, and that still remains our focus—education, clinics, and unmounted activities, as well.” “When you’re getting people excited about things that you’re doing, and doing new or fresh things,” says Young, “I think that’s what gets people wanting to get involved…. If your club or your GMO is active and really doing some cool things, people say, ‘Yeah, I want to be a part of that.’” Sometimes it takes turnover to prod “lurkers” into action. In SEDA’s case, several longtime directors, suffering from burnout, stepped down around the same time, Miller says.


By Penny Hawes

The mass vacancies “resulted in a crop of new faces getting involved at the board level, which has been delightful.” Miller herself, who had been active in SEDA communications but not as a top officer, “stepped up to offer myself as a bridge for what had been done in the past while getting the new people acquainted with how the club operates.”

From OK to Great: A Guide to Screening Potential Board Members


ifficulty recruiting new board members isn’t just a GMO problem. Many nonprofit organizations struggle to fill the places at the table with people who have something more to add to the organization than just a warm body. In a white paper derived from a 2009 conference presentation, the National Council of Nonprofits outlined the differences among “weak,” “OK,” “good,” and “great” board members. Slightly tongue-in-cheek in parts (weak board members are classified as, among others, “turkeys,” “skunks,” and—sorry, dressage—“show horses”), the paper nevertheless contains some solid guidance, such as: An OK member says, “What do I have to do?” A good board member says, “How may I help?” A great board member says, “Thanks for the opportunity.” Great board members, the NCN concludes, focus on serving not just the organization but their community. “How to be a Great Nonprofit Board Member,” which also contains a list of resources for nonprofit boards of directors, is available online at default/files/documents/How%20 to%20be%20a%20Great%20 Board%20Member.pdf.

But what if you don’t have the sizzle of a new club to offer and simply need to find a couple of solid director prospects? Some experts recommend recruiting from the organization’s current volunteer pool; after all, if someone has volunteered, they’ve shown a willingness to pitch in and help. But even then, the task may not be easy. “It’s difficult getting new people involved, period. I think every organization goes through this,” Miller says. “Most members like the benefits and don’t mind volunteering for events, but they don’t really want to get involved beyond that. They are ‘busy’! I literally approached people directly and begged some to take on a board position. A few volunteered of their own accord. I’m nervous about when I finish this term, as I won’t be running again. I have no idea who will take on the president role.”

R Is for Retention Your GMO has worked hard to identify and recruit good people, so the last thing you want is to have to your board be a revolving door. How can your club improve its track record of board-member retention? “Once on the board, most are OK with staying on for at least one term,” says Miller. Unfortunately, “when they discover the amount of work involved and the lack of appreciation, some are pretty much done after one term. Others give it a while.” Some GMOs cope with the issue through an informal process of cyclical rotation. Barbara Nagle, president of the USDF GMO Dancing Horse Dressage in the Melbourne, Florida, area, calls herself “one of the people that rotates pretty much consistently into the president’s slot.” But even a dedicated officer like Nagle needs a break sometimes. “There are years that I just said, ‘No more. I’ll be your vice president, but you need someone else to stand in and give me a break.’” The result, says Nagle, is a sort of position-swapping that mixes it up

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USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020




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•Search the education library •Take online courses •Earn credits and recognition

for the core volunteer group, at least until they reach the burnout point. “People want to rotate out for a year at least,” Nagle says, “so I would say we see more of the same people in the various positions on the board, and it runs in cycles. We might have four or five years where the same group of people are on the board, and then a couple of those migrate out. We’ll get some new blood in there that’ll stay around for another four or five years, and then they cycle out.” Flexibility and liberal use of technology have helped the Pennsylvania-based French Creek Equestrian Association attract and retain new directors, according to GMO president Fay Seltzer. “We currently have a trainer on the board, and we are adapting by using technology so she can join us virtually for the hour,” Seltzer says. “We held two meetings virtually at the beginning of the COVID isolation, and have since adapted and allow some members to join virtually. When members have to travel 45 minutes to an hour for a meeting, virtual makes sense. We have the technology; why not make it easy on ourselves?”



earn more about the responsibilities and professional development of a nonprofit association’s board of directors from these sources: Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) ( Cause & Effect consulting services’ resources for nonprofits ( free-nonprofit-toolbox/) National Council of Nonprofits’ tools for nonprofit boards ( BoardSource (boardsource. org/audience/board-member/)

22 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

Perhaps the easiest way to encourage directors to stick around is to thank them—and all other GMO volunteers—for their service. “Some tasks take a lot of time,” says Seltzer. “Make sure that the organizers are rewarded and thanked for their time. Make sure the volunteers know that you appreciate their time.” Regardless, Miller believes, some support needs to come from within. “Reach out to and support each other,” she urges board members. Serving on a board is “a difficult job that isn’t really appreciated by most of the membership, so supporting one another is essential.”

R Is for Responsibilities All boards of directors, whether corporate or nonprofit, have certain duties in common. At the organization’s founding, the board creates the bylaws and establishes the group’s mission and direction. The directors are responsible for the legal and fiscal care of the organization, which includes providing oversight on a continuing basis. In addition, one of a GMO board’s primary responsibilities is to serve its members. The Louisville Dressage Society conducts surveys “just to check in with our members and make sure that we’re actually doing what our members want,” says Young. “It helps direct the board when we can say, ‘This is what the membership wants; it’s not what I want or what you want. This is what the 40 members want.” “You need to know your constituency,” Nagle echoes. “You need to know who you’re serving and what they want.” Seltzer advises directors to remain open to member suggestions and feedback. “Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the way it’s always been done that we aren’t receptive to other views or ways of doing things,” she says. Miller agrees. “Your role on the board is one of service: to each other

and your members. It’s not about you, but what is best for your members. Remember that it’s an honor to serve them.”

Creating Synergy When a group of engaged individuals gets together to advance a cause they all believe in, great things can happen. “Right now we’re seeing a lot of new people that have moved here that are really excited about the things that we’re doing,” says Young. “In the next year, we’re going to have a whole new board. And—for the first time and since we were started—I’m actually not going to be on the board next year.” Young says she’s looking forward to the handoff. “I think it’s good to see what other people can do with it. We’ve got some new people, and this is a good chance to let some new ideas come in, and maybe rethink some things that we tried to do that didn’t work. We really need leadership that can work together.”

Penny Hawes is a coach, writer, and experienced board member. She lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and a plethora of cats, dogs, and horses. In her day job, she works for a nonprofit.

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USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Free Rein Clarity of Purpose Horses offer stability in uncertain times


ay you live in interesting times” is no longer a thinly veiled threat; it is now an apt description of the present. We, as a country and as a world, have had to come to terms with so much change this year—medical, political, ethical, and economic, just to name a few, and most of which are far overdue for attention. In such turbulent times, having something

chop the ice so they could drink. Life right now is a snowstorm of uncertainty, but the cattle still need to be fed. But when someone—a cow, a horse, a child—is dependent on you, they tend to take you and your care of them for granted. Caregivers know where those in their care would be without them—and that’s why people who are reliable enough

UNCHANGING: The rhythm and routine of caregiving can anchor us in times of upheaval

stable in one’s life can be a comfort. When you are not responsible for the well-being of another, whether four-legged or two, it’s easier to think of only your own needs and wants. Caring for anything or anyone requires us to put our own needs second. My father used to say, “The cattle don’t know it’s Christmas.” They’re cold, they’re hungry, they’re thirsty. So we would go out in the Midwestern snowstorm to feed them and

to be taken for granted by others are very aware of not taking anything for granted themselves. When we know we are not guaranteed anything in life, every experience can be precious. Perhaps that’s why the dressage community, by and large, has been quick to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dressage has been, and always will be, a sport that rewards the list-makers and planners but punishes those who can’t roll with

24 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

the punches and modify those plans as necessary. US Equestrian and the USDF both have done a laudable job of adapting to new conditions this year. The ongoing changes to competition protocols as the pandemic continues reflect a leadership that is rolling with the punches. The perfect course of action will, of course, only be apparent in hindsight. But when being nimble and adapting based on new information is the plan, the measures taken at the end should more closely resemble the in-retrospect perfect course of action than the procedures put in place at the beginning. While USEF and USDF deserve praise for the work they’ve done, no one should be too surprised at the success they’ve had in making the showing process in this climate safer. USEF leads as our national equestrian governing body, and USDF is, broadly, an educational institution. The primary job of education, in any context, is teaching people how to think. First, recognize the problem as it genuinely is, not how we wish it to be. Next, discern the questions that need asking. Last, find out how to answer those questions. Rinse and repeat. The process of adjusting doesn’t mean that you’ll never be wrong. The easiest way to be right all the time is to keep evaluating, to be flexible, to admit when something isn’t working, and to change course when it’s pragmatically wise to do so. As more information becomes available, one should be willing to alter the plan. People who think that pivoting is a weakness don’t understand how learning works, and


By Martin Kuhn

instead become well-practiced in the art of justifying their failures. At our first show of this abbreviated and highly condensed competition season, I was asked if I had missed showing. (The questioner knew that, although I dislike showing, I hate going to a show and not showing even more.) I quickly answered no, but I added that I had missed the clarity that comes from showing. I’d never thought about that upside until competing—something that I’d taken for granted—no longer was a given. Whether the inciting moment is as simple as a ride down center line or as monumental as a global pandemic, such events produce clarity of purpose. Crises, whether personal or global, do have an upside. They remind us of what’s truly important, even if we hadn’t realized that those things were important because we were too busy taking them for granted. We in the dressage community are immensely fortunate to be able to

have horses in our lives and engage in our sport at a time when countless others are in such perilous positions. The inconvenience of having to wear a hot and uncomfortable face mask is such a small price to pay for these privileges. For a dressage enthusiast to complain about having to wear a mask is rather petty. We all serve as examples and role models for others, often when we’re unaware of it. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. We become better humans by putting the needs of others ahead of ourselves. Leaders put others’ needs first because the ice needs chopping, even on Christmas, even during a snowstorm. The world will always need people like that; that won’t change.

Meet the Columnist


artin Kuhn is a trainer/instructor at StarWest in New Berlin, Illinois. He is a USDF-certified instructor through Fourth Level, as is his wife and fellow StarWest trainer/instructor, Kathryn Fleming-Kuhn. They are the parents of a four-year-old son, Malcolm Kuhn. A longtime student of USDF certification examiner Gerhard Politz, Martin is a USDF bronze, silver, and gold medalist who has trained horses through Grand Prix, and he is the trainer/rider and co-owner of Ronin, the 2019 Adequan®/USDF Dressage Horse of the Year at First and Second Levels.

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USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Clinic Retraining the Off-the-Track Thoroughbred A noted trainer offers guidance to a rider struggling to reeducate an “upside down” horse By Gerhard Politz


ome time ago, I was sent a training question posed by a USDF member. This adultamateur rider was having trouble getting her off-the-track Thoroughbred mare to consistently go on the bit and take a correct contact. The mare’s preferred way of going was to go above the bit with her nose poked out. Not surprisingly, she had an overly developed “under neck” muscle and little in the way of correct topline development. Although the rider took dressage lessons, she was struggling to master some basic concepts and to put her instructor’s advice into practice.

Various techniques to get the mare on the bit “work somewhat but not consistently,” the rider wrote, and “every ride is a negotiation. In a lesson, she gives in eventually, but when I ride alone, I feel like she never truly goes to the bit.” This rider is not alone! Many ex-racehorses (and others) exhibit similar behaviors. So let’s take a look at the issue and at what this rider can do to correctly and safely educate her horse and herself. If I were working with this horse and rider, here’s what I would say: Clearly, your horse’s topline needs a complete transformation, and her

under-neck muscle needs to atrophy. This requires time, and it will test your patience and perseverance. Any inclination to solve problems by undue strength or force is going to backfire. You also need to monitor your own position and balance in the saddle. Your core needs to be strong yet supple, with your contact to the horse’s mouth steady yet elastic. As you are working with a trainer, I assume that the fit of bridle and saddle have been checked and are correct. Knowing that most racehorses have no education regarding the bit (at least not in dressage terms), I’d like to recommend using a full-cheek snaffle, which helps to stabilize the bit in the mouth (pictured at left).

FULL-CHEEK SNAFFLE: Although this bit is more commonly found in the hunter ring, it is also permitted in national-level dressage competition. The cheeks help to stabilize the bit in the horse’s mouth, which can make it a good choice in introductory dressage training.

26 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

The recommendations I’m going to give you entail a lot of two-track work. Therefore, I advise using polo wraps or brushing boots on all four legs and bell boots in front. To begin with, all of the work is done at the walk. This may test your horse’s patience, even if she has an affable temperament. I suggest turning her out first in a corral so she loses her edge, or better still, lungeing her before your training sessions. If you have good lungeing skills, I suggest using sliding side reins, which show the horse “the way to the ground” and open up the topline (see photo on the facing page). That will make your task from the saddle easier. If you decide to lunge, do not attach the lunge line directly to the bit! If you do not have a lungeing cavesson, you can improvise by looping a nylon spur strap through both


Unmounted Work

troductory lateral exercise in which the horse travels forward and sideways away from the rider’s inside leg, with slight inside flexion but no bend through the body—supples the muscles of the horse’s back and encourages the horse to drop and stretch its neck. Let’s start from scratch. For your mare’s first lesson, teach her to turn on the forehand. Your horse is tacked up and you are standing on her left side, facing her and holding SLIDING SIDE REINS: Photo shows correct placement and adjustment for lungeing. In experienced hands, this training tool can help teach the horse to stretch correctly forwarddownward over the topline.

the bit ring and the noseband, then attaching the lunge line to the spur strap. This method avoids pulling with the line directly on the horse’s mouth, which may freak her out. You have probably heard the mantra to ride “from the inside leg to the outside rein.” This is a valid and necessary concept, but before the horse can relate to it, he first has to accept and yield to the inside aids. The key exercise for teaching this is leg-yielding. The leg-yield—an in-

the reins in your left hand. Bring her head slightly toward you and apply pressure with the handle of your whip in the same spot behind the girth where you place your sideways driving leg. When she responds by stepping sideways, immediately release the pressure and reward her. (If your horse is afraid of the whip, make sure you desensitize her before attempting this exercise.) Have your horse complete a turn of 180 degrees, step by step, taking plenty

Convenience doesn’t always equal results.




from our research and experience.

TEACHING THE TURN ON THE FOREHAND: With the horse’s head turned slightly to the inside, the handler uses her whip handle to apply pressure at the spot where her sideways driving leg will go. When the horse takes a step away from the pressure, relax and reward immediately. Go step by step until the horse understands the turn on the forehand from the ground in both directions.

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USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Clinic of time for release and reward. Then repeat the turn on the forehand in the other direction. Don’t force her to stay on the spot; allow her to take small steps forward. Discourage her from stepping back. The next lesson will build on the first. At this stage we are only asking the horse to move forward/sideways, away from your inside aids. While asking for a turn on the forehand, walk your horse forward on a small circle. You can gradually expand to 10 meters or more, making sure that she is on two tracks. It is acceptable to bend her neck a bit more toward you. Try timing the pushing with your whip to coincide with when she is just about to lift her hind leg. It will take some ingenuity and patience on your part to figure out the timing. It is important that you keep her moving forward and sideways. Observe that she is crossing both her left hind and left front legs over her right legs. Then repeat the lesson in the other direction. Never rush the

horse through any of this work. You don’t need to achieve a complete circle the first time you try. Give your horse plenty of breaks and rewards.

Under-Saddle Gymnastic Work When your horse performs the inhand work well and stays relaxed, she is ready to repeat the exercises under saddle. I suggest that you always start by reconfirming some work from the ground before mounting up. Even if you lunged or turned out your horse before the session, allocate about 15 minutes to begin the riding session by walking on a very light contact on both reins while riding many variations of serpentines. Take care that you always bend your mare’s neck in the direction of the turn, and try to push her ribcage to the outside by using your inside leg at the girth. Making many changes of bend will encourage her to lower her neck. When the serpentines are concluded, ask for several turns on

the forehand in both directions, including some that also ask for movement on a small circle. Then continue with leg-yielding in the walk while gradually expanding to 20-meter circles. As I mentioned earlier, in the leg-yield the horse is supposed to be straight in its neck and body except for a slight flexion in the poll to the inside, away from the direction of movement. At this stage, do not insist that your horse be straight in her neck. In fact, bearing in mind that she has a strong under neck, do quite the opposite. Remember, we want her to accept the inside aids first. So bend her neck to the inside and, applying your inside leg behind the girth, push her sideways. Maintain a passively elastic contact with your outside rein, just enough to prevent her from suddenly veering from the designated line of travel. After several circles in one direction, change direction while maintaining the same concept of leg-yielding

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28 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION


with the neck bent to the inside. Keep the angle of crossing fairly moderate: About 25 to 30 degrees is quite sufficient. The degree of bend in the neck may have to vary and is contingent on the volume of the under neck and tightness of the back musculature. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit to figure out how much bend may be needed. When these techniques and her mode of travel have induced your horse to reliably stretch her neck downward, the time has come to introduce the outside rein with more definition, thus changing from riding with mostly inside aids to riding with diagonal aids. Begin carefully applying more tension on your outside rein while incrementally easing off tension on your inside rein until your horse’s neck is almost straight and acceptable for a 20-meter circle line. If your mare stays reliably connected into both reins with her neck stretched forward and down, you can attempt walking all the school figures, varying between single-track and two-track work. When this is successful, you and your horse are ready to progress to trot work and later to canter while pursuing the same results. You may find that your horse sometimes takes the reins rather strongly when forward/downward stretching becomes more confirmed. That is not necessarily a bad thing to begin with, as it signals that the horse has confidence to open up her top line in the desired way. She may need support from your hands as she tries to figure out her new balance, since she can no longer use her under neck. If the contact becomes too heavy, apply half-halts and full halts to prevent her from leaning. In addition, Überstreichen (rein release) with one or both reins will encourage her to improve her self-carriage.

Meet the Expert


native of Germany, Gerhard Politz immigrated to the US in 1987, and he has taught and trained out of Flintridge Riding Club near Pasadena, California, ever since. He is a British Horse Society Instructor, a German Master Trainer/Instructor, and a longtime certification examiner in the USDF Instructor/ Trainer Program. Over the course of his career, he has trained numerous horses to the Grand Prix level and successfully coached many students to USDF rider medals and FEI North American Youth Championships dressage medals. His website is

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USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


The Judge’s Box Why Position Matters In dressage, correct equitation is about much more than looking pretty in the saddle By Sarah Geikie

FORM AND FUNCTION: Laura Graves’ topclass equitation helped Verdades to produce medal-winning performances at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in North Carolina

plished, they simply give up, saying, “I can never ride like that.” As a result, they never work to improve their position on the horse. There is a saying in equitation that there is a very thin line between a balanced position and influencing the horse with our aids. A good rider

has a positive effect on the horse simply by virtue of sitting on him. Position matters: It enables the rider to communicate with the horse with clear, concise, consistent aids. Your responsibility as a rider is to be able to control your own balance and body so that you can then control the horse. A crooked rider can never straighten a horse. When I was in college, we read a book called Understanding Media. The theme was that the medium (for example, TV) is the message. In other words, there is a direct correlation between form and function. In dressage, the form is the rider’s balanced position, and the function is achieving the desired response from the horse. To understand the importance of riding position from the horse’s perspective, think of how your horse would feel if you positioned all of your weight over to his left side. A horse’s natural reaction is to put his own body underneath the middle of the rider’s weight. Once this kind of imbalance occurs, any aid the rider gives is compromised. The result is confusion on the horse’s part as to what he is being asked to do. Riders tend to interpret such a reaction as “resistance” or a “bad attitude,” when in fact it is the horse’s inability to figure out what to do. You must develop control over your own balance so that you can apply the exact same aid for each given request—canter depart, flying change, and so on. This clarity is necessary in order to train the horse and bring him up the levels.

Five Steps to Better Riding Position The process of developing a sound, correct riding position can be broken into five steps.

30 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

Step 1: Mastering the correct position and balance. The rider sits over the horse’s center of gravity in a vertical alignment of shoulder, elbow, hip, and heel. The rider’s weight is on her two seat bones and the back portion of her pubic bone, forming a triangle of support. Step 2: Following the rhythm of the horse in the paces, and learning to harmonize with them. The rider develops a feel for the four-beat walk, the two-beat trot, and the three-beat canter in such a way that her hips act like a human metronome. Step 3: Correct aids and their application in rhythm and timing with the horse’s paces. These include the forward driving aids, the restraining aids, the bending aids, the turning aids, and the canter aids. Aids are not applied randomly but at the correct rhythm and timing with the horse’s footfalls. Step 4: The independent seat develops from spending time perfecting the first three steps in this progression. A rider with an independent seat is secure and does not need to balance on the reins or the stirrups, or to grip with the legs, in order to stay on. Step 5: Developing feel. “Feel for the horse” means that the rider has a sense of how much aid is needed and in what proportion (leg, seat, and hand) at any given moment to achieve the best reaction from the horse.

The Four Phases of Learning In the USDF Instructor/Trainer Program, we discuss the four phases of (human) learning. All riders develop this way. Phase 1 is unconscious incompetence. The person does not



e all watched the magic unfold with the rise to stardom of Laura Graves and her amazing partner, Verdades. Laura mesmerized us with her perfect position and invisible aids, and with the communication and harmony she had with her horse. Laura remains an inspiration to all of us “normal” riders to strive for more from ourselves. But when some riders see someone so accom-

FOSTERING EXCELLENCE: The USDF/USEF Dressage Seat Medal Program promotes dressage-seat equitation. Pictured are 2019 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals 13-and-under champion Kasey Denny (left) and 14-18 champion Mackenzie Peer (right).

understand or know how to do something. Next is conscious incompetence. The person does not understand or know how to do something, but now she recognizes that she does not know how and that she needs help. The third phase is conscious competence. The person understands or knows how to do something, but it takes concentration. Last is unconscious competence. The person has mastered the skill and can perform it easily, as if it were second nature.


Ways to Improve One of the most effective methods of improving a rider’s seat and position is through lunge lessons. These can be a fun way of learning, allowing you to focus on yourself while the instructor controls the horse. The USDF/USEF Dressage Seat Medal Program encourages correct riding and position from an early age. Competitors in two age groups (13 and under; 14 to 18) participate in dressage-seat equitation (DSE) classes, which are group classes of up to 25 riders. Those who earn a qualifying score may be eligible to compete at a USDF Dressage Seat Medal Semifinals, which are held

in conjunction with the nine Great American/USDF Regional Championships. The top two riders in each age division at the semifinals are invited to compete at the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals, which have been held as part of the USEF Dressage Festival of Champions. The Medal Finals are very competitive. The riders here have developed correct, beautiful positions and basics that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Learn more about DSE and the USDF/USEF Dressage Seat Medal Program at equitation/index.asp. The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) also offers a dressage division that emphasizes equitation. The FEI Children’s division, for kids aged 12 to 14, judges the technical execution of the test as well as the correctness of the riding. The Children’s tests are roughly equivalent in difficulty to USEF First Level. The Children’s division has been catching on and is predicted to explode in popularity over the next few years.

A Sport for Life Dressage is one of the few sports in which athletes can continue to improve and evolve even as they

age. This is not just a sport for the younger set. Time and experience, together with a more educated seat, create a skilled, effective rider. Dressage is truly a lifelong process for the rider. Improvement is always possible. Our partner, the horse, is an amazing animal that is generous and very forgiving. My own journey in dressage has been one of self-discovery and growth, all while developing a deep love of and appreciation for the horse. They are truly magical creatures that make this journey possible. Enjoy your journey, and remember that no matter your age or circumstances, you can always improve.

Sarah Geikie is an FEI 4* dressage judge, a USDF-certified instructor through Fourth Level, a certification examiner in the USDF Instructor/Trainer Program, and current co-chair of the USDF Instructor/ Trainer Committee. She teaches and trains out of Meadowbrook Farm in Marlborough, Connecticut.

USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Grooms to the Stars Not for the slacker, a job grooming top dressage horses is demanding but rewarding. Here, some behind-the-scenes heroes share their secrets to success. BY COLLEEN SCOTT

SISTER ACT: At major competitions, keeping US medal-winning team horse the 2003 Danish Warmblood gelding Goerklintgaards Dublet (Diamond Hit x Ferro) in perfect form for Kasey Perry-Glass was the rider’s sister, Holly Gorman. They’re pictured sharing a happy moment at the 2017 CHIO Aachen in Germany.

32 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION


anted: Groom. Must be available 24/7; an equine mindreader; able to maneuver a large rig through narrow barn driveways and truck-stop parking lots; skilled at braiding and otherwise making a dressage horse look letter-perfect; and a master at packing and unpacking gear for journeys ranging from down the road to around the world. Mondays off…maybe. Ah, the “glamorous” lifestyle of grooms to top dressage horses! These equine athletes are top performers, and they must look every inch the part—pristine, polished, fit, happy, and ready to canter down center line. Caring for a high-performance dressage horse takes an extraordinary amount of work and horsemanship know-how. We wondered how top grooms do it, and what tips they could share with other grooms and horse owners. For this article, a handful of top grooms allowed us to peek behind the curtain, to see how they help horses and riders to achieve success.

Let Curiosity Be the Guide


“When I first started as a groom, I asked a lot of questions,” says Ellie Pfannebecker, who grooms for Palmyra, Nebraska,-based instructor/trainer Jami Kment. Kment is on the 2020 Kundrun USEF Dressage Development Program list with Gatino Van Hof Olympia, a nineyear-old KWPN gelding (Apache x Silvano N) that she co-owns with Elaine Vandeventer. In addition to asking questions, groom Meghan Laffin spends time watching other grooms, particularly when her boss, US 2016 Olympic and 2018 World Equestrian Games medalist Kasey Perry-Glass, relocates her operation from Orangevale, California, to Wellington, Florida, for the winter season. Grooms “really have a great camaraderie,” says Laffin. “Our jobs are a constant learning process. We are all getting better and growing. It’s important to be open to learning. If you’re humble enough to learn from someone or offer them a hand, they’ll do the same for you.” Armed with questions and ready to learn, we took these grooms’ advice and asked about their strategies for keeping the horses in their care at the top of their game.

It’s All in the Details Our grooms agree on the importance of paying attention to minute details. Every aspect of a horse’s care and management—from grooming to tack, behavior to nutrition—must be scrutinized. [ USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


“We have a lot of responsibility,” says Laffin, who adds that a groom is “very much a part of a team. We are around these horses all the time, and we have the responsibility to be observant. You always hear people say they wish horses could talk; well, if we pay close attention enough, they do talk to us in their own certain way.” Top grooms spend hours every day with the horses in their care. That consistent time leads to a great bond between groom and horse— and a great understanding on the groom’s part about the horse’s health and well-being. Good grooms know whether a horse tends to take a few stiff steps out of his stall in the morning (and how many), or whether that stiffness warrants further investigation. They

know whether that windpuff on a hind leg is always there or whether it’s new since yesterday. They know whether the horse is a good eater or a picky one, a good drinker or one that has to be coaxed to ingest “strange” water at a show. They know whether the horse regularly naps after lunch or whether lying down means something’s not right. They know the horse’s usual normal temperature range. “I know them pretty well,” groom José Alaniz says of his equine charges. “I especially know when there is something wrong with them because they are a little nervous and I know what they normally act like.” Since 2007, Alaniz has worked for San Diego-based trainer and competitor Nick Wagman, who is on the 2020 USEF Dressage Pre-Elite

34 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

Better to Prevent than Treat With grooms so attuned to their horses, they notice potential problems before they become larger issues. “Since we know these horses so well, we catch things when they are small,” says Vohland. “Small things, when taken care of right away, stay small. If you don’t catch things early enough, something small can become an issue.”


A MATTER OF TRUST: Grand Prix pair Nick Wagman and Don John with groom José Alaniz

list with Don John, a Dutch Warmblood gelding (Johnson x Goodtimes) owned by Beverly Gepfer. “José is truly an essential part of our team,” says Wagman. “His role goes far beyond just grooming the horses. From flying with them across the globe to taking them out for an afternoon graze and everything in between, José is their security blanket, advocate, and friend. The horses trust him, and I trust him. That trust is invaluable at this level of the sport.” The demands of caring for top performance horses often mean that their grooms have relatively small numbers of horses to look after. Of the five grooms and one former groom we talked to, the number of mounts in their care ranged from three to seven. Among the rider/trainers who opt for the boutique approach is 2015 US Pan American Games team gold medalist Sabine Schut-Kery, of Napa, California. “Sabine talks a lot about keeping the number of horses in training small,” says Schut-Kery’s groom, Jade Vohland. “Having time to build relationships with them really helps me get to know these horses, and I think they really enjoy that. Getting to know them as individuals, what they like and don’t like, is really helpful in providing the right care.”


An open communication line with the veterinarian—another key member of a top horse’s care team— is important, Pfannebecker says. “We have a great relationship with Chris Newton, DVM, of [Lexington, Kentucky,-based] Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital,” says Pfannebecker. “He’s in Wellington while we are there, and throughout the year comes to the farm [in Nebraska] as well. If there is something going on, we call him, and because he knows our horses so well, he is able to help us.” High-performance athletes get physiotherapy to help them feel and perform their best, and horses are no exception. The grooms we interviewed use an array of modalities as part of horses’ daily care: ice boots, TheraPlate treatment, cold-hosing, poultices, magnetic blankets, and ice packs. They use them not just to alleviate soreness and stiffness, but to help prevent it. “I try to look ahead to things that could go wrong,” says Carl Chandler, of Wellington, Florida, who grooms for his wife, 2010 US World Equestrian Games dressage-team member Katherine Bateson-Chandler (who’s currently on the USEF Dressage Elite list with Jane Forbes Clark’s 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Alcazar, Contango x Ferro). “If a horse works particularly hard one day, maybe I’ll use ice boots so they aren’t sore the next day.” Pfannebecker is a believer in using “carrot stretches” to increase horses’ core strength and flexibility. “We encourage our horses to stretch and bend by using carrots. While they are in the cross-ties, we’ll have them do carrot stretches to help them with flexibility.” Attention to detail includes adjusting a horse’s routine to suit the weather or other conditions.

INDIVIDUALIZED ATTENTION: International competitor Sabine Schut-Kery feeds the sevenyear-old PRE stallion Tornado (owned by Rancho El Marengo) a treat while groom Jade Vohland puts on the finishing touches

COVID-19 travel restrictions quashed Bateson-Chandler’s usual summertime training trip to Europe, and so the couple is coping with the worst of Florida’s heat and humidity. “We turn the horses out for a few hours in the morning and then bring them in because it is just too hot,” Chandler says. “And when they come in, they get a cold bath and I make sure they are drinking well.” Wildfires were raging in Laffin’s part of California when we spoke, and as a result “we aren’t exercising them much right now, just trying to keep them happy and healthy because the air quality is so poor,” she reports.

Grooming Hacks

MacGyver, move over. You’ve got nothing on these clever grooms. The hay-soaking, sleep-saving hack. Tasked with soaking hay for morning feeding, Laffin came up with a hack that allowed everyone to stay in bed an extra hour. “When we were soaking the hay, we had to get to the barn an hour earlier, so we were trying to figure out a way to get the hay soaked before we got there.”

Enter a garden hose, timer, tub, and full bucket. “Now, we put the hay in a tub; put a full, sealed bucket on top of the hay; attach it to a garden hose with a timer; and by the time we get to the barn, the hay is soaked and ready to go.” It took Laffin a few tries to arrive at the magic formula (without weight on top of the hay, it separated and became a mess), but the results were worth the effort. Tips for fabulous tails. Our grooms agree: Stop brushing tails! Less is more when it comes to tail care. “I don’t brush the tails every day,” says Alaniz, “maybe just a couple of times a week.” Instead of using brushes or combs, apply a detangling product (Cowboy Magic and ShowSheen are two our grooms mentioned) to a clean tail and finger-comb it through the strands. Healthy skin and coat. For cleaning light-colored hooves and white legs, Vohland is a fan of the original Ivory bar soap. “It’s very gentle, which I really appreciate,” she says.

USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Time and Schedule Management UNDER THE RAINBOW: Olympian Kasey Perry-Glass on Hutopia (left) mugs for the camera with groom Meghan Laffin on Stina

To keep horses’ legs and faces healthy and to minimize the development of fungus, Pfannebecker is a stickler for keeping them dry and

clean. For extra crud-fighting power, she washes and towel-dries, then uses her hands to carefully apply first rubbing alcohol, then a small

36 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

When is the farrier coming? Who’s due for vaccine boosters? How long is Dobbin supposed to get antibiotics? Keeping track of all the details of a horse’s care can be daunting—but don’t worry, there’s an app for that. Laffin and the rest of Perry-


HEALTH FROM THE INSIDE OUT: Jami Kment’s high-performance mount Gatino Van Hof Olympia looks and feels great thanks to groom Ellie Pfannebecker

amount of baby oil to act as a barrier to help prevent moisture from getting back up under the hair. Chandler avoids clipping horses when not showing so as to minimize damage to skin and coat. On-deck grooming tips. Just before a horse goes in the ring, Laffin uses a towel to apply a shine spray. She likes EquiFUSE Shine Perfect, which she says brings out shine all over the body (but don’t use it in the saddle area!). At home, she’ll also use EquiFUSE Gleam moisturizing shine serum to keep tails lustrous and tangle-free (plus, she says, it “smells amazing”). Take the time to do a final preride check, grooms advise. Alaniz checks saddle pads, girths, and bridles to make sure everything is secured, tucked in, and in good shape. “Taking the time to do a onceover before they enter the ring, having a towel handy, making sure everything is exactly as you want it— taking that extra five minutes really makes a difference,” Vohland says. In Laffin’s ringside grooming kit, along with the requisite towel, shine spray, and fly spray, is a bottle of Tums chewable antacid tablets. She feeds horses a few tablets before they enter the show ring in lieu of sugar cubes, saying, “I think it helps soothe their stomachs and definitely helps them salivate.” At home, she’ll also use Tums to help mask the taste of a medicine a horse doesn’t want to eat.

Glass’ team rely on TimeTree. Billed as helping to “manage busy lives when sharing the calendar, tasks, notes, and more,” the app helps a group of users stay in sync. “There is not a linear system to our days or for each horse,” Laffin says. “We all put notes in the app— whether we switched supplements, started one on a certain medication, or the veterinarian treated it for something. That way, if someone asks a question or someone is wondering about a horse’s behavior, we all have access to the information.” If you don’t want to rely on technology—maybe your barn is in a cellular “dead zone” or lacks wifi— there’s always the trusty analog method. The traditional white board remains a staple at many facilities, highlighting work schedules, feed schedules, farrier visits, veterinary treatments, lessons, and more. Displayed in a central location, a white board keeps all of the pertinent details of the day visible to all.


Not Just a Job Working as a groom or serving as a working student are time-tested ways of learning horsemanship, riding skills, or both. Some professional grooms are happy “on the ground” and have little to no interest in saddle time, while others use the position as an apprenticeship, laying the ground work for an eventual move to a riding or training career. The British-born BatesonChandler, like many horse-crazy kids, as a teenager worked at barns in exchange for lessons. Her big break came when she landed a job as a groom for Olympian Robert Dover, who at the time was based in New Jersey. “I remember getting handed the keys to the truck and trailer, and I had

barely been driving a car at this point,” she recalls. “But I figured it out.” The other thing that BatesonChandler soon learned was that being a groom isn’t just a job; it’s an all-encompassing lifestyle. “You have to be willing to give one hundred percent,” she says. “You have to be completely dedicated. You have to want things to be perfect, and be willing to learn from other people that are better than you.” After working for Dover for 17 years, Bateson-Chandler finally went out on her own. Needing a groom of her own for her KBC Dressage business, she decided to “hire from within”: her husband. After all, Carl Chandler had a proven track record: Having come to the US from New Zealand in 2000 to groom at a polo barn, Chandler went to work for Dover in 2002, where he met his future wife. When the two married in 2005, they groomed side by side, caring for sponsor Jane Forbes Clark’s horses. (Bateson-Chandler would get the ride on Clark’s dressage mounts after Dover hung up his spurs.) “Carl is one of the few people I could let this role go to,” his wife says. “I don’t have the time to do the kind of grooming I want to. He’s one of the few people I trust one hundred percent. He’ll do as good of a job as I did or even better.” As the person who may spend more time with a horse than anyone else—even the rider and the owner—a groom, as any top rider will attest, is in some ways the keystone of a horse’s care and management team. If anything in the horse’s life is amiss, the groom may well be the one who spots it first. “Our horses are such good horses and work so hard for us,” says Pfannebecker, “that if they seem ‘off,’ we

HER GROOM: A rider must feel confident leaving her mount in the groom’s care. In international competitor Katherine BatesonChandler’s case, there are no worries: Her groom is her husband, Carl Chandler.

start thinking of things that could be wrong as opposed to thinking they are behaving badly.” The intensity and focus required mean that grooming at the top level is not for everyone, and some find the commitment unsustainable for the long haul. But the education is priceless, and if “your” horse and rider make a team or achieve another lofty goal, the groom feels every bit as proud as the person who was in the saddle. “It takes a certain kind of person to be a groom,” says Bateson-Chandler. “This is all-consuming. It takes a lot of dedication. We never take holidays. This is our entire life.”

Colleen Scott lives in Kansas City, Missouri. She is fortunate to be the human for Kiss a Girl LOA, a halfArabian, half-Saddlebred mare.

USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


The Adult Amateurs’ Champion 2019 USDF Hall of Fame inductee Jane Savoie continues to defy the odds while helping others dream big



undreds gathered in a hotel ballroom in Savannah, Georgia, last December to celebrate the induction of dressage clinician, competitor, author, and amateur-riders’ cheerleader Jane Savoie into the Roemer Foundation/ USDF Hall of Fame. But the honoree herself wasn’t in attendance. Savoie, 71, was home in Wellington, Florida, not well enough to make the trip. For five years she’s battled major health issues, including the blood cancer multiple myeloma and a DNA abnormality that has required her to stay on chemotherapy even after her cancer went into remission. Those not in Savoie’s inner circle would never have known it, however, from the video acceptance speech the 1992 US Olympic dressage-team alternate sent. Coiffed, makeup on, and wearing a lacy white dress, Savoie exuded her trademark joyful enthusiasm and looked more like a ballroom-dance competitor—which she has, in fact, been, in addition to her extensive equestrian résumé—than a person with medical problems. “Jane is a constant inspiration,” says her longtime friend and fellow dressage professional Ruth HoganPoulsen, who accepted the traditional USDF Hall of

38 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

Famers’ portrait in Savannah on Savoie’s behalf. “She has always set an example as a fighter who remains positive. She inspires people and gives them tools to make their own decisions on how to improve themselves. …She is one of the most selfless people I know, who cares about everyone and every horse.” Although it was her riding that originally put Savoie on the equestrian map, over the years she’s become even better known for her work promoting the use of sports psychology for riders and, later, as a champion of adult amateurs through her books, clinics, speaking appearances, and online mentoring program. That Winning Feeling! Program Your Mind for Peak Performance, published in 1992 and now in its eighth edition, was one of the first books to explain how sports-psych and positivethinking techniques can help riders in all disciplines to overcome performance anxiety and other mental obstacles. The book’s success launched Savoie into a career as a motivational speaker, and she has keynoted many events, both inside and outside the horse world. Savoie is a prolific writer whose books not only embrace “the mental game of riding,” but also promote the benefits of basic dressage training for every horse and rider. That Winning Feeling! was followed by Cross-Train Your Horse and More Cross-Training (1998) (which later were combined and republished as Jane


ALWAYS SUNNY: Jane Savoie (with 1992 Olympic reserve mount Zapatero) radiates positivity


STUDENT AND FRIEND: Dressage pro Ruth Hogan-Poulsen (center) accepted Jane Savoie’s 2019 Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame portrait on Savoie’s behalf

CAN-DO SPIRIT: Savoie leveraged her sport-psychology expertise and enthusiastic nature into a speaking career. She’s pictured talking to youth riders at the 2016 USEF Robert Dover Horsemastership Clinic.

Savoie’s Dressage 101), It’s Not Just About the Ribbons: It’s About Enriching Riding (and Life) with a Winning Attitude (2003), and Dressage Between the Jumps: The Secret to Improving Your Horse’s Performance over Fences (2020). An early adopter of the multimedia approach to dressage learning, Savoie also created the DVDs The Half-Halt—Demystified! and Riding in Your Mind’s Eye. Her warm, nonjudgmental, encouraging approach to riding and training especially endeared her to adultamateur riders. Recognizing a market both hungry for dressage education and often lacking in access to in-person instruction, on her website Savoie launched Dressage Mentor, a subscription-based program that allows access to an extensive video library, coaching, a private Facebook group, articles, video and photo critiques, and more. Even in an era in which we’re all encouraged to “build our brands,” Savoie has done a remarkable job of making her name an equestrian household word. It’s all the more notable considering that she herself admits that she got into dressage “by happenstance.”

Fortuitous Meetings Savoie was not born into a horsey family but “always held a passion for horses. When I was in elementary school, I would choose the three-inch pink plastic horses as my prize at the school fair. I amassed about six to eight of these and would play with them all the time, making hills and dales with my legs under the covers in my bed.” Then, a lucky break: “When my older sister was about eleven, my parents brought her a block of lessons at the local hack stable where we lived in Massachusetts. She eventually lost interest, as she was more interested

RELATABLE: Savoie enjoys building relationships with her fans and program subscribers, often through the personas of horse Moshi and dog Indy

USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


people set goals and sharing my life lessons to help people succeed.”

Dressage by Happenstance Savoie stumbled into dressage in much the same way that she stumbled across her affinity for teaching and mentoring. Grooming for Linda Jaskiel Brown at the 1976 US Olympic dressage selection trials at US Equestrian Team (USET) headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey, Savoie met fellow competitor and future FEI 5* dressage judge Linda Zang. Zang thought Savoie needed a horse of her own and suggested that she come look at one at her farm in Maryland. The horse, Zang said, had suffered a tendon injury and subsequently had been surrendered by his owners, “and Linda only wanted $500 to pay for the back board that was owed her,” says Savoie. “Rhett and I had only been married a year, but he said to go for it,” Savoie says. “We spent our life savings on a broken-down racehorse with a bowed tendon who I named Happenstance. I knew I wasn’t able to jump him, so we turned to dressage.” The self-described goal-oriented equestrian soon had a new aim: to represent the US in international dressage competition. Lacking both an international-caliber horse and the money to buy one, Savoie spent time furthering her equestrian skills thanks to “wonderful sponsors” who gave her access to “really good horses.” When at last she felt she was ready to step up to the ranks of USET hopefuls, she embarked on an ambitious fund-raising campaign. “I started my own foundation and wrote up a prospect list. The first donation of $25 came from my mother,” she recalls.

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REACHING FOR THE STARS: With Zapatero, Savoie was the reserve rider for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics

Savoie composed letters to prospective supporters. She shared her goals, described the type of horse required, detailed the costs of international competition, and included a photo of herself riding. Each packet included a self-addressed, stamped envelope. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” says Savoie. “I raised $250,000.” That tidy sum enabled Savoie to secure her first international-caliber mount, Zapatero, a 1981 Dutchbred gelding by Nimmerdor. When Savoie found him in 1988 in the Netherlands, Zapatero was competing at Prix St. Georges and “had a little piaffe and passage,” she recalls. Savoie brought him to Grand Prix, and together they had a successful international career, culminating in being named the reserve pair for the bronze-medal-winning 1992 US Olympic dressage team in Barcelona. The talented, sweet-natured Zapatero “was a joy,” Savoie says of the mount she calls the horse of a lifetime. “He tried so hard.” His only real training issue, she says, was that


in ice skating and diving. So I took over riding and was completely smitten.” Savoie mainly rode hunters, and when she was 15 her parents bought her a large Welsh pony. “Nobody else wanted the pony because he reared a lot,” Savoie recalls. “He had come from out West and had been broken with baling wire in his mouth, so it was really hard for him to deal with any [bit] pressure. He taught me how to have really sympathetic hands.” Savoie rode until she went to college at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, but didn’t ride while attending school. After graduating in 1973 with a degree in animal science, she was looking for a hobby when her then boyfriend, Rhett Savoie, suggested that she take up riding again. She started riding at UMass as an alumna, focusing on jumping. Shortly thereafter, a spectator outing to the Ledyard Farm International Three-Day Event in Massachusetts served as a reality check of Savoie’s equestrian skills and her eventing ambitions. “I realized there was no way you would get me to go over those advanced jumps,” she says. “It just wasn’t a viable goal.” Advanced-level eventing might not have been in the cards for Savoie, but soon she uncovered a different talent. Taking a job as the head of the Vershire Riding School, a Vermont riding camp, in 1976, she discovered that she had a knack for teaching. In 1980 she decided to go out on her own as a riding instructor and began giving lessons for $10 a session. Being an instructor, Savoie soon realized, was “more than just teaching people how to ride. I enjoyed helping

“he was very strong in the mouth because the dealer had put him in a double bridle when he was five. I rode him in a snaffle for a long time, and only used the double for competitions when the rules said I had to.”


Other Memorable Mounts Zapatero was sold after the 1992 Olympics (“It broke my heart,” Savoie says), and her students formed a syndicate to enable her to purchase her next prospect. In the Netherlands she found Eastwood, a six-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Savoie thought “Woody” “moved like a dancer” and was talented enough to aim for the 1996 Atlanta Games, but she conceded that the flashy chestnut had “the longest back I’d ever seen”—so much so that his rider endured good-natured ribbing that she should pair the horse’s “Eastwood” halter nameplate with a nameplate for the other end reading “Westwood.” Unfortunately, two years later Woody was diagnosed with first a large kidney stone, then an abnormal and dangerously infected kidney. Kidney-removal surgery in horses is rare, but Woody came through the 1994 ordeal successfully, although a stubborn E. coli infection was never eradicated, according to Savoie, who wrote about the saga in an essay, “Woody’s Gifts,” published in the 1999 anthology Along the Way. Incredibly, the mount Savoie calls her “miracle horse” recovered well enough to reach the Grand Prix level and to compete successfully. But Woody’s health issues eventually returned, and “I sold him to a woman whose husband was a vet. She showed him to Second Level, and he’s now 26 years old!” Savoie says. Savoie never did stand on a medal podium, but she amassed plenty

TRAINING PILGRIMAGE: With Zapatero at the late Herbert Rehbein’s stable in Germany in 1990

MIRACLE HORSE: With Eastwood, who survived kidney-removal surgery to return to FEI-level competition

of prestigious titles during her riding career. She competed throughout North America and western Europe, and with mounts Genaldon and Jolicoeur she made the USET long list. Her mounts have been ranked in the top 25 in USDF Horse of the Year year-end standings eight times (five of which were in the top 10), and she has accumulated a slew of other national awards and rankings, as well.

Teachers and Role Models Her greatest supporter, Savoie says, was her father, Ben Elkind. “He believed in me so much and always told me, ‘You can do anything you want,’” she says. “He had total faith in me, and his influence helped me achieve my goals.” Six-time Olympian Robert Dover, Savoie’s primary dressage coach over the years, “always has the right

USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


words to get you in the right mindset,” she says. The orderly teaching techniques of FEI-level rider/trainer and longtime USDF Instructor/Trainer Program certification examiner Cindy Sydnor, Savoie says, have been the biggest influence on her own teaching methods. Indeed, several notables count Savoie among their influential coaches. “I first met Jane when I was in my mid-teens and took lessons from her,” says Ruth Hogan-Poulsen. “After graduate school, I decided to pursue riding as a career. Jane was preparing for the [1992] Olympic trials with Zapatero, and she ended up hiring me as her groom for the show season in Florida. Jane was training with Robert [Dover] when his barn manager quit. I was in the right place at the right time and stepped in to fill that role. I ended up grooming for both Jane and Robert, traveling with them to Barcelona.” “I was able to learn so much from Jane,” Hogan-Poulsen says. “Her discipline in her own quest changed the bar for me.”

Jane’s a cup-half-full person, always has been.

—2000 US Olympic dressage team bronze medalist Sue Blinks

and 2004 Canadian Olympic eventing teams; and she coached eventers from the US, Canada, and Belgium in preparation for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She traveled to Sydney to coach her friend the US dressageteam member Sue Blinks; the two women had worked with Blinks’s mount, Flim Flam, since “Flim” was three. Their efforts were rewarded with a team dressage bronze medal. As Blinks recalls, she and Savoie met at a dressage show in Westchester County, New York, in the early 1980s. “Jane is a stickler for position, and that’s a huge piece that never

42 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

THE STAR GOES DANCING: Savoie began competitive ballroom dancing in her 60s and soon became “addicted,” finding many similarities between dancing and dressage

changes. That’s good to have in your life,” says Blinks. She says that the two balance each other out: “I’m a feeling person, and she’s an analyzing person. We understood how each other thinks. She’s always positive, which is good so you’re not in a fetal position at the end of every ride,” Blinks says with a laugh. “Jane’s ability to break things down technically into bite-sized nuggets gives people the ability to absorb what she’s teaching,” says Hogan-Poulsen. “The reason she is so good is that she didn’t learn by feel but had to learn by technique. She’s a master technician who is able to give you a formula and break down how things work.”

The Angel on Our Shoulders Through her website, her books, and her social-media channels, Savoie continues to teach, coach, and inspire. Her focus has changed a bit of late: Husband Rhett has had his own health issues, and she’s currently trying her hand at writing fiction, working on a light romance novel with an equestrian setting. “Writing nonfiction is so simple, because that’s what I do,” Savoie says. “Fiction is so much harder! But


A LIFE IN LOVE: A kiss for husband Rhett during a Florida dressage show in 1992. Rhett Savoie became a well-known horse-show videographer and photographer.

(Others have marveled at Savoie’s work ethic, as well. Savoie was roommates with future 1992 US Olympic dressage team bronze medalist Charlotte Bredahl during a trip to Germany to work with the late legendary Herbert Rehbein. Bredahl recalls: “We would all go out dancing at night, except Jane. She would stay back, typing at her typewriter. Sometimes when we would come back, she would still be typing. Little did we know that she was, of course, writing That Winning Feeling! And the rest is history.”) As a coach, Savoie notched several high-profile assignments. She was the dressage coach for the 1996

I’ll probably do another once I’m finished with this one. It’s like an empty nest. I need another project, something to get me excited. “Believe it or not, I’m really an introvert,” she continues. “Being in public so much takes me out of my comfort zone. Writing is such a solitary thing, and that is good for me; it brings balance to my life.” In another stretch outside her comfort zone, Savoie got into competitive ballroom dancing in 2012, at the age of 63. In 2014, she told Sidelines that she was astonished to discover the similarities between ballroom dance and dressage: “The contact and the connection and the power coming from the standing leg and not the moving leg. Collection. Engagement. The parallels are so crazy.” Blinks calls Savoie’s enthusiasm and positivity “just who Jane is. Always. It’s natural.…She’s bubbling over with life and positive action, and it’s contagious.” “I’m rarely at a loss for words,” says Savoie, “but when I heard that I had been inducted into the USDF Hall of Fame, my jaw dropped. I

2019 US Dressage Tests I n t r o d u c t o r y

F o u r t h

I n t r o d u c t o r y

F o u r t h

L e v e l


©2018 United States Dressage Federation (USDF) and United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited by law. Neither USDF nor USEF is responsible for any errors or omissions in the publication or for the use of its copyrighted material in an unauthorized manner.

United States Dressage Federation, Inc. 4051 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511 Phone: (859) 971-2277 • Fax: (859) 971-7722 •


Effective December 1, 2018 through November 30, 2022 Cover photo ©SusanJStickle

On the Levels 2019 jacket.indd 1

telling Savoie that “she was going through chemo for a brain tumor and that she always brought two things with her: my book and the picture I sent her. She told me that my book got her through it and that I was the angel on her shoulder. It’s amazing how you can touch people’s lives without even knowing that you’re doing it.” That, Savoie might agree, is the winningest feeling of all.

2019 US Dressage Tests

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7th Edition


thought of all the people who should have been before me. This wasn’t even on my radar.” Savoie’s fans would beg to disagree, and Savoie herself knows that she’s had an impact. The motivational speaker who exhorts that “you are the creator of your dreams” relates the story of a woman who wrote a fan letter after attending one of Savoie’s That Winning Feeling! talks. Savoie sent a thank-you note and included a photo of herself with Eastwood. The woman wrote back,



United States Dressage Federation, Inc. 4051 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511 Phone: (859) 971-2277 • Fax: (859) 971-7722 •

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ON THE LEVELS is a trademark of the United States Dresage Federation.

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©2018 United States Dressage Federation (USDF) and United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited by law. Neither USDF nor USEF is responsible for any errors or omissions in the publication or for the use of its copyrighted material in an unauthorized manner.

Filmed at Starr Vaughn Equestrian Center, CA, Valley View Farm, KY, and Meadowbrook Farm, Marlborough, CT. USDF and USEF would like to thank the demonstration riders and owners of the horses used, along with the support staff at each filming location. We would also like to thank the following contributors to this project: • FEI 5* Judge Janet Foy • FEI 4* Judges Lois Yukins, Mike Osinski, and William Warren • USEF ‘S’ and retired FEI 4* Judge Natalie Lamping • FEI 4* Judge and USDF Certified Instructor Sarah Geikie • USEF ‘R’ Judge and USDF Certified Instructor William McMullin • USDF FEI Level Certified Instructors Reese Koffler-Stanfield, Rachel Saavedra, and Volker Brommann • USDF Certified Instructor Heidi Chote

I n t r o d u c t o r y

his is your opportunity to view the dressage tests and learn what is new and what you, as a competitor, need to know! With narrations by international dressage riders, trainers, coaches, and judges, riders will demonstrate proper execution and some common faults in the riding of the latest tests, effective through November 30, 2022.

2019 US Dressage Tests


TEAM EFFORT: At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Savoie (left) coached Sue Blinks (right) to a team bronze medal

Effective December 1, 2018 through November 30, 2022

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USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Exclusive Book Excerpt

Freestyle Music Editing 101

With basic computer skills and a willingness to learn, you can DIY your own music editing. Get started with advice from a professional freestyle designer. BY SANDRA BEAULIEU



ON-SITE EDITING: With a laptop computer, you can work on your freestyle music anywhere

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f you are determined to edit your own freestyle music, there are many online resources that can help you. Today we are fortunate to have access to quality music editing software on our computers and through apps on our devices. The editing process typically ends up being the longest phase of freestyle creation. It can take anywhere from five to 25 rounds of edits to get a freestyle ready for performance, depending on how complicated your music and choreography are together and how well you can smooth out the transitions. Some edits will be minor—a few seconds here or there—but other changes might be major. You may need to swap out particular songs that don’t work with your choreography, for instance, or add snippets of other songs to fill in gaps. Editing music can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially if you are not familiar with the software. At the beginning of the process, you will go through a lot of changes in order to match your music with your choreography. Have faith that it will all come together in the end. Sometimes a mistake turns into something great or leads you in a new direction; at least that has been my own experience in the past. The first freestyle you edit is always the hardest. Most likely you will experience a steep learning curve with the software or app, and being creative can be mentally exhausting! Take comfort in knowing that your freestyle can be reinvented as you move up through the levels, saving you time and energy the next time through.

EDITING SCREENSHOT: Image shows the beginnings stages of a freestyle-music project in Apple’s GarageBand, with entry music fading out to the halt at 0:31 seconds and then trot music fading in at 0:36.

Software Options The following are currently the most popular audioediting apps that are either free or under $200. These are the programs I am most familiar with and would recommend to someone just starting out. GarageBand In my opinion, GarageBand is the most widely used and recognizable software for basic music editing. The only downside is that you need to own an Apple computer or device in order to use it. It has a nicer layout than Audacity (which I talk about next) and is more intuitive to use. I currently use GarageBand for my freestyle editing. I have used more advanced software in the past, but I prefer GarageBand because it allows me to offer others advice on the most affordable way to create and finish their own freestyles. Audacity Audacity is free, open-source software available for both Microsoft and Apple platforms. This is the program I recommend if you work in Windows on a PC. Audacity is a basic, all-around editing program, and it is easy to find help from other people if you need it during the process. WavePad Audio Editor WavePad is another free editing program available for both Microsoft and Apple users. It has some great online

reviews and is included in a number of “top 10” articles on music editing, but I do not have any personal experience with it. Logic Pro X Logic Pro X is the next step up from GarageBand: a professional audio-editing program for your Apple computer. This software is more expensive than GarageBand (at the time of writing, $199.99), but you may enjoy the special features if you are interested in music creation and editing in general. Logic Pro X has more options than GarageBand when it comes to adjusting tempo. Adobe Audition If you are an Adobe Creative Cloud fan, this could be the fit for you. Adobe offers an excellent support base with online tutorials right on its website, so you don’t need to search


xcerpt adapted from Freestyle: The Ultimate Guide to Riding, Training, and Competing to Music by Sandra Beaulieu, published by Trafalgar Square Books, HorseAndRiderBooks. com. Copyright © 2020 by Sandra Beaulieu. All rights reserved.

USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Basic Tips


ere are some pointers to keep in mind as you prepare to begin the music-editing process. Plan for multiple edits. If you are lucky, your choice of music will work well with the choreography you’ve planned. However, be prepared to make some minor and possibly major adjustments to your choreography once you get started. For instance, you may find that your trot music doesn’t transition well into the walk, but the canter music does. You can rearrange entire sections of your choreography to improve the music flow by avoiding difficult edits. Set priorities. If you are 100% set on using particular music, be prepared to adjust the choreography to accommodate the transitions that happen in particular songs. If you love your choreography, then you may need to find multiple songs you like for each gait and then determine which ones work the best with the DON’T RUSH THE HALT: You can fade your music out and in to create a “space” of about pattern. five seconds for the entry halt, salute, and Allow sufficient time to show a clear halt. Give yourself gathering of reins before proceeding enough time in your first halt. Use the “fade in/out” command in your editing program to create a “space” for it—around five seconds to halt, salute, and pick up your reins. This will help you stay with your music and give you time to make any necessary adjustments. Watch your time. Keep an eye on your total time. When you are editing music for competition, calculate your freestyle from the first halt to the final halt. The entrance does not count toward the five-minute time limit. Put it on repeat. If you will be practicing your freestyle by yourself, it is not possible to press play and have enough time to start with your music as you would at a show. I recommend putting your edited piece on repeat so that you have plenty of time to prepare and find your position. It also gives you a chance to walk and rest if you are practicing your routine multiple times. There is usually a “repeat song” option on your smartphone or CD player—or you can simply burn a CD with your music on it as many times as you like!

46 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

the Internet and YouTube for help. The subscription price at the time of writing is $20.99 per month. It’s also available as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud app bundle. Sound Forge You are likely familiar with Sony products, but you may not know that the German software company Magix now owns Sony’s audio programs. Sound Forge is a professional-grade audio-editing and recording program, available in both “Audio Studio” and even more advanced “Pro” versions. Both apps can be purchased outright or via a subscription model.

Basics of Music Editing If you are new to music editing, you will need to learn the basics, such as how to import songs, crop or split songs, fade music, and adjust tempo. Every audio-editing software program has its own set of commands for performing the basic tasks listed above. As mentioned, I currently use GarageBand for my freestyle editing. Here is a summary of the process so you can get a sense of how it works. Import songs. As you choose your freestyle songs, import them to your editing program to begin laying out your music tracks. I try to import them in the order of go, with the entrance music first and then according to each gait as it appears in the choreography. It doesn’t matter if you import them out of order, but be warned that the editing process can get messy as you crop and rearrange songs. Crop and fade songs. Once you learn how to crop and fade individual music tracks, you can begin to blend the music so that it sounds like it was meant to flow together. On the Freestyle book resources page

ADJUSTING TEMPO: In GarageBand, the default setting for a project is 120 beats per minute (BPM). Instead of manually entering the BPM, adjust up or down from the default. In this screenshot, you can see how I am lowering the BPM for a section of the walk music to match my horse’s tempo.

on my website, BeginTheDance. com, I demonstrate in detail how to crop and fade using GarageBand. Techniques may vary in other apps. Sometimes you will get lucky, and your music will blend together quite easily with a simple fade in or out. However, most of the time you will need to play with the transitions so that they are less noticeable. Don’t worry if at first you can hear your transitions; it will take time to learn and practice to perfect. Plus, certain music tracks pose more of a challenge than others. You can also overlay the end of one song with the beginning of another. This helps avoid the “ups” and “downs” in the music that may be obvious to the judge or audience. Check that your beats match up so that your timing won’t be off when you change songs within gaits. An easy way to do this is to close your eyes and clap your hands in rhythm with the beat of the song. When the music changes, you should still be

able to clap in rhythm. If it feels off and you lose your count, try moving the song slightly to match up the distinct beats. You can also zoom in and take a closer look at the music track to find the accented beats. Once you find the beats in both songs, you can line them up for a smoother transition. Adjust beats per minute (BPM). If your music already matches your horse’s BPM, then you do not need to adjust the music tempo. But let’s say your music has a BPM of 100 while your horse’s canter is a 98. In this instance, you can drop the BPM of the music so that it matches your horse’s canter tempo. Be aware that some music tracks may sound distorted if you alter the tempo too much. Listen to the music after each edit to make sure that the tempo changed and the song still sounds normal. In more advanced editing programs, you can be more specific with the tempo for each song. For

example, Logic Pro X allows you to adjust the tempo of your walk music without changing the tempo of the entire project. However, this program has a lot more bells and whistles and may take longer to learn. When designing your first freestyles, I suggest finding music that matches your horse’s BPM so that you will not have to mess with this part of the editing process. Adjust sound levels. Sound levels refer to the overall volume of a song or track. When you are using a variety of songs from different sources, it is important to adjust the sound levels so that the result sounds cohesive. If your walk music plays too softly, raise the sound level so that it won’t lose your audience. Dramatic canter music can overpower the rest of your freestyle, so try lowering the sound level so it doesn’t become too loud and distorted on the venue’s sound system. Keep in mind that poor sound quality is amplified at a horse show,

USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


Tip: Refer to Your Video


efer back and forth to your video of yourself riding your freestyle choreography. If you are able to edit your video so that it starts at the same time as your music, you can match the transitions down to the second on your computer. It will also simplify the editing process if, for example, you can match your trot-to-canter transitions on the video at 3:45 to the same spot in your music program at 3:45. When I finish a freestyle, I overlay the music track on the choreography video so that I can watch the ride to music over and over again. This is a great way to not only ensure you are pleased with the results, but also to memorize your music and choreography (since you cannot ride your horse that many times!), and to mentally prepare at a show. If you are not savvy with a video-editing program, you can play your video simultaMATCH MUSIC TO CHOREOGRAPHY: With audio- and video-editing apps neously from your smartphone or televiopen side by side, you can fine-tune timing. Image shows a split-screen sion as you work on your music-editing view of GarageBand (left) and my client riding her freestyle choreography in Apple’s iMovie (right). program.

especially when it is played over a loudspeaker. You will notice whether the sound levels are “off ” when you testride your music. The overall volume, power, and clarity of the edited freestyle should not vary so much that it seems as if someone is turning the volume down or up between songs. Need help? There are a variety of online courses and video tutorials related to music editing. Some, such as those on YouTube, are free; others, such as those on Udemy and LinkedIn Learning, charge a fee. If you plan to design more than one freestyle, it would benefit you to take a course. Or recruit outside expertise: Perhaps you have a friend who is a musician or who mixes his or her own tracks. Ask for a favor, offer to pay for any help you receive, or try bartering. In my experience, most high-school and college-age students are familiar with audio-editing apps and may have the skills needed to edit freestyle music. Perhaps a student can edit your freestyle for extra credit in a class or add it to a portfolio or resume.

Next Steps When I am ready to test-ride my music, I prefer to export it to iTunes and burn it to a CD. You can listen to your compilation on a smartphone or other device, but this will not give you an accurate take on what it will sound like played over a sound system at a show grounds. If you do not use iTunes, export files in WAV format instead of MP3. iTunes automatically burns songs in WAV format, which will play on all sound systems. An MP3 file will not play on every sound system. Tech tip: If a US Equestrianlicensed/USDF-recognized dressage competition offers freestyle classes, the prize list will specify the acceptable format for submitting music. Always bring a clearly labeled backup CD with you to the show and have it handy, just in case. Once you have the beginning of your freestyle music put together with the choreography, export your file and try it with your horse. Even if it’s only a minute long, you will

48 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

see whether your opening center line feels good, whether you have enough time to halt and salute, and how your beginning movements feel to your horse. At this stage, you will spend a lot of time going back and forth between editing your music, riding to your music, changing choreography, and then repeating the process. Little by little, it will all come together.

USDF’s Freestyle Resources


or freestyle rules, guidelines, tests, and other resources, go to usdf. org/education/otherprograms/musical-freestyle/index.asp.

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Spread Some Cheer Our carefully curated list of holiday-gift suggestions for the dressage enthusiast in your life BY JENNIFER O. BRYANT

Send the Joy of Horses Many of us are visiting family and friends in person less often these days than we’d like, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, we may find ourselves mailing more letters and holiday cards this season and for some time to come. So why not stock up on some cards that will both offer season’s greetings and share your love of horses? Horseshoe Greetings, which has partnered with US Equestrian as the official greeting-card and stationery vendor for the equine industry, offers the USEF collection of equine-themed cards, proceeds from which benefit USEF and its programs. Among the 18 designs are the charming “Winter Friends” holiday greeting card and the lively “Trotting Horses” blank note card. Learn more:

A Gesture of Kindness British illustrator Charlie Mackesy is a social-media favorite: His sweet, simple pen-and-ink and watercolor drawings of a child, a horse, and other animals—each accompanied by a little saying about qualities like love, kindness, and courage—are widely shared by people who welcome the momentary respite from coronavirus news and political turmoil. Mackesy compiled his creations into the book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (HarperOne, 128 pp.). Reminiscent of Winnie-the-Pooh in spirit, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse would make a great gift for anyone, adult or child, this holiday season. Learn more:

New Gifts from USDF Unbelts have become a staple of many riders’ wardrobes, in and out of the saddle. The one-size-fits-most elastic belts are comfortable and adjustable, with lay-flat closures that eliminate unsightly buckle bulge under show coats or body-hugging tops. The USDF-exclusive Unbelt features the USDF “salute horse” logo in gray against a navy background, and a brushed-nickel closure. Offered for both men and women, the USDF Dressage Jacket—bearing the USDF logo on the front and DRESSAGE on the back—features lightweight softshell construction, a breathable water-repellent membrane, adjustable cuffs, and 100% poly brushed tricot knit inner zipper liner for added comfort. The women’s jacket is available in your choice of striking colorblocked royal blue/gray or black/gray (pictured), in sizes XS-XXL. The men’s version, in black/gray, comes in sizes S-XXL. Learn more:

50 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

Chart Your Course for 2021 Students of dressage know that keeping a lesson and training journal can aid in their progress. Writing down what you learned has been shown to improve retention of information, even if you never review your notes. But if you do, you’ll be able to assess your progress over time, and perhaps spot patterns or issues to discuss with your instructor. Any notebook will suffice, but for a comprehensive dressage-focused approach, nothing beats the 2021 Dressage Rider’s Journal. Created by FEI-level instructor/ trainer Ruth Hogan-Poulsen and Ariana Marshall, the journal contains monthly, weekly, and daily calendars and pages for note-taking, training and show planning, and other records. Use the arena diagrams to map out gymnastic exercises or in test memorization. Note scores earned and progress toward competition goals. There are even diagrams of common test movements, and tips and tools from trainers and coaches. Learn more:

Add Color to Your Breyer Collection The Grand Prix-level mare Adiah HP has made a splash in the dressage world, both for her high-profile wins and for her pinto coloring and nontraditional (three-quarters Friesian, one-quarter Dutch Warmblood) pedigree. Bred and owned by Hidden Promise Sport Horses and trained and ridden by Jim Koford, Adiah has won the Grand Prix Freestyle Open championship at the US Dressage Finals the last three years running, among others, thrilling audiences with her power and her outsized persona. Now Adiah is immortalized as a Traditional-sized portrait model by Breyer Animal Creations, which celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2020 as a beloved maker of model horses. Adiah is hand-painted, and her expression seems to say that she knows she’s the center of attention—for good reason! Learn more:

Dressage Inspiration at Hand Let the dressage enthusiast on your list wear their passion on their wrist with unique jewelry from a company called, fittingly, Dressage Addict. Among designer Shelley Roberts’s creations are these snap cuffs, bearing such mottos as “Dances with Horses,” “Ride Your Dream,” dressage arena letters, or “Harmony” and other dressage aspirations. They’re distressed, antiqued, and available in heavy sterlingsilver plate over solid brass or in solid brass. Each cuff contains an inspirational message on the inside. Other styles are also available. Learn more: or Jennifer Bryant is the editor of USDF Connection. USDF CONNECTION | November/December 2020


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54 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION





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




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56 November/December 2020 | USDF CONNECTION

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