Renew Your membership (p. 23) Convention Preview (p. 30) ●
U S D F. O R G
Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation
YOUR HORSE’S HEAD AND NECK
How to Develop Correct Contact (p. 16) Dr. Hilary Clayton: Biomechanics of the Neck (p. 26) Does Your Horse Need a ‘Comfort’ Bridle? (p. 36)
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He probably took twice as long as other horses to accomplish each level of training, but it's not just about the sport for me. It's about the journey. I was a little girl when I got Diddy, and he was a baby. We've grown up together. I'll probably never feel this way about another horse. We're so connected. I ride a lot of other horses, and I can't help but compare how they ride to riding Diddy. He's just amazing!
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IN THIS ISSUE
THE NEW BREED OF BRIDLE
Could your horse benefit from one of the new “anatomical” designs? By Sally Silverman
REGIONS 3, 7 TOP NAJYRC DRESSAGE COMPETITION
Elite juniors and young riders shine in Saugerties
EDUCATING TOMORROW’S SPORTHORSE BREEDERS
After its successful debut last year, the USDF Youth/Young Adult Dressage Sport Horse Breeders Seminar goes west in 2017 By Kevin Reinig
MEET THE CANDIDATES
Get to know who’s running for USDF Executive Board office
IN EVERY ISSUE
7 8 10 56 58 58 59
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT MEMBER CONNECTION HEADS UP SHOP @ X USDF CONNECTION SUBMISSION GUIDELINES USDF OFFICE CONTACT DIRECTORY ADVERTISING INDEX
4 INSIDE USDF Too Valuable to Lose
6 RINGSIDE I Feel Your Pain
By Debra Reinhardt
By Jennifer O. Bryant
16 CLINIC Contact Explained 22 CLUB CONNECTION What Can the USDF Do for Your GMO?
By Melissa Schoedlbauer
26 HORSE-HEALTH CONNECTION All About the Neck
By Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Diplomate ACVSMR, MRCVS
32 HISTORICAL CONNECTION American Dressage Legends: Fiona Baan 34 ALL-BREEDS CONNECTION Spotlight: International Rescue Horse Registry
60 THE TAIL END A Long Way from Normal
By Karen Abbattista
ON OUR COVER Salvino, a 2007 Hanoverian stallion (Sandro Hit x Donnerhall) owned by Salvino Partners LLC and ridden by Olympian Adrienne Lyle, Ketchum, ID, wears a bridle with numerous “comfort” features including a cavesson designed to avoid sensitive facial bones and nerves, a padded crownpiece with ear cutouts, and added chin and noseband pads. Photo by SusanJStickle.com.
Volume 19, Number 5
USDF OFFICERS & EXECUTIVE BOARD PRESIDENT
Too Valuable to Lose
The FEI championships for juniors and young riders: priceless education By Debra Reinhardt, Region 8 Director
hat is the NAJYRC? What is this incredible learning experience? The FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships are the Fédération Equestre Internationale’s (FEI) annual North American championships for FEI Juniors and FEI Young Riders. Begun in 1974 as an eventing challenge between the USA and Canada, the NAJYRC has expanded to include the disciplines of jumping, dressage, para-equestrian dressage, reining, and endurance. It is a huge deal for a junior or young rider to qualify and participate. (For the 2017 NAJYRC dressage results and photos, see page 42.) Traditionally, all of the NAJYRC disciplines—and, later, the para-dressage, reining, and endurance competition— were held together at one venue. This year, for the first time, the competitions were split. The HITS on the Hudson show grounds in Saugerties, NY, hosted the dressage and jumping competitions. Rebecca Farm, Kalispell, MT, was the site of the eventing competition. Why did this happen? There are several reasons, but the main one is expense. Entry fees do not cover the costs of producing an FEIsanctioned competition of this magnitude. In addition, facilities that are large and comprehensive enough to host all of the NAJYRC disciplines are rare. The HITS Saugerties grounds do not accommodate a cross-country course, and that’s why in 2017 eventing
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was on its own. In response to these challenges, some people contend that the NAJYRC should be discontinued. I disagree. Although the USDF does not produce or organize the NAJYRC, this competition complements our mission of education, recognition of achievement, and promotion of dressage. Prospective competitors learn how to qualify, how to prepare for such an event, how to be a good team member, and how to represent their regions or nations. The NAJYRC lays the foundation for talented youth, some of whom will go on to represent their countries as adults in equestrian competition. “NAJYRC is not all about the medals,” says former USDF Region 8 Young Rider Meagan Davis. “It’s a place where you form bonds and friendships that last long after aging out of the program.” However, the NAJYRC may be due for updates or improvements. This year, jumping organizers added an FEI Children’s division, and for the first time prize money was offered to get the young riders to come. Should dressage add an FEI Children’s team? Should the NAJYRC disciplines be separated, each run as a stand-alone event; or is the single-venue format preferable? Whatever we do, how do we make it work financially? I cannot even begin to answer these questions, but after spending the week in Saugerties and watching the juniors and young riders benefit from the incredible educational experience, I am convinced that these championships cannot go away. s
4 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
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I have learned so much this week [at the NAJYRC], but mainly I have learned the importance of the team. I only met [my teammates] one week ago, but I feel like I’ve known them forever. Each is such an incredible rider and horse person, and I am so thankful I got to know them. – Gemma Starn, 2017 Region 8 Junior team member
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The Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation
I Feel Your Pain
Clayton’s look at the anatomy and biomechanics of the horse’s neck (“HorseHealth Connection,” page 26). Incorrect neck posture, as Dr. Clayton points out, is unnatural for the horse—and unnatural may well equal uncomfortable. When my head and neck get in a weird position—say, from looking down at my smartphone for too long—things start to hurt. Some muscles overtighten while others get overstretched, and I wind up with stiffness, discomfort, and sometimes a headache. Who’s to say our horses don’t feel something similar if their necks are positioned in an unnatural manner? We don’t mean to cause our horses discomfort or pain, but we may do so inadvertently. I’m sure I have, for I’ve been guilty of shortening the neck and not allowing enough with the hand. That’s why articles like Dr. Clayton’s are so important: They explain the principles of dressage from the inside out, as it were, and they help us to understand the solid science behind the horsemanship theory (some of which, by the way, you’ll find in our exclusive excerpt from the brand-new edition of the classic The Principles of Riding on page 16). They also offer insights as to how dressage training, for better or for worse, affects our horses—and increased sympathy for our beloved equine partners is the most valuable takeaway of all.
Jennifer O. Bryant, Editor @JenniferOBryant
6 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
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Danielle Titland 720/300-2266 • firstname.lastname@example.org USDF Connection is published ten times a year by the United States Dressage Federation, 4051 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511. Phone: 859/971-2277. Fax: 859/971-7722. E-mail: email@example.com, Web site: www.usdf.org. USDF members receive USDF Connection as a membership benefit, paid by membership dues. Copyright © 2017 USDF. All rights reserved. Reproduction of articles requires permission from USDF. Other text may be reproduced with credit given to USDF Connection. USDF reserves the right to refuse any advertising or copy that is deemed unsuitable for USDF and its policies. Excluding advertisements, all photos with mounted riders must have safety head gear or USEF-approved competition hat. USDF assumes no responsibility for the claims made in advertisements. Statements of fact and opinion are those of the experts consulted and authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or the policy of USDF. The publishers reserve the right to reject any advertising deemed unsuitable for USDF, as well as the right to reject or edit any manuscripts received for publication. USDF assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. All materials must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Questions about your subscription or change in address? Contact USDF Membership Department, 859/971-2277, or firstname.lastname@example.org. POSTMASTER: SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO: USDF, 4051 IRON WORKS PARKWAY, LEXINGTON, KY 40511. Canadian Agreement No. 1741527. Canada return address: Station A, P.O. Box 54, Windsor, Ontario N9A 6J5.
Actually, I don’t. But we’re getting closer to understanding what our horses feel. xperts say that pain is subjective. What’s uncomfortable to me might be excruciating to you. Medical practitioners ask us to rate the pain on a scale of zero to 10, but still you never fully know what another person is feeling. Assessing pain is even more challenging when the individual cannot talk. Our horses show us they’re hurting when they display behaviors like I WON’T PUT WEIGHT ON MY RIGHT HIND LEG or OMG MY TUMMY IS KILLING ME. But lesser woes can be harder to pinpoint, and some horses just seem more stoic than others. Stoic or no, we don’t want our horses to be pushing through genuine pain in order to do what we ask of them; and research increasingly indicates that behaviors once labeled “resistance” or “naughtiness” are more likely to stem from pain, confusion, fear, or some combination. Riders have had to reevaluate both their techniques and their equipment, and some of the old standards have, frankly, come up wanting. In that spirit, we asked freelance writer Sally Silverman to delve into the dressage-tack trend of the moment: the “comfort” or “anatomical” bridle. Tack manufacturers have created designs and features that are intended to increase comfort and to avoid painful pressure points. All retailers adore having something “new and improved” to market, of course, and so it seems everyone’s jumping on the comfortbridle bandwagon. Sally’s task was to sift through the hype and find out what’s really known about this trend— and most important, to give you some guidelines you can use to decide whether to invest in a new bridle or bridle part. Turn to “The New Breed of Bridle” on page 36 to learn more. Complementing that report is equine-biomechanics expert Dr. Hilary
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An Oldie but a Goodie Thank you for reUSDF CONNECTION publishing Hans YOUTH ISSUE DISTANCE LEARNING Moeller’s article from 1967 (“Historical Connection: American Dressage Legends: Lt. Col. Hans Moeller,” July/August). I hope that it was read, understood, and appreciated by many of your readers. Having lived in Europe on and off over the past 30 years, and having had instruction from several “old masters,” I can appreciate the message in this article. Lt. Col. Moeller refers to dressage as an art. I love this! As a USDF gold, silver, and bronze medalist, I am all for competitive dressage. However, I think it’s become more sport than art over the past couple of decades. Lt. Col. Moeller talks about a feeling hand with an elastic, stretching contact. How can this be possible with the cranked nosebands and muchtoo-short reins with the tense hands, arms, and shoulders of most riders you see in the dressage competition ring these days? I could go on and on, but I just hope that those who have not read the article yet will go back to the July/August issue and read it, understand it, and practice it. I’m looking forward to more articles that remind us of classical dressage, and that remind us that dressage is an art form requiring not only technique but a lot of feeling. After all, horses are very sensitive and beautiful creatures. David De Wispelaere Wellington, FL GUIDE TO USDF YOUTH PROGRAMS (P. 38)
U S D F. O R G
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 7
Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation
Schoolwork Solutions for the Traveling Young Equestrian
Young rider Emily Smith and Dublin
Axel Steiner: US Dressage Needs More Judging Panels
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Your Dressage World This Month
Winning Six-Year-Old Is a “10” at World Championships
he judges awarded the Hanoverian gelding Lordswood Dancing Diamond (Dancier x Wolkenstein II) perfect marks of 10 for his trot and for “perspective” (defined as “potential as a dressage horse, ability to collect and take weight”) on his way to clinching the FEI Six-YearOld title at the 2017 Longines FEI/World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses World Breeding Dressage Championships for Young Horses.
SIX-YEAR-OLD CHAMPION: Lordswood Dancing Diamond, ridden by Ann-Kathrin Pohlmeier of Germany, earned two marks of “10”
Ridden by Ann-Kathrin Pohlmeier of Germany, Lordswood Dancing Diamond earned the championship title on an overall score of 9.72 points at the August 3-6 competition, held in Ermelo, Netherlands. The Dutch Olympian Adelinde Cornelissen rode the second-place finisher, the KWPN stallion Governor-STR (Totilas x Jazz) (9.06). Olympian Severo Jesus Jurado Lopez of Spain finished third on 8.99 with the Oldenburg gelding Quel Filou OLD (Quaterback x Stedinger). In the Five-Year-Old division, a German horse again came out on top: Don Martillo, a Hanoverian stallion (Don Juan de Hus x Benetton Dream) ridden by Ann-Christin Wienkamp to an overall score of 9.74. Andreas Helgstrand of Denmark on the Oldenburg stallion Ferrari OLD (Faundation x Blue Hors Hotline) was second on 9.20. Another Danish entry, the Dutch Warmblood stallion Hesselhoej Donkey Boy (Era Dancing Hit x Milan), ridden by Jan Møller Christensen, finished third with 9.10 points.
10 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
Lopez was back in the ring for the Seven-Year-Old final, and this time he took home the championship title with Fiontini, the Dutch Warmblood mare (Fassbinder x Romanov) who previously won both the Five- and Six-Year-Old titles at these championships, on an overall score of 85.656 percent. Sultan des Paluds, a Hanoverian gelding (Soliman de Hus x De Niro) ridden by Kirsten Brouwer of the Netherlands, was second with 83.515. In third with 82.445 were Denmark’s Anne Troensegaard and the Trakehner gelding Kipling (Hofrat x Hohenstein E.H.). Also in the Seven-Year-Old division was the lone American entry in this year’s World Breeding Dressage Championships for Young Horses. Pan American Games team gold medalist Dr. Cesar Parra, Whitehouse Station, NJ, rode the Westfalen gelding GK Don Cesar (Desperados x Manhattan), owned by GK Elite Sport, the rider, and Marcela Ortiz Parra. Parra and GK Don Cesar earned a score of 72.909 percent in the preliminary test for seven-year-olds, placing them 23rd in the field of 39 and qualifying for the “small final,” where they placed 23rd on 69.138 out of a field of 27. In the Prix St. Georges-level Dressage Stallion of the Year class for approved stallions, the eight-year-old KWPN Everdale (Lord Leatherdale x Negro), ridden by Charlotte Fry of Great Britain, topped the field of nine with a score of 72.851 percent. The second-placed stallion, the nine-yearold KWPN Dark President (Wynton x G Ramiro Z), ridden by Italy’s Riccardo Sanavio (71.930), came back to win the Dressage Stallion of the Year Freestyle class on 74.867; Everdale and Fry finished second with 74.233.
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AMERICAN PRIDE: Dr. Cesar Parra and the seven-year-old GK Don Cesar represented the USA
US Equestrian Issues Horse Welfare and Safety Penalty Guidelines
o reinforce its “dedication and commitment to the health, welfare, and safety of the horse,” US Equestrian, equestrian sports’ US national governing body, issued new penalty guidelines for equine-welfare and –safety offenses. The guidelines, which took effect September 1, are intended to assist the US Equestrian Hearing Committee in imposing consistent and appropriate penalties as judged by modern standards. According to an August 18 US Equestrian press release, “Previously imposed penalties in cases of welfare and safety violations are no longer sufficient in today’s cases. It is important that the Federation’s penalties reflect the severity of the violation.” Examples of the new guidelines include: • Excessive use of whip or spurs and improper use of bits: suspensions ranging from six to 24 months and fines ranging from $6,000 to $24,000 for first, second, and third offenses • Cruelty, abuse, or neglect (defined as including “excessive riding, lunging, training and showing, deprivation of water and feed, striking with an object, unintentional death, and violations of the 12-hour injection rule involving forbidden substances for purpose of competition”): suspensions ranging from 12 to 60 months and fines ranging from $12,000 to $60,000 for first, second, and third offenses • Intentional killing of a horse for financial or other means: lifetime ban. Hearing Committee panels may call for the imposition of penalties above or outside a penalty range. US Equestrian maintains a system for the reporting of equine abuse, negligence, and mistreatment. To file a report, contact the US Equestrian office via phone or e-mail, or file online at usef.org.
Equestrian VIP Meet-and-Greet Planned for Omaha
uilding on her mission to bring top equestrian sport to the Midwest, Omaha Equestrian Foundation (OEF) founder Lisa Roskens, the mastermind behind this year’s successful FEI World Cup Finals in that city, will see her organization host US Equestrian’s inaugural High Performance Review, October 23-24. Representatives from the eight international equestrian disciplines— dressage, jumping, eventing, combined driving, reining, endurance, vaulting, and para-equestrian dressage—will gather in Omaha “for the express purpose of determining how we can meet our goal of sustained success at the World and Games level,” said Will Connell, US Equestrian’s director of sport. Athletes, coaches, veterinarians, trainers, chefs d’équipe, and others are expected to attend, with Olympic veterans and US Equestrian national coaches Robert Dover and Debbie McDonald representing dressage. The OEF is providing opportunities for area equestrian enthusiasts to interact with the sport’s leadership during the High Performance Review, according to Roskens. Guests can meet the VIPs and hear a keynote speech at a cocktail hour and dinner. Each discipline will hold a Q&A forum. And a clinic will focus on jumping, dressage and eventing. Learn more at omahaequestrian. com or by calling (402) 930-3079.
US DRESSAGE FINALS
Important US Dressage Finals Entry and Stabling Information
ach horse/rider combination must submit a nomination (preentry) by midnight, 96 hours after the last championship day of the Great American/USDF Regional Championship in which the pair competed. In addition, the entry process must be completed by midnight (ET) October 26. To maintain priority stabling consideration, including stabling in the heated Alltech barns and for double stalls, a completed entry must be received within five days after the nomination deadline for each region. Allocation will be based on the date of receipt for the completed entry and will be allotted per region. See the official prize list at usdressagefinals. com for more information.
Eligible for a US Dressage Finals Travel Grant?
S Dressage Finals competitors who reside in one of the applicable states (WA, OR, CA, HI, AK, MT, ID, AZ, NV, UT, WY, NM, CO) are eligible to apply for travel grants. The rider’s address of record as associated with his or her USDF membership will be used to determine eligibility. Grants are based on a horse/rider combination, and a rider may apply for a grant with each eligible horse entered. To be considered for a grant, you must submit a grant request with your Finals entry by checking the grant-request box. For more program details, see the Finals prize list at usdressagefinals.com.
Your Dressage World This Month
Lothar H. Pinkers
ongtime USDF Board of Governors delegate, dressage-show manager, and USDF Region 6 volunteer Dr. Lothar H. Pinkers died July 4 at his home in Seattle, WA. He was 85. Dr. Pinkers began riding in the 1990s and joined the Lake Washington Saddle Club, for which he organized horse shows. He served as president of the Horse Foundation of Washington and as a director of Equestrians Institute (EI), a USDF group-member organization serving dressage, driving, and eventing enthusiasts in the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Pinkers resurrected the EI’s Champagne Classic dressage show in the early 2000s and would go on to manage that show as well as other EI competitions, teaching many volunteers along the way. He also helped to organize championships for the nonprofit organization Dressage Northwest (for which he served as treasurer) as well as the Great American/USDF Region 6 Championships.
MILESTONE: Dr. Lothar Pinkers and his horse, Sid, at the time of their Century Club ride in 2006
Two of Dr. Pinkers’ proudest equestrian-related achievements were his Century Club ride for The Dressage Foundation aboard his horse, Sid, in 2006; and the 2010 opening of the Washington State Horse Park in Cle Elum, WA, for which he served on the board of directors. In his professional life, Dr. Pinkers was a founding doctor of Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, WA. He was a pioneer in bringing emergency medicine to Washington, writing and teaching the state’s first EMT curriculum and chairing numerous emergency-medicine committees. Dr. Pinkers’ wife, Caroline Jane, died in 2014. He is survived by four children, four grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter. Memorial donations may be made to the Washington State Horse Park (wahorsepark. org) or to Dressage Northwest (dressagenorthwest.org).
MEET THE INSTRUCTOR
elissa Allen is a USDF FEI B certified instructor and a USDF bronze, silver, and gold medalist. She teaches and trains out of Willow Creek Sporthorses in Raymore, MO, and gives clinics throughout the Midwest. How I got started in dressage: I started riding in Lincoln, NE, in our local Pony Club and had the privilege of riding at the farm of the late USDF ACCOMPLISHED: Allen aboard Daina founder Lowell Boomer. over my career, and each one shaped I watched him ride piaffe my life in some way. I have brought and passage, and I was hooked on many horses up the levels to Grand dressage. Prix and have won numerous regional, My horses: I have had many horses
12 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
national, and Horse of the Year awards. I have a great group of clients and horses—some that have been with me for up to 17 years. What I learned during the certification process: The program taught me how to truly be a teacher, not just a director. I listen to my students and horses to discover the best way to approach their training while maintaining the basics and using the pyramid of training. Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or (913) 669-4779. —Jamie Humphries
COURTESY OF CHRISTIE L. HAMMOND; MARILYN MERRICK
Melissa Allen, Holden, MO
BEHIND THE SCENES
Jo-Anne Young, Collegiate Equestrian-Program Director
ob title: Assistant professor of physical education and equestrian-program director emerita, Houghton College, Houghton, NY (houghton. edu) What I do: Up through about five or six years ago, I would probably do office work about 35 hours a week and teach a comparable amount, and then spend five to eight hours a week schooling lesson horses. When I was running those things, I was training students to do it too. Last month after I retired, I became the equestrianprogram director emerita. How I got started: When I started directing Houghton’s equestrian program in 1986, I was the only faculty member. There were 16 lesson horses, and I did all the chores. In 2005, I received a master of arts in
THE NEAR SIDE
A LIFETIME OF LEARNING: Young and friend
equestrian education from Salem International University. In order to make it a major, the person who is head of the program has to have a terminal degree in their field. Best thing about my job: Watching the light bulb come on in a kid’s face when suddenly they get what’s being talked about and they feel it in the horse and it makes sense. Worst thing about my job: Paperwork. My horses: Fringe Benefit (“Ben”), an 18-year-old gray Trakehner gelding that I bred and schooled up to the upper levels that I use for a schoolmaster with the more advanced students. Tip: Never stop learning. —Katherine Walcott
Where Do You And Your Horse Rank? You could receive an award!
Don’t Miss These Important Year-end Award Deadlines! • October 15, 2017 • All corrections must be reported to USDF by 5:00 p.m. ET • October 27, 2017 • Photo submission deadline (first place recipients only) for inclusion in the yearbook issue of USDF Connection
COURTESY OF JO-ANNE YOUNG
• November 3, 2017 • If planning to receive your award at the Salute Gala & Annual Awards Banquet purchase your banquet ticket online and provide USDF award recipient information
Learn more about the year-end award requirements in the USDF Member Guide. Check your scores at USDFScores.com Visit usdf.org/awards/preliminary to find out where you and your horse are ranked.
Your Dressage World This Month
What you need to know this month 2018 USDF Member Guide Coming Next Month THE 2018 USDF MEMBER GUIDE will be mailed with the November issue of USDF Connection. This book is a complete guide to all USDF member benefits and includes dressage tests, championship and awards program information and rules, and information about USDF’s educational programs and opportunities. Even if you have opted out of receiving the print edition of USDF Connection, you will still receive a hard copy of the USDF Member Guide.
Score-Correction Deadline and Final Year-End Awards Standings ADEQUAN®/USDF 2017 YEAR-END AWARDS standings will be final approximately one week after the score-correction deadline of October 15 at 5:00 p.m. ET. Check your scores on USDFScores.com and the final standings on the USDF website under Awards.
Receiving Awards at the Salute Gala & Annual Awards Banquet IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE YOUR AWARD on stage at the 2017 Salute Gala & Annual Awards Banquet, you must purchase your banquet ticket and complete the required information by November 3. Visit the USDF website for more information and to purchase tickets.
How Were the Regionals? THE USDF WANTS YOUR GREAT AMERICAN/USDF REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS experience to be memorable. After the competition, you will be e-mailed an electronic evaluation form. Your survey feedback is valuable to both USDF and competition management. Best of luck at Regionals!
Year-End Awards Photo Deadline SUBMIT YEAR-END AWARD PHOTOS (first place only) by October 27 in order to be considered for inclusion in the 2017 yearbook issue of USDF Connection. Photos must be submitted electronically and accompanied by the USDF photo-release form (on the USDF website under Awards/Forms and Documents), which also contains submission requirements.
Affected or displaced by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, or the wildfires in the Pacific Northwest? Make sure to visit the Announcements section of the USDF website for information on relief efforts, aid, resources, and donating to the USEF Disaster Relief Fund. Our thoughts are with all of our two- and four-legged friends who have been impacted by these devastating events. 14 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
From the newly revised German horsemanship bible The Principles of Riding, a guide to developing correct contact in dressage
ontact is defined as the steady, soft, and elastic connection between the rider’s hand and the horse’s mouth. Essential for this is a supple, balanced, and smooth seat, which allows for a sensitive connection between the rider’s hand and the horse’s mouth. The rider frames the horse from the seat with the seat and legs and through the reins, without ever wedging the horse between the aids.
outside rein must, however, remain so flexible that the flexion of the horse is permitted. Its restraining function is maintained in combination with the outside leg. As a general rule, the connection should remain even on both reins. The horse’s natural crookedness often makes this more difficult, which is why gymnastic work with frequent changes of rein gradually helps to improve the contact. The horse develops a willingness to stretch to the sensitive rider’s hand through a rhythmical, supple, forward movement toward the bit.
This willingness to stretch leads to the feeling of a steady connection with the horse’s mouth. The rider rides the horse from back to front IDEAL CONTACT: With suitable driving aids and by going with and into the hand the movement, the rider ensures that the horse steps into the soft and in order to achieve elastic connection with active hindquarters a secure contact The contact is dynamic; it will and to keep it steady. sometimes be stronger and then become lighter again. The rider has The quality of the contact the responsibility for keeping it as depends, among other things, steady and as light as possible. very closely on suppleness. Both aspects influence and depend On a curved line, the rider must on each other and, at the same bring the horse more onto the outside time, have an influence on the aids—particularly the outside rein— rhythm. with the inside leg (diagonal aids). The secure connection on the outside rein Only a supple horse will stretch ensures a restriction throughout the forward-downward to the rider’s turn and allows the rider to become hand, and a soft, elastic contact allight with the inside rein and to let the lows the horse to attain suppleness. forward movement out. The use of the Problems with any of these aspects
16 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
will always also have a negative effect on each of the others. Rhythm, which is to be regarded as a condition for suppleness, will also be lastingly disturbed through a lack of suppleness and problems in the contact. The willingness and the ability to stretch, as well as the quality of the contact, are also always dependent on the horse’s willingness to move forward, and the energy of the movement! The horse’s sensitivity in responding to the lightest aids must constantly be reestablished. This is important because the horse can only develop this
The Classic, Revised
ong considered the essential basic dressage text, the German Equestrian Federation’s official instruction handbook, The Principles of Riding: Basic Training for Horse and Rider, is a step-by-step guide to establishing a solid foundation for both horse and rider, whether the eventual intended discipline is dressage, jumping, or eventing. The Principles of Riding is on the recommended-reading list of both the USDF Instructor/Trainer Program and the USDF L Education Program. Last month, the German FN released an updated and revised edition of its classic. The Englishlanguage version is available in the US from Trafalgar Square Books (HorseandRiderBooks.com). The text in this article is © 2017 FN Verlag and excerpted by permission of Trafalgar Square Books.
willingness to stretch into the rider’s hand when it has accepted the driving aids. The steady, elastic contact can thus be regarded as a basic condition for the development of forward thrust (pushing power), which is the transformation of the power from the hindquarters into the forward movement of the horse. Therefore, the development of impulsion and contact are dependent on each other to a certain degree.
Developing Correct Carriage Through a good collaboration of the driving and regulating aids, the horse’s carriage will improve according to its level of training. The achievement of a soft, elastic contact is a fundamental requirement for influencing the horse’s carriage. In every change of the horse’s carriage, the highest degree of attention must be given to this trusting connection. Through a coordinated interaction between the driving and the regulating aids, the rider brings the horse
into a certain head-neck position, which also always corresponds to the movement and the particular positive muscular tension that is necessary in the horse. The neck must always be sufficiently “long” to enable the horse to balance. The lower neck muscles are relaxed; the upper neck muscles are noticeably active and “carry” the The horse is in balance, the head-nose line is slightly in front of the neck. The poll is vertical, and the poll is the highest point relaxed, and the horse carries the neck so that the poll in balance. The rider will feel this is the highest point. A horse that is through a light connection with the well balanced, with active hind legs so horse’s mouth. This is the result of that it carries itself and is very light correct and sensitive riding. in the rider’s hand, is moving in the On the bit. A well-ridden horse desired self-carriage and is therefore trusts the rider’s hand, accepts the con-
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USDF CONNECTION • October 2017
clinic tact through the reins, and steps forward into this connection. If the rider accompanies the horse patiently with the hand, the horse will start to chew on the bit, which leads to relaxation of the jaw, the tongue, and the poll. With sensitive support from the rider’s driving aids (leg and seat aids), the horse will continue to move forward happily and will start to become “light in the hand.” It accepts the minor resistance of the rider’s hand with an elastic poll in order to then seek the contact once again. With a horse that initially moved with an elongated neck and the nose clearly ahead of the vertical, the head-nose line now comes closer to the vertical. The poll is the highest point. The horse stands still or moves forward into the rein with contact. The horse is now said to be “on the bit.” Elevation (raising of the forehand). The so-called elevation or raising of the horse’s forehand must always follow the level of the horse’s training. It emerges from the horse’s overall body posture and balance. Therefore, horse’s forehand should be relatively raised (see page 20). This correct form of elevation is always the result of the horse’s degree of collection. In an advanced stage of training, it corresponds to good self-carriage in collection. A horse that can bend lower in the hindquarters, with wellangled joints, appears more “uphill” and is better able to carry itself in an elevated manner.
Mistakes in Contact and in Getting the Horse on the Bit Mistakes in contact and in getting the horse on the bit result in most cases from seat and aid mistakes by the rider. A rider who cannot go with the horse’s movement elastically is hardly able to establish a steady connection with the horse’s mouth. This is further reinforced when the rider’s hand position and the holding of the reins is not elastic. An incorrect conception of the way contact and getting the horse on the bit are achieved will also result in different problems.
Against the hand or above the bit. A horse that refuses to accept the rider’s rein aids and does not give in the poll is said to go “against the hand” or “above the bit.” The horse stiffens and hollows its back, and the hindquarters can no longer come under the horse’s body correctly. The lower neck muscles are tense and dominant, Behind the vertical and tight in the neck. The rider sits against the and the upper horse’s movement. neck muscles no longer assume their usual carrying Behind the vertical. Horses genfunction and therefore do not develop erally avoid a backward-acting rein by positively. The cause nearly always lies giving in the poll. The head-nose line in the rider working impatiently and/ therefore comes considerably behind or with a lack of feeling in the hand. If the vertical, impeding the supplethis problem has been in existence for ness, the activity of the back, and the a long time, then the lower neck musimpulsion or the forward thrust as a cles will have developed more than result. If the rider does not give, the the upper neck muscles. Since in this horse will become continuously short errant posture the rider’s weight canin the neck. This in turn will make it not be carried in any way other than increasingly difficult for the horse to through stiffening the back muscles, balance and carry the rider’s weight. lungeing with correctly attached side This problem can also arise when the reins, combined with intensive school- horse does not respond correctly to ing for the rider, can be helpful. half-halts and the rider does not carry When correcting this mistake these out and repeat them consistently under saddle, the rider should initially enough. Even more frequently, the establish and maintain a trustful conproblem lies in not riding the halfnection with the horse’s mouth. Only halt correctly from back to front with once these foundations have been dominant driving aids. reestablished can the horse be ridden Short in the neck and deep. Gofrom behind into the rider’s hand in ing behind the vertical is frequently order to become light in the hand with associated with the problem of the the help of transitions and half-halts. horse becoming clearly “short” in the neck, or when it is intentionally ridden “short and deep.” Half-halts and many transitions, which give the rider the egularly letting the horse chance to give with the reins and to chew the reins out of the ride forward, can help here. Giving and hand and picking them up retaking the reins occasionally, as well again benefits the horse’s trust as frequently letting the horse chew the and the skill of the rider. reins out of the hand and picking them up again, are also necessary.
18 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
rider, in the lack of harmony between driving and regulating aids. Not trusting the rider’s hand, the horse will become short in the neck and/or will remain behind the vertical with its head-nose line. Since the horse avoids the rein aids by backing away from the contact, the rider’s hands no longer have a steady connection with the horse’s The horse is behind the bit and does not step sufficiently forward from mouth via the reins. back to front toward the hand The lack of activity in the hindquarters, which Behind the bit. A horse is “behind the bit” when it does not step forward to is mostly responsible for this, and the lack of activity in the back can be the bit or the rider’s hand. The contact is, as a result, no longer even and steady. traced to too little or incorrectly understood driving aids and/or insensiThe reasons for this can be diverse. 1 8/17/17 12:11:39 PM tive rein aids. Because of this mistake, FrequentlyUSDF-Connection-Oct-2017-3rd-AnneGribbons-20170817OL.pdf the problem lies with the
the rider has lost one of the fundamental components for harmonious communication with the horse. The horse simply has no chance of establishing a connection with the rider’s hand. Horses that have difficulties stepping into this connection must be ridden forward from behind and into the sensitive rider’s hand. Horses that are very light in the poll are especially prone to this fault in contact. The most fundamental causes are a lack of suppleness and willingness to stretch, combined with a lack of pushing power from the hindquarters. This must then be developed. Transitions between trot and canter, along with cavalletti work and hacking out, are particularly suitable for this. Only a fine feeling for the collaboration of the driving and the regulating aids will enable the rider to restore the horse’s trust in the hand. In doing so, the correct position of the hands is fundamental, with a straight line from the elbow to the hand and the rein. Only with a soft, elastic, and low hand
USDF CONNECTION • October 2017
clinic False bend/ broken at the third vertebra. Going behind the bit, behind the vertical, or being short in the neck can lead to a “false bend” (or the horse’s neck being “broken at the third vertebra”). This is the unnatural curving of the neck that arises if a horse, despite a tensed poll, gives to the rein A neck “broken” at the third vertebra (the flexion is from a point behind in the region of the poll) can be the result of incorrect training the second and third cervical vertebrae. The poll is no will the horse then seek the conneclonger the highest point, and estabtion with the hand. Frequent, sensilishing a steady contact is even more tively ridden transitions can help in difficult. This serious mistake can establishing a stable, more confident only be eradicated through gymnastic contact.
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training with a sufficiently long neck to help the upper neck muscles to reform. Letting the horse chew the reins out of the hand is again particularly helpful. Absolutely raised. Riding with the forehand “absolutely raised” describes the situation wherein the horse’s neck is raised actively higher by the rider’s hand—too high in relation to the level of collection. With an unsuitably high elevation, the horse is no longer able to move in a supple way with a swinging back. This errant carriage is therefore contradictory to a positive development and to obtaining a correct, relative raising of the forehand. If the horse assumes this position by itself, a longer outline needs to be established again. Tilting in the poll. Tilting in the poll is generally connected to a lack of straightness of the horse, or to exaggerated efforts to obtain flexion. The horse holds its head crooked; the ears are no longer on the same level. This can only be corrected by reestablishing a secure, light contact with an open neck-mandible angle as well as self-carriage, and through a systematic straightening. This problem can also arise or be made worse through rider problems in the straightening work, or lack of feeling for an even contact. Even a minor tilt in the poll needs to be taken seriously. A rider who sits crookedly can also be partly responsible. Attempts to correct head-tilting through rein aids alone usually make the problem worse. Leaning on the bit. Horses that develop too little activity from the hind legs and/or are not very well balanced tend to lean on the hand or on the bit. The horse’s center of gravity shifts further toward the forehand; the horse uses the bit for support, searching for the so-called “fifth leg,” and does not engage the hind legs properly from behind. Correction of this mistake requires a rider with well-attuned driving and regulating aids. The rider must be able, when riding a half-halt, to give
again as soon as the horse is on the aids. Through half-halts and transitions between and within gaits, the rider helps the horse to find a better balance. In so doing, the rider invites the horse to become light in the hand. Thus, the horse will gradually find a secure self-carriage: able to move in a balanced way and to “carry” its neck and head. “Unhappy mouth”/tongue problems. An “unhappy mouth” or a tongue sticking out or going over the bit is generally a symptom to be considered in relation to the abovementioned problems in contact and in getting the horse on the bit. Grinding of the teeth can also be a sign of unhappiness. It is thus necessary to work on the cause, which is frequently found in the rider’s hand. Sensitive riding involving smooth transitions and halfhalts, with a rider’s hand that is always ready to give, usually leads to resolving this problem. Overtightening the noseband or the flash is a meaningless attempt to fight the symptoms with-
The Product of Correct Riding and Training Correct riding will lead to a soft, elastic contact as well as to an outline and carriage appropriate for the horse’s level of training. s
COMING NEXT MONTH • Annual equine-art issue • Take the “No-Stirrup November” challenge Clear tilting of the poll to the left
out resolving the cause. In fact, such measures contradict the meaning of systematic training.
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USDF CONNECTION • October 2017
What Can the USDF Do for Your GMO?
A lot, actually. Make sure your club is getting all the benefits it’s entitled to. By Melissa Schoedlbauer
group-member organization’s (GMO) affiliation with the USDF goes beyond the providing of group membership and the associated USDF benefits to the GMO’s dues-paying members. Each year at the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention, some GMO officials seem surprised at the array of benefits and services that USDF makes available to GMOs.
So, just what does USDF do for GMOs? Let’s take a look.
A Voice Within USDF Arguably the most important benefit of USDF affiliation is having a voice within USDF governance and the ability to influence the direction of dressage in the United States. It is impor-
UNDER THE UMBRELLA: The USDF is in large part a federation of affiliated dressage clubs, called group-member organizations or GMOs
With more than 100 GMOs, a onesize-fits-all approach is difficult, but USDF has tailored many services, ads, and educational programs to benefit any size club. As GMOs grow and change, USDF works to develop tools that GMOs can use to attract new members, to keep current members engaged, and to run as smoothly as possible.
tant that your GMO’s members have representation on the USDF Board of Governors (BOG), which meets at the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention. During the BOG general assembly, delegates discuss and vote on proposals that cover a variety of topics, from changes to competition and award requirements to membership dues.
22 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
The number of members that a GMO has on file with USDF as of September 1 determines how many delegates it can send to convention and its voting strength at the BOG general assembly. A GMO’s active participation in USDF’s governance process ensures that members’ views are represented at the national level.
GMO Guide: Your USDFAffiliation Resource The most informative resource available to USDF’s affiliated clubs is the GMO Guide, which is housed on the USDF website. The GMO Guide contains a marketing guide, ads, and logos for GMOs’ use, all forms relevant to GMOs’ affiliation with USDF, instructions on submitting membership rosters, nomination forms for GMO awards, and the GMO Handbook. USDF understands the importance of promoting GMO membership and developing marketing materials for use in newsletters, websites, and social media. As affiliates of the only US national organization devoted exclusively to dressage, GMOs may utilize these materials as well as logos that USDF has developed specifically for GMO use. The GMO Handbook covers many aspects of running a GMO, from founding a club to coordinating volunteers and marketing. This handbook answers most questions about establishing and running a local dressage club. Most GMOs have a website, produce some form of newsletter, and host at least one event per year. USDF recognizes outstanding GMO efforts with the annual USDF GMO awards. Awards are offered in four categories: Newsletter (first-person and generalinterest articles); Website (best user experience); Photography (amateur photograph published in a GMO newsletter); and the new Creative GMOSponsored Program Award, which will recognize one GMO for an outstanding effort made to develop a program that has contributed to the club’s membership growth and retention.
No club would exist without the tireless efforts of dedicated volunteers. One of the most effective methods of motivating volunteers is to reward them for their hard work. The Regional GMO Volunteer of the Year awards recognize outstanding volunteer efforts at the local level. One volunteer is recognized in each of USDF’s nine regions, and these individuals are honored at the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention. USDF encourages every GMO to submit a nomination for this award, as these dedicated individuals deserve recognition and time in the spotlight! All GMO award nominations are due in the USDF office by August 31.
National Exposure When a local dressage organization becomes affiliated with USDF, it is listed on the USDF website under its respective USDF region, including a link to its own website and contact information so that dressage enthusiasts can find GMOs in their area.
USDF’s new electronic publication, YourDressage, is available through USDF’s app. YourDressage focuses on human-interest stories, and GMOs have the opportunity to see their items published for a national audience. If your GMO publishes firstperson-experience or general-interest articles, send them to USDF for possible inclusion in YourDressage. Another way for GMOs to garner national exposure is by taking advantage of the GMO Spotlight section of YourDressage. Complete the GMO Spotlight form (available on the USDF website), submit it to USDF, and your club will be featured. YourDressage is available to the public, not just to USDF members, so it is a great way to showcase your organization to potential new members. All GMOs are welcome to submit information about upcoming clubsponsored events to their USDF regional director. If approved, the event will be included in the regional section of the monthly USDF eNews, an e-mailed news
TIME TO RENEW FOR 2018! Your 2017 membership expires November 30! Renew by 12/31 to receive the 2017 Yearbook.
Important Reminder You must have a USDF Participating Membership to be eligible and qualify for most year-end award and championship programs. (See the website for detailed program information and eligibility requirements.)
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YOUR CONNECTION TO DRESSAGE EDUCATION • COMPETITION • ACHIEVEMENT
USDF CONNECTION • October 2017
club connection blast. Each eNews features both national and region-specific news, meaning that it’s another way for your GMO to get the message out to larger audiences.
USDF National Education Initiative The USDF National Education Initiative (NEI) has been developed to support the production of new and affordable educational events that engage members, with an emphasis on programs and high-caliber instruction that align with classically correct dressage training. If a GMO’s event meets the NEI guidelines, the club may receive hosting assistance. NEI events may be held in one of four formats—clinics/ symposia, ride-a-test clinics, adult camps, and unmounted events—and so each club can tailor the program to the needs of its members. A GMO hosting an approved NEI event is also provided the opportunity to apply for a grant. Many variables can affect a GMO’s ability to host a clinic,
such as difficulty securing a suitable instructor or the necessary funding. For details on funding support provided by USDF, visit the USDF website or contact the USDF office. Once an event has been approved, the GMO will receive marketing support from USDF through eNews, social media, and two NEI ads that USDF places annually in USDF Connection. USDF staff provides educational materials as well as administrative guidance throughout the planning, organization, and implementation process.
Education Beyond the Back of a Horse GMOs that have regular membership meetings or schooling shows and that wish to incorporate education should consider hosting a short, unmounted education hour. This is a perfect opportunity to engage members while providing education in a relaxed atmosphere. USDF has developed several
24 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
one- to two-hour educational modules. With materials available for download from the USDF website, anyone can lead the discussion. Every GMO can access the materials from the GMO Guide page of the USDF website.
Networking and Support From growing pains to a lack of member involvement, GMOs across the country experience similar challenges. Most clubs are willing to share their knowledge and insights. The USDF GMO Officials Facebook group and the GMOPrez List, a Yahoo forum, enable GMO officials from around the country to share information and ideas and to ask questions. These groups help to form an online community of individuals who understand the trials and rewards of running a GMO. USDF also posts GMO-specific information to these groups, so joining is a great way to stay up to date on information about USDF affiliation.
To join the Facebook group, search for the USDF GMO Officials group and submit a request to join. To be added to the GMOPrez List, send email to email@example.com. USDF also sends a quarterly enews brief to all GMO officials. This newsletter contains GMO-specific reminders and provides important information to keep USDF’s affiliated clubs in compliance. The USDF Group Member Organizations Committee serves GMOs by promoting the education of GMO leadership, offering support to GMO officials, providing a network of others with experience, and administering the GMO awards. Find contact information for regional committee representatives on the USDF website. Every member of the Group Member Organizations Committee is a dedicated volunteer who is committed to serving GMOs and is available to answer questions, address concerns, and take suggestions.
The Group Member Organizations Committee holds an open meeting at the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention. Attendees have the opportunity to ask questions of USDF representatives, committee members, and other GMO officials. The Group Member Organizations Committee also hosts roundtable discussions at the convention. During this always-popular session, participants discuss hot topics and share ideas. This session has become a must-attend for GMO officials both new and experienced. Plan on taking lots of notes! Additional services have been developed to streamline the administrative responsibilities associated with USDF affiliation. Did you know that your club can now submit membership-roster updates via the USDF website throughout the year? Simply log in to the USDF website and submit the names of renewing members. Names of GMO officials can also be updated
using an online form on the USDF website. After club elections, submit the names of new officials so that they can be updated on the USDF website and reached by USDF staff if needed. Want to know how your club’s members ranked nationally in USEFlicensed/USDF-recognized competitions and award standings? GMOs may contact USDF at the end of the competition year (September 30) to receive detailed information about how members placed in the final standings. Many GMOs take advantage of this opportunity to recognize competitors who have excelled at the national level. For more information, visit the USDF website or contact the GMO coordinator at (859) 971-2277 or at gmo@ usdf.org. USDF staff members are available to assist with any GMO-related questions or needs Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. ET. s Melissa Schoedlbauer is USDF’s Membership Department manager.
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All About the Neck
In dressage, we pay a lot of attention to the horse’s neck position. Here’s why the neck is so important. By Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Diplomate ACVSMR, MRCVS
CORRECT NECK POSITION: Nip Tuck, ridden by Great Britain’s Carl Hester, shows a neck that is properly elevated for the level, with stretch over the topline. The horse’s poll is the highest point, and the topline in front of the first cervical vertebra (C1) is horizontal.
In this article, I’ll describe the posture of the dressage horse’s neck and, more specifically, how the positioning of the vertebrae affects the shape of the neck.
Anatomy of the Equine Neck The horse’s neck is broad at the base, where it attaches to the chest, and it tapers toward the poll. Neck conformation of the neck attachment is an indicator of a horse’s suitability for dressage, and it can also be a reflection of the quality of training. The topline of the neck should curve smoothly upward and outward from the top of the withers, without a dip in front of the withers. The underline of the neck should emerge high from the chest; a neck that emerges too low or too horizontally from the chest makes it difficult for the horse to achieve the correct neck shape and balance for dressage. A well-developed underline and poorly-developed topline are signs of incorrect neck carriage and training. The neck has at its core a series of seven cervical vertebrae (named C1 to C7) from the poll to the base of the neck. The vertebrae are joined together by intervertebral discs, ligaments, muscles, and tendons to form a somewhat rigid yet flexible column. The alignment of the vertebrae determines the shape of the neck and the correctness of the neck posture. From the poll, the vertebrae descend through the neck until, at the base, they are close to the underside of the neck as they enter the chest (Figure 1). The vertebrae are in a fairly straight alignment through most of the neck, although there is a downward curve behind the poll and a flattening out at the base of the neck. The areas where the vertebral column changes direction are the most mobile parts of the neck. Horses prefer to raise, lower, or turn the entire neck from its base rather than moving
26 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
FIGURE 1. Relaxed neck position. The vertebrae in the neck are labeled C1 through C7. Note that the vertebral column is on top of the neck at the poll, but passes through the muscles to lie close to the underside at the base of the neck. C1 is above C2, and the vertebrae follow a fairly straight line as they descend in the neck.
the joints equally along the length of the neck. One of the consequences of this is the tendency to overbend at the base of the neck and to push out the shoulder while turning. The horse’s ability to move his head independently helps him to stabilize his eyes and the vestibular (balancing) organs in his ears while he is in motion. The neck contains several large, heavy muscles and accounts for 6 percent of the horse’s weight, or about 75 pounds in an average-sized dressage horse. The head and neck are continuously pulled downward by the effect of gravity and are held up by tension in the nuchal ligament and the topline muscles. With correct training, these muscles are strengthened and the neck develops a more convex topline. The fact that the neck must be supported at all times means that an excessively heavy neck is a disadvantage for a dressage horse: He must expend more effort to hold it up and stay balanced without falling on his forehand. The two large topline muscles— semispinalis and splenius—play a major role in supporting the neck. Although they are similar in position and attachments, they have different functions. Semispinalis is designed for postural support, whereas splenius is designed to produce movement. Therefore, semispinalis supports the
JENNIFER BRYANT; COURTESY OF DR. HILARY CLAYTON
ressage riders, trainers, and judges devote quite a bit of time to studying and critiquing the position of the horse’s neck. Although this article focuses on the neck in isolation, we must remember that its shape and carriage reflects the way in which the horse uses his entire body.
COURTESY OF DR. HILARY CLAYTON
neck in opposition to the effects of gravity, while splenius is responsible for actively raising and bending the neck. The nuchal ligament is also part of the neck’s support system. It consists of strong elastic cords and sheets located along the middle of the neck, between the left and right topline muscles. The main function of the nuchal ligament is to assist in supporting the weight of the neck during locomotion. The nuchal ligament has two parts, called the funicular (cord-like) and lamellar (sheet-like) parts. The funicular part has two cords (left and right) that run side by side from the top of the withers to the occipital bone at back of the skull. They are stretched when the neck is lowered, rounded, or telescoped out. When the nuchal ligament is stretched, lateral flexion at the poll causes the funicular part to slide sideways over the top of the spine of C2. You can easily see this from the saddle as the entire crest “flips over” to the inside of the bend. You may see two small jerks as the left and right funicular parts of the nuchal ligament roll over the spine of C2, one after the other. With the horse’s topline stretched, you can flip the crest from side to side by changing the lateral flexion at the poll. If a dressage horse is ridden with the correct lateral positioning at the poll, his crest lies to the inside on turns and circles. The lamellar part of the nuchal ligament consists of left and right sheets (lamellae) of elastic tissue that stretch from the top of the withers to the vertebrae in the neck. The strongest sheets attach to the spine of C2, where they play an important role in supporting the weight of the neck during locomotion. Weaker sheets that attach to C3, C4, and C5 help to prevent the lower neck from hollowing.
The Neck in Motion When the horse stands in a relaxed position, as shown in Figure 1, there is no tension in the nuchal ligament and
the neck is supported primarily by the supraspinatus muscle. During locomotion, neck posture changes and the nuchal ligament becomes part of the support mechanism. The neck and head nod downward relative to the horse’s trunk twice in each stride in the walk and trot, and once in each stride in the canter. As the neck descends, the nuchal ligament and the topline muscles are stretched; then the ligament recoils and the muscles shorten to raise the neck. So the neck gently and elastically oscillates down and up in rhythm with the stride. A horse moving at liberty will hold his head and neck lower in the walk than in the faster gaits. His poll will be at the height of the withers in walk, about four inches higher in canter, and another four inches higher in trot. The angle through which the neck oscillates is greater in walk and canter than in trot. The differences in self-selected poll height are thought to optimize the elastic function of the nuchal ligament in accordance with the range of motion in the oscillations and the nodding frequency in each gait. In the early stages of dressage training, we encourage the young horse to stretch his neck forward. Doing so stretches the nuchal ligament and facilitates its use in supporting the head and neck. As training progresses and the horse develops a level of collection and self-carriage, the posture and carriage of the neck change: The base of the neck and the withers are raised, and the topline of the neck continues to be stretched as the upper part of the neck and the poll are elevated. Neck oscillations during locomotion decrease progressively as the horse becomes more collected and carries his neck with a higher profile. The thoracic sling muscles raise the chest and the base of the neck. As a result, the withers are lifted between the scapulae, which gives the trunk an “uphill” inclination. When the base of the neck is lifted and rounded in this way, it avoids using a hinge-like
FIGURE 2. Correctly raised neck. The vertebrae in the middle of the neck slope upward and forward with a gently curving line that stretches the topline of the neck. C2 is at the same height as C1, and the topline in front of C2 is horizontal.
motion that would retract the neck as the poll is raised. With the base of the neck and the withers supported and elevated, the upper part of the neck is gradually raised and rounded while maintaining a stretched topline, as shown in Figure 2. Note how the orientation of the cervical vertebrae has changed as compared with Figure 1. This is a key component in raising the neck correctly. In the relaxed neck shape (Figure 1), C2 is clearly lower than C1, whereas in the correctly raised neck the vertebrae rise to C2, then level out from C2 to the poll (Figure 2).
Positioning the Head and Neck Movement of the two joints immediately behind the poll changes the horse’s head position. The first joint between the skull and C1 (the (atlanto-occipital joint) flexes and extends to change the angle of the front of the face relative to the vertical. Increased flexion brings the horse’s profile closer to the vertical and closes the angle under the throatlatch. Extension moves the nose further ahead of the vertical and opens the angle under the throatlatch. The atlanto-occipital joint also allows the head to turn from side to side, which has the effect of tucking the cheekbone under the salivary gland that lies below the ear to create
USDF CONNECTION • October 2017
FIGURE 3. Overflexed between C2 and C3. This causes the topline in front of C2 to slope downhill so that the poll is lower than C2. The front of the face is likely to be behind the vertical, with the angle at the throatlatch closed, when the neck is this shape.
lateral flexion at the poll. This is the movement that flips the crest sideways. The second joint, between C1 and C2 (the atlanto-axial joint), swivels the head and tilts the nose from side to side, putting the ears at different heights. Because this joint does not flex and extend, the overlying topline from the poll to C2 cannot be rounded or hollowed. Instead, it forms a flattened area that should have a horizontal or slightly uphill orientation when the horse works with a correct neck shape, as shown in Figure 2. The joint between C2 and C3 can flex and extend, bend left and right, and twist a little. The correct amount of flexion at this joint allows the crest of C2 to become horizontal as the horse “crests” over the upper neck. A common fault in dressage horses’
neck posture is for this joint to overflex, which causes C2 to rotate downward toward the poll and gives the appearance of the angle of the neck being “broken” behind C2. When this happens, the neck slopes downward from C2 to the poll (Figure 3). This is a common but serious fault and often results from the rider’s relying on the reins to position the horse’s head. The horse’s head comes behind the vertical if it is pulled there, either by contraction of the muscles under the neck and skull or by too much tension in the reins. Both are incorrect. A posture in which the poll is low and the head is behind the vertical is not natural for the horse. In the interests of functionally-correct training, we must pay close attention both to the
Laminitis is a serious and potentially devastating disease. If your horse has a large cresty neck, seek professional advice without delay.
angle of the front of the face and to the slope of the neck immediately behind the poll. Incorrect training raises the poll by using the joint at the base of the neck as a hinge about which the neck angles upward and backward. The withers are not raised and may even sink lower between the scapulae. The poll is retracted as it gets higher, and
Put Your Horse’s Neck on the Line
key factor in correct neck shape lies in the slope of the topline from the spine of C2 to the poll. When neck carriage is correct, this line is horizontal or slightly uphill. When it is incorrect, as it is in the photo, the line slopes downward toward the horse’s ears.
28 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
FIGURE 4. Incorrect elevation of the neck from its base. The neck has been elevated and retracted by using the joints as the base of the neck as a hinge. Note the vertical orientation of the vertebrae in the middle part of the neck, the lack of stretching of the topline, and the fact that C2 is lower than C1. The poll is retracted and excessively flexed so that the angle at the throatlatch is closed.
the topline of the neck becomes shorter and flatter rather than maintaining its length and roundness. The horse tends to overflex between the poll and C1, which has the effect of closing the throatlatch (Figure 4). Compare the shapes of the necks in Figures 1 through 4, and note how the curvature of the vertebral column differs among neck shapes. Then try to visualize the position of the vertebrae when you watch a horse working.
Cresty Considerations The horse’s crest is a wad of fat and fibrous tissue attached on top of the nuchal ligament from the base of the neck to C2. It is sometimes called the nuchal fat pad. If you palpate the tissues on top of the neck, muscle feels firm and resilient, whereas the fattiness of the crest feels softer and more doughy. Moderate crest development adds to the rounded appearance of the neck but must be differentiated from the true topline of the neck when assessing a horse’s neck shape. The development of an overly exaggerated crest is recognized as a problem, particularly in Baroque breeds. An article published earlier this year in the Equine Veterinary Journal described
COURTESY OF DR. HILARY CLAYTON
CRESTY-NECK SCORING CHART 0. No palpable crest
1. No visual appearance of a crest but slight filling felt on palpation
2. Noticeable appearance of a crest but fat deposited fairly evenly from poll to withers
Meet the Expert
3. Crest enlarged and thickened with fat deposited more heavily in the middle of the neck giving a mounded appearance 4. Crest grossly enlarged and thickened. May have wrinkles or creases across the topline 5. Crest is so large it droops permanently to the side
ADAPTED FROM CARTER ET AL, 2009
CRESTY-NECK SCORING CHART: Illustrations depict neck appearances veterinarians use in determining whether a horse’s neck is overly cresty. An excessively cresty neck may indicate health problems.
research on cresty necks conducted at the University of Seville in Spain. The study focused on Pura Raza Española (PRE) horses; an excessively cresty neck disqualifies a stallion from registration in that studbook. After evaluating 10,929 PRE horses from 24 countries, the researchers reported that 8 percent of horses were penalized in the conformation score because of the size of the crest, and 0.6 percent had such overdeveloped crests that they were disqualified from registration altogether. Crestyneck scores were higher in males
high risk for developing laminitis. The cresty-neck scoring system (see illustration at left) predicts a horse’s risk for metabolic disease. Higher scores are associated with an increase in circulating insulin and a decrease in insulin sensitivity (i.e., insulin resistance). If your horse has a large crest, take measures immediately to reduce his risk of laminitis. Steps may include reducing feed intake, changing his diet, and making sure that he is exercised appropriately. Consult with a veterinarian, an equine-nutrition specialist, or both for advice and guidance. s
than females, in horses older than six compared with horses younger than three, and in gray horses compared with horses of other colors. The cresty-neck score for PRE horses has a moderate heritability, indicating that the trait can be passed on to an affected horse’s offspring. However, the fact that it is heritable also indicates that the prevalence of the defect could be reduced by selective breeding. A cresty neck is also a feature of obesity in horses and ponies. This is a red flag because it can indicate that the horse is insulin-resistant and at
r. Hilary Clayton is the professor and Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair emerita. She was the original holder of the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, East Lansing, from 1997 to 2014. At the same time, she was a professor in MSU’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. A world-renowned expert on equine biomechanics and conditioning, Dr. Clayton is president of Sport Horse Science, LC, which is dedicated to translating research data into practical advice for riders, trainers, and veterinarians through lectures, articles, and private consultations. A USDF gold, silver, and bronze medalist, she is a longtime USDF Connection contributing editor and a past member of the US Equestrian Federation’s Dressage Committee.
USDF CONNECTION • October 2017
EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES & PRESENTATIONS Join us for discussions and activities on the latest topics and initiatives, in the dressage community. Presentations will focus on the veterinary and husbandry needs of our equine partners. This year’s education opportunities and presentations include: Morning Stretch and Strengthening with Jackie Beasley
Youth Open Forum
2017 Adequ Annual Co
Competition Open Forum GMO Roundtable Discussions USEF Rule Change Forum Judges, L Program, and Freestyle Open Forum Show and Tell: The Horse’s Spine with Dr. Hilary Clayton
Equine Vaccinations: What, When, and Why? with Dr. David Horohov
with Dr. Cynthia MacKenzie
USEF Athlete Forum Additional education presenters to include:
Hagyard Equine Medical Institute Kentucky Equine Research For more details about our education opportunities and presentations, visit
Thank You to Our Corporate Sponsor
Welcome to our old Kentucky home November 29 – December 2, 2017 Lexington, KY
uan®/ USDF onvention
Register online at www.usdf.org/convention or call 859-271-7871 for assistance. Deadline for the Member Advance Registration Discount is November 24, 2017
Convention Package $175 USDF member (onsite $225) $250 non-member $90 youth (21 and under) The convention package includes: All education opportunities & presentations All business meetings Committee meetings Regional meetings Board of Governors General Assembly Open forums Welcome Party
Additional Events Salute Gala & Annual Awards Banquet $90 (onsite $110) USDF Apprentice Dressage Technical Delegate Clinic (Tickets must be purchased by November 24, 2017.) $175
Salute Gala & Annual Awards Banquet Saturday, December 2, 2017 You are cordially invited to celebrate with top competitors from around the country. We’ll pay tribute to this year’s annual award winners, USDF Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medalists, and honor dressage legends and USDF volunteers.
Hotel Reservations To guarantee your room at the discounted USDF rate, make your reservation by November 7, 2017. After that, it is subject to room availability. Visit www.usdf.org/convention to make your reservation.
American Dressage Legends: Fiona Baan For nearly 30 years, this force of nature made her mark in the worlds of both high-performance and Young Rider dressage
ach year at the FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships dressage competition, the overall highestscoring young rider is presented with a trophy, called “Pursuit of Excellence” and named in memory of someone named Fiona Baan (for this year’s winner, see page 45). The passage of time has a way of eroding memories, and before long a name on a trophy is just a name.
ike many people, Baan wound up in a career quite different from the one she started out in. Born in Scotland, Baan first worked in the hotel industry. An avid horsewoman, she began riding in England and would go on to enjoy various equestrian sports, including dressage (in which she competed successfully up to the FEI levels), jumping, eventing, and foxhunting. Baan’s hotel career took her to England, Bermuda, Florida, and
PRIDE OF PLACE: The late USET dressage manager Fiona Baan enjoys a ride in the main arena at Gladstone, NJ, in an undated photo
After all, today’s NAJYRC competitors weren’t even born yet in 1994, when Baan lost her battle with cancer at the all-too-young age of 55. But our dressage youth—the entire American dressage community, actually—should know who Fiona Baan was, and why that trophy exists. Let’s find out.
Nevada. In 1966 she accepted a secretarial position with the United States Equestrian Team (now USET Foundation) at its Gladstone, NJ, headquarters, and settled with her husband, Leslie, and daughter, Natalie, in nearby Far Hills. The USET soon realized that it had hired “a master at fitting 50
32 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
hours into a 24-hour day,” as one tribute to Baan put it. Before long she was managing programs: dressage, combined driving, and even eventing for a time. Baan also became a nationally and internationally licensed dressage judge as well as a driving judge, and to serve on American Horse Shows Association (now US Equestrian) dressage and driving committees and on American Driving Society committees. It was in her position as USET dressage director that Baan made her greatest contributions to our sport. She served as dressage-team manager or chef d’équipe at a total of six Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games, and Pan American Games from 1976 to 1992. Baan also managed the dressage teams for four Olympic Festivals and two North American Dressage Championships, and she organized the 1991 and 1992 USET Festival of Champions competitions. A crowning moment of Baan’s career came in 1992, when the US Olympic dressage team of Carol Lavell on Gifted, Charlotte Bredahl on Monsieur, Robert Dover on Lectron, and Michael Poulin on Graf George won the bronze medal at the Barcelona Games. It was Team USA’s first Olympic dressage medal in 16 years, since the team bronze in Montreal 1976. The forward-thinking Baan knew that developing and sustaining excellence in American dressage requires providing opportunities to promising youth. She devoted much time and energy to the Advanced Young Riders program, as it was called then, a signature achievement being the securing of the previously hard-to-get German master Conrad Schumacher as the program’s clinician for many years. Baan also was responsible for developing and refining dressage selection criteria for the North American Young Riders Championships, as it was known at the time. And that’s why the Fiona Baan “Pursuit of Excellence” Memorial Trophy was established in 1994, the year Baan died. Baan was inducted into the Ro-
COURTESY OF THE US EQUESTRIAN TEAM FOUNDATION
emer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame in 2008. At the time, one of “her” riders, six-time Olympian Robert Dover (who now holds a position somewhat similar to Baan’s at US Equestrian), remembered her thusly: “Fiona had to deal with all of us self-absorbed, supremely focused athletes, making each of us feel like we and our horses were the most important things in her life; and to a certain degree that was true. For all these years, the USET, and especially dressage, were not a job to Fiona, but most definitely her raison d’être. She is, and will always be, one of the greatest reasons for every bit of success I have ever achieved in my life.” s Podcast Alert
WINNING FORMULA: Fiona Baan’s efforts helped put the US dressage team (from left: Charlotte Bredahl, Robert Dover, Michael Poulin, and Carol Lavell) on the bronze-medal podium at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games
For more on Fiona Baan, check out podcast 164 at usdf.podbean.com.
Lipizzan The Legend in Your Future
photo by FastWinn Photography
photo by John Borys
photo by John Borys
Pluto VI Andorella
Pluto Virtuosa 47
UNITED STATES LIPIZZAN FEDERATION Learn about Lipizzaners & locate a breeder by visiting:
USLipizzan.org • 503-589-3172
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800.434.8445 | rammfence.com USDF CONNECTION • October 2017
Spotlight: International Rescue Horse Registry
Promoting rescued horses for dressage and equestrian sport
escued horses are survivors. Many end up in the care of rescue organizations through no fault of their own and have endured terrible things. Some are former champions that were discarded when they got older. First and foremost, they are wonderful horses that just need a chance to show what wonderful partners they can be.
give rescued horses a place of their own in the world of equine breeds. Our mission is to help promote rescued horses as a worthwhile option for riders of all disciplines as their next equine partner. There are so many athletic horses that are overlooked because they had a bad start in life, but we are starting to see more and more of them in the top sport.
Rescued horses you might know: Thor, a pinto gelding of unknown heritage rescued from a feedlot by owner/rider Amy Sletten (MN), is competing successfully at Second Level dressage. iSoldier (pictured), a former PMU baby owned and ridden by Katherine Jenkins (VA), has competed successfully at Training Level. Redeemed Lace, owned and ridden by April Trimmer (VA), was rescued from a “kill pen” in Pennsylvania, according to Trimmer’s Facebook page. The pinto mare—a former plow horse, Trimmer was told—is now competing successfully at Training Level. All-Breeds awards offered: Top five placings in the adult-amateur, junior/young rider, musical freestyle, open, Para-Dressage Rider of the Year, and Vintage Cup categories. How to participate: Owners must be current IRHR members, and horses must be IRHR-registered. Learn more: patriotfarmllc.com or (757) 876-3272. s
A Celebration of Breeds
A NEW LIFE: The rescued horse iSoldier, owned and ridden by Katherine Jenkins (VA), is now enjoying life as a dressage mount
Horses that have been rescued seem to know it. There is a definite “try” in most rescue horses, almost as if they are proving they are worthy of a good life. The International Rescue Horse Registry: The IRHR came into being from a conversation about how to get more people interested in giving rescued horses a chance as sport horses. The registry was launched in order to
The IRHR gives owners the opportunity to showcase what their horses can do. Many are so excited to have a “breed flag” to ride under and a place for their horses to belong. We know that many adopters need additional help with training their rescued horses, so we keep our fees very low and self-fund the scholarship and portions of the IRHR year-end awards through fund-raisers.
34 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
HIGH TIME PHOTOGRAPHY
he “All-Breeds Connection” column spotlights a USDF All-Breeds awards program participating organization and the breed it represents. Information and photos are furnished by the registries. The USDF does not endorse or promote any breed or registry over another. The USDF All-Breeds awards program is designed to reward the accomplishments of specific breeds in dressage, with recognition offered at the USDF Salute Gala & Annual Awards Banquet, and in the annual yearbook issue of USDF Connection. For eligibility requirements and a list of current participating organizations, visit usdf.org / Awards / All-Breeds.
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The New Breed of Bridle Could your horse benefit from one of the new “anatomical” designs?
COMFORT FIRST: Many dressage bridles have features designed to help horses feel and perform better. This snaffle bridle has crownpiece and noseband padding, and foam padding has been wrapped around the chin strap.
36 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
BY SALLY SILVERMAN
hey are called, variously, “comfort” bridles. Anatomical bridles. Ergonomic bridles. They feature additional padding and ear cutouts, curved lines and extra-wide leather, novel nosebands and unconventional cheekpiece designs. The newest wave of tack innovations, these bridles and associated bridle parts purport to help the horse perform better by relieving pressure on sensitive areas of the face and head. But do these trendy features really make a difference in the horse’s comfort—and if so, how do they work? Can an anatomical bridle revolutionize your dressage training and boost your show scores? Are they even competition-legal? We spoke with a veterinarian, a trainer, and a US Equestrian official to find out.
Anatomically Correct International dressage trainer, coach, and US Equestrian “S” judge Kathy Connelly, Wellington, FL, is a believer in the new wave of bridle designs. After all, she says, “I think it is a given that every rider would like their horse to be comfortable.” But to sort out the options, she recommends that riders “educate themselves to understand the conformation of the horse’s mouth and head.” Let’s take Connelly’s advice and start with an anatomical overview. The horse’s poll contains a confluence of nerves and blood vessels and is the connection to the atlas vertebra, the first cervical vertebra. What the poll doesn’t contain is a lot of natural padding. The ears, with about a dozen muscles that enable them to swivel and move in many directions, are positioned on either side of the poll. Behind the ears is the pressure-sensitive nuchal ligament, which plays a role in supporting the horse’s head. (See “Horse-Health Connection” on page 26 for more on the nuchal ligament and the equine head-neck connection.) The horse’s cheekbones are similarly bony and prominent, again with an abundance of sensitive nerves and minimal natural protection. The trigeminal nerve, which is the main sensory facial nerve, runs to the eyes and the upper and lower jaws and lips. “The one thing we know,” says equine-biomechanics expert and USDF Connection contributing editor Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Diplomate ACVSMR, MRCVS, “is that if the horse is painful, he will be inconsistent and always try to find a way to be more comfortable.” Symptoms of head, poll, or facial pain might include head-tossing, rubbing the face, a head tilt, or other resistance during work, says Clayton, of Mason, MI, who is the professor and Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair emerita at Michigan State Univer-
INNOVATIVE: This anatomical bridle features a widened, padded headpiece that curves around the ears; a “swooped” browband for ear and head comfort; noseband padding; and a removable throatlatch
sity, a past president of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, a member of the US Equestrian Dressage Rules Working Group, and a USDF gold medalist. Anatomical bridles are designed to reduce or eliminate pressure on the sensitive poll, cheekbones, and facial nerves. Sounds great—except that simple physics would suggest that if a design relieves pressure in one place, pressure must increase somewhere else. Take the poll, for instance. “If you take the [bridle] headpiece and move it back six inches,” explains Clayton, “then it is on the vertebrae and you get leverage on the vertebrae and the poll. What makes more sense is to distribute the pressure over a wider area— a shaped headpiece that is fairly wide across the top of the poll, for example, but shaped around the ears.” Because of those prominent, unprotected cheekbones, bridle cheekpieces shaped to avoid exerting direct pressure on those sensitive areas make sense, says Clayton. “Any time the bridle crosses the edge of a bone, that is going to be a higher pressure point.” Another innovation Clayton thinks is worth considering is the array of bridle designs that omit the need for a throatlatch. The purpose of the throatlatch is to prevent the bridle from slipping over the horse’s head, but many riders adjust a conventional throatlatch too loosely to be of practical use, in an effort not to be too tight on the horse’s throat, she says. [ USDF CONNECTION
THROATLATCH ALTERNATIVES: Several anatomical-bridle designs, like the two shown here, eschew a throatlatch in favor of a strap under the jaw. Other features, such as widened crownpieces, cheekpieces angled to avoid sensitive facial areas, “swooped” browbands, and generous padding are designed to enhance horses’ comfort.
As an alternative to a conventional bridle with throatlatch, “I do quite like some of the straps that fit right below the big cheek muscle,” Clayton says. “I think it is in a fairly comfortable place for the horse and can be tight enough to hold the bridle on without strangling the horse.”
Better Mousetraps or the Latest Tack Gimmick? Anecdotal evidence of any given item’s effectiveness abounds in the horse world, but people like Clayton tend to remain skeptical until science backs it up. “From my perspective, there has been very little research” on the newer bridle designs, she says. “The studies
that have been done are very small, individual studies…. We need major research to look at the whole picture.” That said, it’s still tough to argue with someone like Connelly, who has years of experience riding, training, and teaching. “I have seen horses in uncomfortable bridles that change significantly when something comfortable is put on them,” she says. “In some cases, I have seen an instant difference.”
There’s No Substitute for Proper Fit Just as you can’t transform an ill-fitting saddle into perfection with pads alone, no amount of padding will compensate for a bridle that fits poorly or that is adjusted incorrectly.
The “Cushy” Craze: Is More More?
38 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
eeing the modern dressage bridle, which is padded practically everywhere, it’s a wonder horses ever managed to go decently in the plain-strapgoods models of yesteryear. Many of today’s dressage crownpieces, browbands, nosebands, and cavessons are lined with padding of various softness and thickness. It’s a commendable idea, but our experts point out that padding doesn’t automatically equal comfort. “If padding is very dense, it is not nice for the horse,” says equine-biomechanics expert Dr. Hilary Clayton. She does give a thumbs-up to soft padding as long as it’s “shaped to conform to the shape of the horse’s head.” “Something that is being added for comfort should have padding that you can’t feel the bottom of when you squeeze,” says international dressage coach, trainer, and judge Kathy Connelly. “And cleansing is important. A fungus could make it really uncomfortable.” Seeing a need for a way to add padding to existing bridles—for the ultra-sensitive horse, perhaps, or for the budget-conscious owner who can’t spring for a fancy new bridle—Connelly came up empty-handed, so she created her own collection of add-on pads for crownpieces, chin straps, and nosebands. Reflecting their inventor’s preferences, the pads are machine-washable and feature soft terry cloth against the horse’s skin, nonslip rubber on the bridle side, and hypoallergenic filling.
US EQUESTRIAN ILLUSTRATION
DR - DRESSAGE DIVISION
“How people adjust things is a huge variable,” says Clayton. “You can take a lot of equipment that can be perfectly fine if adjusted correctly, crank it down, and it becomes an instrument of torture.” A bridle’s cheekpieces, for example, “are there to hold the bits in place.” Make them too short and they’ll pull up on the horse’s lips and down on his poll, says Clayton, who adds that even the noseband can exert poll pressure if it’s too tight. “I don’t think the front of the nose gets considered enough,” says Connelly. “I have noticed over the years as a trainer, and all my life as a competitor, indentations in front of the nose and in back where the chin is when the bridle comes off.” She likens the feeling of a tight noseband to a severe pinch and reminds riders: “The purpose of the noseband is not to keep the mouth shut but to prevent it from opening too much.” Connelly, for one, appreciates the increased number of options in bridle designs and the attention being paid to horses’ head comfort—attention that in the past was focused mainly on horses’ backs and saddle fit. Now she’d like THE CROWNPIECE STOPS HERE: US Equestrian Rule Book to see retailers take it a step further: “It would be great if illustration shows maximum permitted fore and aft width of dressagebridle crownpieces saddlers would allow people to borrow and try bridles like 3. For Federation Third and Fourth Level tests same as they do with saddles.” crazed in the area of tack and equipment with how you are curbyour chain, only). The Until that happens, Connelly recommends shopping for [curb] going and to improve ridingcavesson to make yournoseband horse an Olymbridles at shows, where the vendor can help you choose an A lip pic star. There arerubber, new designs coming out or less.cover ” strap and leather, or monthly sheepskin for appropriate bridle for your horse and fit it properly. That’s why she recommends that national-level dressage FEI tests ridden at Equestrian nationalRule competitions, And don’t forget the reason most of us use a bridle in 4. the For competitors consult the US Book (online at a plain s first place: the bit. “You can have the most perfectly-fitting described usef.org) regularly: 121.2 gives a However, clear definition of USEF H above“Chapter in DR121.2-.3. for comfort bridle in the world, but if the bit doesn’t fit right, it what is OK to be used in competition and what is not.” USEF Young Adult qualifying and championship class won’t work,” Connelly says. “The excitement starts [for the Dressage Sport Committee] when a manufacturer changes the traditionalbridle defini- is mand Rider championship classes, a double But Is It Legal? tion of the parts of the bridle,” Gorretta says. “For example, USEF Junior qualifying classes and USEF Y Design innovations, fashion trends, and the like keep our classes, some of the ‘comfort’ bridles have a removable throatlatch, sport’s governing bodies busy assessing competition-wor- fororNAJYRC a throatlatchand with USEF a different position. In some casesRider the Junior and Young cham thiness and revising rule books accordingly to permit, ban, FEI [Fédération Equestre Internationale, which makes the 1-B and in Annex A arehas permitted FEI tests. or otherwise regulate what’s allowed down center line. Figure rules for international competition] determinedinthat (That’s why rule books keep getting longer and longer.) the function is the same, so it is OK. Bridles still have to and the USEF Dressage Test for 4-year old horses, a One person who’s no stranger to this cycle is USDF vice conform to the traditional shape and appearance, but the a snaffle is used in FEI tests, a snaffle is r president Lisa Gorretta. A USDF silver medalist and a for- ever, lineswhen are getting a little curvy. ” mer tack-shop owner, Gorretta, of Chagrin Falls, OH, has (The FEI usually leads the way in the writing and revisand Annex A. The crossed (figure-8, Mexican) noseba to keep up to date on the dressage rules in her roles as a ing of rules, Gorretta explains. “While our [US Equestrian] horses and the USEF US Equestrian “R” dressage technical delegate (TD), an FEI 6-year-old rules may not be not exactly like the FEI’s, test we tryfor very4-year hard old ho Level 2 dressage steward, and co-chair (with Kathy Connel- to make what we do nationally simpatico with the FEI.”) 5. Riders competing only in FEI Para-Equestrian tests m ly) of the US Equestrian Dressage Sport Committee, which Gorretta and her Dressage Sport Committee colleagues writes the rules for USEF-licensed/USDF-recognized dres- Riders have observed some extravagant changes in the positioning tests a competing in both FEI Para-Equestrian sage competition. She also conducts the equipment por- of some bridles, so they’ve added an illustration to the Rule plain snaffle bridle at Grades I -IV levels. A double bri tions of continuing-education forums for TDs. Book showing what is acceptable. She explains: “The most “Every few years,” Gorretta says, “something gets all Grade sensitive area is the poll1/14/17 right between the ears.2/1/17 Padding V level. BOD Effective
6. Only those bits listed with Figure 1 and Annex A are a USDF CONNECTION • October 2017 39
of a flash noseband may never be so tightly fixed tha
that goes forward from the ears is fine. Headpieces designed to go further back on the poll are not.” Industry changes have made it somewhat more challenging for officials and competitors to keep abreast of the rules. The FEI has begun to publish what it calls “useful documents” on a regular basis in an effort to avoid continual formal rule changes, according to Gorretta. “Because we try to follow that philosophy, the Dressage Sport Committee passed a provision that added Annex A to the dressage chapter of the Rule Book.” There’s a link on the home page of the USDF website (scroll down and click the USEF Rule Changes button in the Quick Links section), “and we can keep up when the FEI makes these decisions.” The takeaway for competitors: “The basis of the rules follows the FEI, with some modifications; and some things that are permitted by the FEI are not permitted nationally
because they are specifically against other rules in our book. We cannot write a rule for every possible instance.”
Should You Buy a Comfort Bridle? There is no one-size-fits-all bridle solution that will transform every horse into Valegro. Some horses seem to go well in most bridles and bits, while others show remarkable improvement when outfitted in something they really like. For her part, Clayton splits the difference: She rides her own horse in “a plain old-fashioned bridle”—but one that has “a padded headpiece and a nicely padded crank noseband.” She repeats her advice that horse owners educate themselves about equine facial anatomy before making purchase decisions: “If people know the big principles of structure and fit, they can figure much of it out themselves.” Although Gorretta, like Clayton, wants to see more re-
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40 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
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search conducted on the subject, she says she believes that “a lot of the problems that we have with teeth, facial nerves, spinal issues, et cetera, are not totally unrelated to tack.” That said, the old saw “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may apply. If your horse seems perfectly content in his current bit and bridle, you may not see huge benefits with a different design. Get a bridle-fit expert to help you assess your current equipment and to help you navigate the choices if you want to try something new, Gorretta recommends. Of course, some riders turn to anatomical bridles not on a whim but because they’re trying to solve a problem. If that’s the case with your horse, “Know what the problem is, and then do your research,” Gorretta advises. “I do believe these bridles are here to stay,” says Connelly. “They are working. I have seen a lot more comfort.” As an added benefit, Connelly has found that a well-
fitted, appropriately padded ergonomic bridle helps to distribute bit pressure more evenly—a boon for all horses, of course, but especially those whose riders have less-educated hands, she says. “I am grateful as a trainer,” Connelly says, “that so much is going into creating comfortable bridles for horses. Riders are much more conscious to see if their horse is more comfortable, and if a particular bridle helps in the connection and in the partnership. “They do what they do for us, and we owe it to them to do everything we can for them back.” s Sally Silverman has had a lifelong love of and fascination with horses. A freelance writer, she enjoys delving into topics pertinent to equestrians and sharing what she learns with readers.
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Regions 3 7 Top NAJY Dressage Comp
Elite juniors and young riders shine in Saugerties
YOUNG RIDER TEAM MEDALISTS: Bronze: Region 1 (Kaitlyn Lingard, Anna Weniger, Kristin Counterman, Chase Shipka). Gold: Region 3 (Katrina Sadis, Rachel Robinson, Marline Syribeys, Barbara Davis). Silver: Region 2 (Sophia Schults, Jacquelynn Mackie, Callie Jones, Rebekah Mingari).
42 October 2017 â€¢ USDF CONNECTION
N 3, YRC petition
orth America’s top young dressage competitors, along with their peers in the jumping discipline, gathered at a new venue—the HITS on the Hudson show grounds in Saugerties, NY—July 18-23 for the 2017 Adequan®/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC), presented by Gotham North. The NAJYRC is the pinnacle of youth competition on the North American continent in the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) disciplines of dressage, jumping, eventing, para-equestrian dressage, endurance, and reining. Dressage joined the NAYRC, as it was known then (FEI Junior competition was added later), in 1991. Since then, talented young dressage riders have vied to make an NAJYRC team in order to compete for team, individual, and freestyle medals at the only FEI-sanctioned championship held annually on this continent. (See USDF Region 8 director Debra Reinhardt’s “Inside USDF” column on page 4 for insights on the NAJYRC.) A total of 52 juniors (ages 14 to 18) and young riders (ages 16 to 21) from across the US made the trip to Saugerties for the 2017 USDF North American Junior and Young Rider Dressage Championships. The team members were: Region 1 Juniors: Kayla Kadlubek/Freewill, Allison Nemeth/Dafoe, Amanda McAuliffe/Leuns Veld’s Duco, Claire Hodges/Good Lookin Region 1 Young Riders: Kristin Counterman/Three Times, Chase Shipka/Zigal, Anna Weniger/Don Derrick, Kaitlyn Lingard/Valentino Region 2 Juniors: Isabel Linder/Elvis, Meredith Talley/ Romeo, Missy McGinn/Solitaire, Abby Boswell/Merlin Region 2 Young Riders: Rebekah Mingari/Allure S, Callie Jones/Don Philippo, Sophia Schults/Farley 4, Jacquelynn Mackie/Weltrubin 5 Region 3 Juniors: Caroline Garren/Bell Angelo, Juliet Hess/Diano, Jordan Lockwood/Wonderboy, Morgan-Bailey Horan/August Rush Region 3 Young Riders: Barbara Davis/Fiderhit OLD, Marline Syribeys/Hollywood, Katrina Sadis/Zepelim, Rachel Robinson/Indira Region 4 Juniors: Tillie Jones/Apachi, Mackenzie Peer/ Macu, Bianca Schmidt/Cenna Region 4 Young Riders: Jenna Upchurch/Greystoke, Codi Harrison/Katholt’s Bossco Region 5 Juniors: Emma Asher/Traneenggaards Akondo, Emily Karls/Neptune NF Region 6 Juniors: Molly Akers/Enya WS, Cameron Wyman/Thys, Mallih Ataee/Sir Pegasus, Jessica Beck/ Wotan [ USDF CONNECTION
JUNIOR TEAM MEDALISTS: Podium, from left: Bronze: Region 4 (Bianca Schmidt, Mackenzie Peer, Tillie Jones). Gold: Region 7 (Ben Ebeling, Ava Dingley, Aleyna Dunn, Christian Simonson). Silver: Region 1 (Kayla Kadlubek, Allison Nemeth, Amanda McAuliffe, Claire Hodges). Standing: Gotthilf Riexinger, president of the ground jury; Murray Kessler, US Equestrian president; Kathie Robertson, USDF Education Department manager; Deven Vespi, Adequan® representative; Michael Osinski, judge at C.
Young Rider Team Gold: Region 3 Barbara Davis/Fiderhit OLD................................. 73.921 Marline Syribeys/Hollywood............................... 68.921 Katrina Sadis/Zepelim......................................... 66.842 Rachel Robinson/Indira....................................... 65.289 TOTAL............................................................... 209.684 Silver: Region 2 Callie Jones/Don Philippo................................... 68.079 Sophia Schults/Farley 4....................................... 67.105 Rebekah Mingari/Allure S................................... 66.789 Jacquelynn Mackie/Weltrubin 5.......................... 60.974 TOTAL............................................................... 201.973 Bronze: Region 1 Chase Shipka/Zigal............................................. 69.921 Kristin Counterman/Three Times......................... 66.000 Anna Weniger/Don Derrick................................. 62.263 Kaitlyn Lingard/Valentino................................... 61.553 TOTAL............................................................... 198.184
Junior Team Gold: Region 7 Aleyna Dunn/Bivera............................................ 68.973 Christian Simonson/Herzkonig........................... 68.892 Benjamin Ebeling/Behlinger................................ 68.162 Ava Dingley/Furst von der Heide......................... 67.027 TOTAL............................................................... 206.027 Silver: Region 1 Allison Nemeth/Dafoe........................................ 67.541 Kayla Kadlubek/Freewill...................................... 67.135 Amanda McAuliffe/Leuns Velds Duco................. 66.405 Claire Hodges/Good Lookin................................ 61.081 TOTAL............................................................... 201.081 Bronze: Region 4 Tillie Jones/Apachi.............................................. 68.189 Mackenzie Peer/Macu......................................... 65.216 Bianca Schmidt/Cenna........................................ 64.216 TOTAL............................................................... 197.621
Young Rider Individual Gold Barbara Davis/Fiderhit OLD................................. 71.816 Silver Chase Shipka/Zigal............................................. 71.526 Bronze Rebekah Mingari/Allure S................................... 68.789
Junior Individual Gold Aleyna Dunn/Bivera............................................ 71.237 Silver Christian Simonson/Herzkonig........................... 70.921 Bronze Tillie Jones/Apachi.............................................. 70.789
Young Rider Freestyle Gold Chase Shipka/Zigal............................................. 74.650 Silver Lauren Asher/Hønnerups Event.......................... 70.950 Bronze Marline Syribeys/Hollywood............................... 70.325
Junior Freestyle Gold Tillie Jones/Apachi.............................................. 73.950 Silver Aleyna Dunn/Bivera............................................ 73.450 Bronze Isabel Linder/Elvis.............................................. 72.500.
44 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
DOUBLE GOLD: Region 3’s Barbara “Bebe” Davis won Young Rider Team and Individual gold medals aboard Fiderhit OLD
THREE COLORS OF MEDALS: Chase Shipka and Zigal of Region 1 won YR Team bronze, YR Individual silver, and YR Freestyle gold
Region 6 Young Riders: Sarah Lane/Dutch Treat Region 7 Juniors: Christian Simonson/Herzkonig, Ben Ebeling/Behlinger, Aleyna Dunn/Bivera, Ava Dingley/Fürst von der Heide Region 7 Young Riders: Lauren Asher/Hønnerups Event, Nila Venkat/Skyler Ace Region 8 Juniors: Gemma Starn/Laudabilis Osvaldo, Isabel Ullman/Finally, Leah Tenney/Adel K, Lara ErdogusBrady/Stenkaergards Mr. Swing King
Region 8 Young Riders: Emily Smith/Dublin, Molly O’Brien/Jubilant, Regan Salm/Karat EG, Isabelle Thompson/Denzel BC Region 9 Young Riders: Abigail Fleischli/Laguna, Bronwyn Cordiak/Dschingis Blue. Congratulations to all of this year’s talented juniors and young riders on representing the USA at the NAJYRC! The USDF salutes your accomplishments. [
Shipka Awarded Fiona Baan Trophy
ESI PHOTOGRAPHY/FEI; ESI PHOTOGRAPHY/US EQUESTRIAN
egion 1 young rider Chase Shipka, Marshall, VA, and her twelve-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Zigal, were awarded this year’s Fiona Baan “Pursuit of Excellence” Memorial Trophy at the NAJYRC. This trophy, which is on permanent display in the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame in Lexington, KY, is awarded to the competitor who earns the highest combined average score in the FEI Young Rider Team, Individual, and Freestyle dressage tests. Shipka placed second in the Team and Individual tests, and won gold in the YR Freestyle with a score of 74.650 percent. The trophy is named in memory of Fiona Baan, who for nearly 30 years worked with tireless dedication for the United States Equestrian Team (now the USET Foundation). She was the US dressage team leader for the 1976 Olympic bronze-medal team, the 1987 Pan American Games team, and the 1992 Olympic bronzemedal team. Learn more about Baan’s contributions to dressage in this issue’s “Historical Connection: American Dressage Legends” article on page 32.
TOP YOUNG RIDER: Region 1’s Chase Shipka (podium, center) receives the Fiona Baan “Pursuit of Excellence” Memorial Trophy from (standing, from left) US Equestrian’s Hannah Niebielski and USDF FEI Jr/YR Committee chair Roberta Williams
JUNIOR TEAM GOLD MEDALISTS: Region 7’s Ben Ebeling, Ava Dingley, Aleyna Dunn, and Christian Simonson
DECORATED JUNIOR: Aleyna Dunn and Bivera of Region 7 took home Junior Team and Individual gold medals and a Junior Freestyle silver
Get Involved PODCAST
Do you, or someone you know, have dreams of competing at the NAJYRC? The 2018 qualifying season is under way. Learn about the process at usdf.org (select Competitions/ Championships/NAJYRC). s
Listen to Chase Shipka, winner of the Fiona Baan “Pursuit of Excellence” Memorial Trophy, on episode 163 at usdf.podbean.com.
Region 3 Chef Sue Bender Receives Albers Award
46 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
TOP CHEF: Region 3 dressage chef d’équipe Sue Bender (second from left) receives the Albers Award from USDF Education Department manager Kathie Robertson, USDF FEI Jr/YR Committee chair Roberta Williams, and US Equestrian’s Hannah Niebielski
ESI PHOTOGRAPHY/FEI; ESI PHOTOGRAPHY/US EQUESTRIAN
ach year at the USDF North American Junior and Young Rider Dressage Championships at the NAJYRC, a dressage chef d’équipe exhibiting outstanding “dedication, enthusiasm, and team spirit” is recognized with the Albers Award perpetual trophy. The award was created in memory of Patsy Albers, who for many years was the Region 1 chef and a dedicated supporter of dressage youth and the NAJYRC. The 2017 recipient is Region 3 chef Sue Bender, of Beech Island, SC. Bender is a longtime dressage volunteer who also currently serves as the USDF’s Region 3 director. “To say that Sue Bender is devoted to her Region 3 teams is an understatement,” said USDF FEI Junior/ Young Rider Committee chair Roberta Williams. “She works tirelessly all year to give the athletes the best NAJYRC competition experience that she can. She never stops advocating for her teams. She truly demonstrates what the Albers Award seeks to reward.”
YOUNG RIDER INDIVIDUAL MEDALISTS: Rebekah Mingari (bronze), Barbara “Bebe” Davis (gold), Chase Shipka (silver)
JUNIOR FREESTYLE MEDALISTS: Isabel Linder (bronze), Tillie Jones (gold), Aleyna Dunn (silver)
ESI PHOTOGRAPHY/US EQUESTRIAN
YOUNG RIDER FREESTYLE MEDALISTS: Marline Syribeys (bronze), Chase Shipka (gold), Lauren Asher (silver). Front row: USDF representative Katherine Robertson, Adequan® representative Deven Vespi, ground-jury president Janet Foy, US Equestrian representative Hannah Niebielski
DRESSAGE STYLE AWARD WINNER: Marline Syribeys of Region 3
JUNIOR INDIVIDUAL MEDALISTS: Tillie Jones (bronze), Aleyna Dunn (gold), Christian Simonson (silver)
Educating Tomorrow’s Sport-Horse Breeders After its successful debut last year, the USDF Youth/Young Adult Dressage Sport Horse Breeders Seminar goes west in 2017
LEARNING FROM THE BEST: The renowned California sport-horse facility DG Bar Ranch was the site of the 2017 seminar
48 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
BY KEVIN REINIG
s members of the USDF Sport Horse Committee, our mission is to promote the development of quality dressage stock in the United States. To support that mission, we strive to promote breeding goals for sport horses and educate dressage enthusiasts as to the desired ideals of a sport horse. A big portion of the committee’s time is spent formulating and making recommendations to USDF regarding the rules, class structure, and qualifying procedures for the USDF Breeders Championship Series and Finals. We also organize educational programs, including the USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum, which demonstrates the training of young horses from starting under saddle to giving them a foundation for training up the levels; and the USDF Sport Horse Seminar, which is the first step to becoming a US Equestrian dressage sport-horse breeding (DSHB) judge. One of our newest educational programs, which is geared to young dressage enthusiasts, is the USDF Youth/ Young Adult Dressage Sport Horse Breeders Seminar. This seminar kicked off in 2016 with a group of young people visiting Hilltop Farm Inc. in Colora, MD, for an in-depth look at life on a breeding farm. This program was so well received that we began to plan a similar seminar out west. DG Bar Ranch in Hanford, CA, supported this idea and was eager to open its barn doors to give us a look in to life on their breeding farm. Willy Arts, a member of the USDF sport-horse faculty and one of the presenters at the 2017 USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum, together with the DeGroot family roll up their sleeves every day to manage this family-run operation. The DG Bar Ranch team members are experts in breeding, raising, starting, and training dressage horses. In addition to supplying the many interesting horses we looked at during the July 1-2 seminar, Willy shared his expertise about life on a breeding farm, starting young horses, and training them through the levels. Breeder, trainer, and US Equestrian “S” dressage judge and “R” DSHB judge Melissa Creswick’s role in the seminar was to talk about conformation and movement. Melissa has earned her USDF bronze, silver, and gold medals on horses she bred and trained herself. As for me, I am a member of the USDF Sport Horse Committee and the sport-horse faculty as an in-hand instructor. My role in the seminar was to talk about and demonstrate the handling of young horses, both daily and in preparation for showing in hand. Many of the seminar participants came from the West Coast, but we had some from as far away as Maine and
one from Canada. After introductions, we moved to the arena to jump right in with evaluating conformation and movement. DG Bar presented a collection of young horses ranging in age from two to 10 and including warmbloods, a Friesian, and an Andalusian cross. We even looked at a young horse with a jumping pedigree and were able to make some comparisons between dressage and jumping types. The horses were presented first in hand and later at liberty, with all of the presenters giving opinions and feedback on the horses. The participants were very interactive in the process and posed some excellent questions and observations. After lunch I gave a handling demonstration, and we continued our conformation and movement presentation by watching the horses from the morning session under saddle. The day ended with a question-and-answer session, a tour of the DeGroot Family Dairy, and a pizza party sponsored by the California Dressage Society. Day two started off in the breeding barn, where we reviewed some stallion, mare, and foal management practices as well as breeding and foaling procedures. The DG Bar experts collected a stallion, and everyone was able to look at the semen under the microscope. Then we returned to the arena, where we evaluated several pairs of mares and foals and discussed their breeding. We talked about the challenges of evaluating young stock, and I have to say the participants had developed a keen eye for evaluating these young horses. The participants were then split into teams to evaluate the conformation and movement of four horses: Biementa CL, Ignite DG, and Dalina DG, all owned by DG Bar Ranch; and Kiamenta DG, owned by Judith Nishi. In a follow-up group discussion, Willy challenged everyone—including Melissa and me—to suggest what types of stallions would complement these mares. Willy surprised us in the end when he revealed that Kiamenta DG is out of Biementa CL and Ignite DG is out of Dalina DG. Interestingly, when Willy was asking what stallions would be good choices for the mares, I was thinking that an R-line stallion would complement Dalina DG—and as it turns out, Ignite DG is by Rotspon.
The Foundation of Sport-Horse Breeding We gave a lot of information over the weekend and looked at many interesting horses, but the activity in which the team evaluated the group of four mares really brought together the focus of this seminar. The underlying theme is to focus on temperament and trainability in one’s breeding program USDF CONNECTION
PROMISING FUTURES: Seminar participants pose with clinicians Willy Arts (third from left), Melissa Creswick (seventh from left), and Kevin Reinig (right)
because, without those two elements, it is difficult for anything you produce to move forward. This focus was obvious in all the horses we looked at. Melissa, Willy, and I were thrilled with the turnout for the seminar and had a great time collaborating. The response from the participants was positive. I learned a lot and would jump at the chance to do something like this again. s
Kevin Reinig is a member of the USDF Sport Horse Committee and USDFâ€™s sport-horse faculty, and he is the current president of the California Dressage Society. He worked his way through high school and college on a breeding farm. He and his wife, Ericka, operate their dressage breeding and training business, KEFA Performance Horses, out of Starr Vaughn Equestrian in Elk Grove, CA.
Shop the USDF Online Store
usdf.org/store 50 October 2017 â€˘ USDF CONNECTION
Gear for dressage enthusiasts and show season essentials.
USDF Jr/YR CLINIC SERIES For information on the USDF Jr/YR Clinic series and to view the fall clinic schedule, visit
www.usdf.org funding support provided by
Clinics are taught by top U.S. riders including George Williams, Charlotte Bredahl-Baker, and Anne Gribbons.
USDF Youth Outreach Clinic held in conjunction with the USDF Jr/YR Clinic
The USDF Youth Outreach Clinics are a new educational opportunity for our “grassroots” youth riders. The goal of these clinics is to introduce those USDF youth members who are dedicated dressage riders, but who have not yet entered the realm of FEI level competition, or currently do not have an FEI level horse, to the USDF “youth pipeline” and the opportunities it offers.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org YOUR CONNECTION TO DRESSAGE EDUCATION • COMPETITION • ACHIEVEMENT
Meet the Candidates t the 2017 Adequan®/USDF National Convention in Lexington, KY, in December, the USDF Board of Governors will elect three members of the USDF Executive Board: Administrative Council at-large director, Activities Council at-large director, and Technical Council at-large director. Kevin Bradbury, the incumbent Administrative Council ALD, is running for reelection, as is Activities Council ALD Susan Mandas. Technical Council ALD Carolyn VandenBerg is preparing to step down at the end of this year, and the USDF is grateful for her service. Three candidates are running to fill that Executive Board seat: Jayne Ayers, Debbie Bowman, and Sue McKeown. Like all organizations, USDF needs committed leadership in order to enjoy continued growth and thoughtful direction. The USDF Executive Board functions as a cohesive team and strives to further the organization’s mission and goals. For the 2017 election cycle, the USDF Nominating Committee asked each candidate to submit a brief biography and to answer the following questions: 1. Why do you wish to run for the position of (Administrative, Activities, Technical) Council at-large director? 2. If elected, what do you wish to accomplish? 3. With so many diverse committees within your council, how will you support and represent each committee chair on the Executive Board? 4. How has your involvement in local, regional, and national USDF activities promoted and enhanced dressage both regionally and nationally? The candidates’ biographies and responses follow. Nominations for At-Large Directors are put forth only by the committees within their respective council and are not accepted from the floor of the BOG.
52 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
Administrative Council Incumbent: Kevin Bradbury
Kevin began riding horses at a young age, and he rode and competed through college. He combined his interest in horses with his software-development and databasedesign knowledge, and in 1995 he began managing horse shows using a system he developed. He managed his first recognized show in 2001 and has continued to expand the number of shows he manages, including several Great American/USDF Regional Championships. He also manages the technology for the US Dressage Finals. In the equestrian industry, Kevin has blended his unique knowledge of technology and horses to bring innovation to the horse-show world. Responses to questions: I am the current at-large director from the Administrative Council and a member of the Membership Committee and the Competition Management Committee. I feel my strong background as a show manager and secretary has enabled me to make positive contributions to the USDF Executive Board. I see the fundamental role of the at-large director as one of an advocate for the committees, increasing communication both among the committees and among the committees and the Executive Board. I feel the committees can
COURTESY OF KEVIN BRADBURY
Get to know who’s running for USDF Executive Board office
provide useful input in a guidance role, helping focus on the strategic direction in which the organization wants to move. I also feel there should be more joint projects, as there is often overlap among the committees as well as common interests. The group can be more effective when it works together. I would also like to use my background in working with diverse groups to encourage membership involvement in USDF governance. I feel one of the most important aspects of this role is to increase membership involvement, and I would like to work on including more people so they can assist in shaping the future of the USDF.
sharing of ideas among the committees on my council and between these committees and the Executive Board. 3. With equal respect and consideration to the mission and goals of each committee. 4. I have been involved at the local, regional, and national levels as a trainer, competitor, coach, and judge for more than 40 years. I have conducted many USDF continuingeducation programs and benefited from attending many USDF symposiums and Trainers Conferences. I am proud to have been a part of the emphasis that USDF places on education and rewarding accomplishment, which I feel has grown and improved the sport of dressage.
COURTESY OF SUE MANDAS; COURTESY OF JAYNE AYERS
Incumbent: Sue Mandas
Having been blessed with the world’s best parents (My dad was an “S” dressage judge), I began riding as a child—saddle seat, then hunter/jumper, then eventing before focusing on dressage. I have been involved in the sport of dressage for more than 48 years (not old, just started very young!) as a competitor, trainer, instructor, and judge. I have earned my USDF bronze, silver, and gold medals as well as my silver and gold freestyle bars, all on horses I have trained. My first Grand Prix horse I also bred. I have been champion or reserve at every level from Second through Grand Prix at Regionals—including some before they were Regionals—and made the US Equestrian Team long list twice. I became a judge in 1991 and am currently an “S” dressage judge and a “R” dressage sporthorse breeding (DSHB) judge. I have been a member of the USDF Sport Horse Committee for many years and attended my first convention in 1978 in Milwaukee. I currently live in Centerville, OH, where I ride, train, and teach. I enjoy traveling around the country judging and teaching clinics. I cannot imagine a life without horses! Responses to questions: 1. As I first joined USDF when it was created in 1973, I have very much enjoyed learning more about and being involved in USDF governance. 2. I hope to continue to facilitate communication and the
Technical Council Candidate: Jayne Ayers
I have been actively involved with USDF for more than 40 years, serving on the Executive Board in the 1970s, first as treasurer, then secretary. As an active competitor, I earned Horse of the Year awards at many levels and coached students who did the same. Over the years, I have been involved in many key projects: co-developer of the weekend workshops for instructors (pilot for the current Instructor/Trainer Program), original faculty member of the L Program, first chair of the Sport Horse Committee, and member of numerous ad hoc planning committees and standing committees. In addition, I served on the US Equestrian Federation Dressage Committee for more than 25 years, chairing and then co-chairing the committee from 2008 to 2016. In addition to my volunteer work, I have owned a dressage stable for 40 years, actively teaching and training, as well as breeding Westfalen horses. I judge nationally and internationally as a 4* FEI judge and a US Equestrian “R” DSHB judge, and train judges at all levels for both. Though never involved in horse activities, my husband has supported all this since the start. We have managed to raise two delightful children, and now enjoy grandchildren, too. [ USDF CONNECTION
Responses to questions: 1. US Equestrian (formerly the US Equestrian Federation) is making major changes to how it operates. Much of its traditional role in dressage, such as the training of judges and technical delates, writing the tests, and evaluating competitions, will probably be reassigned to USDF. Greater USDF input on rule changes may also be sought. This restructuring offers an enormous opportunity to improve our sport and provide balanced input from all stakeholders. The process also has many pitfalls. I would like to use my experience with both US Equestrian and USDF to help guide this transition. 2. In Executive Board matters, I want to ensure that the voices of all members are heard clearly and given weight in decision-making. Our programs should focus on supporting pathways to success for all members, from beginners on up. We need to recognize the many reasons our members join USDF and find ways to best serve the diverse needs of the membership. 3. Through my committee work, I have been closely involved with the concerns of all parties that make up the Technical Council. Also, my years as a professional instructor and involvement with shows as a judge and competitor have given me insight into the ground-level issues with which all parties deal. I know and communicate well with key people from each group. 4. I have been a member of my GMO, the Wisconsin Dressage and Combined Training Association, for decades. To better understand the concerns of members throughout the country, I have also been a longtime member of the California Dressage Society, as well as shorter times with the Northern Ohio Dressage Association, the Midwest Dressage Association, and the New England Dressage Association. I believe I understand how dressage works on many levels through these clubs. I have been involved in too many activities to list at the club and national levels, both as a volunteer and as a professional. I hope my years of service have helped strengthen and improve the sport at all levels, from the grass roots to international competition. Candidate: Debbie Bowman My formal training began in 1973 in England as a working student for Jennie Loriston-Clarke, where I gained considerable experience riding, teaching, competing, and managing breeding stock. Jennieâ€™s unwavering passion and dedica-
54 October 2017 â€˘ USDF CONNECTION
tion to the care and training of her horses instilled a strong work ethic and high standards. In 1975 I moved to Germany and worked for two years before beginning a three-year apprenticeship with Karin Schlueter. Upon completion, I became the first American-licensed German FN Bereiter. I then apprenticed with the late Reitmeister Herbert Rehbein, who was truly inspirational. Returning, I produced competition horses, many of which became national champions, including most notably Falstaff. Together, Falstaff and I were selected as alternates for the 1984 Olympic Games, and the following year we won the team gold medal at the North American Championships. We were short-listed for the 1986 World Championships (now known as the World Equestrian Games) when Falstaff was sold. Since 1986 I have continued to train dressage horses and riders full-time. I became involved with the USDF Instructor/Trainer Program in 1991 and have been active as a certification examiner ever since. I chaired the USDF Junior and Young Rider Program from 1995 to 1997, and also graduated from the USDF L program with distinction in 1998. For almost five decades, I have dedicated my life to developing the next generation of knowledgeable, sensitive, and educated riders and trainers who will carry on the traditions of classical dressage. Responses to questions: 1. I am running for the position of ALD for the Technical Council to be better able to help direct the sport of dressage in the US. Together, the members of the Executive Board embrace the concerns and challenges facing the many committees and their program implementation. 2. If elected, I hope to promote continued prioritization of valuing classical and humane guidelines for the training and showing of dressage horses. 3. By reaching out and engaging with the chairs of each committee in the Technical Council, I would be able to get a clear understanding of their suggestions and concerns for current and future development of programs and present them to the Executive Board. 4. Having been an instructor-certification examiner since 1991, I have contributed to the development of the programâ€™s guidelines and curriculum. I have conducted nu-
merous instructor workshops and exams nationwide. As a former member of the USET, I have participated as a demo rider in many national symposia. Candidate: Sue McKeown
When I was in my twenties, I set three long-term goals for my life. One was to be in a good and happy personal relationship; one was to do well at my job; and the third was to earn my USDF gold medal in dressage. I found a wonderful man in my husband, Brian. I spent 30 years at the same company and retired as director of services at Hewlett Packard. And when I earned my gold medal, I realized that I had only reached a plateau in my relationship with dressage and that the more I learned, the more I wanted to get more involved with the entire dressage community. So I became a horse-show secretary and now am secretary to more than 15 shows a year in the New England area as well as assistant secretary at the US Dressage Finals. I became a USDF GMO delegate and a participating-member delegate, then served on the Competition Management Committee, which I now chair. I have been put on the USEF Competitions Working Group of the US Equestrian Dressage Sport Committee. Now I am putting myself forward and asking you to elect me as the Technical Council at-large director so that I can continue to serve the dressage community that has given me so much joy.
Responses to questions: 1. I want to help and be part of the future direction of dressage in the United States. I would do that by representing the committees that are part of the Technical Council on the Executive Board, and also by bringing my varied expertise in management and strategic planning to the board. 2. I would like to continue to see more shows across the US be well managed, and to bring the ideas and practices of one area to the visibility of other areas. This would include focusing on meeting the needs of competitors, officials, show management, and the USDF and US Equestrian. 3. Listening to and understanding each committee’s issues would be key. I would attend as many of their conference calls and meetings as possible, and discuss with the chair any specific concerns they would want taken to the other councils and the Executive Board. I would also want to be known as a person whom any USDF member could contact with questions or concerns. I would respond promptly and ensure that issues were raised to the appropriate forum. 4. I have managed and/or been secretary for more than 100 recognized dressage shows in the New England area as well as in Virginia. As chair of the USDF Competition Management Committee, I have organized and helped teach training sessions at USDF conventions. I have volunteered at many schooling shows in our region to encourage growth in dressage, starting from the lowest levels. s
COURTESY OF SUE MCKEOWN
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This annual online stallion guide is released by the United States Dressage Federation for the dressage community. The guide is available both through the USDF website and the USDF app. This guide contains interactive links to give you all the information you need to make a favorable breeding decision. Whether interested in breeding, or looking for a breeder with offspring already on the ground, this is a great way to learn more about dressage breeders throughout North America.
The Hottest Bloodlines in Rio
Trending Stallions in the Sport Horse Arena: USDFBC Statistics
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USDF CALENDAR To make sure we provide our members with the most up-todate deadlines and events, the USDF Calendar has moved online.
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USEF licensed/USDF recognized competitions Breeders’ Championships Regional Championships USDF sponsored events USDF University accredited programs All the important deadlines and dates you might need
58 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
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Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation
ARENA FOOTING AND CONSTRUCTION
NEW TRAINING SERIES: What Other Disciplines Can Teach Dressage Riders Basics of Freestyle Creation
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the tail end
Horse people are…different, as we're sometimes reminded when we go out in public By Karen Abbattista
f normal is defined by the company you keep, then I’m in serious trouble. I share my home with two giant dogs, a calico cat, and a free-roaming sulcata tortoise named Socrates (or So-Crates if you are a fan of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure). Socrates currently sports a bright orange feeding tube, a result of surgery to remove an obstruction from his cloaca (look
hens mysterious disappeared. The fox’s defense? They tasted, well, like chicken. I live in an equestrian community, so my neighbors see nothing strange about my living arrangements. Most of my time is spent with horse people, whom I suspect are just as crazy as I am, but in various stages of denial. If you are lucky enough to have money, you can use the term eccentric, but
HORSE CRAZY: The writer and a friend
it up on your smartphone) that cost me a quarter of my annual income. Outside, there are four barn cats, two miniature horses, eight full-size horses, and an ornery goat named Shadow. There is one lonely rooster, who used to be king of his flock until a fox came through and all of the
I’m not in that tax bracket. I’m thinking about all of this as I sit in the lobby of an upscale animal clinic located at least 25 miles from the nearest barn. It’s not easy to find a veterinary surgeon board-certified in exotics, even in a circus town like my hometown of Sarasota, FL. Socrates,
60 October 2017 • USDF CONNECTION
Karen Abbattista is a dressage trainer and instructor in Sarasota, FL. She is a USDF bronze and silver medalist, a USDF bronze and silver freestyle-bar recipient, and a graduate with distinction of the USDF L program. Her website is karenabbattistadressage.com.
A Long Way from Normal
wrapped in a bright blue beach towel, is perched on my lap. He is staring intently at a large flat-screen TV, tuned to HGTV. We are here for his post-op appointment. To my left and trying hard not to look at me is an immaculately dressed woman carrying a small fluffy dog in a designer handbag that perfectly matches her outfit. She smells clean and fresh and floral. Her hair is styled, her makeup is perfect, and her nails are recently manicured. I, on the other hand, smell like sunscreen, sweat, and fly spray. I can’t remember whether I’ve brushed my hair today. As always, it’s pulled back in a messy ponytail accessorized by several random strands of hay. The skin on my hands is dyed green and purple from Kopertox and gentian violet. I don’t have any nails to manicure. Still, by my standards, I’m relatively clean. I’m dressed in a oncewhite t-shirt bearing the name of an equine-transport company. There are carrot-slobber stains on one shoulder and unidentified stains on the front. The pockets of my riding pants bulge with horse treats. I have on two different size shoes, a result of being stepped on not once but twice by a twelve-hundred-pound gelding, which left me with a couple of broken toes. The swelling has already gone down dramatically, so I’m hoping this is just a temporary wardrobe malfunction. “Ms. Abbattista?” The receptionist steps out from behind her desk and motions for me to follow her. I stand up, lift Socrates, and catch the eye of the designer lady with the designer dog. ”I have horses,” I say by way of explanation for my appearance. She smiles and nods knowingly. By horse standards, I’m perfectly OK. s
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