September/October 2019 USDF Connection

Page 1

Christine Traurig: The USDF Connection Interview

September/October 2019

Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation

YOUTH ISSUE How to Bring Kids Into Dressage (p. 36) Competition Cost Containment for GMOs (p. 28)

Youth Dressage Festival competitor Bronwyn Jalee Pilato

Lebanon Junction, KY Permit # 559



© 2019 IEA Dressage Finale. Photo by Winslow Photography

You provide the kid; We provide the horse. (Now, that’s teamwork.) Sometimes team sports involve both 2-legged and 4-legged athletes. Yes, the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) has kids in grades 4-12 who ride Dressage (and Hunt Seat and Western) in a draw-based format. Nearly 14,000 of them on 1,550 teams in 46 states. Give your child a leg up without having to own a horse.





OSPHOS® (clodronate injection) Bisphosphonate For use in horses only. Brief Summary (For Full Prescribing Information, see package insert) CAUTION: Federal (USA) law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. DESCRIPTION: Clodronate disodium is a non-amino, chlorocontaining bisphosphonate. Chemically, clodronate disodium is (dichloromethylene) diphosphonic acid disodium salt and is manufactured from the tetrahydrate form. INDICATION: For the control of clinical signs associated with navicular syndrome in horses. CONTRAINDICATIONS: Horses with hypersensitivity to clodronate disodium should not receive OSPHOS.

controls the clinical signs associated with

NAVICULAR SYNDROME Easily Administered via intramuscular injection

Well Tolerated* in clinical trials

Proven Efficacy* at 6 months post treatment

No Reconstitution Required

Learn more online

WARNINGS: Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. HUMAN WARNINGS: Not for human use. Keep this and all drugs out of the reach of children. Consult a physician in case of accidental human exposure. PRECAUTIONS: As a class, bisphosphonates may be associated with gastrointestinal and renal toxicity. Sensitivity to drug associated adverse reactions varies with the individual patient. Renal and gastrointestinal adverse reactions may be associated with plasma concentrations of the drug. Bisphosphonates are excreted by the kidney; therefore, conditions causing renal impairment may increase plasma bisphosphonate concentrations resulting in an increased risk for adverse reactions. Concurrent administration of other potentially nephrotoxic drugs should be approached with caution and renal function should be monitored. Use of bisphosphonates in patients with conditions or diseases affecting renal function is not recommended. Administration of bisphosphonates has been associated with abdominal pain (colic), discomfort, and agitation in horses. Clinical signs usually occur shortly after drug administration and may be associated with alterations in intestinal motility. In horses treated with OSPHOS these clinical signs usually began within 2 hours of treatment. Horses should be monitored for at least 2 hours following administration of OSPHOS. Bisphosphonates affect plasma concentrations of some minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, immediately post-treatment, with effects lasting up to several hours. Caution should be used when administering bisphosphonates to horses with conditions affecting mineral or electrolyte homeostasis (e.g. hyperkalemic periodic paralysis, hypocalcemia, etc.). The safe use of OSPHOS has not been evaluated in horses less than 4 years of age. The effect of bisphosphonates on the skeleton of growing horses has not been studied; however, bisphosphonates inhibit osteoclast activity which impacts bone turnover and may affect bone growth. Bisphosphonates should not be used in pregnant or lactating mares, or mares intended for breeding. The safe use of OSPHOS has not been evaluated in breeding horses or pregnant or lactating mares. Bisphosphonates are incorporated into the bone matrix, from where they are gradually released over periods of months to years. The extent of bisphosphonate incorporation into adult bone, and hence, the amount available for release back into the systemic circulation, is directly related to the total dose and duration of bisphosphonate use. Bisphosphonates have been shown to cause fetal developmental abnormalities in laboratory animals. The uptake of bisphosphonates into fetal bone may be greater than into maternal bone creating a possible risk for skeletal or other abnormalities in the fetus. Many drugs, including bisphosphonates, may be excreted in milk and may be absorbed by nursing animals. Increased bone fragility has been observed in animals treated with bisphosphonates at high doses or for long periods of time. Bisphosphonates inhibit bone resorption and decrease bone turnover which may lead to an inability to repair micro damage within the bone. In humans, atypical femur fractures have been reported in patients on long term bisphosphonate therapy; however, a causal relationship has not been established. ADVERSE REACTIONS: The most common adverse reactions reported in the field study were clinical signs of discomfort or nervousness, colic and/or pawing. Other signs reported were lip licking, yawning, head shaking, injection site swelling, and hives/pruritus.

As with all drugs, side effects may occur. In field studies, the most common side effects reported were signs of discomfort or nervousness, colic, and/or pawing. OSPHOS should not be used in pregnant or lactating mares, or mares intended for breeding. Use of OSPHOS in patients with conditions affecting renal function or mineral or electrolyte homeostasis is not recommended. Refer to the prescribing information for complete details or visit or call 866.933.2472.

CAUTION: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of licensed veterinarian. * Freedom of Information Summary, Original New Animal Drug Application, NADA 141-427, for OSPHOS. April 28, 2014. Dechra Veterinary Products US and the Dechra D logo are registered trademarks of Dechra Pharmaceuticals PLC. © 2016 Dechra Ltd.

Distributed by: Dechra Veterinary Products 7015 College Boulevard, Suite 525 Overland Park, KS 66211 866-933-2472 © 2016 Dechra Ltd. OSPHOS is a registered trademark of Dechra Ltd. All rights reserved. NADA 141-427, Approved by FDA


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

An official property of the United States Dressage Federation

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

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

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

USDF OFFICERS AND EXECUTIVE BOARD PRESIDENT LISA GORRETTA 19 Daisy Lane, Chagrin Falls, OH 44022 (216) 406-5475 • VICE PRESIDENT TERRY WILSON 2535 Fordyce Road, Ojai, CA 93023 (805) 890-7399 • SECRETARY MARGARET FREEMAN 200 Aurora Lane, Tryon, NC 28782 (828) 859-6723 • TREASURER LORRAINE MUSSELMAN 7538 NC 39 Hwy, Zebulon, NC 27497 (919) 218-6802 •

EDUCATION “Know Thy Test”

Helpful and fun ways riders of any level can work towards earning their “PhD” in their dressage tests.

COMPETITION “Why I Love the US Dressage Finals - Nora Batchelder & Faro SQF – Region 3!” Batchelder used the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® as a springboard to the Lima 2019 Pan American Games.


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


“Young Dreams”

Four young riders embark on the trip of a lifetime to the CHIO Aachen World Equestrian Festival in Germany thanks to the TDF Young Rider International Dream Program.

COMMUNITY “What is Dressage?”

A trainer endeavors to describe the beauty that is dressage.

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

ACTIVITIES COUNCIL SUE MANDAS 9508 Bridlewood Trail, Dayton, OH 45458 (937) 272-9068 • ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL KEVIN BRADBURY PO Box 248, Dexter, MI 48130 (734) 426-2111 • TECHNICAL COUNCIL SUE MCKEOWN 6 Whitehaven Lane, Worcester, MA 01609 (508) 459-9209 • USDF Connection is published bimonthly by the United States Dressage Federation, 4051 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511. Phone: 859/971-2277. Fax: 859/971-7722. E-mail:, Web site: USDF members receive USDF Connection as a membership benefit, paid by membership dues. Copyright © 2019 USDF. All rights reserved. USDF reserves the right to refuse any advertising or copy that is deemed unsuitable for USDF and its policies. Excluding advertisements, all photos with mounted riders must have safety head gear or USEF-approved competition hat. USDF assumes no responsibility for the claims made in advertisements. Statements of fact and opinion are those of the experts consulted and authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or the policy of USDF. The publishers reserve the right to reject any advertising deemed unsuitable for USDF, as well as the right to reject or edit any manuscripts received for publication. USDF assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. All materials must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Questions about your subscription or change in address? Contact USDF Membership Department, 859/971-2277, or POSTMASTER: SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO: USDF, 4051 IRON WORKS PARKWAY, LEXINGTON, KY 40511. Canadian Agreement No. 1741527. Canada return address: Station A, P.O. Box 54, Windsor, Ontario N9A 6J5.

2 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

USDF Connection

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 Volume 21, Number 3



4 Inside USDF

GMOs: The Foundation

By Cindi Rose Wylie

6 Ringside

If We Build It, Youth Will Come

By Jennifer O. Bryant

Departments 20 Clinic

Preserve Your Young Horse’s Precious Mouth

By Gerhard Politz

28 GMO


Keeping a Lid on Competition Costs

By Penny Hawes

34 Free Rein


Youth Outreach

What is our sport doing to attract the next generation of enthusiasts?

By Amber Heintzberger

Too Many Horse People Are Living Dangerously

By Jean Kraus

58 Tack Shop

Don’t Sweat It

64 My Dressage


Insult to Injury

By Sandi Zarzycki

Young at Heart

When some riders get to the FEI levels, they never want to go back to training babies. Not Olympian Christine Traurig, who’s had a lifelong soft spot for young horses.

By Patti Schofler


Meet the Candidates

Get to know who’s running for USDF Executive Board office

Basics 8 Sponsor Spotlight 9 Collection 60 Rider’s Market 62 USDF Connection Submission Guidelines

On Our Cover Bronwyn Jalee Pilato, Catskill, New York, rides Lisa Herman’s six-year-old Appaloosa gelding, Wishbone, at the 2019 Youth Dressage Festival in Saugerties, New York. Story, p. 36. Photo by

62 USDF Office Contact Directory 63 Advertising Index

USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


Inside USDF GMOs: The Foundation USDF’s affiliated organizations are the all-important base of our sport. Here’s why you should be a GMO member.


’ve been a member of my USDF group-member organization (GMO) since my late teens. I had taken up dressage at the local riding school after being inspired by the vision of horse and rider half-passing gracefully across the ring. I took lessons, made friends, and ventured to my first shows. Through showing, I met more people and made more friends. I joined my GMO’s adult team and competed at Gladstone, New Jersey. The following year, the GMO needed an organizer for that team. My involvement kept growing. I found myself on a committee, went to GMO meetings, prepared budgets, and rallied troops. I found myself organizing camps and clinics, and became the club’s education coordinator. When the USDF announced its rider-medal program, I had a new goal. My Thoroughbred and I scraped our way up the levels and earned our medals—bronze, silver, and gold. My GMO friends told me to attend the USDF convention to receive my medals in person. That convention led to my involvement with the USDF on a national level. My story—which is certainly not unique—demonstrates the importance of the relationship between the GMOs and the USDF. GMOs are a pipeline for members, volunteers, and programs. These organizations reach dressage enthusiasts on a local and personal level. It’s fun to share the journey alongside people who share a passion for dressage. The USDF GMO Committee is made up of representatives from each of the nine USDF regions. Every one

of us has extensive GMO experience. There’s much diversity in our backgrounds and experience, but one thing we all share is a passion for horses and dressage. We have big GMOs and smaller ones. There are brand-new GMOs, and there are clubs—known as charter GMOs—that have held GMO status with the USDF since the organization’s founding. The GMO Committee’s mission is “to accelerate the growth and development of GMOs to broaden and strengthen the dressage community, and to increase access to education.” That may sound simple on paper, but there’s a wealth of people and programs behind it. What brings this diverse group together is our desire to help the GMOs grow and retain membership through communication, education, and programs. Our committee has many tools to help the GMOs. For example, the GMO Guide (on the USDF website) contains forms and documents that clubs need to get established and to maintain their membership rosters, marketing and advertising materials, lists of membership benefits, and

4 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

a handbook. The handbook, which is currently being updated, has information on many topics, from creating bylaws to possible GMO activities. After recent strategic planning, as a response to GMOs’ requests for more attractive benefits for their members, three great new programs emerged. All three require GMO membership in order to participate, and all should be helpful even to smaller GMOs with limited resources. The three programs are the USDF Prepackaged Lecture series, the USDF GMO Education Initiative, and—newest—the USDF Regional Schooling Show Awards program. Of the committee’s tasks, the most important is our efforts to improve the channels of communication between GMOs and USDF as well as amongst the GMOs themselves. The GMO Presidents Listserv and the GMO Officials Facebook group are valuable sources of information and communication among both GMOs and the USDF. At the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention, the GMO Committee runs the popular GMO Roundtable discussion sessions, with a different slate of topics addressed each year. Running a GMO is not always the easiest job, as we know. But through the efforts of this committee, we can help! So if you find your GMO “in need” or would like to learn more about the benefits for your club and its members, please reach out to any GMO Committee member. We love hearing from you directly, and if we don’t have an answer to what’s plaguing you, we may know someone who does!


By Cindi Rose Wylie, Chair, USDF Group Member Organizations Committee


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Ringside If We Build It, Youth Will Come Successful initiatives offer clues for attracting more kids to dressage

IN THE NEXT ISSUE • Flapless, treeless, trendy, traditional: Have the rules of saddle fitting changed? • Pan American Games, FEI North American Youth Championships dressage coverage • Holiday gift guide

and trail riding and mounted games, and we did fun stuff like playing “around the world” while riding bareback, and trying to vault onto some tolerant school horse’s back from the ground like they do in the movies, and hacking around in just a halter and lead rope. As a driven kid who pushed myself to do well (I was the type who would be upset for days if I did poorly on a test or had a bad riding lesson), I’m thankful in hindsight that I had friends at the barn my own age to have fun with, and that there were moments of pure fun with horses to balance out the quest for achievement. In fact, as Amber discovered while researching her story (“Youth Outreach,” page 36), opportunities for friendship and fun can make it or break it when it comes to kids and dressage. Kids want to share experiences with other kids, and peer connections are everything at that age and stage of life. There’s a lot of pressure on kids today, academic and otherwise; although it’s great to see a youngster getting serious about dressage, maybe “serious” isn’t the way to hook them. Around the country there are

6 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

programs that seem to have found the youth sweet spot: rigorous enough to be challenging, grounded in good horsemanship so as to provide the necessary fundamentals for future equine endeavors, and liberally seasoned with opportunities for camaraderie and fun. If Olympian Lendon Gray’s Dressage4Kids organization had been around when I was a child, I would have eaten it up. Lendon’s Youth Dressage Festival—combining dressage team competition, book learning, equitation, and fun activities—is right in my wheelhouse. I wish I could participate now! And there are others—some USDF group-member organizations (GMOs), some barn programs or individual instructor/trainers—who also have discovered that if you build dressage opportunities for kids (and especially if you can offer nicely trained, kid-sized dressage mounts), kids will come. If your GMO, barn, or trainer is doing some successful youth outreach, I’d love to hear about it; drop me a note at This is an area where we need to be sharing success stories and initiatives that may help others to attract young people to dressage, whether they’re crossovers from other equestrian disciplines or new to horses altogether. Steal good ideas—please! The future of dressage may depend on it.

Jennifer O. Bryant, Editor @JenniferOBryant



or this youth issue of USDF Connection, we asked freelance writer Amber Heintzberger to take a fresh look at a well-worn topic: kids and dressage. Specifically, the question of how to attract more young people to our sport. It’s no secret that the core demographic of dressage—of practically all equestrian activities in the US, actually—is the mature woman. The need to introduce “new blood” as participants age out of riding and horse ownership is one that the US horse industry has been grappling with for some time. Dressage being a discipline that at face value may be less appealing to kids than, say, pursuits involving jumping or Western saddles, the issue is particularly front-and-center for our sport. Were you a horse-crazy kid? I was. I was never the daredevil type, but I still preferred my riding with a touch of “yeehaw,” as British dressage superstar Charlotte Dujardin puts it. I liked jumping

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USDF Breeders Championship Series


Collection Bits and Pieces from USDF and the World of Dressage


Remembering Maj. Gen. Jonathan Burton ★ 2022 Fei World Championships Bidders ★ Equine Pain Signals Identified

IN THE FRAME FOGGY MORNING DRESSAGE: Rebecca Bilkslager and the PRE gelding Glorioso seem to emerge from the mist at a show in Pinehurst, North Carolina

USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


Collection OBITUARY

SALUTING A LEGEND: Maj. Gen. Jonathan Burton (center) during his 2007 Roemer Foundation/ USDF Hall of Fame induction ceremony, with then USDF Historical Recognition Committee chair Anne Moss and then USDF president Sam Barish

Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame member Major General Jonathan R. “Jack” Burton (USA, Ret.) died May 29 in Tucson, Arizona. He was 99. Gen. Burton was one of the Army’s noted cavalry officers who went on to pioneer the establishment of civilian equestrian sport in the US after the cavalry became mechanized. A lifelong horse lover, Gen. Burton attended the US Army Cavalry School at Fort Riley, Kansas, after graduating from college. He served in World War II and then returned to Ft. Riley as a cavalry instructor. He went on to serve in the Vietnam War and ended his career as commander of the Third Armored Division, retiring after 33 years in the service with decorations including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Purple Heart. Until the 1950s, only military officers were permitted to compete on Olympic equestrian teams. With

his cavalry training, Gen. Burton was well equipped to compete in any of the three Olympic equestrian disciplines. He rode on the US Army Olympic jumping team in London 1948 and on the eventing team in Stockholm 1956. In horse sport, Gen. Burton will be best remembered for his

contributions to eventing. In 1953 he helped to organize the first continuous horse trials in the US, according to the US Eventing Association (USEA); and he wrote the first US national rule book for that discipline. He served as USEA president and is a member of the USEA Hall of Fame. He also served for 10 years as executive vice president of the US Equestrian Team (now USET Foundation). He was an FEI judge, a technical delegate, and an FEI steward. Gen. Burton’s name may be most easily associated with eventing, but his dressage involvement was also wide-ranging. He helped to establish the FEI North American Young Riders Championships (now the FEI North American Youth Championships) in the early 1980s, and he chaired the USDF Advanced Young Rider Council from 1988 to 1998. He was a board member of The Dressage Foundation until the end of his life. A widely respected dressage judge, he influenced not only the careers of many of the next generation of judges, but also the opinions of dressage enthusiasts at large through his “As I See It” columns in Dressage & CT magazine in the 1980s. His books, How to Ride a Winning Dressage Test (1985) and The Judge’s Guide to Step by Step Improvement (1990), helped legions of riders improve their performances. Burial will be at Arlington (Virginia) National Cemetery later this year.

Online Extra

AIRBORNE: Taking flight aboard Air Mail in Aachen, Germany, in 1949

10 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

Watch the documentary film Major General Jonathan R. Burton: A Life of Equestrian Substance.


Maj. Gen Jonathan R. Burton

COMPETITION US Dressage Riders Compete in Maccabi Games


Four dressage riders were among the approximately 200 US athletes traveling to Budapest, Hungary, to compete in the 2019 European Maccabi Games, July 28-August 7. The Olympic-style event was expected to draw 2,000 Jewish athletes from 29 nations to compete in 22 sports.

REPRESENTING HER COUNTRY: 2019 European Maccabi Games US dressage competitor Connor Giesselman

The Maccabi USA European Games equestrian chair is Sandra Cohen, who was a member of the US open equestrian team at the 2015 European Maccabi Games in Berlin. The head coach (and a 2019 team member) is Rebecca Cord, of West Grove, Pennsylvania. Cord’s 2019 teammates are Leah Marks, of Atlanta, Georgia; Kelly Artz, of Corona, California; and Connor Giesselman, of Ocala, Florida. The dressage competitors will compete for team and individual medals catch-riding horses leased or drawn from a pool.

BEHIND THE SCENES Kevin Sassmannshausen, Equestrian-Center Property Manager Job title: Property manager, Lamplight Equestrian Center, Wayne, Illinois ( What I do: For the most part, I keep the other [grounds workers] on task and on schedule. In the spring, it’s me and three other guys. In the summer, there are around 10. In the spring, most of the work is spring cleanup. As our shows start piling up in the middle of the summer, it’s more keeping the property in shape and keeping everything running, from cutting the grass, to setting up dressage rings, to moving judges’ booths. DOWN TO EARTH: Lamplight Equestrian Center property manager Kevin How I got started: I grew up on Sassmannshausen on the job a hunter/jumper farm right down the street, Kinvarra Farm. I’ve been going to Lamplight ever since I can remember. In 2013 I was asked if I wanted to work on the grounds crew, and it went from there. Best thing about my job: Hearing people’s compliments of how much they liked the property. Worst thing about my job: The end of the year. Having to say goodbye to all the guys until the spring. My horses: I haven’t been on a horse for probably a year, but I own a pony and a 42-year-old horse that’s retired. If I have time later on, I would love to get back into it. Tip: There’s always room for improvement. —Katherine Walcott

FEI Nations Bid to Host 2022 World Championships The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) previously stated its intention to entertain partial-hosting bids for the 2022 world championships in its eight disciplines, as well as bids for FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG), which since 1990 have featured all eight sports in a single host city. In June the FEI announced that 10 countries have bid to host world championships in 2022. Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital city; and Rome submitted bids to host the entire WEG lineup of dressage, jumping, eventing, para-dressage, endurance, driving, vaulting, and reining. The other nations, which submitted partial bids, are Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Slovakia, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. In the US, WestWorld, Scottsdale, Arizona, bid to host the reining and vaulting championships. Herning, Denmark, bid to host the jumping, dressage, and para-dressage championships. The FEI had directed that dressage and para-dressage championships must be held at the same venue. The winning bidder(s) will be announced at the 2019 FEI General Assembly in Moscow in November. USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019




TDF Awards Grants to Show Manager, Judges, Pony Clubber

These Behaviors May Indicate Your Horse Is in Pain

The Dressage Foundation (TDF), Lincoln, Nebraska ( has awarded Kathy Mucha, Roselle, Illinois, a $500 grant from its Lloyd Landkamer Show Management Development Fund. Mucha, a Level 3 show manager and secretary, will use the grant to shadow and train with the show management at the Great American/USDF Region 4 Championships in September. Californians Jaki Hardy, Alexis Martin-Vegue, and Joan Williams; and Pennsylvanians Anne Moss and Danielle Toscano each will receive a grant of $600 from TDF’s Shannon Foundation Fund for Judges’ Licensing. Williams is pursuing her USEF “S” judge’s license; Hardy, Moss, and Toscano are working toward “R” status; and Martin-Vegue is aiming for her ‘r.’ Bath Pony Club and Northern Ohio Dressage Association member Ariel Wyatt, Akron, Ohio, was awarded a $500 grant from TDF’s Trip Harting Fund to attend the USDF L Education Program. Established in memory of Harting, the fund provides financial assistance for a Pony Club rider to attend the USDF L or Instructor/Trainer Program.

Don’t dismiss pinned ears, hurrying, or even a change in expression as “just quirks.” According to study findings presented at the 2019 Saddle Research Trust International Conference, these and other equine behaviors may be indications that a horse is in pain while being ridden.

THE NEAR SIDE PAIN RESPONSE? An open mouth is one of 24 behaviors identified as a potential indicator of pain in the ridden horse

In one of the conference’s keynote presentations, the renowned British equine veterinary researcher Dr. Sue Dyson introduced the ethogram (a catalog of behaviors) of 24 behaviors that are potential indicators of lameness or other musculoskeletal pain. In addition to those mentioned above, opening the mouth, hanging the tongue, tilting the head, head-tossing, unwillingness to go forward, and even crookedness are included in the ethogram. Although more study is needed, the researchers hope to educate riders and trainers as to the many subtle ways that horses express discomfort and pain so that a veterinary consultation, not dismissal or punishment, will be the first thought when a horse exhibits an undesirable behavior.

Read the Journal of Veterinary Behavior abstract summarizing Dr. Sue Dyson’s equine ethogram of behaviors that may indicate pain in the ridden horse.

12 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION


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Collection USDF BULLETINS Check Your Scores

Check your scores at Contact USDF at or at (859) 971-2277 if you notice an error. The 2019 competition year ends September 30. All corrections must be reported by October 15 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

US Dressage Finals

Regional Championship Competitor Survey

USDF wants to hear from you! Please be sure to complete the electronic evaluation form that will be e-mailed to competitors following each Great American/USDF Regional Championship competition.

Deadlines and Reminders

Yearbook Photograph Submissions • October 4: Rider awards • October 25: Year-end awards (first place only) See the USDF photo release form for submission instructions. Year-End Awards September 30 is the deadline for: • Submitting birthdates for Vintage Cup, adult amateur, and junior/young rider awards • Filing Vintage Cup status and verifying adult amateur status • Joining USDF for Breeder of the Year awards • Submitting online Rider Performance Award applications • Submitting online Horse Performance Certificate applications. November 8: Notify USDF by this date if you plan to receive an award at the 2019 USDF Salute Gala & Annual Awards Banquet.

Declare and Nominate Declare. Horse/rider combinations must declare their intention to participate in the 2019 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® by filing a Declaration of Intent form. The deadline to declare is midnight the day prior to the first day of your Great American/USDF Regional Championship competition (including any day of open competition before the start of championship classes). You must declare at the level(s) and eligible division(s) in which you intend to compete. There is no fee to declare. Find the declaration form at

New USDF Regional Schooling Show Awards Program

Nominate. In addition, nomination (preliminary entry) is required for participation in US Dressage Finals classes. The nomination deadline is midnight, 96 hours after the last day of your Regional Championship. Find the nomination form at See page 18 for declaration, nomination, and entry deadlines by region. Find the prize list and other information at

L Program Accepting Faculty Applications

Travel Grants Available US 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. A rider may apply for a grant with each eligible horse entered. Grant requests must be submitted with the entry by checking the grant-request box. See the prize list for details.

This new program, which kicks off December 1, 2019, recognizes USDF group members participating in non-USEF/USDF competitions. The competition year will be December 1-November 30. Four award divisions (open, junior/young rider, adult amateur, and non-professional) will be awarded per region. The competition application and the horse/rider nomination form are now available. The USDF L Education Program is accepting applications for new faculty members. Applicants must meet the following requirements: • USEF “S” judge for two or more years • Experience teaching in a classroom/lecture-style environment • Willing to serve on the L Education Program Committee and to assist in working toward the committee’s goals. Contact the L Program Committee staff liaison at for an application and additional information. Deadline for applications is November 15.

14 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

High-Score Breed Awards The popular high-score breed awards will again be offered at the 2019 US Dressage Finals. Participating breed and performance registries will each award two high-score awards in both the adult-amateur and the open divisions: one for the national levels (Training through Fourth combined) and one for the FEI levels (Prix St. Georges through Grand Prix). To be eligible, declare your horse for the awards when you enter the competition. Learn more at

INTEGRITY Photo: Sharon Packer










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Policies are underwritten by Great American Assurance Company, an authorized insurer in all 50 states and the D.C. ©2015 Great American Insurance Company

Collection OBITUARY

Lisa Weis, Arlington, Washington Lisa Weis is a USDF bronze and silver medalist, a USDF L graduate with distinction, and a USDFcertified instructor at Training and First Levels.

Dorothy Knocke Maxfield Dressage judge, technical delegate, and instructor/trainer Dorothy Knocke Maxfield, 76, died February 17 in Mobile, Alabama. Maxfield was the daughter of USDF founding member, former USDF president and vice president, USDF Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and Eastern States Dressage and Combined Training Association founder Lazelle Knocke. Maxfield grew up on the Knocke family farm, Hobby Horse Hill, in Readington, New Jersey. Maxfield was a USDF gold medalist, an FEI dressage steward, and a lifetime member of the US Pony Clubs. A memorial tribute was held in March at US Equestrian Team Foundation headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey.

LIVING THE DREAM: Weis and friend

How I got started in dressage: I began riding as a young child in Fairbanks, Alaska. As a young adult I attended an equestrian-center course at the Potomac [Maryland] Horse Center, which led me to a lifelong career path with horses. I wanted to become certified because: The program has allowed me the greatest number of opportunities to share my passion for dressage. What I learned during the process: It would take more than one lifetime to achieve riding perfection. My horses: I have two big, beautiful warmbloods: Won Chance, a Hanoverian; and Valentino, a Dutch Warmblood. Training tip: Always wear a helmet—and always follow your dreams. Contact me: or (508) 693-1704. —Alexandria Belton

THE JOY OF DRESSAGE: Maxfield at a show in 2007

Correction Because of a production error, an incorrect photo was published with a news item in the July/August issue (“Collection: Virginia Tech Student Tops 2019 USDF/IDA National Quiz Challenge”). The correct photo appears here.

WELL-SCHOOLED: 2019 USDF/IDA National Quiz Challenge champion Molly Sutton (right) with former IDA president Beth Beukema

16 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION




...making education more accessible


The USDF GMO Education Initiative was created to support new and affordable programs. CONGRATULATIONS to GMOs that received funding support for 2019: Northern Ohio Dressage Association, Arkansas Dressage Society, Grand Valley Dressage Society, Midwest Dressage Association, Central Texas Dressage Society, Pikes Peak Dressage Society, California Dressage Society, Santa Fe Dressage Association, Coastal Empire Dressage Association, Eastern Iowa Dressage and Eventing Association, VADA/NOVA and Chehalem Mountain Chapter of Oregon Dressage Society. The following programs are being offered as part of the USDF GMO Education Initiative:

Clinic with Axel Steiner

Rider Biomechanics with Mary Mahler

Clinic with Sandra Hotz

Adult Camp and Ride-a-Test with Kari McClain

Symposium with Laura Graves

ODS Trainers Symposium with Catherine Haddad Staller

Central Vermont Dressage Association September 14-15, 2019

Boulder Valley Dressage September 15, 2019

Tucson Dressage Club September 28–29, 2019

Tri-State Dressage Society September 29, 2019

Gold Coast Dressage Association October 5-6, 2019

Oregon Dressage Society October 18–19, 2019

For more information about these and other GMO Education Initiative opportunities, visit


featuring $100,000 in prize money $50,000 in US Dressage Finals Travel Grant Funds Available To help alleviate some of the financial burden for those traveling the greatest distances to the US Dressage Finals, USDF is making up to $50,000 in travel grant funds available to eligible competitors.

FOLLOW THE ACTION ON VIP Packages and Hospitality Options are available. Visit for more information.

FOUR IMPORTANT STEPS AND DEADLINES 1. Declare – Complete a Declaration of Intent for each level and division for which the horse/ rider combination may qualify.

2. Qualify at one of the Great American/USDF Regional Championships. 3. Nominate – Nomination is required for participation in US Dressage Finals classes, whether qualifying through placing in a Regional Championship class or by Wild Card Eligibility. The Nomination (preliminary entry) deadline is midnight, 96 hours after the last championship day of your Regional Championship. The Nomination fee paid will be applied to the total amount due at Closing Date. Nominated entries that do not receive an invitation will receive a full refund of nomination fees paid minus the $10 processing fee per nominated class. Priority for all stabling requests (including stabling in heated Alltech Barn and for double stalls) will be based on the date of receipt of the completed entry and allotted Alltech stalls per region. To maintain priority consideration, a completed entry must be received within five days after the nomination deadline.

4. Enter – Entry Opening Date is September 11, 2019. Entry Closing Date is October 21, 2019 midnight Eastern Time.

US Dressage Finals Deadlines Regional Championship




Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Thursday, October 10, 2019


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Thursday, September 19, 2019


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday, October 17, 2019


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Thursday, October 3, 2019


Wednesday September 18, 2019

Thursday, September 26, 2019


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Thursday, September 26, 2019


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Thursday, September 26, 2019


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Thursday, September 26, 2019


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Thursday, October 10, 2019

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

Entry Closing Date is October 21, 2019 midnight Eastern Time Deadline for Alltech stabling priority is five days after the nomination deadline for each region. See Official Prize List for more information.

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

Clinic Preserve Your Young Horse’s Precious Mouth A young horse’s early experiences set the stage for his entire career. Get him off to a good start by introducing contact the bitless way: with a lungeing cavesson. By Gerhard Politz


he introduction to the bit can become one of a young horse’s most traumatic experiences. Consider: As he eats, a horse uses his tongue and lips dexterously to spit out anything he finds unpalatable, from certain herbs and grasses to inedible matter. Now, for the first time in his life, he cannot eject that most foreign object in his mouth, the bit.

never learn to accept the contact honestly. When these issues become confirmed habits, they are difficult or even impossible to correct. Because it is in our interest as dressage riders to preserve the natural sensitivity of the horse’s mouth, we must educate it with the utmost kindness and care. Don’t we all wish for a horse that feels good in the

Prerequisites Before you start this training process, your young horse should be halter-broke. He should have good stable manners, and you should be able to lead him safely to a corral or pasture and back to the barn. I like to examine the young horse’s mouth before any training begins. I check the interdental space (the toothless place where the bit goes) to see whether the bars are smooth. I am not concerned with canine teeth, as they usually don’t come through until a horse is four or five years old and generally don’t interfere with the bit. I do, however, want to ensure that there aren’t any wolf teeth, which can develop from an early age in both colts and fillies. Not every horse has wolf teeth, but because they erupt close to the first molar, they do interfere with the bit, often causing discomfort, sometimes to the point of major resistance. For that reason, any wolf teeth need to be removed.

HUMANE INTRODUCTION: Lungeing cavesson allows the young horse to learn about contact without mouth pressure from a bit. Photo shows proper fit, with line attached to the top ring.

It isn’t hard to imagine how scary it is for the young horse, then, when a line is attached to the bit and he is asked to lunge. Small wonder that horses can develop a variety of tongue problems to avoid the painful pressure of the bit and the pulling on the line, and that some

hands and happily accepts the contact? How can we give our horses the best start on this journey and actually make the bit palatable for them? In this article, I’ll explain the methods I’ve used in more than 50 years of training that have produced welleducated horses with good mouths.

20 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

During the early schooling stages, I don’t want the horse to be too energetic because most of the training is done at a walk or jog. I make sure that the young horse gets adequate turnout every day before his lesson. The activity helps to relax him so he is more likely to focus during our session. When he returns to his stall, he is allowed some time to drink and to munch on a bit of hay. When I put the young horse in the cross-ties for grooming, I begin with his head and neck and then exchange the halter for a lungeing


Introducing the Lungeing Cavesson

cavesson, clipping the cross-ties onto the front side rings. As I continue grooming, he can get used to the feel of this new piece of tack. I adjust the cavesson high enough that it is well clear of the sensitive cartilage of the nasal bone, but at least half an inch below the facial crest to avoid rubs (see photo on the facing page). I tighten it snugly enough to prevent slippage while still allowing mobility of the lower jaw. I ensure that eye strap is tight enough that the cheek pieces cannot slide close to the eyes; this helps to stabilize the cavesson on the horse’s head. The browband can usually remain unless the horse has such a wide forehead that it pulls the cavesson’s headpiece against his ears, in which case I remove it.

In-Hand Basics When I am sure that the horse is comfortable wearing the cavesson, the next step is to familiarize him with its function as well as with voice commands and the expected responses. Your voice is one of the most important natural aids in the training process. It is crucial at this stage because it is the foundation for everything else the horse learns as he progresses. The important voice commands are “walk,” “trot,” “canter,” “halt,” and “ho-ho.” I make a point of using only these words and no other unnecessary ones. In my opinion, it is essential to keep verbal commands uncluttered because doing so makes it easier for the horse to learn to interpret them. This same principle applies when lungeing the horse later on. The tone of my voice communicates to the horse how I want him to respond. I use a sharper tone and sometimes a cluck for up transitions, and a lower tone and long, drawn-out vowels to ask for down transitions. I say “halt” when I want him to stop, and I’ll repeat “ho-ho” when I want him to slow down within the gait. I have found that these clear methods establish excellent rapport with the USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


horse and make him obedient to my voice so that strong aids with the lunge line are hardly ever needed. Usually I begin with a very easy introduction of this work in the barn aisle so that the horse is not distracted by outside influences. First, with a lead rope or lunge line clipped to the center ring of the lungeing cavesson, I walk him out of the cross-ties, saying “Walk on” and clucking with my tongue. Next, I moderately shake or tug the line and apply tension on the cavesson, saying “Haaalt.” When the horse stops, I immediately release all tension and wait until he indicates submission by softly chewing or by licking his lips. I praise him verbally while kneading his mane at the withers, which mimics horses’ mutualgrooming behavior (see photo below). I repeat the go/stop lesson until I feel that the horse trusts me and is completely relaxed and totally obedient.

ily reach all parts of the horse’s body. It is helpful to introduce the whip at the end of the grooming session when he’s still in the cross-ties. For safety reasons, I unfasten the crossties and clip a lead rope to the center ring of the cavesson. I position myself along the horse’s near shoulder facing his hindquarters; by doing so, I block his view of the whip. Using my knuckles, I begin softly massaging areas along his shoulder, back, and belly. As I vary the intensity of the rubs, I surreptitiously use the handle of the whip while continuing the action. I observe the horse for any signs of nervousness while reassuring him in a low-toned voice as I knead his crest and withers. I may also reward him with a piece of sugar now and again. Horses love sugar cubes, and I always use them as a reward. They dissolve easily, promote chewing on the bit and salivation, and are less messy than other treats.

MUTUAL GROOMING: Gently scratching and kneading a horse’s wither area rewards him by mimicking this relaxing herd activity

Introducing the Whip If I haven’t done so earlier, now is the time to desensitize the young horse to the whip, as I may need it for the next lesson. I select a whip that is about four feet long so that I can eas-

If the horse remains relaxed, I lengthen the whip carefully, a few inches at a time, while stepping slowly a bit sideways from his body so that he is able to see the whip. All the while I continue the massaging action with the whip on his skin. Us-

22 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

ing this technique, I gradually work all over his body wherever he will tolerate it. If he becomes anxious when I get to a certain area, I back off so that he stays relaxed. At some point, I hold the whip by its handle and rub and touch the horse while allowing him as much sight of the whip as is prudent. Much patience and time is necessary so that the horse accepts the touch of the whip all over his body without getting scared. Some horses may require several sessions to lose their fear of the whip and accept it as an aid. Keep in mind that everything taught on the horse’s near side must be repeated on his off side. The next lesson in the barn aisle is a continuance of the first. I walk the horse out of the cross-ties with the lunge line clipped to the center ring of the lungeing cavesson and begin by confirming the walk/ halt lesson. Then I ask him to trot from the walk. If necessary, I make encouraging clicking sounds and perhaps touch him gently with the whip. I prefer to keep the trot subdued—more like a jog. After about half a dozen steps, I ask him to walk as I shake the lunge line. I make many repetitions, always ensuring that the horse responds as expected. When he does as I ask, I back off instantly with my aids and reward him lavishly by kneading his mane and withers and sometimes treating him with a piece of sugar. Occasionally a horse will become headstrong and decide to ignore the halt command completely. If that happens, I have to teach him a lesson he won’t forget. I pull strongly on the line a couple of times while emphasizing my voice command, and I may also back him up. He has to learn that it can be unpleasant if he is not obedient. He will soon give me the expected response when I shake the line softly. Because he is wearing the cavesson, I do not hurt his mouth when I correct him. The lessons in the barn aisle and the desensitizing to the whip usually



take about a week. When I’m dealing with a nervous and suspicious horse, I take him out several times a day until he becomes trusting, relaxed, and obedient. During all this basic work, the horse wears only the lungeing cavesson. I believe that it is less stressful for the horse to accept one unfamiliar piece of equipment first before introducing him to an even more intimidating one: the bridle.

The First Bridle I prefer a snaffle bridle with a drop noseband. The drop has the advantage of allowing good mobility of the lower jaw, thus encouraging the horse to chew on the bit, which promotes the flow of saliva. The drop noseband must be adjusted correctly so that it clears the flare of the false nostril and does not press on the cartilage of the nasal bone. I tighten it such that I can slip two fingers between the noseband and the nasal bone, as shown in the photo at right.

As for the bit, I prefer a loose-ring snaffle that is no thinner than 16 mm, either single- or double-jointed. The bit must be wide enough to protrude about half an inch on either side of the horse’s mouth. Occasionally a horse will do better in a Mullenmouth bit, which has an unjointed mouthpiece with a slight curve. Even though all of these bits are quite mild, horses can be very inventive in their efforts to avoid the unaccustomed pressure, such as wildly gyrating the tongue or crossing the jaws. Therefore, it is not advisable to allow any leeway for evasions to become habits. For example, if I see the horse rolling up his tongue excessively in an effort to put it above the bit, I raise the bit enough to make that impossible. I may also adjust the noseband. It is important, however, that when the horse begins to show calm acceptance of the bit, any restrictive measures applied in the early stages are alleviated as soon as possible. I also like to give

DROP NOSEBAND: Photo shows correct fit, with noseband adjusted such that it does not press on the nasal bone and with two fingers’ worth of space between the noseband and the nasal bone

the horse a sugar cube or two to help him think more favorably of the bit.

Learning to Lunge When all the preliminary work of familiarizing the horse with the


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LUNGEING 101: After the horse is familiarized with both the lungeing cavesson and the snaffle bridle, he can begin learning to lunge with the line attached to the cavesson. The bridle, with reins removed, is underneath.

equipment has gone well, I have him wear the bridle and the lungeing cavesson together while he’s being groomed (photo, above). He is now ready for the next stage of his basic training: learning to be lunged. Before the schooling session, I supervise the horse during his “free time” in the corral. In addition to the bridle and the lungeing cavesson, he is also tacked up with a lungeing surcingle, which I secure with a breastplate to prevent it from slipping out of position. I don’t want to tighten the surcingle so much that the horse is uncomfortable and starts bucking vigorously. Taking my time and while rewarding him with sugar, I tighten the surcingle gradually, a notch at a time, while making sure that he is not provoked out of his comfort zone. When he is relaxed and accepting the equipment peacefully, I add the side reins. I attach them to the middle ring of the surcingle and then clip them to the top ring by the withers, short enough for safety reasons. They should flop about a little so that the horse can get used to this new stimulus.

24 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

After gently encouraging the tacked-up horse to trot and canter at liberty in the corral, I take him to the round lungeing ring for schooling. I carry a moderately long lunge whip and begin by desensitizing him on both sides in the center of the ring, just as I did when he was in the cross-ties. When he accepts the whip calmly, I lead him along the fence line while pointing the whip toward his shoulder to encourage him to follow the contour of the fence. I confirm the walk-jog-walk-halt lessons that he learned in the barn aisle. As I did in the beginning, I move alongside the horse while keeping a safe distance. Then I halt, change direction with him through the center of the circle, and repeat everything going the opposite way. I make sure that the horse always halts close to the fence and waits for me to approach him. Throughout, I take many opportunities to praise him and occasionally treat him with a sugar cube. All of this work should be very low-key. My aim is to improve communication, relaxation, and trust. When all of this is well established, I move on to the next lesson, a large portion of which is a repetition of all the elements of the first. However, now I use a much longer lunge whip, which allows me to stand in the center of the ring while being able to reach the horse with the lash when needed. Because the longer whip may disconcert the horse at first, I desensitize him to it in the usual way. I begin moving alongside the horse as before


INTRODUCING SIDE REINS: Begin by attaching them to the rings on the side of the lungeing cavesson, not to the bit rings

and gradually increase my distance from him by slowly lengthening the lunge line. I try to give the horse the sense that he is being “framed” by the lunge line in front and the whip following behind him. It may take a while for him to trust these new circumstances. When I see that the horse begins to relax and is attentive to my voice commands, I attach the side reins to the lungeing cavesson. I clip them to the rings on the side (photo, oppposite) and ensure that they are long enough that the horse barely feels the contact and his nose stays well in front of the vertical, as shown in the photo at right. If I’m dealing with a horse that still seems a little nervous, I may attach only the outside side rein to the cavesson, then let him go around a few circles before clipping on the inside one. Because the side reins are positioned along the horse’s shoulders and neck, he may decide to trot on with some animation rather than

SIDE-REIN LENGTH: When starting out, make the side reins long enough that the horse barely feels the contact and his nose stays well in front of the vertical

stay at a jog. This is perfectly normal and I allow it to happen, but I use the “ho-ho” command to calm him while simultaneously wiggling the lunge line. I practice several transitions, including the halt, before

changing direction through the middle of the circle. At this stage of training, the horse will experiment with a variety of neck positions as he tries to find his balance on the circle line. He has

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USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


Clinic plenty of freedom to do so because the side reins do not force him to adopt any particular frame. My main focus is on obtaining a contact via the lunge line to the cavesson while encouraging the horse to adapt to the curvature of the fence. I calmly follow with the whip behind, and I avoid using it unless there is a definite reason to drive the horse forward. I adhere to the same sequence every day. First, the horse gets

turnout in the corral with tack. I allow him some play time so he can let off steam if necessary. If he gets too rambunctious, I calm him down with my voice. In the lunge ring, I recap the previous day’s lesson. If all goes well, I introduce him to the next element within the general concept. On some days I may not add anything new but will simply repeat and improve on the previous lesson. While displaying a calm, confident, and clear demeanor

WHERE DO YOU AND YOUR HORSE RANK? Yo u c o u l d r e c e i v e a n a w a r d !

Don’t Miss These Important Year-end Award Deadlines! September 30, 2019 • Submission deadline for: birthdates for vintage cup; adult amateur and junior/young rider awards • Declaration deadline for vintage cup and verifying adult amateur status • Membership deadline for USDF Breeder of the Year eligibility October 15, 2019 • All corrections must be reported to USDF by 5:00 p.m. ET October 25, 2019 • Photo submission deadline (first place recipients only) for inclusion in the yearbook issue of USDF Connection November 8, 2019 • 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 Visit to find out where you and your horse are ranked.

26 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

toward the horse, I aim to improve overall rapport and relaxation. If I hurry this process or take shortcuts, there will be negative repercussions later in the training. When I feel confident lungeing the horse with the long side reins clipped to the cavesson from the beginning of the session, the time has come to shorten the side reins. Each time the horse is at the halt, I carefully shorten the side reins a few holes so that he is eventually able to find a contact. I make sure that the side reins do not intimidate him so that he tries to back off. The side reins will now begin to achieve their purpose, which is to stabilize the horse’s neck laterally and longitudinally so as to improve his overall balance. My focus is on keeping the horse moving on a correct circle line with the help of the whip while I pivot in the center of the ring. The consistent bending encourages him to stretch toward the contact with the side reins, which causes his top line to open up. Before changing direction, I lengthen the side reins and then repeat the process going the other way. In a few days, I can dispense with the long version of the side reins and begin lungeing with a moderate contact right away. I make sure to frame the horse clearly between the lunge line and the whip while maintaining my pivot in the center of the ring as consistently as possible. I encourage the horse to trot and canter with good energy so that his intent to stretch to the contact becomes quite confirmed. In all downward transitions, I refine my communication with the lunge line by wiggling it while I give the voice commands. The movement on the line transmits subtle messages to the horse’s nasal bone. This will encourage him to yield slightly at the poll while still maintaining an overall open outline.

Finding Balance and Self-Carriage on the Lunge Using the lungeing cavesson as described avoids any jarring or pulling

on the bit because the side reins and the lunge line are attached to the cavesson rings, not to the bit. The horse feels more confident about stretching into the cavesson rather than the unstable and uncomfortable movements of the bit. He will adopt the desirable Dehnungshaltung (a German term with no direct English translation; it denotes stretching forward and down, similar to but not quite as deep as when the horse is allowed to “chew the reins out of the hands,” as in the stretching circle) in a very natural and unforced manner. My lungeing skills must focus on establishing an elastic and consistent contact with the lunge line to the cavesson. This teaches the horse to move on the required circle line provided that I remain pivoting in the center. I also focus on creating good energy with the whip so that the horse’s hind legs push him forward into the connection of the side reins. At this stage, the side reins must be short enough that he can find the contact comfortably, but not so short that they force him into an “advanced” frame.

Graduating to the Bit When the horse is confidently adopting the Dehnungshaltung in all three gaits and making transitions obediently, he is ready to learn about contact to the bit. Every horse needs a different amount of time to reach this stage. Some may need only two weeks, while others require four to six. It is important not to rush or force any part of the process. I warm up the horse by lungeing him in both directions in the usual way, with the side reins attached to the cavesson. Before I attach the side reins to the bit rings, I lengthen them as in the photo on page 25 so that he is not traumatized if he should happen to contact the bit unexpectedly. As I continue lungeing, I assess when he is ready for the side reins to be shortened. I must be very careful not to overdo it, as I may

otherwise destroy the horse’s confidence to stretch and thus invalidate all of the previous schooling. Taking time is important, along with lots of praise while kneading the withers and treating with sugar cubes. When I see that the horse confidently accepts the side-rein contact to the bit, I tack him up with the saddle for lungeing. In several more days, he will be ready to be introduced to a rider. Most horses initially have balance issues caused by the added weight of the rider, and the balance issues inevitably lead to steering problems. To help with this, I have found it useful to ride with two reins. One is attached to the bridle rings and has a more or less passive role. The other rein is clipped to the side rings of the lungeing cavesson and is the primary steering rein until the horse’s balance has improved sufficiently for the bridle reins to take over.

Make Haste, Slowly I readily concede that some of the methods I’ve described may seem a little overcautious. However, they are considerate and kind to the young horse—and most important, they teach him acceptance of the bit in an unthreatening way. An unhurried, levelheaded, and systematic approach is essential in establishing rapport and trust between horse and trainer, and it creates the best foundation for training a future riding horse. I strongly believe that every horse is worth the extra effort.

A native of Germany, Gerhard Politz has called southern California home since 1987. He is a German Master Trainer/Instructor, a British Horse Society Instructor, and a USDF certification examiner. He teaches and trains out of Flintridge Riding Club near Pasadena. His website is

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USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


GMO Keeping a Lid on Competition Costs Many GMOs struggle to host recognized dressage shows in the face of rising costs. Here’s how some clubs do it without going into the red or pricing competitors out of the market. First of two parts.

GMOs choose to host competitions, the art of budgeting, and managing the costs of facility rental. Part 2 will cover the attraction and retention (and potential cost) of volunteers; how to keep competitors happy, entries high, and costs low; and how sponsors can make the difference between a balanced budget and a big loss. We’ll also take a look at the rise in popularity and number of unrecognized (schooling)

LOCATION, LOCATION: A unique and desirable venue can draw competitors—if the price and amenities are right. For many years the Eastern New York Dressage and Combined Training Association hosted the successful Dressage at Saratoga at the historic Saratoga Race Course (pictured: a 2009 competitor), until footing issues prompted the GMO to move the show.

We reached out to GMOs and professional show managers to get their take on how to make that unicorn of a dressage show (one that competitors love and that returns a profit) a reality. No single source had all the answers, but we hope that their suggestions will help fill in some of the blanks your GMO is facing. Because of the scope of the challenges of hosting a licensed show, we’ve broken this article into two parts. In this issue, we’ll cover why

shows, the USDF Regional Schooling Show Awards program debuting this December, and how the surge of schooling shows may affect the future of recognized competitions.

Why Do GMOs Host Recognized Competitions? GMOs tend to put on recognized competitions for one of two reasons: 1) There are few licensed shows in the area, which makes it difficult

28 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

for riders to qualify for the Great American/USDF Regional Championships; or 2) The club hopes to use the revenue to offset costs of programs provided for members. According to Ohio Dressage Society (ODS) board member Kathy Rizzoni, the purpose of the GMO’s shows is to turn a profit. “In theory, the recognized shows fund our club activities, and the schooling shows break even,” Rizzoni says. “The activities the shows help pay for are our annual clinic, at which we normally have a relatively well-known judge or trainer and for which we subsidize the cost of a ride for our members, schooling shows, and our year-end awards program.” The South Carolina Dressage and Combined Training Association (SCDCTA) also hosts a show as a source of income. “It was started to be a revenue-maker to cover the costs of our GMO activities,” says SCDCTA president Marcy Hippey. Krystal Wilt, president of the Eastern New York Dressage and Combined Training Association (ENYDCTA), says that the GMO’s annual recognized show once added significantly to the club’s bottom line. Dressage at Saratoga was a popular CDI held for many years at the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. What these shows and many others across the country have in common is that they were started quite a few years ago, when costs were lower and shows could make a profit. The majority of GMOs we spoke with for this story are now seeing smaller profit margins and are continually trying to find ways to cut expenses without compromising the quality of the competition.



croll down the calendar of US Equestrian-licensed/USDF-recognized dressage competitions and you’ll see USDF group-member organizations (GMOs) hosting shows in every region. If your GMO happens to be one of them, you’re likely aware of the escalating costs of everything, from facility rental to labor. For many, it’s become a serious problem: How can your club keep costs down and still offer a quality event?

By Penny Hawes

Calculating Costs: History, Hurricanes, and Guesstimates Everything from declining entries (which we’ll discuss in part 2 of this series) to bad weather can push precarious financial footing into a free fall. Although most shows create budgets based on previous years’ numbers, unforeseen circumstances can wreak havoc on the best of plans. The SCDCTA held shows on Labor Day weekend for two years in a row—and had hurricanes both years. Deciding not to fight Mother Nature, club officials dropped that show from the GMO’s calendar and started a May show instead. An official from another GMO, who requested anonymity, agrees that drastic changes occasionally are called for. “When we were losing money on both recognized and schooling shows,” the official says, “we identified why— [it was the result of a] deteriorating venue—and moved the shows. We do not have the funds not to at least break even for more than two years in a row. We might also consider canceling the shows completely if the numbers were poor enough.” Kentucky Dressage Association (KDA) vice president Bill Kraatz agrees. “It is very much a Catch-22 for all of us. We had trouble filling our three-ring spring show…in Rolex Stadium [at the Kentucky Horse Park], arguably one of the premier venues in the country. We did fill after drastically cutting late fees and extending the closing date by a week. We still were forced to add a $35 surcharge per horse to help cover costs. So we price people out of the market, as we have to keep a set percentage of net profit to fund our operating, educational, and administrative costs. It’s a real struggle finding the balance.” Although Dressage at Saratoga was once a reliable money-maker for ENYDCTA, times have changed. The show has shrunk in size, and many years the event just breaks even, according to Wilt. Today the GMO budgets for the show in increments of 25

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GMO horses. Projections begin at 75 horses, and GMO officials also calculate the costs for 100 and 125 horses, which is the current average number, she says.

Facilities: The Good, the Bad, and the Expensive One of the topics that garners a lot of attention on the USDF GMO Officials Facebook discussion group is securing, and paying for, a competition facility.

Most GMOs know what’s available in their areas in the way of suitable locations to host a show, but the range of services and costs of an à la carte menu at a facility can range from the sublime to the somewhat scary. “One place I rented—once only— even charged separately for trash cans,” says show manager Connie Davenport, whose California-based Golden State Dressage runs shows throughout that and other Western states. “I was definitely taken aback



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by that. What if I did not order any? Can you imagine what the place would end up looking like?” Even if the facility isn’t nickeland-diming you to that extent, expenses can soar in keeping with the level and quality of the amenities. There may not be any wiggle room, but experienced show organizers recommend asking about the possibility of negotiation. When faced with very high fees at a facility, one midwestern GMO’s show manager (who asked not to be identified for fear of upsetting another GMO that uses the same facility) took action. “I collected [information about] facility fees from as many venues throughout our region as I could lay my hands on. I created a spreadsheet to present to the venue owner, demonstrating that their fees were incredibly high compared to similar or even better facilities. I think that gave us a bit of leverage in getting a reduction in facility fees. They agreed to lower fees for our spring show, which has lower attendance, and to use a sliding scale so that as our attendance rises, so do the facility fees, but not so much as to make it impossible for us to make a profit.” Conversations with GMO officials from around the country indicate that facility fees vary widely. A midwestern show paid about $23,000 and $25,000 to rent the facility for each of its two shows, which drew 109 and 140 horses, respectively. The KDA paid more than $3,000 per day to rent the Kentucky Horse Park’s stadium and surrounding warm-ups for its spring show— and that’s just the cost of the arenas, not of stabling. A southeastern GMO, by contrast, pays just $200 a day for an arena with fiber footing— but the additional costs of renting judges’ boxes, the dressage arena itself, and stalls quickly add up. Some facilities still charge a flat fee, but Davenport notes that “the trend is toward explicit lists of what is available and at what price. There are

smaller venues that charge a blanket fee, usually per day, but the bigger facilities charge per arena, per day.” Even when you find a facility that works perfectly for your GMO, it’s wise to have a backup plan. Wilt says that ENYDCTA has had to move Dressage at Saratoga to a new venue twice over the last several years, and the show has changed dramatically as a result. Dressage at Saratoga “brought in good money, and our members had such pride in the competition that we always had enough volunteers,” she says. The historic, picturesque racetrack venue was unique and a draw unto itself, “and we worked hard to make the show very special.” But the location presented its own challenges, primarily related to the footing in the rings, which were set up on the track itself. The footing was managed not by ENYDCTA but by the racetrack, and over the years the GMO found it increasingly difficult to keep it to the standard required for a major dressage show. Club officials thought their prayers were answered when they were able to move the competition to a private facility immediately adjacent to the track. For a time they achieved the best of both worlds: the charm of stabling at the track combined with the amenities and good footing of the private venue. Then the private facility was sold, and the competition had to move again. Dressage at Saratoga is now held at a venue that works well, according to Wilt, but the property owner also hosts shows there, so the ENYDCTA show has lost some of its uniqueness. The GMO strives to set its event apart with “lots of incredible sponsors; a dedicated volunteer base; and a supportive, welcoming atmosphere. We work hard to make our show special,” says Wilt. While having to move a show might not be ideal, some GMOs would welcome the opportunity to negotiate or to have more than one venue to choose from.

The SCDCTA, for one, finds that it has “no room to negotiate costs, as we use a county-owned facility,” says Hippey. “Luckily we have formed a nice relationship with the facility staff, so they do cut us a break where they can. We are told at every event that we are their absolute favorite group because we are low-key and super cooperative and easy to work with. I think that helps a lot. They throw in a lot of little extras that would normally nickel and dime us to death. For instance, they help with set-up and tear-down, let us borrow their equipment, like golf carts, and let us use their offices and office equipment, wi-fi, and so on.” The GMO representatives we spoke with agree that, regardless of cost, two amenities are must-haves: good footing and (for multi-day shows) safe stabling.

The Value of Networking Whether your club is reworking your entire competition or simply

trying to trim costs, other GMOs can be a great resource. The US Equestrian Rule Book and USDF’s “Show Biz” booklet are useful (even essential), but other GMOs and show managers have a wealth of knowledge that you won’t find in a book. Reach out to other clubs, post questions on the USDF GMO Officials Facebook group page, and be willing to offer advice to other GMOs.

In the next issue: In part 2 of our series, we’ll explore the topics of sponsorships, volunteers (both paid and unpaid), and the future of licensed shows according to GMOs around the country. Penny Hawes is a freelance writer who lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, horses, dogs, and possibly a few too many cats.

USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


DAILY HIGHLIGHTS Wednesday, Dec. 4 Registration Opens Closed Meetings USDF Apprentice Dressage Technical Delegate Clinic with Joyce Hardesty

Thursday, Dec. 5 Committee Chairs & Delegates Orientation Open Region Meetings Judges, L Program, & Freestyle Open Forum Membership Committee & Communications Open Forum USEF/USDF Open Forum: Trending Topics in Sport & USEF Rule Changes Open Committee Meetings US Dressage Finals Open Forum Welcome Reception Featured Education: with Dr. Iris Berdrow

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Why Equine Conformation Matters to the Aspiring FEI Rider Youth Education :

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Featured Education: The Connection Between the Horse’s Body and Mind with Lilo Fore and Kathy Connelly

USEF/USDF Dressage Technical Delegate Clinic & Training Program with Jean Kraus and Camille Kopcik

Featured Education: with Dr. Hilary Clayton

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Free Rein Too Many Horse People Are Living Dangerously Dressage riders are taught all about half-halts and half-passes, but in this technical delegate’s opinion, many are not learning basic equine safety and handling skills


s a US Equestrian dressage technical delegate, part of my responsibility at competitions is to oversee the safety of competitors and the welfare of horses. Observing competitors today, it is increasingly apparent that many do not seem aware of or utilize basic horsemanship skills.

tion no longer appears to be happening consistently. An area of deep concern is the lungeing ring. I watch people connect side reins in the stabling area and lead their horses some distance before they reach the lungeing area. They apparently have no understanding of why this is problematic.

A LEARNED SKILL: To keep horses and handlers safe and happy, learn proper horsemanship practices, including lungeing

Horsemanship is the art of riding, but it also encompasses handling and training skills. Accepted practice has always been to teach people basic equine handling and training skills along with riding skills, as one should not go without the other. Unfortunately, that tradi-

People lunge with stirrups hanging down, allowing the unrestrained irons to bump and crash into the horses’ sides. Asked why, one competitor stated that it was to sensitize the horse to the rider’s legs. If a horse can feel a fly land on his skin, heavy Fillis irons repeatedly slam-

34 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

ming into his sides at speed will only serve to bruise him—and to desensitize him to the leg. Walk for 10 minutes with a stirrup iron bashing into your leg and see if this hurts. Are we trying to hurt the horse and make him sore? Are we too lazy to secure the irons correctly, or is the knowledge of how and why we should do this not being taught? Basic horsemanship calls for the irons to be run up and securely fastened so that they cannot come loose. A loose stirrup can get caught on things, such as a stall-door latch. You are then left to pray that the stirrup-bar safety latch is down so that the stirrup can come off the saddle. A horse can be seriously injured by dangling stirrups. Is it worth the risk? Lungeing without gloves can have serious consequences, and yet this is another common practice. Without gloves, a line can be ripped through and burn the hands of the handler. The horse can get loose, dragging the line until it snares on something. He can become entangled in the line and fall, possibly incurring serious injury. Is it worth the possibility of that happening? Organizing a lunge line is a basic horsemanship skill. Letting it trail on the ground risks getting your foot caught or tangled. How to coil a lunge line is a simple skill that needs to be practiced so that you never let a loop get caught around your hand, your foot, or possibly around the horse’s legs. The most terrifying behavior I have observed is that of the person who does not recognize the importance of being mindful of the “strike zone.” The strike zone is the


By Jean Kraus


distance that a horse can kick out and connect with a human who is close to him. When lungeing, there is a very real period of danger when the horse first moves out away from the handler or is allowed to come in too close. Without a whip in hand, getting the horse to move away or stay out in a safe manner can be very difficult to accomplish. When the horse pops that big buck and his hind legs fly out, I am sure that he was not really aiming for your face, but.... I’ve seen ambulances called for broken jaws, crushed cheekbones and eye sockets, broken arms, and more. The strike zone is very real, and not respecting it can have serious consequences. I see people who assume that horses would never hurt them and treat them like big dogs. Horses are large animals whose vision is very different from ours, whose hearing is much keener, and who are ruled by fright/flight responses. They think very differently from humans. We

must always have a healthy respect for their differences in order to keep them and ourselves safe. There are basic skills that help make us savvy and safe horse handlers. These skills need to be a part of our teaching and training programs. If you are an amateur rider who does not work regularly with an instructor, study safe practices. If you do work with a trainer, request lessons on how to keep both you and your horse safe when lunging and during basic handling. Why risk what could go so wrong? Why put the horse in a situation where he could be hurt and potentially end his dressage career or his life? Why risk getting kicked in the head? Learning and utilizing safe horse-handling practices protect you, your horse, and your fellow competitors. Why live dangerously?

Meet the Columnist


ean Kraus is a professor of equestrian studies at William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri, and the chair of the USDF Technical Delegates Committee. She is an FEI Level 3 chief steward and a US Equestrian “R” dressage TD. She has officiated at many prestigious competitions, including the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina.

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Youth Outreach

What is our sport doing to attract the next generation of enthusiasts? BY AMBER HEINTZBERGER

36 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

H The Spark


COMIC-(DRESSAGE)-CON: Making it fun is essential in bringing youth into dressage. At the 2019 Youth Dressage Festival’s parade of teams, Eastern States Dressage and Combined Training Association riders riff on the Marvel Comics superheroes.

orse-crazy kids are not hard to come by, but when the hunter/jumpers offer lots of prizes, the Western disciplines have that cool cowboy/cowgirl thing going on, and little adrenaline junkies can gallop and jump crosscountry, hooking children on the somewhat esoteric sport of dressage can be a challenge. As the core dressage-enthusiast population ages, we need to bring the next generation into our sport—but how? Sure, we have the FEI North American Youth Championships for elite youth riders, and we have FEI Pony classes for kids on fancy ponies, but the real hurdle may be getting kids on their “backyard” mounts to give dressage a try. USDF Connection wanted to know what’s being done to attract youth to dressage. What we found are some successful initiatives that dressage organizations, facilities, and instructors might want to use as inspiration.

Don’t underestimate the impact that watching a dazzling dressage performance can have on a youngster. Dressage pro Sandy Bussey Turner, of Johns Island, South Carolina, remembers what it’s like to be a kid entranced by dressage for the first time. Turner grew up riding hunters, then evented through Pony Club. In the 1980s her Pony Club district commissioner took a group to watch a US dressage-team selection trial, and Turner was hooked. “I watched horses skip across the diagonal and was like, ‘Holy cow, how do I do that? I want to do that!’” Turner recalls. A similar phenomenon occurs when audiences see Grand Prix Freestyles under the lights or freestyle exhibitions complete with costumes, such as the ones USDF FEI Junior/Young Rider Committee chair Roberta Williams produces for Fantasia, the equine musical spectacular that caps the annual Equine Affaire equine expositions in Ohio and Massachusetts. “Over the years, I have had people tell me how these performances have inspired them to pursue riding,” Williams says, “or that their goal is to ride in Fantasia one day.” Last year, costumed as Dorothy (“complete with Toto in a basket”), Ohio-based CDI competitor Nicole Harrington performed a Wizard of Oz-themed freestyle at Fantasia that was a crowd-pleaser for all ages, attracting fans to a post-show autograph session. USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


“The kids love the opportunity to interact with the performers, and many return the next day to watch their favorite performer perhaps teach a clinic or make a guest appearance at a booth,” Williams says.

Emphasize the Fun Dressage requires patience and dedication to learn a test and perfect the required movements. In a culture that craves instant gratification, our sport emphasizes slow, methodical progress and lots of repetitive (some might say tedious) practice. That doesn’t sound like much fun, especially compared to jumping and cowboy-ing. But some dressage enthusiasts have found that our sport can in fact appeal to young people if they think about it using a child’s perspective. Ninth-grade history teacher and adult-amateur dressage rider Jennifer Koch lives on a small farm in Fogelsville, Pennsylvania, near Allentown. Five or so years ago, her

daughter Ryleigh, then aged about seven, got her first pony, and the family joined the Lehigh Valley Dressage Association (LVDA), a USDF group-member organization (GMO). “There she was, competing against all of the adults,” Koch says of her daughter. “She was riding Intro A and B and had fun getting out there, but of course it’s more fun to get some prizes.” Mom and daughter discovered Olympian Lendon Gray’s Dressage4Kids program, which offers educational and competitive opportunities for kids interested in dressage, and Ryleigh’s dressage interest took off. Through the program the girl was paired with an Andalusian pony, and now FEI Pony classes are a future goal. The D4K program and its many offshoots are so successful, Koch realized, because they are developed specifically to appeal to youth (see “Lendon Gray: The Youth Champion” on page 41). “Once we got involved with Dressage4Kids,” Koch says, “I wondered why we didn’t have something

38 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

like that around here. When I went to an LVDA meeting and suggested it, the initial response was that no kids want to do dressage—but I didn’t think that was true. I thought, ‘Why would they want to join an organization that doesn’t have anything to offer them?’ So I attended board meetings as a member and decided to draft a proposal for a youth program. I said I wanted to do it and would find a way to pay for anything; I just needed their approval.” The LVDA board green-lighted the initiative, which launched in December 2017 with seven youth members. Less than two years in, the club’s youth membership is up to 41. Koch started by organizing an introductory dressage clinic for kids with her own instructor, “who feels very strongly about youth dressage” and so lowered her rates to enable more children to participate. “We charged $25 for this clinic as long as they became youth members” of LVDA, Koch says.


A PLACE FOR KIDS: Now that the Lehigh Valley Dressage Association has a thriving youth program with sponsorship, it’s able to support efforts such as this team at the 2019 Youth Dressage Festival in Saugerties, New York

Want to Reach Youth? Get Social For a subsequent youth clinic with Samantha St. Jacques, Koch found a sponsor who covered the rate reduction. Koch recognized a key issue in the youth-involvement challenge: cost. Many families are trying to pay for various extracurricular activities, not to mention that in some households Mom or another family member may also be active in dressage. The local dressage community has stepped up to support the LVDA’s youth program, Koch says. “Kyrena Parkinson of My Saddle Fitter was first to jump on board and took up our biggest sponsorship level at the time, and she came back this year. I did a youth online auction last year and asked community members for donations of items, and we raised $1,200; this year we raised over $2,500 in our second auction.” And most facilities have donated usage for the youth clinics, Koch says. Another element of the LVDA program’s success, according to Koch, is that the GMO now pins youth classes separately at its five annual schooling shows. “It’s tough for kids to compete against adults who are often on big, fancy horses when a lot of kids are on backyard ponies,” she says. “Why go to a dressage show when a kid can go to a hunter show and ride in a bunch of classes and come home with a bunch of ribbons? Kids like that kind of thing.” About those prizes: Find a way to give some cool stuff if you can. The LVDA “got some awesome prizes” to give with its year-end awards, and “when people saw that on social media, we got some new members, too,” Koch says. The LVDA also hosts youth education meetings, and kids can earn education hours by attending USDF


ost kids today are tech-savvy, and tapping into that world is key to reaching young people, particularly teens. Beautiful photos of dancing dressage horses on Instagram, coupled with trending hashtags, grab attention. Fun and stylish apparel and equipment add a creative element (bring on the bright colors and bling!). Post hashtagged images and videos to popular social-media platforms to reach prospective young dressage enthusiasts where they live. If you nab a cute photo or video of a child riding dressage—or better yet, of a parent and child riding together—run with it. At a recent show at Stable View in Aiken, South Carolina, “there was a five-year-old competing in her first show, at Intro A level with her pony,” says marketing manager Christine Rhodes. “We shared her photo on our social media, and people loved it.” Parents may be intrigued by the idea that riding and showing are activities that they can share with their children. That little girl at the Stable View show is the daughter of an equestrian mom, “and it was a really fun mother-daughter weekend,” Rhodes says, adding: “I think horse showing in general is a family experience; you can’t go to a soccer match and play with your kids like you can all get involved with horses.”

programs. Its youth scholarship program offers credits for fundraising and volunteering so that kids “can build funds for themselves to use for clinics, lessons, and shows. It gives them some help to pay for this very expensive sport,” Koch says.

To Learn to Ride Dressage Well, Kids Need WellTrained Mounts Anyone who has struggled to learn to ride on a stubborn or poorly educated horse can appreciate Sandy Bussey Turner’s position that well-trained ponies would make a huge difference for kids who want to try dressage. “A huge hole that I see is the lack of trained ponies,” says Turner, who operates Mad Kat Dressage with her daughter, Kathryn Butt, an FEIlevel rider and the South Carolina Dressage and Combined Training Association’s (SCDCTA) youth coordinator. “I would love to have at my ready access ponies of all shapes and sizes that you can put children on so they can feel what it’s like to be on the bit, do shoulder-in and leg-yield, and feel what it should feel like to apply the aids correctly and have the

pony react correctly.” At Mad Kat Butt handles the school-horse-training duties, “so when a kid comes to me from Pony Club or hunter/jumpers or a Western background, I have a couple of these ponies at my disposal,” Turner says. “When you put a kid on them and the application of their aids gets a positive result, they enjoy the ride.” Koch, who has two Quarter Horses in her barn that go on the bit easily and are adjustable and responsive to the rider’s seat, concurs. “That first time a kid sits on a dressage horse has to hook them—and that comes down to the right pony.”

The Magic of the Riding School FEI-level dressage competitor and coach Michelle Folden operated Stono River Riding Academy near Charleston, South Carolina, for nearly ten years. She now runs her dressage business out of a small private facility in the same area, and over the years 15 of her students have competed at the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals, our sport’s national equitation championships

USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


for children; last year her students won and took reserve champion there. If a child has never ridden, a riding school is the ideal place to start, says Folden. Her own dressagefocused school offered students an expanding menu of opportunities, with the older kids teaching the younger riders and nicer ponies becoming available for children moving up the levels. “A riding school is great for the kids—and adults, too,” Folden says. “You see a lot of uneducated riding in general, and people have to have horses they can learn on. A lot of the time kids learn a little bit and want to go show, but they’re not ready for it and their mind doesn’t understand the process. If they have more of a schoolmaster, then they

can evolve to the fancier horse and keep upgrading.” Of course, as Turner points out, a child’s dressage education requires access to a capable instructor who is willing to teach kids, which not all trainers want to do. “That has to happen at the grassroots level,” she says. “You have to have instructors willing to work with kids from posting trot on up.”

Make It Fun Getting a child involved in dressage doesn’t mean subjecting her to endless 20-meter circles. Successful youth trainers and programs recognize that kids need variety and fun in their activities. “We got youth involved through summer camps, and parents wanted

40 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

an activity after school,” says Folden. “They might have cotillion on Wednesday, soccer on Saturday, and one day a week they’d ride a horse. And then maybe they would get hooked and want to ride more.” Stono River Riding Academy offered summer and holiday-vacation camps that proved a big draw for kids, Folden says, and her riding school also put on small in-house shows that gave kids the opportunity to ride a simple pattern—not necessarily a whole test—and get feedback. The school’s kid-centric efforts put the emphasis on fun, and the result was an increase in business, Folden says. “I did an advanced camp for kids who wanted to show, and my husband worked with the little kids


YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT: Some dressage pros, like South Carolina-based Michelle Folden, are well known for producing successful youth riders, like Camille Molten (SC) on Wyldwych Bamboozle, the 2018 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 13-and-under champion


Lendon Gray: The Youth Champion who just wanted to play and ride a pony and eat a popsicle. It’s a great way for kids to get involved,” she says. “We also did Christmas camp, Easter camp, and trick-or-treating on horseback on Halloween. Word got out that, if your child hadn’t ridden before, we had fun things for kids to do.” In developing her business model, Folden drew on her own childhood experiences at a dressage riding school in Cincinnati. “My parents would drop me off Saturdays with a packed lunch and leave me all day; we had a lot of kids who did that too…. Kids love the horses but also enjoy the friendships that develop.” Like many other adults who enjoyed the riding-school experience as children or who are familiar with the plethora of riding schools and riding clubs in Europe, Folden “wish[es] we had more of that…. You know, it’s great to go to the World Equestrian Games and see a fancy freestyle and be inspired, but the lesson barns and riding schools are where kids really develop their skills.” As the SCDCTA youth coordinator, Butt organizes a yearly clinic with instructors like Jodie Kelly, Scott Petersen, and this year 2019 US Pan American Games dressage team member Endel Ots. She finds guest speakers and gets “swag” for the kids, and makes the event into a real occasion. “It’s a fun weekend, and we fundraise all year long,” says Turner of the youth clinic. “Kids are very social: We do dinners, Q-and-A’s, essay contests. [Butt] puts a lot of effort into making it special and making it mirror the USDF Junior/Young Rider clinics. She also just implemented a volunteer requirement,


o article about dressage for kids would be complete without a word from the Dressage4Kids founder herself. In our sport, the person who has arguably created the most opportunities for youth-focused dressage education, competition, and fun is Olympian Lendon Gray. Starting with the annual Youth Dressage Festival (which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year), the Dressage4Kids organization ( now offers scholarships, training programs, and the Winter Intensive Training Program in Florida. The Youth Dressage Festival is a unique competition, Gray says. For one, “it’s technically a schooling show, so kids don’t have to be members of various organizations,” which lowers one potential barrier to participation. Unlike most

RINGMASTER: Lendon Gray in the center of the action at the 2019 Youth Dressage Festival

dressage competition, the YDF is team-based. The greatest departure from traditional dressage showing is that, besides the usual dressage test, competitors must also ride in a dressage-equitation class and take a written test of their theoretical knowledge. Even walk-trot riders can participate, and such classes as Prix Caprilli (a dressage test that includes jumps) and a dressage trail class are just plain fun, Gray says. “The Youth Festival has brought kids into dressage because it’s fun, inclusive, and doesn’t heavily favor the fanciest horses,” Gray says. “Like the hunter world, dressage has gotten expensive; you have to have a fancy horse. I hate to say it, but I see dressage going in that direction.” As Gray sees it, “The hardest part of getting new kids in dressage is that there are not many [dressage] facilities for the ‘Mommy, I want riding lessons’ kids. Most barns strongly take them in the hunter direction….I think more kids should be taught [both] dressage and to jump, more like in the European system.” Young dressage enthusiasts often have to deal with a lack of like-minded friends at the barn, as well, Gray says. When she travels to give clinics, “I often ask the kids, ‘How many of you are the only dressage rider in your stable?’, and there are so many of them who are the only one. Kids want to be with their friends, their peers, and that’s hard.”

USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


kids to ride to music. Also, I use a lot of cones to teach geometry, and I have kids walk their tests before riding them. I connect the idea that dressage and jumping are the same but with ‘speed bumps’—jumps—and we also have little ‘competitions’ where I score their tests.”

MORE THAN 20-METER CIRCLES: Youth Dressage Festival competitors can test their prowess at retrieving and depositing objects while on horseback in the trail class, as 2019 rider Penelope Haas of Petersburgh, New York, on Janet Renard’s 21-year-old Clydesdale/ Thoroughbred mare, Java, is doing here

so kids must submit eight hours of volunteering to participate.” Recognizing that prizes are great motivators for kids, Stable View, in Aiken, South Carolina, offers a highpoint award in each ring for juniors, says marketing manager Christine Rhodes. Stable View’s unrecognized Eventing Academy competitions, which earn riders points toward SCDCTA awards, provide a lowstress introductory option for eventers and dressage competitors,

including a dressage test-of-choice class and a 50% entry-fee discount to Pony Clubbers. Some clever instructors get creative to make plain-vanilla dressage schooling more fun for kids. “I use music to teach rhythm and tempo and pace and transitions,” says Jess Hargrave, who puts her master’s degree in early childhood, special education, and international education to use at her Charis Equestrian in Temecula, California. “It’s fun for

USDF’s Youth OFFerings


rom clinics for youth riders and sport-horse handlers to awards for sportsmanship and volunteerism, the USDF oversees a robust slate of offerings for young dressage enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels. Grants and funding are available to help young people participate in the sport of dressage. Learn more at

42 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

The admittedly cerebral sport of dressage tends to attract riders—regardless of age—who are “type A” and detail-oriented, in Koch’s experience. But even the most diligent youngster may lose interest if the element of fun is missing, she says. The formula for success, Koch believes, entails “putting kids on schooled ponies, and then when it’s time to compete, you need to have classes for them to compete in…. [W]e need classes for every kid. When you’re ten years old, it’s the here and now that gets you hooked. I find I lose kids in the fall to softball or other sports, and then they’ll come back to riding, but if you can get them successful and have fun things like team competitions for their age and level, that’s fun, too, and keeps them involved. We need to be creative with a child’s imagination to get them to try it.” Koch says she’s discovered that a lot of kids are in fact interested in dressage; what’s lacking are the opportunities to do it. “We [in the US] don’t have the [numbers of] dressage riders they have in Europe,” she says, “and I think we don’t have the widespread programs to support that development. We have some talented kids in this country who don’t have access to the programs they need to be successful.” One unexpected benefit of the LVDA’s youth program: a surge in


If We Build It…

adult involvement that’s led to some positive life lessons for the kids. “This year,” Koch says, “more parents are offering help and willing to give back. They’re seeing a return on what they’re putting in. Kids have been stepping up to try new jobs, too. Some have been scribes. They’re learning to give back. “The kids are supportive of each other,” Koch continues. “I like to think of them as becoming more rounded individuals. It’s not just about the competitions but building relationships, learning to give back, and the educational component.”

Amber Heintzberger is an awardwinning journalist, photographer, and author of two books, most recently Modern Eventing with Phillip Dutton. She lives with her family outside New York City.

MIXING IT UP: Grady Fleming of Angelica, New York, and Danika clear an obstacle in the Prix Caprilli class (a dressage test with jumps!) at the 2019 Youth Dressage Festival

BECOME A PATRON Support the US Dressage Finals by making a tax deductible gift.


Patron gifts will be recognized in the event program, the yearbook issue of USDF Connection, and receive a commemorative gift of appreciation. Patron levels of giving are: • Platinum $2,500+ • Gold $1,000 - $2,499 • Silver $500 - $999 • Bronze $250 - $499 • Friends < $250 For more information please contact us at

Gifts received after October 15, 2019 will not be recognized in the event program. or (859) 971-7826

USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


Young at Heart When some riders get to the FEI levels, they never want to go back to training babies. Not Olympian Christine Traurig, who’s had a lifelong soft spot for young horses.



GLORY DAY: Christine Traurig and Etienne clinching the bronze medal for Team USA at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games

44 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION


alented young dressage horses make Christine Traurig’s heart skip a beat. “As you ride the young horse’s trot,” she says, “you dream that one day the trot will be collectable, that the horse will develop the engagement for piaffe and passage. Without putting pressure on the horse, you have the vision that creates in you a feeling for the body of the horse. You sense the upper-level ability. It’s so thrilling.” Traurig, 62, knows that ability when she sees it: The 2000 Olympic Games team bronze medalist has trained horses to the highest levels of dressage, and since 2015 she’s been scouting and nurturing tomorrow’s stars as the US Equestrian national dressage young-horse coach. USDF Connection caught up with her as she prepared to leave for the Netherlands to serve as chef d’équipe for Emily Miles on Sole Mio and Daily Show at the 2019 FEI Dressage World Breeding Championship for Young Horses in August.

The Foundation Traurig has worked with young horses for most of her life, and she maintains a strong belief in their place in a dressage trainer’s skill set. “To have the goal of being a Grand Prix rider, a young professional had better be good at riding young horses,” she says. “[German Olympian] Helen Langehanenberg rode young horses for Ingrid Klimke. She took [her future Olympic partner] Damon Hill to the World Breeding Dressage Championships. Look at a fantastic Grand Prix rider like [German Olympian] Dorothee Schneider. She loves to train young horses. In Europe, it all starts with young horses.” That’s where it started for Traurig, who was born Christine Stoever in Nienburg, in the northwestern German state of Lower Saxony. Her father raised Hanoverian horses, crops, pigs, and cows. Her brother and her youngest of two sisters also rode, but Traurig was the one who was passionate about horses. “I would climb on the broodmares right in the middle of the pasture,” she recalls. “I knew very little, but the horses all wanted to be around me. They trusted me. I always wanted to get on them, and they let me. Then I found out you have to somehow create a stop and start and right and left. But I always wanted to be sure the horse trusted me and was comfortable underneath me. I didn’t know about the definition of suppleness and re-

laxation, but I instinctively worked on what suppleness and relaxation meant.” Herr Stoever marketed his three- and four-year-old horses through the German Hanoverian Verband and its elite auctions at Verden. From the age of 13, Traurig helped out at the auctions on her days off from school, grooming, tacking up, and leading the prospects. At 16 she became an auction rider, always under the watchful eye of the director or his assistants. “Everyone rode under supervision,” Traurig says. “The director always told us that when he looks at a horse, he wants to see that it finds pleasure in moving. That has stuck with me to this day. We rode for suppleness, confidence, and pleasure in moving.”

Talent Spotted At one of the auctions, the late German national trainer Holger Schmezer complimented Traurig on how ridable and supple her horses were. “He said they got better when I rode them but that he was not sure I knew how I was doing it. He said, ‘Now you have to learn to go sideways.’ I looked at him, and as an 18-year-old college kid, I thought, Why?” Schmezer took her on in order to teach her “sideways” on a firecracker mare named Lucille. “As he was teaching me shoulder-in, haunches-in, he said, ‘That’s weird. Normally Lucille gets very hot in these exercises, but not with you.’” That was when, Traurig says, she fell in love with training young horses. “You’re nurturing and cultivating raw talent and ability. It is a thrill when you feel how these horses are learning to follow your education system and how they recognize the logic in it, how one thing is based upon another, and how they develop athletically and in their confidence.”

A Life–Changing Meeting The budding dressage star had never considered leaving her homeland when a chance encounter with a famous American rider changed the course of Traurig’s life, both professionally and personally. Watching horses being presented at the 1982 Verden auction, the renowned hunter/jumper rider and trainer Bernie Traurig noticed Christine’s riding. Impressed, he offered her a part-time job at his facility outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, helping to polish the flatwork (as he called it) of the jumpers he’d bought to resell in the US. [ USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


“It was so funny,” Christine Traurig recalls. I said, ‘What is flatwork?’ He said, ‘You know, when you ride them on the bit.’ I said, ‘That is dressage.’” Traurig, who had never before flown on an airplane, took the job. Even as a part-time adventure, the move to the US was a hard one. Traurig loved riding Bernie Traurig’s jumpers to prepare them for sale, but she was homesick until she returned to Germany for three months to ride in the Verden auction. She calls the move “courageous and yet certainly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” Professionally, the partnership proved synergistic. Bernie Traurig’s jumper import and sales business thrived. The pair was instrumental

in establishing the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Team and Federation: After they were introduced to a Saudi rider with Olympic aspirations who was attending university in California, a wealthy cousin stepped in to sponsor his relative’s dreams. The association led to the Traurigs’ coaching of four Saudi jumper riders, three of whom went on to ride on the bronze-medal-winning 2012 Saudi Arabian Olympic jumping team. Together the German and the American began importing dressage horses, as well (Bernie, a multifaceted horseman who nearly made the US Olympic eventing squad before focusing on hunters and jumpers, went on to earn dressage accolades in his own right), and Christine’s

46 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

A Life–Changing Horse The outsized Westfalen gelding Etienne had an outsized impact on Traurig’s career trajectory. The 18.1-hand, then 10-year-old gelding by Ehrentusch was purchased as a US Equestrian Team hopeful for Traurig to ride (she became a US citizen in 1994) by Robert and Colleen Haas, who wanted to express their gratitude to Traurig for her assistance teaching “flatwork” and equitation to their daughter, Elise, one of Bernie Traurig’s hunter/ jumper students. Fellow German expatriate and San Diego-area resident Steffen Peters, along with the Netherlandsbased horse-sales agent Norbert


COACH AND STUDENT: Johann Hinnemann with Traurig after her triumphant performance at the 2000 Olympic Games

connections led them to a partnership with the modern German dressage master and horse dealer Johann Hinnemann, who became— and remains—Christine’s mentor. Among the future North American dressage stars they imported were Orpheus, Jessica Ransehousen’s 1988 Olympic mount; Epernay, the Canadian rider Christilot Boylen’s 1987 Pan American Games team and individual gold-medal partner; and Walzertakt and Lectron, ridden by Robert Dover at the 1990 FEI World Equestrian Games and to a 1992 US Olympic team bronze medal, respectively. The partnership made a leap— both geographically and romantically—in the late 1980s, beginning with the relocation of the business to the greater San Diego area, where both Bernie and Christine still reside today. In 1990 the couple married, and soon thereafter Christine Traurig launched her international dressage competition career.


Gieling, helped to find Etienne, Christine Traurig says. The moment she sat on the huge bay gelding, she knew he was the one. “Luckily, I fell in love quickly because several others were interested,” she says. “His training was inconsistent, but I had great help from Steffen, Guenter [Seidel], and Jo Hinnemann.” Seidel, another German emigrant who settled near sunny San Diego in the 1980s, forged a close professional relationship and friendship with Traurig. For a time their career paths paralleled, with both riders making the US team for the 2000 Sydney Olympics; and for a number of years Seidel and Traurig trained in the same neighborhood, even sharing the same facility, Albert Court Ltd. in tony Rancho Santa Fe, for 15 years. Today, they’re based five minutes apart and keep an eye on each other, Traurig says. Traurig is “super intelligent, with amazing experience and depth of knowledge,” Seidel says admiringly. “She is an excellent teacher with a keen eye. She remembers everything, and she has such a good way of passing that information to her students. She is very unique in that way. You don’t get away with anything, but she’s always fair to the rider and especially to the horse. And she has a good sense of humor and can make you laugh.” In the beginning, Traurig says, her goal with Etienne was to qualify for the US national dressage championships at Gladstone, New Jersey. There, in 1998, they won the Intermediaire I title. When the pair moved up to Grand Prix, they began training in Europe, and their success culminated in a spot on the 2000 US Olympic dressage team. It was in Sydney that Traurig had what she calls the most

COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS: Both German-born, both now based near San Diego, Guenter Seidel and Christine Traurig (who were 2000 Sydney Olympic teammates) forged a strong bond

memorable ride of her life. Of her Olympic teammates— Seidel on Foltaire, Robert Dover on Ranier, and Sue Blinks on Flim Flam—Traurig and Etienne were the “rookies,” as the rider puts it. The rookies were the last to go in the team competition, and even before they cantered down center line “the Danish thought they won the bronze because that rookie was not going to do it,” Traurig recalls. As Traurig’s coach, Hinnemann shielded his student from the tremendous pressure. As she learned later, “He knew that the medal was at stake, and he didn’t let me know what was at stake. He told me, ‘You just ride and do the best you can do. This is your ride and your day. You might never ride in a stadium like this again.’”

Hinnemann’s strategy worked. “Etienne did his best test he was able to do at that time,” says Traurig, and their performance was good enough for an individual tenth-place finish in the Grand Prix, the highest of all the US riders. The pair’s effort had secured the bronze medal for Team USA. That same year, the “rookie” was named the US Olympic Committee’s Female Equestrian Athlete of the Year.

Leaving a Legacy The lessons Traurig learned from Hinnemann’s coaching in Sydney have stayed with her. Today, when she coaches, she tries to use the same wisdom, saying, “The psychological aspects of riding and competing are hugely important. As

USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


COACHING TEAM: Traurig (right) with fellow US national dressage coaches George Williams, Debbie McDonald, and Charlotte Bredahl at the 2019 Adequan®/USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference

a coach, you must know what kind of personality and character your student has and find the balance between the heart and the brain of the horse and the rider.” It is an approach that students like Grand Prix-level competitor Alix Curry, of Pescadero, California, appreciate. “She is so generous and warm,” Curry says of Traurig. “Her lessons are very well thought out and intelligent. And she has a lovely way of saying things like ‘May I suggest something?’ or ‘If it were my horse….” In her position as US national

young-horse coach, Traurig says, she recognizes the need to develop more depth of young-horse trainers. In a country the size of the US, quality instruction isn’t always easy to come by. She encourages trainers, riders, and owners of young horses to reach out to the US Equestrian dressage “pipeline,” emphasizing that it’s an adjunct to, not a replacement for, riders’ existing educational systems. “People have their own coaches, and with the format of the Developing program, a national coach doesn’t want to be a daily trainer. We want to collaborate and give the

48 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION


2000 OLYMPIC BRONZE MEDALISTS: Seidel, Traurig, Robert Dover, and Sue Blinks

home trainer support,” she explains. Traurig encourages those with talented youngsters to participate in the Young Horse classes. “As they accumulate scores, we see how those horses are doing as they jump onto the radar. If they think their horses are special and they send me videos, I will consider the horses for the next training session.” Assisting Traurig in her coach’s role is the well-known young-horse trainer Willy Arts, head trainer at DG Bar Ranch, Hanford, California. Arts is one of the first four trainers (Seidel is another) selected for US Equestrian’s US Dressage Coaches Support Network, a pilot program launched this year with the goal of supporting the US national dressage coaches and making the USEF dressage programs more accessible. “She has ridden at the highest levels, but it seems her true passion is with young-horse development,” Arts says of Traurig. “She likes to find talent and develop it. She knows what it takes to train a horse to Grand Prix and to identify the talent, qualities, and ability needed in a young horse to move up to FEI competition. We know it’s a long road to develop a horse to that level, so the sooner you can identify a horse that has that potential, the better. “Christine is very precise and adamant about a systematic training of the basics,” Arts continues. “She has the knowledge about where to find the holes or shortcomings and to bring the horse along with a solid foundation. People from all over the country respect her demeanor and her knowledge.” That respect, Arts points out, stems from the fact that Traurig is experienced in every aspect of a dressage horse’s development, from breeding and initial training to the highest lev-

els of international competition. “She has been in the ring, and she has dealt with disappointment and success and hardships,” he says, “and she doesn’t hide it. It’s not easy to compete at that high level. You are subject to criticism. You have to make it all work financially. She can relate to the struggle. She is very open about it and willing to give people advice by speaking from experience.” Some of the hardships Arts is referring to played out in the public eye. The year 2000 was a particular roller coaster, bringing Traurig not only the Sydney Olympics bronze medal but her divorce from Bernie. Then, after the Olympics, the Haases sent Etienne to Europe to be sold. A year later another sponsor would purchase the horse and bring him back to the US for Traurig, but the saga was well documented in the equestrian media.

DEDICATED TRAINER: Traurig (teaching in southern California) wants to teach more riders how to develop young horses

The Next Generation Those upheavals are well behind Traurig, who today rides and trains out of Caballo Del Mar in Encinitas, California, where her jumper-trainer

daughter Natasha Traurig, 28, also works. “I see her every day, which is so wonderful for me,” says the proud mother. “She is a beautiful, talented rider who wants to make the horses feel better, perform better, and be

HOSPITALITY SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITY Show your support to competitors and event staff as a US Dressage Finals Hospitality Sponsor! Hospitality Sponsors will receive valuable onsite exposure to over four hundred of the top competitors from around the country, as they compete at this showcase event.


Hospitality Sponsorships are available starting at $1,000. Hospitality Sponsors will receive exposure in the event program and through onsite signage at hospitality events throughout the week. Additionally, Hospitality Sponsors have the opportunity to include a promotional gift item in the competitor gift bags. Items must be recieved by USDF no later than October 11, 2019 to be included in the competitor gift bags.

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Ross Creech (859) 971-7038 USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


a good downward transition, when the horse is “starting to learn the principle of the half-halt, where the hind legs bend.” And about achieving that first lengthening, when the horse achieves “a semblance of pushing power. It’s not just the fact that you can create a longer step from letter to letter. It’s the feeling that gives you a vision of an upper-level horse. That’s training to me.” Says Arts of his colleague: “Not everyone has that experience, eye, ability, and desire to pass it on to others. It takes a complete horse person to do that.”

Patti Schofler is an award-winning writer based in northern California. She is a USDF L graduate and a passionate dressage rider.

November 7–10, 2019

W. SPRINGFIELD, MA Eastern States Exposition


Fabulous Horses, Phenomenal Opportunities, Unforgettable Experiences... • An Unparalleled Educational Program • The Largest Horse-Related Trade Show in the East • Breed Pavilion, Horse & Farm Exhibits, Horses for Sale and Demonstrations • The Fantasia (sponsored by Absorbine®) — Equine Affaire’s signature musical celebration of the horse on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights • The Versatile Horse & Rider Competition (sponsored by Nutrena®) on Friday — a fast-paced timed and judged race through an obstacle course with $5,500 at stake! • Career / College Fair Scavenger Hunt on Saturday – Explore equine-related career paths and college opportunities, an engaging way to meet a variety of industry professionals and college representatives.

• Equine Fundamentals Forum (sponsored by Cosequin®) — Educational presentations, exhibits, and activities for new riders and horse owners of all ages

New! • Adoption Affaire — Find your next horse at Equine Affaire by visiting the Adoption Affaire! Meet healthy, trained, adoptable horses of many breeds, ages and backgrounds and apply to adopt on site. • Equine Affaire tickets go digital! General admission and Fantasia tickets are now digital e-tickets. All types of tickets may be purchased online — all in one place with a single transaction — at © 2019 Equine Affaire, Inc.

For all you need to know including the event schedule, ticket information, host hotels, camping, or participating in clinics consult or call (740) 845-0085.

50 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

Chris Cox Dan James Jason Irwin

Julie Goodnight Steve Lantvit

Charlotte Bredahl-Baker (Dressage) Sinead Halpin (Eventing) Candice King (Hunter/Jumper) Liz Austin (Dressage) Jane Melby (Barrel Racing) Dana Bright (Driving) Kristen Whittaker (Western Dressage) Rick Christy (Hunter Under Saddle) Gary Lane (Easy Gaited Horses) Kelly Hulse (Saddleseat) Heidi Potter (Trail Obstacles & Centered Riding)

Simon Cocozza (Core Strengthening & Yoga for Horses)

Jim Masterson (Masterson Method in Motion)

American Sidesaddle Association (Sidesaddle)

... and many more to be announced!


HAPPY TRANSPLANT: Traurig has made an indelible mark on the sport of dressage in the US

confident. In that respect, she is the spitting image of me. And as for her talent over jumps, we give her father credit.” Son Lucas Traurig, 24, is a passionate scuba diver and instructor and a talented underwater photographer, currently working in retail as a manager. His mother calls him “super good with people. His teambuilding skills are exceptional. He is a remarkable young man.” Traurig also happily reports that she has a horse in her life: Libori, a nine-year-old gelding that she imported from Hinnemann two years ago. She rides him every day that she is home—because she is, after all, first and foremost a dressage rider and trainer, and she never tires of feeling a young horse develop underneath her. She rhapsodizes, not about flashy movements like piaffe and passage, but about riding

Tell Us About Your Favorite Horse! Your donation to TDF’s 30th Anniversary “Favorite Horse Fundraiser” gives you a chance to recognize your equine partner in a special way!

Noel Johnson

When you send your gift, tell us why your horse was special—or still is. Your horse’s name will be added to our online ‘Book of Memory’ and your donation will be used to help the sport you love. Taylor Pence

Donate online today:

Lincoln, Nebraska (402) 434-8585


Meet the Candidates Get to know who’s running for USDF Executive Board office

Officer Candidates

Candidate: Ken Levy

The president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer are officer positions. The candidates for USDF vice president and secretary were asked to respond to the following questions:

I have been involved in equestrian sports for more than 30 years, training and competing in dressage and eventing. After focusing on dressage, I transitioned from an adult amateur to professional. I have competed through

52 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION


t the 2019 Adequan®/USDF National Convention in Savannah, Georgia, in December, the USDF Board of Governors will elect seven members of the USDF Executive Board: vice president; secretary; and directors of Regions 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. Interim vice president Terry Wilson, a former Region 7 director who was appointed to that position by USDF president (and former VP) Lisa Gorretta after Gorretta was elected president last year, steps down at the end of 2019. The USDF thanks Wilson for her willingness to step in to serve once again. Running to fill the VP’s seat are two candidates: former USDF Region 2 director Ken Levy and California Dressage Society past TO BE DETERMINED: The USDF Board of Governors will elect a vice president and president Kevin Reinig. secretary as well as directors of the odd-numbered regions Current USDF secretary Margaret 1. What special professional or technical skills would Freeman is running unopposed for you bring to the Executive Board to help implement the reelection, as are the regional-director candidates, all strategic plan of the organization (e.g., financial, legal, of whom are also incumbents: Region 1 director Betbusiness, management, technology, human resources)? tina Longaker, Region 3 director Sue Bender, Region 5 2. How has your involvement in local, regional, and director Heather Petersen, Region 7 director Carol Tice, national USDF activities promoted/enhanced dressage and Region 9 director Sherry Guess. regionally and nationally? Like all organizations, USDF needs committed lead3. What specific goals and objectives do you have for ership in order to enjoy continued growth and thoughtUSDF? ful direction. The USDF Executive Board functions as a 4. How will you, as an officer, encourage greater cohesive team and strives to further the organization’s member participation and help make USDF the “go to” mission and goals. For the 2019 election cycle, the organization for dressage in the United States? USDF Nominating Committee asked each candidate to submit a brief biography and to answer a series of questions. The candidates’ responses are below. Vice President


Grand Prix, earning my USDF bronze and silver medals; am a US Equestrian “r” judge (currently an “R” testing candidate); and am a USDF-certified instructor through First Level. I am also a lifetime member of the Masters of Foxhounds Association. My wife, Barbara, and I own and operate Legacy Farm, a 14-stall training and boarding operation in Noblesville, Indiana. Legacy has been operating continuously for over 20 years. It has been my honor to have served on the USDF Executive Board for nine years as the Region 2 director. Additionally, I have led or sat on the following committees and task forces: USDF Membership, Marketing, Strategic Planning, and Programs Evaluation Committees; most recently, I led the USDF/USEF task force evaluating the junior/young rider divisions to help create a more level playing field for our youth. I have been a USDF GMO president (Indiana Dressage Society) and director for more than 25 years. Educationally, I have earned a PhD in pathology and an MBA and worked for an international medical company for 25 years. After I retired in 2012, I accepted a position as a part-time associate professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, focusing on pharmacogenetic clinical research. If elected, I will do my best to serve our members’ best interests. Responses to questions: 1. My corporate experience as a senior executive has helped me develop and establish a myriad of skills, including the following: • Careful and respectful listening • Ability to lead high-performance teams • Deliver positive results in a timely manner • An ability to understand and manage large, complex challenges and budgets • Effectively negotiate, using a “win-win” approach • Communicate clearly and concisely • Excellent presentation skills for all levels of participants and group sizes. 2. As a competitor, judge, trainer, and barn owner, I have a holistic view of our organization and sport. As a past GMO president and current director, I understand the opportunities and challenges faced by GMOs today. As the regional director, I brought regional issues to the attention of the board and staff. As a member of the Executive Board, I provided regional input for initiatives that impacted membership, education and competition. 3. My goals if elected:

• Ensure open and timely communication • Enhance GMO visibility and input to the Executive Board • Support educational opportunities, especially those for adult amateurs • Work with USDF staff to enhance the member experience when interfacing with the home office. 4. I will work collaboratively with the president, board, and staff to continue building relationships with other equestrian organizations. I support modifying and expanding our online presence and educational offerings, with emphasis on adult amateur and youth riders. I will support low-cost, local programs utilizing USDFcertified instructor/trainers. I will also continue to be a strong advocate for the use of social media to expand the reach of USDF’s mission.

Candidate: Kevin Reinig My wife, Ericka, and I own and operate KEFA Performance Horses in Wilton, California. We train horses and riders of all levels, traveling to shows throughout the year, including the Markel/USEF Young Horse Championships and the US Dressage Finals. I began eventing when I was 13, and two years later became an auction groom at a Hanoverian breeding farm. I spent summers working with mares and foals and helping with breeding. I became assistant breeding manager, working my way through high school and college. After earning a degree in finance, I worked for a community bank that focused on agriculture. I enjoyed my work at the bank, but I missed the horses. After two years, I returned to the breeding farm. When the owners retired, Ericka and I established our own dressage training, sales, and breeding business. We started young horses for sale and competition, cultivated business relationships with partners in Germany importing horses for sale, and managed a breeding program. After ten years, we decided to focus on training dressage horses and riders. For the past nine years I have been a member of the Executive Board of the California Dressage Society (CDS), including serving as president from 2013 to 2018. As a board member, I chaired the Budget and Finance Committee and the Championship Show Committee; I also served on or oversaw many other committees. During this time, I also worked at horse shows throughout California, including many CDIs and the USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


Responses to questions: 1. I bring a strong background in finance and business management to the Executive Board. I have worked in the horse industry for over 29 years. 2. My work on the CDS board and as CDS president, along with the work I do at the shows in our region, keep me in touch with what is going on in the sport of dressage, including the direction the membership would like to see the sport develop. I am constantly looking for ways for the local GMOs to support the national programs and to work with other GMOs across all regions to coordinate the promotion of dressage. 3. I want to work to promote the growth of dressage, both locally and nationally, with education and competition opportunities. 4. My mission is to keep people focused on the fun in the sport of dressage. Keeping people focused on this idea stimulates excitement and participation. I want to work to improve the lines of communication between USDF and the membership to allow the Executive Board to advance the sport of dressage.

Secretary Incumbent: Margaret Freeman Margaret Freeman is a USEF Senior (“S”) dressage judge living in Tryon, North Carolina. She has been showing dressage as a member of USDF for 45 years and has been a judge for three decades. She is a freelance writer/edi-

tor for horse magazines, has covered the equestrian events at seven Olympics for the Associated Press, and is on the editorial advisory committee of USDF Connection. She’s on the committee of the Youth Dressage Festival (New York) and was on the founding committees of CDCTA (Virginia) and Dressage at Devon (Pennsylvania). Margaret was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She has a bachelor’s degree in dramatic literature from Mills College in Oakland, California, and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia. She’s lived in five different USDF regions (and belonged to nine different GMOs) as she and her husband, Henry, moved to work at various newspapers around the country. They settled in North Carolina in 2012 after spending two decades in the New York/New Jersey area. Responses to questions: 1. My extensive background in writing and editing provides the skills appropriate for the office of USDF secretary. I have wide experience in show organizing and in public speaking. I understand dressage shows and US dressage organizations from every angle and level. My travels around the country as a judge have helped me gain perspective on regional differences and current concerns that need to be addressed further in the next three years. 2. In addition to my two terms as USDF secretary, I’ve served on several ad hoc USDF committees and on the boards of several GMOs. I’ve helped Dressage4Kids for two decades in a variety of educational programs, in addition to the Youth Dressage Festival. I believe the strength of the USDF lies in the health of local GMOs and that dressage enthusiasts should promote local unity through GMOs. 3. I want membership in USDF

54 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

to grow, of course, but it’s also important to serve the members we already have, to encourage them as both supporters of the federation and of dressage in general. We need to devise programs at every level that members can find useful and enjoyable. I would encourage programs that expand the understanding of dressage to other riding disciplines, as well. 4. One priority is to help GMOs attract members locally. USDF is a federation, an organization of organizations. GMOs should be a resource that anyone in a specific locale finds helpful in their riding lives and thus also gathers dressage enthusiasts together.

Regional Director Candidates The candidates for regional director were asked to respond to the following questions: 1. What special professional or technical skills (e.g., financial, legal, business, management, technology, human resources) would you bring to the Executive Board to help implement the strategic plan of the organization? 2. How has your involvement in local, regional, and national USDF activities promoted and enhanced dressage, both regionally and nationally? 3. What specific goals and objectives do you have for USDF and your region if you should be elected regional director? 4. How will you, as a regional director, encourage greater participation by each member within your region?

Region 1 Director Incumbent: Bettina Longaker Bettina Longaker has over four decades of experience in horse


FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, giving me the opportunity to meet directly with many CDS members.


ownership, riding, competition management, and GMO leadership. Her history includes running unlicensed USDF Youth and Adult Team Competitions, FEI North American Youth Championships, Great American/USDF Regional Championships, and US Dressage Finals. She has also served as president of two Virginia Dressage Association chapters and of VADA itself. Raised in New York, Bettina’s formal training as a rider started at Cornell University with Charles Lent. He hired her when she was 17, making her the youngest instructor in the Cornell Equitation Department. After moving to Virginia in 1976, Bettina earned a BS in information systems from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her training in dressage ensued, and she earned her USDF bronze medal in 1985 and became an L graduate with distinction in 1993. Also in 1993, she volunteered to work as secretary at one of the largest East Coast dressage shows at that time. The experience paved the way for many more years of volunteering. Bettina lives in Somerset, Virginia, where she operates her business, Scripts & Rides LLC. When asked if she wanted to continue as Region 1 director, she responded, “Yes! I feel like I’ve just figured out the position. Being on the USDF board is very different from other positions I have held, and I hope to contribute even more to the region during my next term.” Responses to questions: 1. By background in IT both professionally and within my dressage work, I have honed my skill of working with different personality types. This gives me invaluable insight into the confusion that many feel with the never-ending evolving technology. 2. For the last four decades, I have run the gambit of shows,

from schooling shows to the US Dressage Finals. Involvement from the ground up has helped me to understand the needs of the varying levels of dressage riders across our nation. We have to remember that as show management, we are service providers who have the responsibility to help our riders understand their obligations to themselves, and to understand the requirements they must fulfill to succeed in their dressage endeavors. 3. I have two large concerns: “Who will take over for the aging generation?” and “Are we doing enough for the everyday competitor in today’s world?” I will continue to solicit from my region’s members their views and opinions and share their views at the Executive Board level. 4. Everyone one says it: Communication is the primary tool we have to get participation. In this busy world of e-mails, texts, and numerous online methods of reaching out, I have tried to communicate efficiently without bombarding my region’s members to distraction, while always being available for their inquiries.

Region 3 Director Incumbent: Sue Bender I grew up in the Northeast doing 4-H, hunter/ jumpers, and then intercollegiate before switching to dressage after graduating with a business degree. After that I met my husband, an Army officer, and moved around the world for the next 28 years, working as an Army auditor and on spouse club boards while riding in my spare time. We had six assignments in Region 3,

and at the first were asked to attend the USDF convention in Texas in the 1980s. It was a blast, and I felt totally welcomed and at home in the region. With the next five times in the region, I became more involved as a GMO board member, served on regional and national committees (including chairing the USDF Historical Recognition Committee), participatingmember delegate, coordinator and chef for numerous North American Youth Championships teams, worked on the first USDF convention in Savannah, and was Region 3 director. I have been an active competitor as time allowed and earned my silver medal in 2000. In 2002, I took time off to support my husband’s assignment in Germany for a few years. I have bred several horses, with one doing the Young and Developing Horse programs, and learned a lot from the experience. We are now settled on our farm in Aiken, South Carolina, with our three generations of mares, seven rescue dogs, and four barn cats. Now I am finally competing as an adult amateur with my mares, but still juggling daily life. Responses to questions: 1. As an internal control auditor, I am able to analyze things to determine the condition, cause, and effect, and then work to create a strategic plan. 2. Starting at the grass-roots level, I have been involved in numerous programs, either participating or helping to create. This gives me a better understanding of what works and the areas that need improvement. By doing this and then talking with all different types of members, you can make improvements to current programs and create new ideas that can be implemented. An example is getting our youth involved at the convention, so in Savannah we established the Saturday-morning youth session. [

USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


Region 5 Director Incumbent: Heather Petersen Heather Petersen was born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa. She attended Iowa State University, earning degrees in music (oboe performance) and animal science. Heather met and married her husband, Michael, during college and moved to Colorado soon after. They have two children, Elizabeth and Sarah, and a menagerie of animals on their farm. Before working in the horse show industry, Heather worked in restaurant management with the McDonald’s Corporation and private franchises. Heather is an active dressage competitor; the mother of two active Jr/YR dressage competitors; a USEF “R” technical delegate; an FEI Level 1 steward; a current or past member

of several USDF and USEF committees; and manager of USDF Regional Championships, Rocky Mountain Dressage Society Championships, and CDIs. She is the secretary/manager for many other successful national competitions, schooling shows, local shows, and horse trials; and a past president, education chair, and current secretary for the Rocky Mountain Dressage Society. Heather has organized USDF L programs, USEF “r” dressage judge programs, and several educational symposiums. She has also served several years as the USDF Region 5 Young Riders team chef. In her spare time, Heather loves to ride her horses, read lots of books, throw darts, and hang out with her family and animals. She has enjoyed getting to show in other parts of the region in recent years and connecting with the Region 5 membership. Responses to questions: 1. While on the board of the Rocky Mountain Dressage Society, and in my previous terms serving on the USDF Executive Board and several other large nonprofit organizations, I’ve worked through budgeting, restructuring, long-term planning, and membership retention. Running restaurants and my own horse-show-management business has given me experience in management, cost analysis, and budgeting, as well as an awareness of the importance of teamwork. 2. Having served and currently serving on quite a few USDF committees, I have helped to provide valuable resources for dressage competitions and competitors. By organizing judging programs and other educational programs, I have worked to increase the dressage knowledge base. I’ve enjoyed working with our juniors and young riders, helping to grow the sport and creating potential open and adult-amateur competitors.

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3. I would like to see the USDF maintain and develop more diverse educational programs to meet the changing needs of our membership. Marketing has improved recently, but we need to make sure we are continuing to offer desired programs. For our region, I will focus on keeping up good communication, finding more potential venues for our Regional Championships, and helping our diverse membership meet their goals. 4. I will continue to encourage more involvement in USDF regional and national activities as well as GMO programs. I’m excited to promote the new USDF Regional Schooling Show Awards Program and feel it will serve a new portion of our membership and help with growth and retention, as well. The USDF offers many programs, and there is something for all of our members.

Region 7 Director Incumbent: Carol Tice I started in dressage to improve my Western horses and never left! My lessons started with a local person who was recommended by the instructor at my soon-to-be husband’s boarding stable: Sherry Guess. Her tutelage and recommendations on continuing my dressage and riding education continue today. Through Sherry, I became involved with my local chapter of the California Dressage Society (CDS). Since then I’ve been volunteering in every aspect of producing a show, on my local chapter board, on the CDS Executive


3. Region 3 is unique within the organization, and in the region we have areas that are also unique. The goal is for all of us to talk and work together to make improvements for all, from the grass roots to our elite riders. We need to understand one another and be considerate. While we cannot always please everyone, we need to listen and work to balance needs. An important thing is to praise members’ amazing accomplishments and be head cheerleader. 4. I hope members see me as an individual who leads by example, having no problem doing the smallest task, like mucking stalls. Then I try to listen to everyone. And finally to try to get members to understand that there are programs out there for them and to help them understand the rules so they can succeed.


Board as a regional director, vice president, and president. When I was not to continue on the CDS EB, I found myself being more involved with USDF than just being on the GMO Committee: I was elected Region 7 director. My days are normally busy with shared duties alongside my husband, Jim, taking care of our ridingschool horses, his hobby farm of registered miniature Herefords, and our pet pigs and goat, along with the two dogs and two cats. I have been the volunteer coordinator for the four-ring Del Mar National Dressage Show for many years and am the current VC for the USDF Region 7/CDS Championships. I’ve used dressage theory for all of my students, both English and Western, for my over 30 years of teaching beginners and competing riders. While my dream of riding a Prix St. Georges test has yet to be realized, my horses are happy learning and moving up the levels using the training scale, albeit in a Western saddle these days. Responses to questions: 1. I have been involved with managing and running a small business that my husband and I own for 35 years. Prior to working with my husband, I was an outside sales rep, which required finding and keeping new clients. 2. My involvement with my chapter of the California Dressage Society (CDS) started, and continues, as a volunteer at shows. Through the years I moved up to being on the chapter board and then onto the CDS Executive Board. I have been a chapter chair, a CDS regional director, CDS vice president, and CDS president. I have worked as the volunteer coordinator for the CDS Championships/ USDF Regional Championships for the last two years.

3. My goal is to help increase GMO members within my region and to work on the communication lines between GMO members and USDF. The cost of showing has seemingly had an impact on USDF/ USEF shows, but the implementation of the USDF Regional Schooling Show Awards Program could be a benefit to all organizations. 4. Considering that many members are comfortable with the status quo of programs and offerings by both USDF and their GMOs, I’d like to continue work on committees that develop new and update current member programs.

Region 9 Director Incumbent: Sherry Guess Growing up in southern California, I was introduced to dressage activities through the California Dressage Society (CDS). Grateful for the education provided, I felt a need to give back to the sport. Within the Pomona Chapter of CDS I served as newsletter editor, show manager (back when you didn’t have to be a professional manager to do it!), and president. Later, I served on the CDS board before moving to Oklahoma. In Oklahoma I have served on the board for many years, several of them as president. For approximately two decades I have organized volunteers for our recognized shows and am highly interested in providing educational opportunities for our members. I have earned my USDF bronze medal and am a USDF-certified instructor and an L graduate. I have served for six years as USDF Region 9 director.

I attended my first USDF convention in Lincoln, Nebraska, and was able to visit Boomer Printing, which at that time housed the “closet” from which Lowell Boomer, aided by Ruth Arvanette, ran USDF! USDF is truly an organization of volunteers, and they are to be highly prized. I served as chair of the USDF GMO Committee for 12 years and in 2010 was presented with the USDF Volunteer of the Year award. Responses to questions: 1. Although I originally worked as an educator, I have been involved in the equine industry for more than 30 years, running my own training facility and now a private barn. Although this doesn’t directly relate to the USDF strategic plan, it has taught me how to organize and manage events, activities, and personnel. 2. As noted in my bio, I have worked through USDF on the chapter level as well as with GMOs on both the West Coast and the Midwest. On the GMO Council, I worked with GMOs across the nation to resolve problems and produce a satisfactory outcome. 3. I plan to use live streaming to make our regional meetings more accessible. I hope that more familiarity with the process will lead to members’ feeling able to participate. We are very proud of being able to host the only CDI not on a coast. Participation by our GMOs is crucial to the process. We hope to encourage other regions to work together on projects of this type. 4. I will continue to work with the Region 9 GMOs on an individual basis to encourage greater involvement of their membership in our regional activities.

USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


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New Monoflap Saddles from Trilogy Trilogy Performance Saddlery Inc. introduces three monoflap designs.

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The Luminary (above) features a flatter seat and a narrower seatbone area. Its block is contoured and supportive. The lower pommel has a softer contour with a moderate twist.

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(above) has generous seat-bone support and a highly placed block whose angle allows the rider’s leg to drape around the horse. Square cantles are standard; round cantles and many décor options are available. Learn more:

Up Your Grooming Game

Brushes, currycombs, and other grooming tools spend a lot of time in contact with our horses’ skin and haircoat—yet often we use cheaply made implements and then wonder why horses don’t look better after grooming. The British company Renwick & Sons aims to change that with its line of expertly crafted grooming tools. Its brushes feature ergonomically designed hardwood backs, handmade leather straps, and Monotec bristle technology that’s

58 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

US Olympic and World Equestrian Games dressage medalist Steffen Peters made headlines this spring and summer when he revealed that he’s been battling performance-related anxiety and depression. Commonly prescribed antidepressant/anti-anxiety medications caused him intolerable side effects. Eventually the elite athlete hit on a combination of therapies and a line of cannabidiol (CBD) products that together, he says, have enabled him to get back in the highperformance game. Equestrian Deborah Carter co-founded Trove, her brand of CBD oils, balms, and capsules for humans, equines, dogs, and cats. According to the manufacturer, Trove products are THC-free and extracted from organically grown USA hemp. (Editor’s note: As of September 1, the use of CBD in equines competing in US Equestrian-licensed competition is prohibited. See “Collection: US Equestrian to Ban CBD,” July/August.) Learn more:

Use a wipe to remove dust and dirt, help prevent face crud, clean and shine bits and tack, clean the coat when it’s too cold to bathe, even freshen yourself up before and after your ride. Keep a package in the fridge for use as a cooling towel. No rinsing needed. Learn more:

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Customizable Sports-Bra Support

Many horse people use baby wipes for everything from swiping slobber to burnishing boots, particularly at shows. Florida-based executive and equestrian Minna Greco decided to improve on the baby wipe with EquiClean, her new line of hand-towelsized, pre-moistened wipes made especially for use around the barn. With herbs including aloe vera, chamomile, comfrey, lavender, and thyme, Equi-Clean wipes are big enough to tidy up the whole horse.

A good ride starts with good underwear. For women, that means a good sports bra—but finding one that’s supportive and comfortable is like

looking for a unicorn. Maybe the Shefit bra is that unicorn. It’s a front-zip (no more contorting to get the thing in position) with a band that you cinch and shoulder straps that adjust for exactly the amount of support and lift you prefer. Configure the straps cross-back style or conventional H-back. Three models offer maximum-, high-, and low-impact support, all with wireless compression and encapsulation support. Ten sizes are available to fit cups from A to I. Learn more:

“Tack Shop” contains notices of new products judged to be of potential interest to USDF members. Information and images are supplied by manufacturers. Inclusion of an item does not constitute an endorsement or a product review.


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Here’s how.

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

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

Share Your Story...

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



Auburn Laboratories, Bates Saddles/Saddlery Brands Intl. cover Blue Bridle 60 Dechra Veterinary, Dressage At EQ Saddle Equestrian 60 Equine 50 Great American Insurance 25


Interscholastic Equestrian inside front cover Jelly 60 Kentucky Performance inside back cover Lemke Saddle 60 Lindinhof Equine Sports 60

United States Dressage Federation Official Page

Nancy Later Dressage 60 PDZ Company, Premier 29 Ramm Rein


SmartPak 5 Sporthorse Sox For TaylorSelect Horse 60 The Dehner


The Dressage United States Lipizzan .........................................................................................23 USDF Convention.................................................................................................................................................................................................32-33 GMO Education Initiative.............................................................................................................................................................................. 17

USDF Vimeo

Jr/YR Clinics......................................................................................................................................................................................................30 Store Merchandise.........................................................................................................................................................................................61 US Dressage Finals............................................................................................................................................................18-19, 43, 49, 59


Year-End Awards........................................................................................................................................................................................... 26 World Cup

USDF CONNECTION | September/October 2019


My Dressage Insult to Injury After a grueling post-surgery return to riding and a long-sought dressage award earned, one final blow: missing the USDF yearbook deadline

read the e-mail from the USDF in disbelief. I had missed the awards photo submissions deadline for the annual yearbook issue of USDF Connection. I’d like to explain why this mattered so much to me. In 2016 I had my left knee replaced. I planned to return to riding in a few months, but my knee became infected and required two additional surgeries. I was unable to show my horse, Kelley Little Step, for the entire year in 2017.

a photo for the magazine. I like working toward these things. I also think it’s an achievement to be recognized by the organization. My recovery wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. After the second surgery, I was on intravenous antibiotics for six weeks. During that time I was supposed to remain fairly immobile, with no weight-bearing on the affected joint. Of course, after three surgeries, there’s more scar tissue. I also had nerve damage in my foot. But I was determined to ride. The only way to recover is by doing it. “Kelley” was in training with my instructor and friend, Barb Sudomier, so I started riding Kelley's halfsister Rowdy in Amarillo. It’s said that some horses seem to know when they need to behave. “Ria” stood like a rock for me. Mounting was SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW: The writer (who’s still trying difficult because to correct her turned-out-toes habit post-knee replacement) and her the left leg is the horse, Kelley Little Step, during their Third Level debut in 2019 one most of us use to get on and off. Sometimes, when I was feeling Little by little I got stronger. Riding sorry for myself, I wondered if I’d Ria wasn’t like starting from scratch, ever ride again. One of the things but I was afraid of falling. The first that kept me going was the knowlfew weeks, all I did was get on and off. edge that I needed only one more Next I walked Ria in circles, score of 60% to complete the USDF loops, and serpentines. Then I Master’s Challenge Award for Second started trotting. It was probably Level. That’s a rider award for coma few months before I cantered. petitors aged 60 and up. They send I’ll never forget the first time I got you an award, and you get to submit back on Kelley. It was an emotional

64 September/October 2019 | USDF CONNECTION

moment. One day, I realized that I was getting on and off without thinking about it. I knew I wouldn’t be ready for the early 2017 shows. I hoped to make it to the final August show in Waterloo, Michigan, but as the closing date approached I realized I wasn’t ready. My focus changed to 2018. I came close to the required score of 60 at my first show but didn’t quite make it. Finally, at the August show I got the 60! My Master’s Challenge at Second Level was complete. Meanwhile, one of my older horses developed complications from founder, and I lost track of time. By the time I e-mailed the USDF to inquire about the yearbook photo submission, I’d missed the deadline. I was so upset with myself. I tried to tell myself I didn’t care; I didn’t look that good in the photo, and my toes were sticking out. But I couldn’t let it go. A few days later, while driving to the barn, I decided to post my photo on Facebook. Perhaps my friends would chuckle about my turned-out toes, which are one of my bad habits. On that sunny November day, I forgave myself for missing the deadline. After all, I was riding again. Kelley has helped me achieve so many things over the years. We’re already working on new things: I’m trying Third Level. And there’s no deadline on trying.

Sandi Zarzycki is an “almost retired” pharmacist from China, Michigan. She lives on 21 acres with her husband of 40 years, four retired horses, two dogs, and three cats.



By Sandi Zarzycki

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