Florida Dressage Classic

It was Freestyle Sunday at the 32 nd Winter Equestrian Festival today – the highlight of four days of competition in the Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic in Wellington, Florida. Ruth Hogan-Poulsen won the FEI Intermediaire I Freestyle with Mon Cheri scoring 68.417% and then went on to take second place in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle with Armando, who tallied up 66.333%.

Hogan-Poulsen, 37, of Plainfield, Vermont, and Wellington, Florida, started off her kur rides with Sue Michalek's 12-year-old Danish mare, Mon Cheri. The duo rode to music from the movie Ladyhawke. “It's orchestral, it's very full, and it accentuates her trot especially,” said Hogan-Poulsen.

She pointed out that the best movement the pair performed today was the half-pass right to pirouette to half-pass. “The music just flows so perfectly into it. There's a pause where the pirouette comes and it just looks like it was meant to be there – it was perfect. It's a really good feeling when it works out right, and very obvious when it's not. It went perfectly today,” said Hogan-Poulsen.

She has been partnered with the mare for 18 months. Hogan-Poulsen said the win aboard her today felt, “Fantastic! The mare has been consistently in the top three. It's just pulling off that one more point or two to win the class. In this morning's win she was right there for me. We have more qualifiers coming up so it's a good edge for us to get going into those.” Though the mare is for sale, Hogan-Poulsen is aiming Mon Cheri for the USET Foundation Prix St. Georges/Intermediaire I national championships that will be held in June in California along with the Athens Olympic Dressage Selection Trials.



Ruth Hogan-Poulsen And Armando Finish Second

In the Grand Prix Freestyle, Hogan-Poulsen rode her own Armando to the red ribbon in a crowd-pleasing compilation of dance music. “It's mostly Marvin Gaye with some Miami Sound Machine in there,” she said. “It's very upbeat and the crowd loves it. I was a little bit concerned initially that the judges wouldn't like it that I have a little vocal in it. Heard It Through the Grapevine is such a popular song, people sing it anyway so I'm not sure the judges realize that the vocal is there because they're sort of humming it along.”

Indeed the beat matched Armando's passage and piaffe tour perfectly and made for a dramatic entrance accentuated by the well-known vocal. “The crowd really likes it and Armando really likes it. We call him ‘Marvin' in the barn now. The music comes on and he picks himself up to a new level. It's amazing,” said Hogan-Poulsen.

Armando appeared especially in tune with his music today, and Hogan-Poulsen was particularly pleased with two of their more difficult movements. “I loved my double pirouette to the left. He nailed his one tempis today – right on the tempo. I really liked that.”

Hogan-Poulsen acquired the 16-year-old, 17-hand, bay Hanoverian gelding in April 2003. The duo competed two weeks ago in the Wellington Dressage show at WEF, a qualifier for the Olympic Selection Trials in California in June, and will also compete in the next qualifier for the Olympic Selection Trials, the Zada Enterprises WEF Dressage Classic CDI***, March 18-21.

“I'm an Athens hopeful, but I'm also a realist,” said Hogan-Poulsen. “He's not a team horse. I'm doing it to gain experience and also to get on the Developing List or the Long List. He's a horse that does a lot of things fantastic and some things are very hard for him, so I take it easy on him. I ride him four days a week, long and low. I don't do any movements on him – just exercising, trail riding, and the girls at the barn ride him. We just try to keep him healthy and sound and supple and then pull it together to have some fun in the ring.”



Hogan-Poulsen's "Dressage in Details"

Hogan-Poulsen has become known in the dressage world for her expertise in putting together freestyles and has created a business called "Dressage in Details" that also produces educational audiocassette tapes of dressage tests, called "Dressage Test Tutors". For freestyles, she creates the choreography and selects the music and edits it.

“I put it all digitally into my computer so I can enhance it or speed it up or slow it down or add whistles or bells or whatever people want to do,” she explained. “I've done my own freestyles always and about two years ago people started to ask me to do theirs. I love to do it.”

In other kurs to music competition today Bent Jensen riding Rockefeller won the USDF Freestyle Test of Choice, earning 70.069% at Second Level. Suzanne LaPorte aboard Wittus won the FEI Young Rider Freestyle with 67.292%. Canadian Julia Vysniauskas saddled Syntax for the win in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle with 69.500%.



Canadians Win Big at Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Classic

Canadian dressage riders continue their winning streak in Florida, this time winning big at the Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic held February 19-22, 2004 in Wellington, Florida.

Shannon Dueck and her 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Korona started the competition off by winning the Intermediaire II class with a score of 69.837%. They were followed by Canadian rider Ashley Holzer and Imperioso, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, with 67.154%. Competing in only their second show at this level, Jacqueline M. Brooks and her 2003 Pan Am Team Silver Medal mount Gran Gesto were awarded 63.577% for 7th place honours in the field of 18.

In Friday's classes, Dueck improved upon her score but narrowly missed the first place ribbon with 70.000% in the Grand Prix. Holzer & Imperioso also dropped two placings to fourth with 67.222%. Teammate Jacqueline M. Brooks was in the ring this time with Finnegan to finish 7th with 64.514%.

In the second Grand Prix division, Julia Vysniauskas & Syntax were the winners with 64.514%. Other Canadian riders taking part included Jacqueline M. Brooks riding Gran Gesto, an nine-year-old Oldenburg owned by Brinc Ltd. and Anne Welch, with 62.083% (6th), Vysniauskas & Freuden Tanzer with 61.111% (9th) and 2003 Pan Am Team Silver Medal duo Evi Strasser & nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding Quantum Tyme 60.000% (10th).

Friday also saw Ashley Holzer and her 2003 Pan Am Team Silver Medal mount Gambol, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, win the Prix St. Georges with 69.875% as well as Krystalann Shingler & Skor win the Young Rider Team test with 62.222%.



Canadians Win Big at Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Classic

Holzer, Vysniauskas and Dueck In the Picture

The Canadians continued to dominate the standings in Saturday's round of competition. Ashley Holzer and Gambol won the Intermediaire I with an impressive score of 71.875%. Shannon Dueck and Korona came back to the winner's circle in the Grand Prix Special with 68.267%.

"The show was a major success for Korona, who proved the most rideable ever in the ring, and was therefore quite brilliant at times. " enthused Dueck. "His passage is more collected and expressive than before, and the piaffe/passage transitions were really good. I am really excited about his improvement through this season!"

On Sunday, Julia Vysniauskas & Syntax, a 12-year old Czechoslovakian Warmblood gelding, handily won the Grand Prix Freestyle with 69.500% with Jacqueline M. Brooks & the Oldenburg gelding Finnegan finishing third with 63.500%.

Canadians could be seen competing in a wide range of classes at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club during the 4 day show. Simone Williams and her two young horses Wunder Ein and Siegfried continued to dominate Training, First and Second levels with scores over 70%. Other Canadians competing included:

Shannon Dueck & KRS Pegasus (Prix St. Georges & Intermediaire I)
Susanne Dutt-Roth & Don Romeo (Training Level)
Susanne Dutt-Roth & Rheirattack (Prix St. Georges & Intermediaire I)
Lisa Kostandoff & Wakefield (Second Level)
Lisa Kostandoff & Gtangelo (Fourth Level)
Kathryn Yardley & Boxberger Tendenz (Young Riders)