Closing out festive evening performances at the 2015 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, Olympian and USDF Hall of Fame member Michael Poulin of DeLeon Springs, Fla. made the crowd come alive with Pineland Farms, Inc.’s mighty Dutch Warmblood gelding Thor M (Mirakel x Debora by Westvoorn). After finishing second in Friday’s Grand Prix Open Championship, Poulin was not to be denied top honors on this special night and the pair earned a unanimous victory from FEI judges Axel Steiner, Lilo Fore and Natalie Lamping with a score of 72.583% to claim the Grand Prix Freestyle Open Championship for their performance featuring music from the Brave movie soundtrack.
No one in the audience as able to tell that Poulin had barely rehearsed the routine and even improvised movements as he went along, including 37 consecutive one-tempi’s. “I really didn’t practice it at all – I ride a freestyle by the numbers in that I do it by ear and by timing, counting the number of beats. That’s just the way I do it and it works for me. And tonight I also threw new things in the test and just said ‘let’s give it a whirl’,” said Poulin, who emphasized he had every faith in his mount.
“He’s quite a clever horse and a tremendous giver. You have to treat him with respect and kindness because he’s hot and sensitive, but that’s what makes him great.”
Emily Miles of Overland Park, Kansas (Region 4) and her long-time partner Weltdorff (Hanoverian gelding, Weltmeyer x Luna by Ludendorff) finished a solid second with 71.208% earned for their precise routine also highlighted by single-handed one-tempi’s on the final centerline that even prompted a grin from judge Lilo Fore. “I don’t love the music but it works so well for him – he may not be the biggest mover but it highlights his precision,” she noted. “It’s not the first time he’s come through for me – I’ve had him for ten years since he was a three-year-old and here we are. That’s pretty cool.”
The US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® will conclude on Sunday as the last group of 10 champions for 2015 are crowned. Follow the action through updates on the USDF Facebook page and the US Dressage Finals website, as well as watch live online streaming on the popular USEF Network. To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review day sheets and results, and read daily news releases, visit the official event website at www.usdressagefinals.com.