Michael Poulin Gets Key to the City of Deland
This spring, the first ever Equifest – A Celebration of the Art of the Horse 2005 was held in Deland, Florida, a charming town just 20 miles east of Daytona. A two month exhibit of equestrian art is featured at the Deland Museum of Art, where a reception for the artists and participants was held Friday evening, April 29 at the Museum.
The Poulin family arrived, in full dressage attire as guests of honor, and the Mayor of Deland, Bob Apgar presented Michael, a key to the city, recognizing him as an Olympic and equestrian legend. The Poulin family relocated from Maine to establish a year-round residence and Dressage training center in the central Florida town. Following them were many of their owners and friends and a growing list of students.
Deland’s neighboring town, DeLeon Springs is the home of The Dressage Center Inc. where Olympian Michael Poulin, his wife Sharon and two daughters Gwen and Kate Poulin-Neff manage a full training and boarding center. All accomplished equestrians in their own right, the family works hard together managing the facility and a busy competition schedule.
Through the efforts of one of the Dressage Center’s owners, Judith Thompson, Equifest - A Celebration of the Art of the Horse 2005 was developed. The Poulins performed an entertaining Quadrille during the Equifest Celebration held at Spring Garden Ranch, in front of a crowd of over 650 people, many who were introduced to dressage for the very first time.
On Sunday, May 1, the living inspiration for the equine artists, the horses, came together at Spring Garden Ranch, DeLeon Springs where there was great food and entertainment along with an art fair and auction. Over 650 people filled the stands to experience a demonstration of Polo, Jousting, Dressage, and see a parade of over 25 breeds. The highlight for the crowd was the quadrille to music performed by Olympic Bronze Medallist Michael Poulin, with his wife Sharon and daughters Kate and Gwen.
While the crowd delighted in a staged Standardbred horse race, the Poulin family warmed up in the infield of the training track. The dressage horses were concentrating so much on their gifted riders, they were not even distracted by the racing cart passing them on the back turn. Then the family performed together sometimes admittedly "winging it" but clearly having fun. Grinning ear to ear Gwen spoke for them all when she said "This is an absolute blast!."
Michael Poulin - Competitor, Trainer, Instructor, Judge
Most people who reach the highest levels in dressage make their mark in one primary facet of the sport – competitor, trainer, instructor, judge. Michael Poulin is all four. He is a member of the Bronze Medal winning United States Team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and boasts multiple national and international championships. Michael heads the Poulin School of Dressage at the Dressage Center, Inc. in DeLeon Springs, Florida, where he works with a prominent student roster.
He serves with distinction as a member of the Board of Directors of the Dressage Foundation, and originated the “Advanced Young Rider European Training/Education Program,” which sends four talented young riders to Europe each year for their introduction to the world of International Dressage. Poulin has been a long-time member of the Board of directors of the American Horse Show Association (now known as United States Equestrian Federation). Michael Poulin is a founder of the North American Dressage Trainers Association which stages important annual symposium at the Dressage Center to aid in improving the understanding among all parties involved in the sport – trainers, judges, instructors, riders, owners and organizers. He is a member of the International Association of Dressage Trainers. He also helped to form the Classical Dressage Riders Association. Michael travels nationally and internationally as an “I” rated dressage judge and dressage coach.
Michael Poulin’s dressage students and friends say that what they most admire about Michael is his honesty, and that he has the uncanny ability to go directly to the heart of the matter with a horse. In Michael’s words, “The philosophy of classical riding is that the horse understands the rider’s aids with relaxation, not fear, and relates the aids to the physical movement that he’s doing. Classical riding develops the horse physically with mental understanding."
A Dressage Family - Mom - Sharon
The Poulin family is one of the most influential modern-day equestrian dynasties, with wife Sharon and daughters, Kate and Gwen, all active participants in the sport of dressage. Michael’s contributions to Dressage are many and continuing. He was instrumental in the 1992 founding of the United States Dressage Federation’s Instructor Program.
With over 30 years experience, Sharon Poulin, leads a busy life of daily training, teaching and managing their 30-40 horse stable. She has trained many horses to Grand Prix and successfully competed up thru the levels to Grand Prix with three different stallions, Pyrmont, Boleem and Brilliant. She holds an “S” (Senior) judges license with the U.S. Equestrian Federation, she judges dressage competitions thru Grand Prix level throughout the U.S. With strong emphasis on the correct seat and position, she is enthusiastic in her teaching and encourages her riders to improve their riding skills on the lunge line. She’s the proud mother of four wonderful children.
A Dressage Family - Sisters Katherine and Gwen
The two youngest Poulin girls, Katherine and Gwen, are talented riders and trainers, both members of the North American Young Riders Championships Region 3 Gold Medal winning Team for 3 years.
Katherine Poulin-Neff has been riding with her parents before she could walk. Katherine is a USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalist. She is a two time North American Young Riders Gold Medalist* and has been a demonstration rider for National and International tests for USDF Judge’s forums. She is the recipient of the 2000 Dressage Foundation/USDF European Young Rider Scholarship. Katherine holds numerous Regional and National USDF year end awards. She has trained horses in dressage including Thoroughbreds, Arabians, Quarter Horses, Cleveland Bays , Lusitanos, Andalusians, Lipizzaners and numerous Warmbloods. Currently Katherine lives in Newbury , Ohio with her husband and two dogs where she trains horses and teaches dressage lessons. Katherine winters in DeLeon Springs.
Gwen Poulin has been riding horses every since she can remember. When she was about eleven, she received a 5 year old welsh pony named Robin. Together with Robin, Gwen participated in the very first Junior Dressage Team Championships (1997) and was on the bronze medal team.
They were the highest scoring pony combination. Gwen also earned her United States Dressage Federation Bronze and Silver medals on Robin. In 1999, 2000 and 2001 Gwen was on the Region Three Gold Medal winning team at the North American Young Rider Championships.* In 1999 and 2000 Gwen was the individual Silver Medalist at NAYRC. In 2001, Gwen placed 12th overall with the horse Pik Cachet. Gwen is currently focusing on her own horse, Pyrmont, whom she has raised and is showing successfully at Prix St George. She hopes to one day represent America in the Olympics and also become an Olympic rated dressage judge.
*The North American Young Riders' Championships (NAYRC) is the premier equestrian competition in North America for young riders, age 16-21. It is also designated as an official USA Junior Olympics event.
Search for more photos from Equifest>phelpsphotos.com>search by show/event>Equifest 2005