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.”