Ruth Poulsen’s June Newsletter – Horses and Music and Other Great Stuff!

Freestyles from A to C

Hi everyone! I hope that the warm weather and the beginning of summer has inspired you to start implementing your new goals for you and your horse.  The beginning of a new season is a great time to set some goals and start attaining them one step at a time. I find that writing my goals down as if I have already achieved them helps me stay focused and positive about my day to day progress.  It’s easy to over look how much progress you have made in any area when you get drawn in to the day to day routine.  Be fair to yourself when you are looking at where you were 6 months ago and where you are now.  Sometimes when we have a bad ride or a bad day, our first conclusion is that we are “stuck in a rut”.  But if you look back to the challenges you were having 6 months ago, you will find that there have been positive changes!  Remember that training is relative!  What used to be good enough 6 months ago is maybe not good enough now.  So for example, if you worked 6 months ago on putting your horse in front of the driving aids, and you realize that you have to have that lesson again, it may not be because your horse slipped back in his training, it could be that you are in a new place in training and that your expectations are higher than they were 6 months ago.


I have been getting a lot of inquires about lessons and teaching from many folks who just live too far away to come with their horses,  so I have decided to offer this opportunity to my news letter subscribers.   I am very excited about this service, as I think it will help you achieve your own goals with your own horse, even if you can not come here for lessons.  If you send me a DVD of you and your horse, I will give you a CD or MP3 file lesson.  You can ask me to address any specific problem or training issue, or I can base the “lesson” directly on what i see from the DVD.  Your choice!  The cost of the CD feedback lesson (which you could ride to) is based on the length of your DVD.  The three choices in length are 15 min, 30 min or 45 min.  I want to have an email from you directly first to express your goals and expectations of this lesson, so that I can meet them!  I will give you all the rest of the details and format in a personal email.  To get your own lesson or analysis from me, contact me now at  I will take a limited number per month, so get signed up first! Put “dressage lesson” in the subject line so I can keep track of everyone!    Ruth

Second 2010 East Hill Farm Adult Horsemanship Week!

And for those of you who do live close enough to bring a horse here…

I have happily decided to do another intensive dressage camp at the farm this fall.  The dates will be September 6th through the 10th 2010.  We only have 3 slots left for riders with their own horses.  The slots on the school horses are filled already. Don’t dismay, we are going to accept auditors again.  If you would like to attend, click here for the registration and information.

We will accept a limited number of “participating” auditors that will be allowed to watch and partake in all events throughout the week (except for the riding, the riding slots are already filled).

Aside from watching lessons, there will be doing mini clinics on everything from braiding, bandaging, backing your horse trailer, tack fitting and cleaning, question and answer sessions, health care and much more.  Participating auditors can watch, learn and enjoy the week or come for a day.  Fee for a day is $ 40. Fee for the week is $150 (save $50 bucks).

To reserve your auditors pass please email me at or Jeannette Hogan at

New Training Level Freestyle Offered at Many Schooling Shows!

Because there are so many of you out there that just love to ride to music, many schooling shows are offering training level freestyles!

There is NO national USDF approved training level freestyle yet, but they are discussing it!  There are however some guide lines for pony club and schooling shows that will help standardize the training level freestyle.  I say, GREAT!  It gives us that many more opportunities to ride and play to music while we train.  I would be happy to answer any questions about the Training level freestyle.  Please send me your questions!

I also thought you might like a handy link to the USDF guide lines for their standards for freestyles.  This is a great reference to all your rules and regulations!  You need to know all the guidelines for your level like the back of your hand.  Click here to Read the rules for your level!

Want to read more about freestyles and see some examples of freestyles?  Go to my freestyle page on the web site. Here is the link: Freestyle Page.

The article on the right addresses some questions about creating your freestyle pattern.  There are many confusions about what is allowed and what is not in any given freestyle level.  Remember that if you are not riding in competition (riding it just for fun or for non-judged exhibitions) you can showcase what you want!  It’s all about having fun and building a better relationship with your horse through the use of music!

If you would like your own riding music for at home, and don’t have time to create it yourself, check out the Riding with Soul CDs.  They are training CDs that already have walk, trot and canter music made for your and your horse!  There are 5 different types of music for you to pick from.  There is something for everyone.  I am also working on a new set of “rock and pop” as well as a CD made especially for kids!  Keep an eye out for their release.  To read more about Riding with Soul, Click Here.

Many people ask me about the choreography of their freestyle pattern.  One of the confusions surrounding a freestyle pattern is what is allowed and what is forbidden at a certain level.  Before you can begin to build a pattern you need to know the difference between movements and figures so that you don’t try something that is on the “forbidden” list at your level.

What is the difference between movements, figures and patterns?

According to the USDF rule book, dressage movements are leg yields, rein-back, shoulder-in, travers, renvers, turn on haunches, half-pass (trot or canter), flying change, pirouette (walk or canter), piaffe, and passage.

  • Test Movements: All of the elements that are scored in one box on a dressage test sheet.
  • Figures: Geometrical component of a dressage test such as circle, change of rein, and figure-of-eight. Many people use the word “figure” interchangeably with “movement” witch is incorrect.
  • Patterns: Geometric design formed in the arena when movements, figures and transitions are combined.

Still Confused?

Think of it this way.  If you are creating a first level freestyle, you must include leg yields in both directions as a movement.  The leg yield itself, is a movement.  Where and how you do the leg yield is a figure.  For example, you could do a leg yield from the center line to the wall, or you could do a zig zag creating a more difficult figure and pattern with the leg yield.

Here is another example.  Counter canter is not a required component in a first level freestyle, however, it is clearly allowed. Therefore, you can ride a counter canter in any figure to increase the level of difficulty of your choreography and pattern.

Example three:

Let’s say you are riding a second level freestyle.  You know the technical requirements include free walk, shoulder in both directions, travers and/or renvers at trot, medium trot, 10 meter circles in canter, simple changes of lead and medium canter.  You feel that you can do some of these movements and figures in a harder sequence than is required at second level.  Can you do this?  YES. The USDF rules under the artistic requirements say: “Any figures, patterns, combination, or transitions composed of elements permitted in the declared level are permitted. There are no limitations on shape or combination of figures, even if the resulting configuration is found in higher levels.”

That means you are allowed to create a pattern or figure that includes known allowed movements (such as shoulder-in) in any form or difficulty that you choose.  This will increase your artistic degree of difficulty score.

For example, even though the shoulder-in in all second level tests is shown on the track you may show shoulder-in on the center line, or anywhere else.  You may even combine one shoulder in left followed by a should-in right.  This would be considered a combination of figures and is allowed.

You are welcome to write and ask me about your own freestyle pattern!

Next month we will go over more examples of figures, movements and requirements for particular levels.

Download Free Diagrams!

Don’t forget to download your free dressage arena diagrams. Print as many as you like!  When you are creating your choreography and pattern for the freestyle, these are invaluable!



561 346 4859 – Ruth’s Cell

Poulsen Dressage LLC, 3240 Upper Rd, Plainfield, VT 05667, USA

Be Sociable - Share!

Leave a Reply