In Program Your Position, a program released in collaboration with Jane Savoie, we use key buzzwords to trigger the brain to become more self-aware while riding. We talk about the energy you create in your horse from your legs, and then how and where to channel or recycle the energy with your seat and reins.
The original Program Your Position drawing (above) shows how your aligned and square torso (head, shoulders, knees, and toes) should aim like laser beams to direct the energy of the horse (isn’t that a song?).
For example, let’s talk about shoulder-in. The shoulder-in is a lateral movement that is the foundation of all lateral work. Shoulder-in is performed on three tracks and has bend and flexion around the inside leg. The shoulders are displaced to the inside over the inside hind leg. The outer shoulder and fore leg should be placed over the inside hind leg to create three tracks. The hind legs in a shoulder-in should maintain their straight forward position along the original path.
OK. So how do we do THAT? Your shoulders and reins control the direction of your horse’s shoulders. Your hips and legs control the hips and hindquarters of the horse.
For this article, we are only going to talk about the rein aids, as I am using the shoulder-in as my example for the “laser” or “butt end of the whip” directions.
Your hands for a shoulder-in to the right:
Keep both hands low and equidistant from your body as you move them to the right.
Move them to the right enough to place the outside front leg in front of the inside hind leg.
Use your inside rein as an opening rein.
Bring your outside hand very close to the withers, but never let that hand cross over the withers.
The direction of the butt end of the whip is heading in the same direction as your arm and horse’s energy. So, if your whips are crossed, then there is an X or blocking of energy at that point. If you only point one whip where you want to go, the horse will fall out the other side.
Wellington, FL – February 18, 2013 – The international quadrille team sponsored by The Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch plans to give their competitors a run for their money at The Challenge of the Americas (COTA) presented by SSG Gloves on Saturday, March 9.
Team International The Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch has been practicing an intricate quadrille for The Challenge and its 11th anniversary return as a one-of-a-kind affair highlighting the equestrian sport of dressage. Competing riders include the “Who’s Who” of top equestrian competitors in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Europe riding in team quadrilles to Play for P.I.N.K. to help raise funds for breast cancer research.
Team International is comprised of dressage stars Todd Flettrich, Catherine Haddad-Staller, Susanne Hamilton, Nancy Later, Sharon McCusker and Cherri Reiber. The coaches for the team are Ruth Hogan-Poulsen and Erin Swaney.
Josh Parker, one of the principals of The Seley Parker Group, said it’s their seventh year to sponsor the event. “The Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch is extremely proud to once again support the International Team and The Challenge of the Americas,” he said. “Raising awareness and helping find a cure for such a terrible disease should be one of everyone’s top priorities.”
Susanne Hamilton, a United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Gold Medalist and one of the team riders, said she went to her first Challenge of the Americas six years ago with her friend, Ingrid Lind, who lost her fight with breast cancer three years later.
“This is close to my heart,” she said. “I’d like to dedicate my ride to someone this year who’s fighting hard. She’s in Britain and she’s a Grade II para-rider who is dying from this,” she continued with a hitch in her voice. “Her name is Gwenllian Hughes. I want to dedicate this to her.”
Quadrille rider Sharon McCusker, a USEF long listed FEI Grand Prix competitor and trainer, also believes in the cause. “I’m delighted to be involved with this benefit,” she said. “Almost all of us have lost somebody who has been affected by breast cancer.”
One of the Team International coaches, Ruth Hogan-Poulsen, who creates freestyles for every level of dressage rider, said she is happy and honored to be a part of The Challenge of the Americas. “It’s impressive and shows the importance of the cause when six professionals and two choreographers take time from their schedules at least once a week to show their dedication to COTA,” she said. “As a choreographer and music editor, it’s a fun challenge to create for both riders and spectators alike.”
The other coach and choreographer, Erin Swaney, an FEI rider and trainer, said she started helping with The Challenge in response to COTA organizer Mary Ross’ request.
“I always went to The Challenge and one year Mary needed somebody to coach one of the teams and she asked me to do it,” she said. “I had watched it for years and I always thought of things that would look different and amazing for the spectators.”
She said that since she has been one of the coaches for the quadrilles, she strives to make the choreography fresh and jots down ideas for the freestyle throughout the year, paying special attention to visual excitement from every angle for the audience.
“It’s funny because every year the riders think it’s crazy and they say they can’t do it but in the end, everyone is surprised,” she laughed. “Last year the team was so cute. I gave them the pattern and they gave me THAT look, but in the end it all came together. This year it’s a whole new team and they have a really great dynamic. When we walked the pattern the first time it was hilarious but it all seems to work out in the end. I like how the whole thing unfolds and how each person comes together for the team.”
Aside from the serious theme of fundraising for breast cancer research, fun is a central theme to all the riders on the team.
“I did it once before and it was a really fun experience,” Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer Todd Flettrich said. “Everybody gets together to ride and it’s for a good cause. I enjoy the sense of camaraderie when we are all for the same team. It’s great because it’s for the cause and not for yourself.”
Catherine Haddad-Staller, a two-time Grand Prix winner in the U.S. and a USDF Gold Medalist, agreed. “I think it’s a worthy cause and I am quite excited to be a part of the international team,” she said.
Cherri Reiber, an FEI trainer and competitor, added she is also involved with the quadrille to support the cause. “We’re having a ball,” she said. “It’s really been fun.”
This is Nancy Later’s first year to participate as a rider in the quadrille and she said she is helping support organizer Mary Ross in her effort to fund breast cancer research. Later is a USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalist.
“I think Mary’s done a great job for years and we love going to watch and I always wanted to be part of a team so it’s very exciting,” she said. “We’re a newbie team. So far we are having a great time. We can be partners instead of competitors so it’s really fun. It’s important that we remember to thank our sponsor, Merrill Lynch, too.”
Parker from the Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch added, “This event, with all of its equestrian pageantry, is always a blast and raises considerable funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.”
The Challenge of The Americas (COTA) presented by SSG Gloves, known throughout the equestrian world for its spectacular performances on horseback, returns for its 11th anniversary to continue its fight against breast cancer. This annual fundraiser is a one-of-a-kind affair that highlights the equestrian sport of dressage. Competing riders include the “Who’s Who” of top equestrian competitors in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Europe.
There are few, if any, places throughout the world where an audience can delight in the performances of such a large and distinguished group of riders and their magnificent equine partners. The Challenge of The Americas’ teams of international riders compete in quadrilles to world-class music and choreography in an effort to raise money to help find a cure for breast cancer. Proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through Play for P.I.N.K.
Saturday, March 9, 2013
5:30 p.m. Cocktails and hors d’Oeuvres
6:15 p.m. Opening Ceremonies
6:25 p.m. Reining Freestyles and Pas de Deux
6:45 p.m. Quadrille Team Challenge
7:30 p.m. Award Presentation
7:45 p.m. The Challenge Gala: Dinner and Dancing
Back on Track Products
Cunningham & Cunningham Livestock, Inc.
International Polo Club Palm Beach
Merrill Lynch, The Seley Parker Group
Red Barn Feed & Supply
United States Dressage Federation
Wellington Classic Dressage
8067 Montserrat Place
Wellington, FL 33414
(561) 251-7945 Anglot@aol.com
VIP Tables of 8:
Gold Patron $6,500 per table
Silver Patron $4,500 per table
Bronze Patron $2,000 per table
VIP Individual Seating:
Competition and Gala (includes dinner and dancing) $250 per person
Competition (includes hors d’oeuvres and cash bar) $100 per person
General Admission seating $20 per person at the gate
Children 12 and under admitted free (General Admission)
Play for P.I.N.K. (Prevention, Immediate diagnosis, New technology, Knowledge) is a grassroots organization dedicated to raising funds to fight breast cancer, by creating and promoting awareness of breast cancer through sporting and lifestyle events including men’s and women’s golf tournaments, tennis, swimming, card games, equestrian events, and shopping benefits. Our commitment is to contribute 100% of all funds raised to our beneficiary, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. In 2012, PFP donated $4 million to BCRF for a cumulative total of $29.75 million. For more information about PFP, visit playforpink.org.
Wellington, FL – February 23, 2012 – The lustrous lights shone brightly upon the costumed riders and their horses, illuminating the Palm Beach Polo and Hunt Club as Dressage under the Stars as it held its second night. Equestrians and non-equestrians alike filled the venue, and the anticipation was nearly tangible as the event got underway. It was Ruth Hogan Poulsen aboard Otelo who stole the show with her stunning musical selection and freestyle choreography.
Originally from Vermont, Poulsen has been traveling to Wellington, FL, with her husband and team for over 20 years. A veteran freestyle choreographer, Poulsen pulled out all the stops to impress the judges, using her moves and music to also astound the crowds. Poulsen is a USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalist, and was one of the first riders to ever be awarded by the USDF for the Freestyle Gold Bar. Her numerous accolades also include creating the CD series “Riding with Soul,” which effectively helps train amateur riders to have fun while riding to music.
Quick tips and facts about the new Freestyle requirements!
1. There is a maximum time limit but NO minimum time. Maximum time limit for all USDF freestyles is 5 minutes. Your time begins when your horse moves off after the entry salute and ends at the final salute.
2. One point will be deducted from the total artistic score for exceeding the time limit.
3. Movements done above your level will be penalized by a four point deduction from the technical score for each “clearly forbidden” movement done.
4. The rider must enter the arena within 45 seconds of the signal from the judge and within 20 seconds of the start of the music or will be eliminated.
5. Halt and salute are now judged at the beginning and end of a freestyle. The halt with a salute must be facing “c”.
Wellington, FL – March 9, 2011 – Tonight marks the sixth week for the exciting Dressage under the Stars, held at the world famous Players Club in Wellington, Florida. Festivities begin tonight 7:00pm, with delicious drinks and fine dining available both patio-side, upstairs on the porch and as always inside the Players Club. The beautiful event will continue for two more weeks and is held each Wednesday at the luxurious venue. This week’s performances will feature top international judge Anne Gribbons and choreographer Ruth Hogan-Poulsen.
Last week’s Dressage under the Stars was great event featuring three Eventing riders performing musical freestyles. Eventing riders do not usually perform freestyles, but their incredible efforts did not disappoint. Last week’s Dressage under the Stars, sponsored by PRO aligned with the Derby Cross event held Saturday night, March 5, during Nations Cup week. Riders from last week included Marsha Kulak, Sara Kozumplik and Ronald Zabala-Goetschel. Olympian Karen O’Connor served as one of the judges for the evening, alongside Mason Phelps, Jr.
“Tonight was a great event for our event riders,” noted O’Connor. “The evening was very interesting, exciting and enthusiastic. They do a wonderful job presenting different disciplines to the public and the music is just so much fun.”
My New Years resolution is to improve my riding. If you share a similar goal or resolution, I can recommend an incredible tool that I have been using, Program Your Position. This is an amazingly effective “program”, and I can honestly say it has helped my position immensely.
The program, developed by Ruth Hogan-Poulsen and Jane Savoie, has three components. These include 5 DVDs, 3 audio CDs and an illustrated pocket guide.
No matter how you absorb information most effectively, Program Your Position has you covered. Personally, I like all the audios and illustrated pocket guide the best. But I must add that the DVD segments are like attending a clinic.
For me, Program Your Position is better than a clinic because the series teaches you to use a simple set of buzz words to “program” your position corrections. I ride around saying the buzzwords and correct my riding position almost effortlessly. The buzzwords are easy to remember and effective and the program also encourages you to add your personal buzzwords too. Read more> http://www.horsesinthesouth.com/article/article_detail.aspx?id=9632
Hi everyone. A lot of you have been asking me about how I begin to diagram a pattern or how I start to memorize a test.
I start with these blank arena diagrams. I find them useful for a number of things.
1. Memorizing regulation tests.
2. Learning the exact geometry of the arena.
3. Learning my exact tangent points for movements such as circles and serpentines.
4. Drawing my tests from beginning to end.
5. Drawing each movement according to where the judges are judging (this way I know when the judge begins judging a new movement).
6. Showing a student where a movement begins and ends exactly.
7. Mapping out individual movements when I start to create choreography for a freestyle.
8. Looking at the pattern from beginning to end of a new freestyle, to see if I have used the arena wisely.
9. Checking to see if I have included all required movements for a competitive freestyle.
10. Mapping out each movement of a new freestyle so my clients and students have something to study that is very visual.
11. Checking to see if I have been inventive with the pattern.
12. Checking to see if my movements are equally used from the left and the right.
…and many more!
So I though I would give these diagrams to you guys for your use. Feel free to print them off and use them any time you want, and while you are on my site, sign up for the newsletter if you have not already! You will automatically get the link for the diagrams in the welcome letter of my newsletter, so you don’t have to go looking for it! Ruth