Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2024

Gwen Poulin Continues The Family Legacy

Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 6 



Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 6 

“OK Dad, anything you can do I can do better,” deadpanned the announcer Nicho Meredith after Gwen Poulin and William scored a 68.53 percent to edge out her father Michael Poulin and Thor M, who’d previously led the U.S. Dressage Finals Open Grand Prix Championship with a score of 68.4 percent.

Third from the end of the evening’s program, Michael, an Olympic medalist, showed the crowd that at age 70, he still has what it takes to put in a solid test. The pair knocked out previously leaders Heather Mason and Zar (67.46%) to hold a full point leave.

As Gwen entered the Alltech Arena for her initial tour, a grin broke out when her father’s score’s were announced. But while she might have been thrilled for his success, she wasn’t going to back down.

That grin scarcely left her face for the nine minutes she was in the ring, and she had good reason to be happy. The evening’s victory was a culmination of a lot of hard work when it came to bringing William up the levels.

“Of course I’m very, very proud of her,” said Michael at the following press conference, patting his daughter on the back with a grin. “I’m proud because she hung into there, and she fought for it. She kept her cool and did what she needed to do. She enjoyed it—you could see the big smile on her face. I watched her in the one tempis—it was beautiful.

“It means more to me to have her win and to be second, it’s fabulous, but somebody’s got to carry it on,” he continued. “I’ve done a couple hundred Grand Prixes, and it’s time.”

Though Michael was proud of what his daughter accomplished, he couldn’t resist mentioning on multiple occasions that he wanted to beat her. To which she responded: “Of course! That’s where I get it from!”

Gwen’s mount, William, came to her 2 1/2 years ago when Belinda Nairn-Wertman sent the gelding by Sir Sinclair to her. Never one to pass an opportunity by, Gwen jumped at the chance when asked if she wanted to take on William.


“We really clicked,” she said. “He’s very sensitive. He’s a very emotional horse, so I’ve taken my time with him. It’s taken a lot of time for him to allow me to put pressure on without him having a meltdown. I can ask for a little bit more and now he gives it to me, and it sounds cheesy, but it’s beautiful, because it makes my heart so happy because he’s like, ‘Yeah! OK, I can do it.’ It’s about keeping him relaxed and with me.”

Gwen’s kept William’s season light. He only showed twice before the regional qualifier, making the nationals his fourth competition this year.

“I had a great ride,” she said. “He was awesome. He was on fire. I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear, because he was like, ‘What do you want next?’ Everything was almost over-exuberant. He was just fantastic—he was really there with me and he was my partner, so that feels really good.”

(Pick up the Nov. 23 & 30 issue of the Chronicle to learn how Gwen brought William along and about the secret to the Poulin family’s success.)

Michael paired up with Thor, owned by Pineland Farms Inc, thanks to Jennifer Fraser and Rachael Hicks, who initially purchased the horse for him.

“In a general conversation I had with them I said, ‘You know, I still have this bug to compete Grand Prix,’ and Jenny Fraser says, ‘Find a horse; I’ll buy it for you’ ” Michael explained. “These are great people. They are just fabulous people.

“He’s a real love. He’s a kind horse, but he’s hotter than hell. He’s really hot, so I have to be really careful,” he continued. “He can kick. He’d been roughed up pretty much before I got him. You can’t touch him with a whip; you can’t get around him with a whip, he’s scared to death. It’s a big feat for this horse to do this—even to be here—and do the one tempis and the piaffe [and] passage.”

(Want more on Michael? Read our annual Dressage issue, which came out May 25 & June 1, where we profiled Michael as part of our Living Legend series.)

Seven additional championships were awarded on Friday:


Grand Prix Adult Amateur Championship: Elfenfeuer & Alice Tarjan—69.0

Intermediare 1 Open Championship: Rocky Lane & Rebecca Knollman—70.13

Intermediare 1 Adult Amateur Championship: Fabio Bellini & Rachael Hicks—68.55

Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship: Don Cartier & Rachael Hicks—72.18

Third Level Open Championship: Carzanola & Nancy Hinz—73.76

Training Level Open Championship: Heartson & Debbie Hill—75.83

Second Level Adult Amateur Championship: E. Felix & Kristen Ort—71.13

See full results here.




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