Sunday, May. 26, 2024

Michael Poulin Ad Libs For Freestyle Victory

Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 7

Last night Michael Poulin predicted he'd win tonight's freestyle.

Of course if you ask his daughter Gwen she'll tell you it's because she didn't compete tonight.



Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 7

Last night Michael Poulin predicted he’d win tonight’s freestyle.

Of course if you ask his daughter Gwen she’ll tell you it’s because she didn’t compete tonight.

(She beat him in the Grand Prix the evening before.)

“Thank God my kid wasn’t here tonight!” he joked at the following press conference.

Joking aside, Michael’s test with Thor M (72.58%) held a full one-point lead over reserve Emily Miles and Weltdorff (71.20%). The top three contenders all scored in the 70s, with Heather Mason rounding out the group, scoring a 70.91 with Zar.

“It worked out tonight. I did two things tonight I’ve never done with the horse. I did half pass, two tempis, pirouette, then more two tempis all the way through the corner and I’ve never done it with him. I tried it once. He’s really quite a clever horse. I did 37 ones in tonight’s test, consecutively.

Michael isn’t a fan of freestyles; he believes the repetitive approach to learning the test can be detrimental to the horse, so he decided to forgo practicing it.

“So most of my life is get the music, I like the music, thanks to this lady in the back, Gweneth McPherson, my boss at Pineland [Farm Equestrian Center], she put the music together with her daughter, and I’ve got to give her all the credit. She’d been after me, ‘You’ve got to do this. You know you’re going to do it again. You’re going to do it tomorrow.’ I said, ‘I’m OK with it.’

“I didn’t practice it at all. I have on my iPhone an actual tape and I watch it,” he said. “I ride the freestyle by numbers. I’m good with numbers. It takes me so many numbers to get to certain point and so many to the other and I listen to the music, and I don’t have any trouble with it.”

(To learn more about Michael’s approach to freestyles, pick up a copy of the Nov. 23 & 30 issue of the Chronicle.)


Michael’s music is a mixture of Scottish and Celtic music primarily from the Brave soundtrack.

“We were struggling about what kind of music to use for Thor because he’s such a big guy,” said McPherson, “and I was driving along in my Subaru with my daughter in the car, and we had her Brave soundtrack on and she said, ‘Mommy, some day I want to ride to this music!’ And I was like ‘Gasp! This is it! This is it!”

Miles also took a less-is-more approach to her freestyle. She only got her music last Saturday, so she didn’t have a chance to ride it before traveling from Kansas to the finals.

“I filmed it a week ago. My person who does my music, Erin Boltik, she’s a student of mine, she also gets very fed up with me because I’m like, ‘I’ll get it to you; I’ll get it to you,’ and then put it together, send it to her and it’s similar music, and luckily Willie’s pretty steady.

“I listened to it twice, three times.”

“I watched your ride and I loved it,” Michael told Miles. “Gwenth and I were like, ‘She’s practiced that a lot!’ ”

“I did,” added McPherson, ‘I was like, ‘She practiced hers! You ruined it for me!”

A highlight of Miles’ test was her final trip down centerline where she performed one-handed tempi changes.

“It’s always a big crowd pleaser,” she said with a grin. “He has really straight one tempis, so I like to stare the judge in the eye and it was Lilo [Fore] down there and at first she was pretty straight-faced and then I saw a little grin, and I was like, ‘HmmHmm, You know it!’

“She was like, ‘Oh no you don’t,’ and I was like, “HmmHmm” Luckily he’s a good boy about stuff like that. Again, highlighting precision. Maybe he doesn’t have the biggest one-tempis, but they can be straight, and I don’t need two hands.”

The day was full of championships with the following being awarded throughout the day:


Grand Prix Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship: Elfenfeuer & Alice Tarjan—71.08

Intermediare 1 Freestyle Open Championship: Saphira & Heather McCarthy—73.12

Third Level Freestyle Open Championship: Griffindor & Brianna Zwilling—72.33

Intermediare 1 Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship: Bonifaz S & Colene Stevens—66.12

Fourth Level Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship: Welt Erbe & Amalia Boyles—69.94

First Level Adult Amateur Championship: Razmitaz & Catalina Sherwood—69.11

Third Level Adult Amateur Championship: Donneur & Katherine Lewis—71.23

Second Level Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship: Eye Candy & Amy Gimbel—76.33

Second Level Freestyle Open Championship:  HB Dschafar & Sara Schmitt—77.61

First Level Open Championship: Sternlicht Hilltop & Michael Bragdell— 74.36

Fourth Level Open Championship: Corenzo & Mike Suchanek—70.74

Full show results here.




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