Graduate A USPC and eventing competitor since 12 years old, Adult Amateur Nancy Grout has been riding with Ruth Hogan-Poulsen since 2019.
Adult Amateur Dressage Success in Retirement
A New Hampshire High School teacher for 35+ years, Nancy rides Phoebe, a 15.1hh bay Paint/Thoroughbred mare. Nancy first reached out to Ruth in 2019 when Nancy couldn’t make any progress with Phoebe, originally a PMU auction rescue.
Frustrated with not progressing and the mare’s unhappiness, Nancy just figured the mare was beyond her training ability. Nancy and her vet had already been through, ruling out one medical problem and feeding program solutions after another.
Coming from a rider and competitor with such a successful and extensive track record as Nancy, no wonder she was bewildered that none of her strategies worked with Phoebe!
“At the end of my rope, thinking that I had tried everything, I listed Phoebe on Horse.com … for free!”
But, before she had any takers on her free listing, she thought back to seeing Ruth in Jane Savoie’s videos.
“Knowing I learned mechanics and theory from Jane years earlier, I figured Jane would never feature a rider she did not trust. I nervously called, knowing Ruth is the real deal.”
After just two lessons, Ruth’s confidence in the mare’s talent convinced Nancy to give it another shot and pull Phoebe off the free listing.
“Four years later, we are working on movements I never thought I could do with Phoebe!”
Each year, while Team Poulsen is based in Vermont, Nancy has settled into a routine of trailering Phoebe up to Plainfield, Vermont, every other week or so to work with Ruth.
Nancy consistently puts in the work, and it is clear not just to Ruth, but also in the objective results that Nancy now sees at the show!
Highlights of her success since starting with Ruth include:
- GMHA member High Point Adult Amateur First Level Championship at Fall GMHA
- Adult Amateur First Level Champion at Fall GMHA
- CVDA First Level Champion May 2021
- Winning and placing in several First Level Tests
At the time of this article (December 2022), Nancy is one ride away from earning her USDF Masters Certificate at First Level. Her goal for 2023-24 is to pursue her USDF Rider Achievement Certificate and Masters Certificate at Second Level next!
Nancy is a great student – in between lessons, I know she has been practicing and thinking and trying to do the work. It’s been so wonderful watching her and Phoebe grow their relationship together.
Nancy has tools now and uses them – and Phoebe is so happy to know how to ask the questions! I’m so proud of them both!Ruth Hogan-Poulsen
This Adult Amateur’s Favorite Dressage Riding Tip
Nancy rattles of a list when asked about the most impactful thing that has “clicked” since working with Ruth: learning to sit into the saddle as I am sitting on a couch; allowing my arms to be ropes; stopping micromanaging and feel again; opening my sternum at the rise of the trot post; and several more!
As anybody who has ridden in a lesson with Ruth knows, she has a magical way of bringing explanations to life.
And, she has a seemingly endless arsenal of variations, when one description doesn’t click for a rider, she often can conjure up another image that will resonate!
Working with Ruth Hogan-Poulsen as an Adult Amateur
“The [best part of working with Ruth is the] positive vibe– I truly was a hot mess,” laughed Nancy. “Ruth found the core of the problem and slowly worked to bring components in alignment.”
“While I ride she always, always states a positive, ‘I like that rhythm,’ or ‘Your hands are better today,’ or ‘Much better with the transitions.’ Ruth makes a rider feel successful and validates the homework.”
“The flip side is her directness,” Nancy continued. “When improvement is still needed or an aid is needed now, Ruth will let you know!”
“One of my favorites, ‘Put your left cheek in the saddle and use your outside leg.’ Love it–because I was lost as to what to do with my aids before she said it.”
Dressage Riding as a Lifelong Learner
As an educator, Nancy explains why she uses Ruth’s Dressage Rider’s Journal each year.
“Writing down what happens each day and absolutely each lesson in her journals [is so important.] The graphics and hints help me stay organized. When I need to review an aid, I simply look back at my notes. When I wonder why Phoebe is acting in such a way, I look back to see if a pattern is developing.”
And, she truly has been a lifelong learner. Check out this image from a post on Eventing Nation, of Nancy as a Pony Clubber “way back when!”
Nutrition in Dressage Training
As she worked with Ruth on her riding, Nancy had still been bouncing around between supplement and feeding programs, trying to figure out what would work for Phoebe.
Based on Ruth’s recommendations, Nancy tried out and still uses Grand Meadows Premium for Phoebe and her other mare.
Thanks Nancy & Phoebe for being part of Team Poulsen!