Sue has been one of my longest students and friends that join me every winter in Florida. I’m so thankful to have her as part of the barn family.Ruth Hogan-Poulsen
Sue Michalek and Ruth Hogan-Poulsen have shared some good times from traveling to Europe horse shopping (pre-COVID!) to seeing the Northern Lights outside Ruth’s back door in Vermont.
She first met Ruth at a clinic in Ohio in 2000. Soon after, Sue started to make the annual pilgrimage from her home in Newbury, Ohio, to Wellington, Florida, to train with Ruth.
Training with Ruth
“Over the years, I’ve been so lucky not only to train with Ruth, but with other top names in dressage,” she shared. “I’ve been privileged to continue a 20-year relationship with Ruth, as I’ve learned that no one comes even close to her style of teaching, coaching and mentoring. She is creative and unique in her approach. as she tailors it to each individual horse and rider. She’s built my confidence and riding immensely.”
In fact, Sue is emphatic that Ruth’s help in regaining confidence has been the greatest gift she’s received from their training partnership.
“Ruth has never demeaned me or belittled me during my [riding] fears. She has always encouraged and supported me.”
Sue also credits Ruth with helping her adjust her position in the saddle to accommodate ongoing hip problems.
“This winter she helped me endlessly through pain I’ve been having with my hips (a hip replacement is now scheduled for October) and did mention that I hadn’t moved my hips in 20 years! 😊”
Earlier in their training relationship, Ruth coached Sue through her USDF Bronze and Silver Medals on two of her earlier mounts: Dansero, a 36-year-young Dutch Warmblood who continues to enjoy a well-earned retirement at her barn in Ohio, and Coast, her now semi-retired 22-year-old American Hanoverian.
Horse Shopping with Ruth
Ruth helped Sue find Coast as well as her current mount, 12-year-old Excelsior, a Lusitano gelding imported from Portugal.
“Ruth saved me with Coast,” Sue said of her first horse purchase with Ruth, after having lost confidence from a bad fall from a horse she had found on her own. “Ruth knows how to match people with horses!”
With Coast joining the well-loved and long-retired schoolmaster Dansero in a more leisurely lifestyle, Ruth matched up Sue with Excelsior. [insert information on Sue’s riding goals]
“Sue’s riding goals have always included learning to be a better partner with her horse. Sure we have gone to shows – and will again,” explained Ruth of her long-time friend and student. “But keeping her horses happy and learning how to be a better leader for them has always been her priority. I love that because it just takes the time that it takes [to reach her goals.] No short cuts. No pressure. Just learning and enjoying the passion of dressage and our horses.”
A Challenging Season
In addition to the difficulties we all collectively experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21, Sue mourned the loss of Don, her beloved husband of 25 years.
“I think all of us that are passionate about horses will agree that the smell of the barn, the hay, the manure!!! and the soft nicker that comes with unconditional love, fills our hearts during difficult times,” Sue shared, with gratitude for the healing we can find with our equine friends.
“Since Don gifted Dansero (now 36) to me while we were dating, and later coordinated the purchase of Coast (after a bad fall) so that I would have a nice – safer – horse to continue with, and now Excelsior is one of the first beautiful things I see looking out of his dutch door at me, there is no doubt that they heal.”
Originally Published April 2017 by Sue Weakley | Edited and Updated July 2021 by Ariana Marshall
Interested in an training with Ruth Hogan-Poulsen? Ruth in-person and remote occasionally has slots become available. Read more about training with Ruth!