Michael Poulin Back in CDI Arena for First Time Since USA Team Bronze Performance at 1992 Barcelona Olympics

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Michael Poulin riding Flair at the Kentucky CDI3*. © 201 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Michael Poulin riding Flair at the Kentucky CDI3*. © 201 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, May 26, 2014–Michael Poulin, who will turn 69 years old next month, is back in the CDI Grand Prix arena this year for the first time since he rode Graf George on the United States bronze medal team at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992.

Michael competed Flair, a 13-year-old KWPN mare, at Grand Prix in the Kentucky CDI3* last week after the international debut for the pair at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington at the end of March.

He is developing the horse at Big Tour for owner Pineland Farms, a 5,000-acre (2,000Ha) working farm, business campus and educational and recreational facility in New Gloucester, Maine, that was an old mental helth institution completely renovated and recreated for its current endeavor by the Libra Foundation.

There, he works with lead trainer Gwyneth McPherson in the equestrian center. She trained Flair and he is developing the Grand Prix but Gwyneth will eventually take over the horse again.

For Michael, being a father of four children was a commitment that took precedence over his competition career though he never quit riding or training. Two daughters, Gwen and Katherine have remained active riders and both have competed at Grand Prix. Katherine with Brilliant Too was on the U.S. gold medal team at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2007.

Now, with his family grown up, “you’ve got to have goals. If you want to be back in the show ring you need something to motivate you.

“I want to do it until I’m 85.”

Michael is a proponent of classical dressage training and has learned from some of the masters. And he’s worked with Olympians Lendon Gray and Carol Lavell who with Gifted was also on the 1992 Bareclona team.

Graf George, 10 years old when Michael rode the gray gelding in Barcelona, was competed by Günter Seidel for another bronze medal for the U.S. at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and at the 1998 World Equestrian Games in Rome.

Michael Poulin on Graf George
Michael Poulin on Graf George

He feels at home on a horse and rides five or six a day, and plans to move to Pineland for the summer where he hopes to pass on his knowledge of horses and horsemanship. But he’s given up judging–“there’s no money in it.”

His family still owns the 130-acre farm near Augusta, Maine where he based his business for many years. With an older brother, Bill–there were 11 children in the family–he helps to renovate the place.

He is based at his farm at Deleon Springs, Florida during winter and for several years staged symposiums there of trainers, judges, instructors, riders, owners and organizers with the aim of improving understanding between all elements in the sport. He was instrumental in the founding of the U.S. Dressage Federation’s Instructor certification program and is a certified examiner for the program. He was inducted into the USDF Hall of Fame in 2012.

Now, he said, “I shut my mouth, do my thing and live out my life.”