As we begin 2023, USDF is taking the opportunity to commemorate some members of our dressage community that we have lost during the last year. These people and horses were not only respected and admired in our sport, but also so deeply loved by those who knew them best. We remember each of them, mourn their loss, and celebrate their lasting impact on the sport.
Carolyn K. “Lynn” Boomer
On March 28, the dressage community lost Carolyn K. “Lynn” Boomer, at age 90. For over a decade, she managed the dressage philanthropic organization The Dressage Foundation (TDF). Along with her late husband, John Boomer, they were a powerhouse for leadership in the dressage community. John was the son of TDF founder and USDF “founding father” Lowell Boomer. You can read more in her full obituary in the July/August issue 2022 of USDF Connection.
This year, the dressage world lost the sensational stallion Equador MVL quite suddenly. The 13-year-old was rushed into surgery after a cervical injury, and despite the best efforts of leading surgeons in his home country of France, he did not survive. With rider João Torrão, the pair represented Portugal at the 2021 Olympics. Equador and João Torrão “ developed a partnership difficult to express in words,” said Diogo Lima Mayer, director at Monte Velho. “They have written history for Portugal and the Lusitano breed, breaking records and opening new horizons for our country in dressage. Their history has inspired us and the whole equestrian community worldwide.”
The para-dressage community said farewell to a legend, with the loss of Hope Hand on June 12. She was 73. Hope was known for her charisma and quick wit. Not only an elite competitor, she was also a longtime leader in para-equestrian sport. In 1996, she was an alternate for the US Atalanta Paralympic para-dressage team, and in 2000, she was captain at the Sydney Paralympics. At the time of her competitive career, para-dressage was not as prominent as it is today – much of its newfound prestige and popularity can be attributed directly to Hope’s diligent work, as she established the United States Para-Equestrian Organization (USPEA) in 2010 and served as its President until her death. The USPEA became the first para-equestrian affiliate organization of US Equestrian. She also served on many committees and advisory boards, striving to improve the opportunities and resources for para-equestrians. You can read more about Hope in the Obituary Section of the September/October 2022 issue of USDF Connection.
Dr. Audrey Evans
On September 29, Dr. Audrey Evans passed away at the age of 97. She was a pioneering pediatric oncologist, longtime equestrian-sport supporter, and adult amateur dressage competitor. She was also a co-founder of the Ronald McDonald House, which provides comfort, care, and services to families of sick and injured children. Dr. Evans was a trailblazer – in a time when most doctors were men, she became a physician. During her many years of leadership in her field of oncology, she developed the Evans Staging System, which is credited with reducing fatality rates by more than 50%. Dr. Evans was heavily involved in Dressage At Devon for many years and was honored at the show in 2006 with a special ceremony, along with her having completed her Century Club Ride at the show. A major motion picture is currently being developed about her life. You can read more about Dr. Evans in the Obituary Section of the January/February 2023 issue of USDF Connection. You can also learn more about her work with the Ronald McDonald House in the story McMiracle Worker.
Sharon Rose Poulin
Sharon Rose Poulin, 73, of Deleon Springs, FL passed away on November 28th, 2022 after a tenacious fight with metastatic breast cancer. Sharon’s father, Vinnie, was her great supporter, buying her first horse, Whiskers, and helping Sharon establish a summer riding school at their Norway home. Many other horses followed, and Sharon enjoyed riding a variety of disciplines. She and her husband, Michael, joined forces and ran a successful horse farm and dressage training facility in Fairfield, ME while wintering in Florida to participate in the winter show circuit. Sharon’s many accomplishments in dressage include: earning her USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medals, holding an “S” (Senior) judge’s license with the USEF, competing and placing in two Olympic Sports Festivals, and training numerous horses to the Grand Prix level, including stallions Pyrmont, Boleem, and Brilliant. Sharon mentored and trained many young riders, professionals and adult amateurs to the highest level in dressage. She shared her nearly 60-year career with her husband and partner, Michael, and supported every aspect of his successful road to the Olympics while simultaneously being the glue that held the family and business together.
Former USDF President Kay Meredith passed away November 14, at age 86. She was one of the early stars of dressage in America, earning her USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medals, and winning numerous USDF Dressage Horse of the Year titles, all the way from First Level up to Grand Prix. Some of her most notable dance partners were Lyrik, Silent Echo, Domino, and Encore. She was shortlisted for the Seoul Olympics in 1988, and the very next year, was named Horsewoman of the Year by the American Horse Show Association (now US Equestrian). Not content with being solely a competitor, she was also an active volunteer, earned her “S” judge’s license, was a prolific writer of dressage (and non-dressage) related literature, and became heavily involved in the idea of creating a national dressage organization. She was instrumental in the founding of USDF, and went on to serve as Vice President (1975-1977) and President (1977-1982) of the organization. Along with her husband, Ron, she established the Meredith Manor International Equestrian Centre, a respected equestrian college with the goal of preparing students for a wide-range of equine-related careers. For her many contributions to dressage, Kay was awarded the USDF Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. You can read more about Kay in the Obituary Section of the March/April 2023 issue of USDF Connection.
Kathryn (Kat) Kyle
On December 9, Kathryn (Kat) Kyle passed away. Kat dedicated much of her life to the sport of dressage. In addition to teaching, training, and mentoring, she was also an avid promoter of dressage and all things equine. She served as USDF Region 9 Director from 2002-2007, and was a USEF “r” Licensed Dressage Judge. She was very involved in USDF Group Member Organizations, serving as President of the Alamo Dressage Association, and helping to found the New Mexico Dressage Association. Kat was named Region 9’s Horseperson of the Year in 2007. She was also a breeder of sporthorses. You can read more about Kat on the USDF Region 9 website.
Living to the ripe age of 28, the world lost dressage legend Salinero in December 2022. The bay Hanoverian gelding, with rider Andy van Grunsven, won consecutive individual gold medals at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. He joined an elite club of horse-and-rider duos to win consecutive Olympics individual dressage golds with only Nicole Uphoff and Rembrandt (1988, 1992), and Charlotte Dujardin and Celegro (2012, 2016) having accomplished the feat. He was also a freestyle gold medal winner at the 2006 World Championships in Aachen, where his score broke the world record. After a short retirement, he was brought back for one last hurrah in the London 2012 Olympics when Andy’s intentend mount was injured, where they finished sixth in the Individual Test, and helped the Netherlands team to earn a bronze. He was then permanently retired to Andy’s farm, where he lived out the rest of his years. His favorite treats were bananas.
Please take a moment to join us in remembering these people and horses who dedicated so much of their time and expertise to the sport of dressage. They represent just a few of the losses to the US dressage community during 2022. Let us know who your barn is remembering and commemorating in the comments below.