Category Archives: Para-Equestrian

Support the Future of Para Equestrian Sport

Photo (c) United States Para-Equestrian Association.

United States Para-Equestrian Association Mission Statement  

To Help Develop, Promote, Support, and Sustain all USA Para Equestrian Athletes for Regional, National, and International Competition with a focus on Paralympic Equestrian Sport.

United States Para-Equestrian Association Vision Statement  

The vision of the United States Para Equestrian Association (USPEA) is to provide leadership for equestrian sport in the United States of America for athletes with an eligible physical impairment, promoting the pursuit of excellence from the grass roots to the Paralympic Games, based on a foundation of fair, safe competition and the welfare of its horses, and embracing this vision, to be the best national Para Equestrian Association in the world.

About USPEA

The United States Para-Equestrian Association (USPEA) includes every recognized equestrian discipline that is practiced by athletes with an eligible physical impairment with a focus on Paralympic Equestrian Sports. The USPEA is a network of current and past athletes, owners, officials, event organizers, and equestrian enthusiasts. The Association assists athletes to get involved and expand their knowledge and experience in the Disciplines of Para-Equestrian.

USPEA was created to fill a need to assist Para Equestrian disciplines when they came under the governance of the FEI. While Para Equestrian disciplines were originally segregated, they now are integrated in international sport. As each individual Para Equestrian discipline develops, it is USPEA’s mission to always serve as an advisory resource with the ultimate goal that the established able-bodied discipline affiliate will integrate within their organization.

In 2010, the USPEA earned its 501 (c)(3) status and became a recognized International affiliate association of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) working together to grow the FEI recognized disciplines by helping to provide press, educational information, symposiums, and competition opportunities for athletes with eligible physical impairments.

For more information about the USPEA, please visit www.USPEA.org or contact USPEA President: Hope Hand by e-mail: hope@uspea.org or by phone: (610)356-6481.

The USPEA is a USEF Recognized National Affiliate. The USEF International High Performance Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, USOC, and USEF Sponsors and Members. For more information please visit US Equestrian at https://www.usef.org/compete/disciplines/para-equestrian.

FEI European Championships in Olympic & Paralympic Disciplines Cancelled for 2021

The FEI European Championships in the Olympic and Paralympic disciplines of Jumping, Eventing, Dressage, and Para Dressage will not be held in 2021 due to the revised dates for the Tokyo Games next year. European Championships in the non-Olympic disciplines will still be organised in 2021.

The Hungarian capital of Budapest had been due to play host to five disciplines next summer – Jumping, Dressage, Para Dressage, Driving, and Vaulting – from 23 August to 5 September. However, the proximity of the Championships to the rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Games has meant that it is no longer feasible to run Jumping, Dressage, and Para Dressage. As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations of the first FEI European Driving Championships in Budapest back in 1971, the Organisers will maintain both Driving and Vaulting next year.

The FEI European Eventing Championships 2021 were scheduled to take place from 11-15 August at Haras du Pin (FRA), venue for the Eventing test of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014, but the decision has been made to cancel the Championships following the postponement of Tokyo 2020.

The new dates for the Tokyo Olympic Games are 23 July to 8 August 2021 and the Paralympic Games will run from 24 August through to 5 September 2021.

The FEI Board has agreed that the bid process for the European Championships 2021 in these four disciplines will not be reopened, as all organisers would face the same challenges of trying to host major Championships so close to the Tokyo Games.

“Together with the Organising Committees of both Budapest and Haras du Pin, as well as the Hungarian and French National Federations, we have examined every possible option to try and save the Championships in 2021,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said, “but we have reached the regrettable decision that it simply is not possible to have these important events so close to the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year.

“While there are some nations that have enough horsepower to send strong teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and also to the European Championships across the four disciplines, we have to offer a level playing field to all eligible countries and we simply cannot do that in this case, so we have agreed that the focus should be on Tokyo next year.

“Of course, it is desperately disappointing to lose these Championships from the 2021 Calendar, but we will continue to support Budapest with their double Europeans for Driving and Vaulting.”

The FEI Secretary General has overall responsibility for the FEI Calendar and is currently chairing the eight discipline-specific Task Forces that have been set up to seek ways of mitigating the effect of the current Covid-19 pandemic on the FEI Calendar, including the knock-on effects into 2021.

“It was the very first time that a Central European country had won the opportunity to organise the prestigious FEI multidiscipline European Championships, Dorottya Stróbl, Member of the Managing Board of the Budapest Organising Committee and Secretary General of the Hungarian National Federation, said. “We strongly believed that the event would serve as a high motivation for the owners and sponsors in Hungary and in the neighbouring countries and promote the sport towards the elite level, but we understand that the significant challenges of holding major FEI Championships in the Olympic and Paralympic disciplines in the year of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, has meant that unfortunately cancellation was inevitable. However, we will continue to work to ensure the very highest level of FEI Driving and Vaulting European sport in Budapest next year.”

Valérie Moulin, President of the Ustica Organising Committee at Haras du Pin, also expressed her disappointment: “We are very disappointed that the rescheduling of Tokyo 2020 has led to the cancellation of the Championships in Haras du Pin, but unfortunately we were unable to find alternative dates outside August 2021. We had gathered a lot of local partners and we were financially invested. All riders counted on this date; nevertheless, we understand that the situation has changed over the last months with the postponement of the Olympic Games. We have made a proposal to the FEI about potentially hosting the Championships in 2023 and we look forward to hearing about that.”

Discussions around other FEI Championships, including the Europeans in 2023, will be held during next month’s FEI Board videoconference meeting, which is set for 23-25 June.

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

We All Have More Strength Than We Think We Have: Rodolpho Riskalla

Rodolpho Riskalla with Don Henrico. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

“Some people think they can’t change, but we can all see now that when we are forced to change then we can do it.” This is coming from a man who knows what he’s talking about, 35-year-old Brazilian Dressage and Para-Dressage athlete Rodolpho Riskalla. He’s as disappointed as everyone else that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed until next summer, and that equestrian sport in general has ground to a standstill due to the pandemic.

But he has learned to take life, and everything it throws at him, in his stride. He knows what it is to have the world turned upside-down and the best-laid plans swept away in an instant. But he also knows what it is to grit your teeth and get back on your feet – in his case two new prosthetic ones – without ever taking your eyes off the prize. And right now his eyes are fully focused on nothing less than a gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2021.

Rodolpho is sitting beside the “camping car” (I’m imagining it’s a pretty smart RV) he’s sharing with his mother, Rosangele, and sister, Victoria, close to the stables at Haras de Champcueil, about 60km south of Paris, as we begin our chat. He has a long connection with Ecurie Marina Caplain Saint Andre at Champcueil, so when the French lockdown was about to begin he quickly closed up his Paris home and moved his two horses from their usual lodgings at the Polo Club in the heart of the capital city so that he could continue to be close to them in the countryside. “We didn’t know at the time if the Olympics were going ahead this year or not,” he says. “It was chaos!”

Dior

He works as an Events Manager for the Paris fashion house Christian Dior, and normally exercises his two competition horses at 7.30am every day before heading to the office. “The Polo Club is normally open to the public, but we were told it would be closing from March 16th (due to the pandemic lockdown) so we brought them here right away. Everything is closed in France until May 11th at least,” he explains.

Adapting to new situations has long been a way of life for Rodolpho who travelled over and back from his family home in Sao Paolo in Brazil to France and elsewhere in Europe during his early teens. “I spent a few months with Mariette Witthages in Belgium, and I went to Germany when I was about 20 and spent two years with Norbert van Laak. Then I went back to Brazil for about five years before deciding to leave again for Europe so I would be close to horses and shows and training, and that brought me here to work with Marina, who I already knew from when I was younger, for about two-and-a-half years as a manager and trainer before I started at Dior,” he says. He’s been based in France ever since.

Rodolpho, whose mother is a Dressage judge and trainer, always showed potential. He claimed gold in the South American Young Rider Dressage Championships in Buenos Aires (BRA) in 2004 and won the Grand Prix Special, finished third in the Grand Prix and fourth in the Freestyle at the CDI3* in Sao Paolo (BRA) in February 2012. He produced a series of strong results in Young Horse classes on the French circuit the following year and was hoping to move his horse, Divertimento, up to Big Tour level, and take a shot at a place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, when tragedy struck in the summer of 2015. He had to return urgently to Brazil.

Very Suddenly

“My dad got sick and he died; it happened very suddenly and by the time I got there he was already gone. I had to look after all the paperwork for that, and I needed to be with my family for a while. But then two weeks later I got sick,” he says. It was bacterial meningitis. “It’s a bit like Coronavirus; some people can get it and are not affected by it, but they can infect someone else. It came out of nowhere. I was good in the morning; I went to see the lawyer and then on to teach one of my friends. In the afternoon I felt like I was getting a flu and I had a high fever, and the next day my mother took me to hospital. I was very sick. They put me in a coma a couple of days later so I could breathe – my heart and everything was shutting down.

“I was in the coma for almost three weeks. Somehow, I managed to survive; they said probably because I was in good health and fit. But my hands and my legs – the extremities – suffered a lot. My (medical) insurance was here in Europe, so Dior managed to fly me back, and I had the amputations in Paris,” he says quite practically.

In June he had been competing at the CDI2* in Compiegne and chasing an Olympic dream. By October he had lost both feet, all the fingers on his right hand and some from the left. And then in November, although he was still very weak, he had to be transferred to a rehabilitation centre much sooner than expected because his hospital bed was needed for victims of the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks.

I ask Rodolpho how he coped with all this, mentally as well as physically.

No time to think

“I didn’t have time to think too much; that’s the good thing, and I was really lucky to have my family and friends with me all the time; that was so important,” he replies. And he’s clearly a rule-breaker. On 2nd January 2016, less than five months after falling ill, he went to the stable where one of the horses he had been riding was kept and was lifted into the saddle. He didn’t have his prosthetics fitted at this stage.

“We could get out every weekend from rehab and yes it was crazy to get on the horse that day, but this moment changed something in my head. I suddenly realised I could manage!

“When you have everything (all your limbs) you think you could never do without them. I was one of those people who would look at a person in a wheelchair thinking I could never be like them.”

He’d lost 30kgs, and with his amputation scars still raw he had to wait until March before his prosthetics could be fitted. However, by the time he was discharged from rehab on 1 May he’d already competed at his first two Para-Dressage shows on a horse borrowed from a friend. His doctors let him sneak out of the rehab facility, saying, “Go! but don’t tell anyone at the hospital!” he tells me with a laugh.

He has now mastered his movement so well that he has a separate set of prosthetics so he can go running a few times a week as well. He’s back competing in both Dressage and Para-Dressage. There’s just no holding this man down.

Transition to Para

Having competed up to Grand Prix Dressage level, he found the transition to Para a bit bewildering at first. He says you get away with nothing in a Para test. There are five grades of competition and Rodolpho competes in Grade lV. “There are a lot of transitions and small turns and the judges look at every little thing! When you ride Prix St George or Grand Prix, it’s one movement after another; in Para it’s about straightness, suppleness, contact, good transitions, and it has really improved my horses because you have to be right on point; everything has to be fluid. Sometimes at the higher level, riders produce a flashy half-pass but forget about the basics. I feel now that my PSG horse is much more on the aids,” Rodolpho explains.

It’s hard to believe that he made it to the Paralympics in his home country just four months after leaving hospital in 2016, finishing individually 10th with Warenne. His extraordinary story earned him the FEI “Against All Odds” award that year, and there was hardly a dry eye in the house when he walked to the stage at the Park Tower Hotel in Tokyo to accept his trophy in November. And then, two years later, he claimed individual double-silver in Para-Dressage at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA riding Don Henrico.

He’s had Don Henrico, which is owned by Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff of Gestüt Schafhof, since 2017. “He’s a stallion and sensitive, but right away we got along together. Some horses don’t adapt too well to Para riders; you can’t have a horse that’s too lazy or too big. In my case the disability is my legs and the reins (Rodolpho uses looped reins), but Don Henrico really played the game. He’s super fun!”

Don Frederic

Then along came Don Henrico’s brother, the stallion Don Frederic. “I needed a second horse and my sister was working for Ann Kathrin at the time and told me about him. She said he was a better mover and would suit me well.” However, Ann Kathrin wasn’t ready to sell, so Rodolpho continued his search for a back-up ride until, in a phone call with Ann Kathrin’s stepson Matthias Alexander Rath on the way home from last summer’s FEI European Championships in Rotterdam, he got an invitation to come and try the horse. They really clicked and, thanks to Brazilian friend Tania Loeb Wald who purchased him, Don Frederic joined Rodolpho’s team in November 2019.

“It took a few months for him to adapt and be a little more on my aids but he’s really great, a bit less sensitive than Don Henrico who sometimes has a little too much character! We started this year doing both Dressage and Para-Dressage and I took him to Doha (CPEDI3* in February 2020) where he was super and got three really nice scores (winning all three classes).”

Earlier in February Rodolpho competed Don Henrico at the CDI1* in Neumünster (GER), finishing fourth in the Intermediate Freestyle and fifth in the Prix St Georges, both won by German superstar Helen Langehanenberg. In Para-Dressage and in Dressage, the Brazilian rider is very competitive.

The postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to summer 2021 means he has even more time to really cement his partnership with Don Frederic. “So I’m in the lucky position of having two championship horses and now we don’t want to just go to Tokyo for a medal – we want gold!” he says with another laugh.

Adaptability

But I know it’s not a joke. This is a man with colossal inner strength and steely determination. I can sense he’s grinning when he confirms, “Yes, I always want more. I want to win; I want to be better. I’ve always been like that! That’s how I got through what I’ve been through because I was able to adapt. Adaptability is the key word, and pushing your own boundaries a bit. We all have more strength than we think we have!” he insists.

As we conclude our time together I ask him if he has a message for people worried about the instability in the world right now due the pandemic, and he replies, “It’s not an easy time for anyone because we don’t know what the future holds. We need to get past this and we’ll get there, but we can’t rush time and we’ve got to be patient.”

He concludes, “If there is one thing I have learned from my own experience over the last few years, it is that when people care about each other, then everything is easier.”

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Para-Dressage Newcomers Awarded Grants to Fund Ambitious New Dreams

Erika Wager and Clifton Zander (Photo courtesy of Erika Wager)

Exploring new breeds and disciplines is one of the most fun parts about being an equestrian. As we challenge ourselves to learn a new style of riding or master different training techniques, we inevitably become better athletes and horse people. Newcomers to U.S. para-dressage Meghan Benge (Windsor, S.C.) and Erika Wager (Delmar, N.Y.) are doing just that, and making a splash as they do.

Benge and Wager are both veteran competitors in a multitude of other disciplines, including endurance, hunters, combined driving, and even Thoroughbred racing and retraining, and were recently awarded grants from The Dressage Foundation’s Para-Equestrian Dressage Fund to support their growth in the para-dressage discipline. Both athletes are working to qualify for and compete at the Adequan®/USEF Para Dressage National Championships in the next couple of years.

READ MORE

Learn more about para-dressage and other para-equestrian programs by visiting the United States Para-Equestrian Association, a recognized affiliate of US Equestrian. Follow the USPEA on Facebook and Twitter.

by Ashley Swift
© 2020 United States Equestrian Federation

Apply Now for the USPEA Jonathan Wentz Memorial Grants

The Jonathan Wentz Memorial (JWM) Competition Grants were established to continue the dream of Paralympian Jonathan Wentz; to advance Para Dressage in the USA by supporting and encouraging Para Dressage Youth, Adult & Veteran athletes to set the goal of National and International competition.

At age 13 Jonathan set the goal of riding for the USA in the Paralympics. At age 16 he established a plan and budget to achieve his dream. In 2012, at the age of 21, Jonathan was able to achieve his dream of riding for Team USA in the 2012 London Paralympics, earning the highest placing of all U.S. equestrians that competed in London.

Jonathan saw the need to develop a pathway for Para Dressage Emerging athletes in order to help grow and improve Para Dressage in the USA. The Jonathan Wentz Memorial Grants were developed to help offset the expense of participating in National and International competitions to encourage the growth of USA Para Dressage. Download the grant application here.

Grant #1 The JWM Emerging Athlete National Competition Grant

The JMW Emerging Athlete National Grant is intended for Emerging Para Dressage Youth, Adult & Veteran athletes, ages 12 within the competition year through adults who are actively competing in National Para Dressage competitions at USDF/USEF Licensed competitions.

The JMW Emerging Athlete National Grant is intended to be used to help offset the expense of participating in National competitions. Grant reimbursement may include entry and stabling fees, trainer fees, and/or horse transportation,

Grants of $250 may be awarded for up to two USDF/USEF competition per calendar year, showing in FEI Para Dressage Test of Choice classes. Grants are subject to the approval of the USPEA board and availability of funding.

Guidelines for Application of The JWM Emerging Athlete National Competition Grant:

  1. Athletes must be an active member of USPEA.
  2. Must have a current USEF National Classification with a confirmed Grade or Review Set Date Status.
  3. Athletes must be age 12 or older within the competition year.
  4. Grant is to offset expense of entering and competing in a USDF/USEF Licensed competition in FEI Para Dressage TEST OF CHOICE classes.
  5. Athletes must submit a Jonathan Wentz Memorial Competition Grant Application (page 1) with expenses itemized, along with a copy of completed entry forms, invoices, and/or receipts for consideration of grants. Grants are intended for direct payment of specific competition expenditures, entry fees, stabling, and/or horse transport only. Checks made out to athlete or immediate family for reimbursement will require a completed W-9 and will be subject to approval.
  6. Athlete may only apply for one grant at a time (maximum two (2) Grant #1 per calendar year, six grants maximum lifetime).

Note: Athletes may only receive this grant a maximum of six times. Athletes who have achieved a 62% or higher in the Team, Individual, or Freestyle test at a CPEDI3* are not eligible for Grant #1.

Grant #2 The JMW Young Athletes International Competition Grant

The JMW Young Athletes International Competition Grant is intended for assisting USA Para Dressage Young Athletes (ages 16-21 within the competition year), who are eligible to compete in CPEDI 1-3* International Para Dressage competitions and have not yet achieved a 62% or above in the Team or Individual FEI Para Dressage tests at a CPEDI3*.

The JWM Young Athletes International Competition Grant is intended to be used to help offset the expense of participating in International (CPEDI) competitions. Grant reimbursement may include entry and stabling fees, trainer fees, and/or horse transportation.

Grants may be awarded up to $1,000.00 for the athletes competing in a CPEDI competition. Grant amount will be based on horse transport mileage. (> 500 miles = $500.00; > 750 miles = $750.00; > 1,000 miles = $1,000.00 max. Miles noted are based on one way.)

Grants may be awarded for a maximum of one CPEDI event per competition year with a maximum of $1,000.00 awarded per competition. Grants are subject to the approval of the USPEA board and availability of funding.

Guidelines for Application of The JWM Young Athletes International Competition Grant:

  1. Athletes must be an active member of USPEA (membership at uspea.org).
  2. Athletes must be 16-21 years old within the competition year.
  3. Athletes must have a USEF National Classification or FEI International Classification with an assigned Grade with the status of Confirmed or Review Set Date. A FEI Classification is mandatory for participation in a FEI CPEDI.
  4. Athlete must have received a minimum score of 64% in the past 6 months at a USDF/USEF Licensed show or through USPEA Video Judging in the Novice A & B test for a CPEDI 1 & 2*; and in the Team, Individual, and Freestyle test for a CPEDI3*. Tests must be in the athlete’s classified grade.
  5. Grant is intended to offset the expense of entering and competing in an FEI CPEDI.
  6. Athletes must submit a Jonathan Wentz Memorial Competition Grant Application (page 1) with expenses itemized, along with a copy of completed entry forms, invoices, and/or receipts for consideration of grants. Grants are intended for direct payment of specific competition expenditures, entry fees, stabling, and/or horse transport only. Checks made out to athlete or immediate family for reimbursement will require a completed W-9 and will be subject to approval.
  7. Athlete may only apply for one grant at a time (maximum one (1) Grant #2 per calendar year, 2 grants maximum lifetime).

Note: Athletes may only receive this grant a maximum of two times. Athletes who have achieved a 62% or higher in the Team, Individual, or Freestyle test at a CPEDI3* are not eligible for Grant #2.

Both Grants are subject to the approval of the USPEA board and the availability of funds. Athletes may only apply for one Grant at a time.

Download the grant application here.

For more information about the USPEA, please visit www.USPEA.org.

Announcing the Para Dressage Virtual National Judging Program

USPEA is pleased to announce the 2019-2020 virtual Para Dressage Judging Program. To kick off the pilot program, one FEI Para 3* International Judge, Adrienne Pot, has graciously agreed to view video submissions and provide official score sheets for each test entered.

The Para Dressage Virtual judging program is the first step in tackling the huge geographical challenge in the US. It takes ongoing monitoring and regular assessment to improve performance in any sport, and we trust this great opportunity provided to you by USPEA will encourage you to pursue the sport of Para Dressage and allow you to achieve your goals, whether it be competition or just for the pure joy the horse can contribute to your well-being.

The Emerging National Virtual Judging Program is being offered to the riders as a first step into competition with an emphasis on using the Introductory Tests to work up the levels of their Classified Grade.

Eligibility

Athlete

  • All athletes, 12 years old and over, with a permanent, measurable, physical disability are welcome to enter a FEI Para Dressage Test of Choice (Introductory, Novice, Team, Individual, Freestyle) in their Classified Grade.
  • Riders must either have a National or FEI Classification riding at their grade level to participate in the program.
  • This Program is only for the Emerging Para Dressage Athlete for Classified Grade athletes wishing to compete at the National level. The National Program is to compliment the USEF Developing/Elite Program and not to replace or compete with the International Program.

Horse

Horses must be a minimum of six (6) years of age. The age is counted from the 1st January of the year of birth. Recommend horse be braided.

Dress

  1. All Athletes must be neatly and correctly dressed at all times.
  2. Protective Headgear must be worn by Athletes at all times when mounted.
  3. Black or brown boots or stout riding shoes with heels must be worn. Plain black or brown half-chaps or gaiters to the knee may be used.
  4. For On-Line Video Competitions, breeches shall be worn; jackets are optional, but recommended.
  5. Stock or tie: optional, but recommended. White, off-white, or same color as coat.
  6. Gloves: white, off-white, or same color as coat.
  7. Riding boots: black or same color as coat.
  8. Safety vests (including inflatable) are permitted.
  9. Spurs are optional. Spurs must be made of metal. The shank must be either curved or straight, pointing directly back from the center of the spur when on the Athlete’s boot. Spurs must not be offset, unless allowed as a compensating aid and noted on the FEI Classification Master List. The arm of the spur must be smooth and blunt. If rowels are used, they must be blunt, smooth, and free to rotate. Metal spurs with round hard plastic knobs (‘Impulse’ spurs) or “Dummy” spurs with no shank are allowed.

Saddlery

FEI Rules can be found here: https://inside.fei.org/fei/regulations/para_dressage.

FEI Dressage Tests

FEI Para Dressage Tests may be found here: https://inside.fei.org/fei/your-role/organisers/p-e-dressage/tests.

Gr. I, II, III must ride in 40 x 20 meter arena.

Gr. IV, V must ride in 60 x 20 meter arena.

Video Procedure

The camera must be placed at “C” (far end of ring/arena). If the zoom feature is used, the horse may be no larger than ¼ of the screen. The recording should start approximately 5 seconds before the rider enters the arena. In an indoor arena, the rider may already be in the arena, and the recording will start 5 seconds before the judging of the class begins. The recording should finish approximately 5 seconds after the class ends or after the final salute at the end of the test.

  • It is recommended that you film with your back to the sun.
  • Make sure the camera is steady and the horse in the center of the frame.
  • Use highest quality setting on camera.
  • Set the zoom before you start and do not alter it once you have started filming.
  • Ensure the light setting is correct for the time of day.
  • Stand at C either with your back to C or behind C facing A and do not move from that spot.
  • Make sure you video from the start of the test as you turn on center line and keep videoing until after the final halt so we can see some walk work as you leave the arena (1/2 dozen steps or so).
  1. Make sure that a well-lighted ring/arena is used.
  2. Riders entering the FEI Freestyle to music test must ensure that the sound on the video recording device is switched on and that the music can be clearly heard in the video.
  3. The name of the video file should include the rider’s last name, horse name, date, Grade, and test being submitted.
  4. Videos may include more than one test providing there is a five second pause between tests, and are clearly marked with the test, date, rider’s last name, and horse name.

Please Note: If athlete submits video from competition, then athlete will not receive scores from the Virtual Judging Panel. Only comments.

How to Create a YouTube Account

Go to YouTube.com and create an account. To do this, click on the “Sign Up” button at the top of the screen. Fill out all of the requested information. An e-mail will be sent to you to confirm your e-mail address. Clink the link in the e-mail to confirm.

Customize Your YouTube Profile

You can customize your profile by clicking on your username at the top of the screen. You can choose to add a photo, video logs, favorite videos, subscribers, and friends.

Fill In the Video Upload Information

To upload a video, go to the upload page by clicking on “upload” in the upper right corner of the homepage. On this page, fill out your video information, including title, description, and tags. Tags are key words used to describe your video, i.e. Gr. Test.

Upload the Video to YouTube

The next step is to upload your video onto YouTube from your computer. Click on “Upload Video” to find the video file on your computer. Next, click the browse button to search for the file you want to upload. Double click on the file and it will appear in the text box. Click on “Upload Video”.

Please be aware that posting videos on YouTube without security settings will allow outside individuals to view your video. It is highly recommended that users set the YouTube security setting to “unlisted” (meaning only those who have been provided the link can view the video).

Video Entry Process and Checklist

Entry Due Date: 25th of each month.

Once riders have a video of themselves performing a specific test, send the YouTube video link to Hope Hand, President of The United States Para-Equestrian Association, at wheeler966@aol.com along with the trainer name, trainer email, trainer phone. If no trainer, use rider info, rider name, horse name, grade, test, and detail on rider classification (non-classified, classified National, or International). When you are uploading your video, please ensure your video and entry meets the following requirements.

  • Have you previewed your video to ensure that it is clear and meets the entry requirements?
  • Is your video in one of the following file formats: avi (audio video interleave), mov (QuickTime-Apple), wmv (winder media video), or flv (flash)?
  • Is your video less than 2 GB?
  • Is your video file name properly saved (i.e. rider last name and test entered)?
  • “Unlisted” YouTube link (only those who have been provided the link can view the video).
  • Once your submission is completed, USPEA will forward the YouTube Video link to the International Judge for her review.

Cost

Each Test will cost the rider $15.00 paid through Athlete’s Venmo Account to be paid on the date Video is submitted for review. Athlete will then forward the Venmo Receipt and YouTube Video to USPEA at Wheeler966@aol.com.

Prior to submitting the test for judging, payment must be made.

Results

The results of each test submitted will be completed by the International Para Dressage judge and returned to the USPEA, who will forward the score sheets directly to the athlete and trainer, along with any comments made by Emerging Athlete Trainers.

Other Rules

  • The Judges’ decisions are final.
  • No communication or discussion will be entered into with the judges involved.
  • Videos of tests must not have been recorded at any official competition. Any video which is suspected of having been filmed during a competition will not be accepted.
  • If the quality of a video is considered too poor to be judged, the competitor will be given the opportunity to submit a further video.
  • Athletes may only submit 2 individual tests of choice and 1 Freestyle Test per month (maximum 3 tests monthly), as described above under Costs.

For more information about the USPEA, please visit www.USPEA.org.

Fifteen Para-Equestrian Nations Earn Team Slot for Tokyo 2020

Photo: FEI/Liz Gregg.

The identity of the 15 nations who will contest the Para Dressage Team title at this summer’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has been revealed. By qualifying, each country will be able to send up to four athletes to Tokyo.

Joining Great Britain, The Netherlands, and Germany, who secured their places at FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon in 2018, are the USA, Italy, Sweden, Canada, Singapore, Denmark, Belgium, Australia, and Austria. They qualified by being either in the top seven teams in the International Equestrian Federation’s world rankings (apart from those three who qualified at WEG), or the top team in either Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. As host nation, Japan will also field a full team.

Currently Russia has also qualified, but its participation in the Games is yet to be confirmed.

“Team Canada is delighted to have secured a team slot for Canada Tokyo,” Canada’s Coach and Chef d’equipe Clive Milkins said. “It is a recognition of the determination hard work, committed effort and motivation from all our grooms, athletes, and coaches involved from grass roots to international level. The hard works starts now.”

The team competition in Tokyo will be a hotly contested one. In the race for medals, USA who are currently ranked world number one, will mount a strong challenge, while Denmark has significant talent. Belgium will also be in with a shot as will a resurgent Australia and Austria. The Netherlands, currently European and World champions, will be desperate to add Paralympic gold to that pair, while the British will do everything in their power to defend the title, having won at every Paralympic Games since Para Dressage was introduced in Atlanta in 1996.

And in Tokyo, the team competition is given extra tension by changes to the format. The team medal will now be decided over two days by just three riders per country (it used to be four). Not only that, the three competing riders won’t be chosen until the Games themselves, on completion of the individual titles on the first two days of competition.

Outside of the team competitions, a host of other nations have gained slots for up to two of their top athletes, so the Games will see individual competitors coming from South Africa, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Latvia, and Brazil. There’ll also be athletes from Norway, Finland, and Mexico in the mix too. Further individual allocations will also be made as the year progresses according to the rules of the bipartite commission.

The Para Dressage competition will be held at the Tokyo 2020 Equestrian Park from Thursday 27 to Monday 31 August. Individual medals will be decided on the first two days, the team completion takes place on the Saturday and Sunday, and the whole competition rounds off with all five grades’ freestyle titles being decided on Monday.

Click here for more information on the Paralympics qualification.

Names of athletes competing will start to be announced from mid-July, on completion of nations’ individual selection processes.

By Rob Howell

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

Adequan US Para-Dressage Team and US Athletes Dominate in Florida

Photo by: Lindsay Y. McCall.

Wellington, FL – February 6, 2020 – Twenty-two horse and rider combinations competed at the 2020 Adequan Global Dressage Festival 3 CPEDI3*, January 21-24. Para-Dressage riders from Canada, Mexico, Republic of South Africa, and USA rode to top placings in the International Ring at the Global Dressage Festival in beautiful Wellington, Florida. In the Team competition, the Adequan® U.S. Para-Dressage Team, led by chef d’equipe Michel Assouline, earned the championship over Canada. The U.S. Team included Beatrice de Lavalette (Lake Worth Beach, Fla.) in Grade II riding Duna, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare she co-owns with Elizabeth de Lavalette and Nicolas de Lavalette; Rebecca Hart (Loxahatchee, Fla.), in Grade III, with El Corona Texel, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Rowan O’Riley; Marie Vonderheyden (Wellington, Fla.) in Grade I and London Swing, an 18-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Eleanor Brimmer and Liza MacMillan; and Roxanne Trunnell (Wellington, Fla.) in Grade I and Dolton, an eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Flintwoode Farms LLC and Karin Flint. Trunnell also earned the individual championship with her 77.738% in the FEI Grade I Team Test, 78.572% in the FEI Grade I Individual Test, and the highest score of the show, a 81.878% in the FEI Grade I Freestyle Test, resulting in an overall of 77.699%. This was Trunnell’s second consecutive championship at the Global Dressage Festival in 2020. During the January 8-11, CPEDI3* Trunnell earned multiple scores over 81%. Taking home the reserve championship was Sydney Collier and the Hanoverian All in One, owned by Going for Gold LLC. Collier, also in Grade I, averaged a score of 73.384%. The US Para-Dressage riders have an intense year ahead as they prepare for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo August 27-31.

Champion Para-Dressage athlete Roxanne Trunnell noted, “Karin Flint’s Dolton was such a superstar at the ADGF 3 CPEDI3*. I was a little worried how he would handle another CPEDI so soon after the last one, but he handled it like a champ. On the first day we started off with another solid test, but I had gotten so excited about it while going down the final centerline that I was not as strong with my aids for the final halt, resulting in the halt not being square. The second day I could feel that the back to back shows were catching up to him and I just didn’t have as much horse under me as I usually do. I had to use a lot of leg during that ride, but it was once again a wonderful test and we nailed that final halt.”

She recalled her freestyle under the lights. “I love our freestyle and I think Dolton does too, so my only concern was that he didn’t get startled by the scoreboard like he did during the first CPEDI. He didn’t even give it any attention, so I was very very pleased with, since this was only the second time he’s showed under the lights.”

During the next few months building up to the Tryon CPEDI3* in June, Trunnell and Dolton will continue to show at the Global Dressage Festival National shows while training at Helgstrand Dressage.

Reserve champion rider Sydney Collier will also be attending the National Shows in Wellington following her successful CPEDI3* with All in One, owned by Going for Gold LLC. Collier expressed, “We were in the zone more than ever at this CPEDI3*. I am so proud of Alle for going into the ring at global and owning it. He is such a special horse in that he really takes any situation in stride and loves showing. I am so lucky to have found him and have had an opportunity to get him because of Georgina (Bloomberg, owner Going for Gold LLC). I don’t even have words to explain how grateful I am for all for these opportunities in Wellington that have opened up since all of these people have joined my team.”

Collier continued, “I had so much fun at this show. Honestly anytime I get to show any horse it is a blast but even more so with Alle because he is so special. He really looks forward to going into the ring. My trainer Katie Robicheaux and I have been working to master my geometry which was something I struggled with for years due to my vision. At this show my geometry was one of my stronger points but there is further room for improvement. I was also proud of our halts since in a walk test there are three of them and they weigh heavily on the total score. Alle is a great horse and I love his walk quality. A great walk was one gait that we searched hard for in each horse until we found him. It is a beautiful walk to ride in and out of the show ring. Horses are either born with a walk or they aren’t. It’s not a gait you can fix or create.”

Collier like Roxanne Trunnell is on her way as she aims at the Tokyo Paralympics. Collier added, “As Alle and I move along this pathway to Tokyo I remain dedicated to my goal of helping the US Team win the gold medal for America. Bringing this medal back to the USA would proudly represent every person who has stood behind the three horses and riders on their way to the podium. From the farrier, veterinarians, grooms, sponsors, support staff, to our Federation, the teams that stand behind each horse and rider are the dedicated individuals who make success possible for our country at the Games.”

Following the national shows at Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida, Collier will head North to prepare for the summer.

Collier acknowledged, “I would like to thank Georgina Bloomberg for giving me the opportunity to ride, my sponsors Kastel Denmark, TheraPlate, Evermore Pet Foods, Dressage Sport Boots, Romitelli Boots, Equicizer, NupaFeed, Respond systems, OnTyte, Sport Horse Saddlery, Massage Sport Boots, Stacey Bradley Designs, Mastermind Equestrian, Flex Sticks, Eco Vet, and everyone who is a part of our team.”

Trunnell, Collier, and all of the U.S. international para-dressage riders aiming at the Tokyo Paralympics are looking forward to the next few months before selection of the U.S. Team and heading down centerline in Tokyo scheduled August 2020.

For more information about the USPEA, please visit www.USPEA.org.

Sydney Collier Earns Reserve Champion Title at AGDF CPEDI3*

Sydney Collier and All In One. Photo by Jump Media.

Wellington, FL – U.S. Paralympic rider Sydney Collier and her mount All In One, owned by Going for Gold LLC, collected top placings during the CPEDI3* held at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival on January 22-26 in Wellington, FL.

Collier made her way on the podium three times, opening with a second-place score of 70.298% in the CPEDI3* Team Test Grade I, before again finishing second on a 73.631% in the CPEDI3* Individual Champ Grade I the following day. She and All In One closed out a spectacular week with a personal best score of 77.80% in their “Kung Fu Panda”-themed CPEDI3* Freestyle Grade I.

“We stepped in the ring and made every moment count. It brought the biggest smile to my face,” said Collier of her performances with All In One throughout the week. Together, they claimed reserve champion honors for the show.

“He’s the horse of a lifetime and every moment I get to spend riding him is the best time of my life,” continued Collier of All In One, or “Alle”, purchased for her in July by top U.S. show jumper Georgina Bloomberg. “I want to thank Georgina for bringing us together and cheering us on as we work towards Tokyo 2020. Also, to my trainer Katie [Robicheaux], a million thank yous for putting our heads, hearts, and hooves in the right direction.”

Bloomberg purchased All In One for Collier to help the determined rider realize a goal to be selected for the U.S. team at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. Collier, 21, has represented the United States at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Caen, France and the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, where she finished seventh individually riding Western Rose. In 2014, she won the Against All Odds award from the FEI.

“On my pathway towards Tokyo, I remain dedicated to my goal of winning a team gold medal for America,” said Collier. “Bringing this medal back for the USA would proudly represent every person who has stood behind the three horses and riders on their way to the podium. From the farriers, veterinarians, grooms, sponsors, support staff, and our Federation, the teams that stand behind each horse and rider are the dedicated individuals who make success possible for our country at the games.”

“I could not be prouder to be a part of this journey, as well as be Sydney and All In One’s number-one fan,” said Bloomberg. “There’s no one who loves representing the United States more than Sydney. To see them one step closer to riding for their country at the Olympic Games in Tokyo with such a fantastic performance in Wellington is very exciting.”

“Sydney, ‘Alle’, and I started working together three and half weeks ago,” said trainer Robicheaux of their new partnership heading into CPEDI competition in Wellington. “We had an instant connection! Sydney’s hard work and attention to detail is inspirational. There was a lot at stake for them at this competition and I was extremely proud of how they handled the pressure.”

Collier rides at the Grade I para-equestrian dressage level, in which the tests are performed at the walk only. She began riding as able-bodied at the age of seven, but switched to para-equestrian at age 11 after being diagnosed with the rare Wyburn Mason Syndrome. The congenital birth defect caused tumors and a massive stroke. A brain surgery also left her with limited use of the left side of her body, completely blind in her right eye, and three-quarters blind in her left eye.

Out of the tack, Collier is combining her riding career with pursuing a degree in communications online through DeVry University. She was awarded a full scholarship through the Athlete Career Education program of the United States Olympic Committee.

For more information on Sydney Collier, visit www.sydsparaquest.com.

For more information on Georgina Bloomberg, visit www.georginabloomberg.com.

Hope Hand Awarded Pegasus Medal of Honor

Hope Hand (front center) receiving her Pegasus Medal of Honor. Photo by Adam Brennan.

Wellington, Florida – January 23, 2020 – On January 10, 2020, equestrians gathered at the U.S. Equestrian Federation Annual Meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida. Top athletes, owners, horses, and supporters were honored for their dedication to the equestrian sport. Hope Hand (Newtown Square, Penn.) was awarded the Pegasus Medal of Honor that evening in front of a large and grateful crowd. Hand was commended on her interminable push over the past 25 years for growing the Para-Equestrian discipline from the grassroots through the high-performance level. The Pegasus Medal of Honor was created as an annual award to recognize individuals who have exhibited outstanding service to horses and the sport through their dedication. The Pegasus Medal of Honor was earned by individuals who have excelled in attracting people to the sport and have contributed to horse sport by advancing its popularity. Hand’s contributions to the sport have extended from being a Paralympic athlete to President of the United States Para-Equestrian Association to numerous board and staff positions within the international sport. Hand’s efforts occur on a daily basis to support and grow the sport she loves for both the horses and disabled athletes. Hand wears many hats including being both ambassador and role model.

Hand has been a part of Para-Equestrian since it was a network of therapeutic linked shows, borrowed mounts as catch rides, the introduction of Paralympic Equestrian, joining USEF, the addition of Para-Driving, and the first World Equestrian Games with Para-Equestrian Dressage. Hand has been the wheels that made Para-Dressage a talked-about sport, but she rode to top medals in her equestrian career.

Hand was an alternate of the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Team and competed at the British Invitational in 1997, earning gold and a bronze. In 1998, she was one of the four disabled riders competing at the Bradshaw Challenge of Champions. As a member of Team USA, she won a bronze medal at the 1999 World Dressage Championships in Denmark and competed at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, Australia. From riding to ambassador Hope has helped propel the sport to where it currently stands.

In 2018, Hand witnessed the U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage team earn four medals at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon. For Hand, this was a pinnacle moment where every phone call, every plane flight, every clinic, and every ride down centerline was worth it all. With her cheerful personality and ability to accomplish any goal she sets forth, the Para-Equestrian sport continues to have a champion leader who gives it her all for the riders, coaches, sponsors, volunteers, show managers, and all involved.

Many of those riders, coaches, sponsors, volunteers, and show managers would say their first interaction with Para-Equestrian began with Hope Hand. Her words of encouragement and expertise are always welcome to newbies in the equestrian world.

Top international athlete Katie Jackson remembers that moment for her. “Hope was one of the first people I met when I began looking into para-dressage after my cancer.  I will always be grateful to her for how comfortable and welcome she made me feel as we sat together and she shared information with me.  Her enthusiasm and love for the sport were immediately apparent.  Hope has dedicated herself to furthering the para-equestrian sport and is someone I look to as a role model. She is generous in sharing her knowledge and experience and has devoted significant amounts of her time to para-sport on all levels.  From her involvement with USEF, USPEA, and her participation at the FEI level, to welcoming new riders at symposiums across the country and being ringside, always smiling and cheering on the riders, Hope is a true ambassador of our sport.  I cannot think of a person better suited to receive the Pegasus Medal of Honor.”

Tina Wentz, who served as a National Para equestrian classifier and later a FEI International classier and currently serves on the board of the USPEA, is a selector for the U.S. Team, and was mother to the late Paralympian Jonathan Wentz, joins Hand at many events and has been a part of the sport since 1998. Wentz said sincerely, “Sleep may be the only thing Hope Hand does not do well and it would be no wonder since she gives 110% of her boundless energy and time to Para-Equestrian Sport and Para-Dressage. Constantly promoting, recruiting, educating, and encouraging everyone she meets as she travels at her own expense to all US International and National Championship competitions and to numerous Para Dressage symposiums, clinics, and Centers of Excellence. Hope not only knows every US Para-Dressage athlete from emerging to elite but recruited many of them and is available 24/7 to all to advise, encourage, and educate them on their journey to be the best. Hope is well known in the Equestrian world for her tireless work in advancing Para-Equestrian sport and has served and is serving on numerous Boards and committees. All in the pursuit of bringing competition excellence to the US in Para-Dressage.”

Managing Director, USEF Licensed Officials Sally Ike, commented, “I hadn’t known that Hope was going to receive the Pegasus award until that evening when I saw her before dinner and congratulated her. Her acceptance speech brought back so many memories when she mentioned my name. I was first introduced to Hope about 25 years ago when I had a phone call from Jumper rider Debbie Stephens.  Debbie called to let me know that her friend Hope Hand was going to call me.  Most specifically, Debbie alerted me that Hope was in a wheelchair, and then clarified her statement by saying that there was nothing handicapped about her. Hope called, and brought some of her friends to help me with a clinic we were doing at the USET in Gladstone.  They did wheelies down the ramp to the USET’s Indoor.  The first Paralympic Games were a few years afterward.  An argument could be made that the Para-Equestrian movement in the United States began those November days at the USET. We have so much to thank Hope for; there is not a more deserving winner of this award.”

For more information about the USPEA, please visit www.USPEA.org or contact USPEA President: Hope Hand by e-mail: hope@uspea.org or by phone: (610) 356-6481.