Category Archives: Para-Equestrian

Para-Dressage Ride a Test Clinic and Schooling Show December 18

Ride On Therapeutic Horsemanship is proud to announce that it will be hosting a Para-Dressage Ride a Test Clinic/Schooling Show with David Schmutz, a FEI 4* Para-Equestrian and USEF Senior “S” dressage judge.

The clinic is open to riders with National or FEI classification, and other riders likely to qualify for Para with permission (please contact us).

Riders will have their test judged by David Schmutz, who will offer immediate feedback and the rider will be allowed to ride their test one more time. There will be a limited supply of borrowed horses available if you cannot bring your own.

National Classification will also be available with FEI Classifier Joann Benjamin by appointment.

Cost: $50 per test.

Stabling Saturday – Sunday or any part thereof: $35.
The clinic will be held at Ride On’s Chatsworth facility.
Warm-up will be available in a 20 x 40 arena.
More info: Megan McQueeney, 818-523-3960
jrsporthorses@gmail.com

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.

FEI General Assembly Votes in Favour of Olympic and Paralympic Rule Changes

Aki Murasato, Executive Director of International Relations with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee. (Richard Juilliart/FEI)

Tokyo (JPN), 22 November 2016 – The FEI General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed format changes for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020, which will now go to the IOC Executive Board for final approval in 2017.

Under the new proposals, the number of athletes in national teams will be reduced to three, and the drop score, which previously allowed for a team’s worst score to be discarded, will be removed. The use of a reserve combination for teams will remain in place, but will be even more important and will be a key element in ensuring horse welfare.

A total of 11 of National Federations, out of 107 represented, voted against the proposal – Albania, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Latvia, Luxembourg, Monaco, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Romania and Switzerland.

Voting on the proposed sport-specific changes to the three individual Olympic disciplines – Jumping, Dressage and Eventing – was unanimously in favour.

The vote on the Paralympic formats saw one National Federation – Great Britain – against the proposed changes.

“This was a really important vote for the future of our sport if we are to increase universality in accordance with the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said after the vote.

“We need to increase the number of participating nations at the Olympic Games but within our existing quota of 200. Reducing team members to three per nation was probably the only way to boost the number of flags. Of course this now has to be approved by the IOC, but it opens the door to countries that previously could only see the Olympics as a distant dream.

“There were some National Federations that didn’t agree with the proposal, but that’s all part of the democratic process. Now we need to work together to make this a success.”

The proposed changes are detailed below:

Jumping

  • Teams of three horse/athlete combinations per nation, plus one reserve combination, no drop score
  • 20 teams (60 horse/athlete combinations)
  • 15 slots for nations not qualified with a team (maximum one horse/athlete combination per nation)
  • Individual event will now take place before Team event
  • Cut-off score: the exact cut-off and resulting penalty will be finalised in the Olympic Regulations
  • The exact penalty for any horse/athlete combination that is eliminated, or does not complete their round for any reason, will be finalised in the Olympic Regulations

Dressage

  • Teams of three horse/athlete combinations per nation, no drop score
  • Each directly qualified team may bring a reserve rider/horse combination, or horse only
  • One individual per nation not represented by a qualified team (no composite teams)
  • Determine Team medals solely through results of Grand Prix Special (no longer a combination of Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special scores)
  • Introduce new “heat system” (including “lucky losers”) for Grand Prix: 18 individuals to qualify from Grand Prix to Grand Prix Freestyle (best two from each of the 6 heats, plus the next 6 with the best overall results)
  • 8 top teams (24 starters) from Grand Prix to qualify for Grand Prix Special
  • Introduce new system for starting order in Grand Prix
  • Conduct Grand Prix Special to music

Eventing

  • Teams of three horse/athlete combinations per nation, no drop score
  • One reserve combination per team will be allowed. The reserve combination is an important element of the proposal in order to preserve horse welfare. If a reserve combination is substituted, it will incur a penalty for the team. The exact penalty will be finalised in the Olympic Regulations
  • Maximum of two individuals per nation not represented by a team
  • Order of tests to remain unchanged (1st Dressage; 2nd Cross Country; 3rd Jumping Team; 4th Jumping Individual)
  • Olympic Eventing to take place over three days (Dressage test reduced to one day)
  • Technical level of the three tests to be defined as the “Olympic level”: Dressage and Jumping 4*; Cross Country: 10-minute optimum time, 45 jumping efforts, and 3* technical difficulty
  • Qualification of athletes/horses to be achieved on the same Cross Country technical level to ensure implementation of the recommendations of the FEI Independent Audit in Eventing
  • For the purpose of the Team classification only: any horse/athlete combinations not completing a test can continue to the next test if accepted as fit to compete at the relevant Horse Inspection
  • For the purpose of the Team classification only: penalties for the non-completion of a test for any reason, Dressage =100 points, Cross Country = 150, Jumping = 100
  • Rules for the Individual event remain unchanged

Para-Equestrian Dressage

  • Teams of three horse/athlete combinations per nation, no drop score
  • Each directly qualified team is entitled to bring four horse/athlete combinations, of which three will have to be declared to compete on the team after the Individual Championships test, in which all four will compete as Individuals.
  • Maximum of two individuals per nation not represented by a team (no composite teams)
  • Determine Team medals solely through results of Team test (no longer a combination of Team and Individual test scores)
  • Top 8 per grade from the Individual test to qualify for the Freestyle test
  • Order of tests: Individual Championship test, Team test, Freestyle
  • Team test to be set to music

FEI President Focuses on Unique Qualities of Equestrian Sport at FEI General Assembly

FEI President Ingmar De Vos opened the FEI General Assembly in the Japanese capital Tokyo, delivering the keynote address to almost 300 delegates and focusing on the unique qualities of equestrian sport.

“We all agree that we have the greatest sport on earth and this is for many reasons,” the FEI President said. “We excel when it comes to gender equality, but what makes our sport so great is the unique bond between human and animal, between man and horse. But it is this same unique value which makes our sport vulnerable.

“With the growth of our sport grows also our responsibility to continuously ensure the welfare of our athletes in order to safeguard the integrity of the sport at all times.

“We need to insist on a strict application of our rules. They need to be transparent, clear and not open for interpretation. We need to be irreproachable in our stance and our outlook. These are big challenges.

“There are organisations – increasing in number – that are of the opinion that horses should not be competed or even ridden!

“We need to show them – and the world – that we are not only dedicated to horse welfare but that we are the leaders in that domain. And we also need to educate – to show just how much we do and how committed the equestrian community is to horse welfare. Ignorance creates fear. So we need to show that a true partnership is about trust and respect so that we can bridge that gap and bring people closer to our sport.”

During a packed morning agenda, delegates voted on a number of important issues, including the Olympic and Paralympic format change proposals (see FEI press release here), formats for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 and other sport specific matters. Full details of the main decisions made at the FEI General Assembly 2016 are here.

The afternoon featured a series of presentations, including an update on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games from Aki Murasato, Executive Director of International Relations with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee.

Mark Bellissimo, creator of the Tryon International Equestrian Center, also addressed delegates, providing an update on the venue that was earlier this month announced as the host for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018.

Speaking directly to the FEI President, Mark Bellissimo said: “We want to let you know that we appreciate how important this event is to the FEI, and how important it is both for us as organisers and the community that we work within. We will do our best not to let you down.”

Nai Yue Ho (SIN), outgoing Chair of FEI Regional Group VIII, who was celebrating his birthday, was made an Honorary Bureau Member of the FEI. And prior to closing remarks, the FEI President thanked the Japan Equestrian Federation (JEF) for their hospitality, commenting on the fact that it had been 25 years since the FEI General Assembly had been held in Tokyo, and in the same hotel. He then made a presentation to Tsunekazu Takeda, President of the Japanese Olympic Committee and Vice-President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, and to JEF Secretary General Dr Yasuhiko Haruta, who also collected a special plaque on behalf of JEF President Dr Genshitsu Sen.

In his closing address, the FEI President said: “This was a very important General Assembly. We took crucial decisions for the future of our sport and I understand that not everybody was happy, but we followed a very democratic process and in the end there was a clear majority. There are no winners or losers in this debate. These new formats give us a huge responsibility and failure is not an option, so we need to work together with all our stakeholders to prepare for Tokyo 2020.”

Timeline for finalisation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic formats:

February 2017 – FEI proposals go to the IOC Executive Board
May 2017 – IOC Programme Commission make recommendations to the IOC Executive Board
July 2017 – IOC Executive Board decides on events and quotas
November 2017 – FEI General Assembly in Montevideo (URU) finalises the proposal for qualification procedures (quota distribution and eligibility)

FEI Media Contacts:

At FEI General Assembly, Tokyo:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

At FEI headquarters, Lausanne (SUI):

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

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

US, Swedish and Dutch Cities Win Hosting Rights to Major FEI Events

(Photo: Liz Gregg/FEI)

Tokyo (JPN), 19 November 2016 – The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping and FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals for the years 2020 and 2021 and the FEI European Championships 2019 in Jumping, Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage were among the key events allocated by the FEI Bureau in Tokyo (JPN).

Following the success of the 2015 Finals, the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping and FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals will return to Las Vegas (USA) in 2020 when the Finals will be hosted at a new venue, the MGM Grand Garden Arena from 15 to 19 April. Las Vegas has previously hosted six FEI World Cup™ Finals, two in Jumping and four combined Jumping and Dressage Finals at the Thomas & Mack Center (2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2015).

The new venue, located in the MGM Grand Hotel on the famous Las Vegas Strip, is world renowned for hosting high-profile sporting events such as boxing and basketball, as well as live performances from global superstars like Celine Dion, Elton John and Britney Spears.

Gothenburg’s Scandinavium Arena, spiritual home of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final since playing host to the inaugural Final back in 1979, has been awarded the 2021 Finals. The Swedish sporting capital, which has already organised 22 FEI World Cup™ Finals including joint-Finals in 2013 and 2016, will host the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping and FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals 2021 from 31 March to 5 April.

The 2021 double FEI World Cup™ Finals will kick-start celebrations of the City of Gothenburg’s 400th birthday celebrations.

Rotterdam (NED), another city with a long-standing tradition of hosting major equestrian championships, was announced as host for the triple FEI European Championships 2019 in Jumping, Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage from 19-25 August.

“We are delighted to confirm the allocation of some of our major Finals and Championships to major global cities like Las Vegas, Gothenburg and Rotterdam,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said. “The organising committees for all these top events have such hands-on practical experience, and understand the process, commitment and dedication involved in organising these important fixtures on the FEI Calendar. We are very grateful to all the organisers who put in bids for these key events and are extremely happy to have the opportunity to showcase our sport in major global cities.”

The allocations were made at the FEI Bureau in-person meeting in Tokyo, prior to the FEI General Assembly (22 November). The Bureau also allocated the following FEI Championships and Finals:

2017

Jumping:
FEI South America Jumping Championships for Young Riders, Juniors, Pre-Juniors & Children, Buenos Aires (ARG) 2-8 October 2017
FEI World Jumping Challenge Final, Algiers (ALG) 26-29 April or 3-6 May (dates to be confirmed)
FEI Balkan Jumping Championships for Seniors, Young Riders, Juniors & Children, Zhitnica (BUL), 31 August – 3 September

Dressage:
FEI European Dressage Championships for Young Riders, Juniors. & Children, Roosendaal (NED), (dates to be confirmed)
FEI Balkan Dressage Championships for Seniors, Young Riders, Juniors & Children, Zagreb (CRO), 30 June – 2 July

Driving:
FEI World Driving Championship for Young Horses, Mezöhegyes (HUN), 7-10 September
FEI Balkan Driving Championship, Floresti (ROU), 29 September – 1 October
FEI World Para-Equestrian Driving Championship for Singles, Izsák (HUN), 28 September – 1 October

Endurance:
FEI Balkan Endurance Championship, Salcioara (ROU), 29-30 September

Reining:
FEI European Reining Championship, Givrins (SUI), 2-5 or 9-12 August (dates to be confirmed)

2018

Dressage:
FEI European Dressage Championship U25, Roosendaal (NED), 25-29 July

Driving:
FEI World Cup™ Driving Final, Bordeaux (FRA), 2-4 February
FEI World Driving Championship for Young Horses, Mezöhegyes (HUN), 13-16 September

Vaulting:
FEI World Cup™ Vaulting Final, Dortmund (GER), 1-4 March

2019

Multi-discipline:
FEI European Jumping, Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage Championships, Rotterdam (NED), 19-25 August

Driving:
FEI European Driving Championship, Donaueschingen (GER), 20-22 September

2020

Multi-discipline:
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping and FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals – Las Vegas (USA), 15-19 April

Driving:
FEI World Cup™ Driving Final, Bordeaux (FRA), 7-9 February

2021

Multi-discipline:
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping and FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals – Gothenburg (SWE), 31 March – 5 April

The FEI Bureau was also informed about the Secretary General’s decision to open a multi-year application process for the FEI WBFSH World Breeding Championships for Dressage and Eventing for 2019 and 2020 in order to align the bidding process with Jumping.

Details on the bidding process for FEI events can be found here.

For further information about the FEI Bureau, its role and composition, please click here.

FEI Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Introduction to Para-Driving with Scott Monroe, November 18 at Carlisle Academy

Are you a disabled veteran looking for an exciting adaptive sport?

Para-Dressage and Para-Driving are internationally-recognized, elite sports for individuals with permanent, measurable physical disabilities. Carlisle Academy, in partnership with the United States Equestrian Federation, was recently awarded an Adaptive Sports Grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs to support growth and participation of disabled veterans in para-equestrian sports. Full tuition support for veterans is available for this camp, as well as federal allowances to support ongoing training. Eligibility requirements apply.

Come learn more about these opportunities for disabled veterans and their coaches at Carlisle Academy.

Introduction to Para-Driving with Scott Monroe
Friday, November 18, 9am – 4pm
Carlisle Academy Integrative Equine Therapy & Sports in Lyman, Maine

For more info on the Para-Equestrian Training Camp, contact Carlisle Academy Head of School, Sarah Armentrout, at 207-985-0374, sarmentrout@carlisleacademymaine.com, or visit carlisleacademymaine.com.

For eligibility in Para-Equestrian Sports and the Paralympic Military Program, contact Laureen Johnson, Para-Equestrian Director of the United States Equestrian Federation, at lkjohnson@usef.org or (908) 326-1155.

Carlisle Academy is a recognized PATH Premier Accredited Center and a USEF/USPEA Para-Equestrian Center of Excellence.

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.

USEF Center of Excellence “Ride On Chatsworth” Hosts Open House

Ride On is a United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and United States Para Equestrian Association (USPEA) recognized Para Equestrian Center of Excellence.  The USEF/USPEA designation of a Para-Equestrian Dressage Center of Excellence is to assure that developing and high performance athletes are referred by USEF and other riding curriculums to facilities that have met the USEF/USPEA standards of being world class facilities.  COEs have the privilege of hosting USEF/USPEA funded Para-Dressage educational programs and clinics to assist in the expansion of quality sport and promote public awareness.

Get Classified – By Appointment, Saturday, November 5 – $40

In Para-Equestrian Dressage, each rider is classified according to his or her functional ability. Para-Equestrians are assessed by trained physiotherapists and doctors (Classifiers), who evaluate either muscle strength, coordination, or a combination thereof throughout the athlete’s body. The athlete is then given a functional profile that indicates the grade in which they can compete (5 Grades). The competition within each grade is judged on the functional skill of the rider and not the level of disability.  Para-Dressage Classifier, Joann Benjamin, will be accepting appointments to classify riders for national competition.

Learn More about Your Personal Path in Para-Dressage – Riding Assessment Clinics 1:00 PM – $75

Are you ready?  Sign up for a riding assessment on our horse or yours with the head of our Para-Dressage program, Megan McQueeney.  Our knowledgeable staff will be on hand to talk with athletes about how they can reach their individual goals.  Athletes, their trainers, and families are invited to meet the staff and horses at Ride On and learn more about the Para-Dressage programs we offer.  We will help you develop a personalized riding/competition plan at our facility or at your facility with your trainer.

About Our Classifier and Clinician

Joann Benjamin, FEI International/National Classifier, serves on the USEF Adaptive Sports Committee and the USEF Para-Equestrian Technical Committee.  Megan McQueeney is a United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Bronze and Silver Medalist, graduate of the USDF “L” program “with Distinction,” a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) Advanced instructor, and the owner of Jasper Ridge Sporthorses.

To be classified or to ride, sign up by October 29th.  If you simply want to drop by between 9:00 AM and Noon to learn more, there is no need to sign up.

LOCATION:  RIDE ON CHATSWORTH, 10860 TOPANGA CANYON BLVD., CHATSWORTH, CA 91311
Contact:  Megan McQueeney – jrsporthorses@gmail.com or 818-523-3960

To view an online version of this press release, please visit: http://uspea.org/category/recent-uspea-press-news/.

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.

FEI Celebrates Clean Sport at Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup and Smarties, double bronze medallists Rio 2016 Paralympics, grade 1b (Liz Gregg/FEI)

Lausanne (SUI), 23 September 2016 – The FEI is proud to announce that all human and equine samples taken during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games have returned negative, making for back-to-back clean Paralympic games for para-equestrian sport, from both London 2012 and Rio 2016.

This follows the recent announcement by the FEI of back-to-back clean Olympic Games for the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Games.

“We are very proud of our efforts on clean sport at the FEI, working closely with our National Federations and all our athletes, and everyone involved should be proud of our clean Olympic and Paralympic Games record in 2016 and 2012,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “We actively educated our athletes about the importance of clean sport before both Games in Rio and this is proof that our educational campaign is working. It’s the icing on the cake following such a successful Paralympic Games which saw amazing performances from 75 athletes representing 29 nations.”

A total of 38 equine samples were taken during the Games and sent for testing at the FEI’s Central Laboratory in Newmarket (GBR), one of the five FEI Approved Laboratories worldwide.

Human testing, which is conducted by the IPC during the Paralympic Games, also returned 100% negatives for the equestrian athletes that were sampled.

Six days of top level competition at the Rio 2016 Paralympics saw Team GB continue its unbeaten Paralympic record with another team gold, with members Sophie Christensen (grade 1a) and Natasha Baker (grade II) becoming 2016 triple gold medallists when successfully defending their London 2012 titles.

Belgium’s London 2012 champion Michèle George (grade IV) also successfully defended her Individual Freestyle gold, with Ann Cathrin Lübbe (NOR) topping the grade III Individual Championship, and Lee Pearson (GBR) winning yet another Individual Freestyle grade 1b. Sanna Voets (NED), Individual Freestyle grade III, Sophie Wells (GBR), Individual Championship grade IV, and Pepo Puch (AUT), Individual Championship grade 1b, all topped the 2016 podium.

The Games also saw Uruguay field a para-equestrian athlete for the first time, and the host nation won bronze in the Individual Freestyle grade 1a with Sergio Olivia, the first Paralympic equestrian medal for Brazil since 2008.

FEI Media Contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Carlisle Academy Receives Federal Grant to Coach Disabled Veterans in Para-Equestrian Sports

Lexington, Ky. – Carlisle Academy, New England’s premier integrative riding school, has received a federal grant of $52,100 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Adaptive Sports Program. This grant was awarded in partnership with the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) to increase and expand para-equestrian sport opportunities to disabled veterans and their coaches at the community, regional, and national levels.

The USEF and the United States Para-Equestrian Association (USPEA) recently designated Carlisle Academy as one of three International Para-Equestrian Dressage Centers of Excellence for fostering growth in para-equestrian dressage.

“This grant is a testament to the success of Carlisle Academy and the vision of Sarah Armentrout and all who work with her,” said Will Connell, USEF Director of Sport. “Equestrian has so much to offer those with disabilities, whether it be therapeutic or the opportunity to excel as an elite athlete on the international stage. As a former member the British Armed Forces, I have complete admiration for, and fully support, those that seek to provide opportunities for our disabled veterans. This grant will expand opportunities for veterans and I hope will allow more to experience all the noble horse has to offer.”

Carlisle Academy has been a long-time leader in its field and offers a range of equine-assisted therapy and sport programs. Since 2008, the Academy has provided services to disabled veterans, and this grant will expand on these offerings to build a national coaching and training pathway for eligible veterans to pursue their Paralympic sport dreams.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant which will allow us to bridge the therapeutic horsemanship and para-equestrian communities, while creating greater access for veterans and their coaches to these growing adaptive sports,” said Sarah Armentrout, Head of School at Carlisle Academy. “I would like to thank our congressional leaders, U.S. Senator Susan M. Collins, U.S. Senator Angus S. King Jr., and U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree, for their ongoing support.”

Carlisle Academy has invested considerable resources in para-equestrian experts who complement its staff of therapists and instructors to help athletes and their coaches lay the foundation for success in para-dressage and para-driving. Clive Milkins, Paralympic Coach from the United Kingdom with over 20 years dedicated to the sport of para-dressage is on staff at the Academy, actively training athletes, coaches, and their horses from the grassroots through high-performance levels. Scott Monroe, a carriage driving national champion and PATH Level 2 Therapeutic Driving Instructor is an affiliate coach for driving clinics and lessons. As a veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, Monroe has a keen interest in working with wounded service men and women to develop their competition skills in Para-Driving.

“Carlisle Academy is staffed with highly trained and enthusiastic personnel who are respectful, caring, creative, and accommodating of the varied needs and concerns that many veterans have,” said Amy L. Marcotte, Team Leader, Sanford Vet Center and a veteran. “Many veterans have reported back to us that through participation in the Carlisle Academy programs, they have found a sense of purpose and connectedness to others. To date, we have received nothing but positive feedback from our veterans and their family members.”

Learn more about Carlisle Academy

Learn more about USEF/USPEA Centers of Excellence

From the USEF Communications Department

Dancing Horses Lead Their Riders to Gold

Grade 1b freestyle podium, L-R: Pepo Puch (AUT) silver, Stinne Tange Kaastrup (DEN) bronze, Lee Pearson (GBR) gold (Jon Stroud/FEI)

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 16 September 2016 – Three London 2012 freestyle titles were successfully defended in the Para dressage competition of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on Friday (16 September).

Belgium’s Michèle George retained hers in the grade IV competition on what was her last championship ride on FBW Rainman, the horse that has taken her to two FEI World Equestrian Games™ titles and three Paralympic gold medals. George beat individual Championship test winner Sophie Wells (GBR) into second place with a score of 76.300% to Wells’ 76.350%. The Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar took the bronze.

“I’m overwhelmed at the moment because I really wanted to have that medal,” George said. “I owe this to my horse. He picked me up out of my wheelchair and said, ‘come on, we going to make this work together’. I thought he should stop in beauty.

“At one moment I was laughing because I knew it was my last ride with him in this big arena, in Rio, in Brazil. It was really a dream come true.”

Great Britain’s Sophie Christiansen became her country’s first triple gold medallist of these Games when she won the grade Ia freestyle. Christiansen scored 79.700% on Athene Lindebjerg with team mate Anne Dunham taking the silver and Brazil’s Sergio Oliva winning another hugely popular bronze.

Speaking afterwards, Christiansen said: “It’s amazing. This year has been so up and down so to even get here was a feat in itself. Athene is just a young horse. I didn’t know how she would react, but she felt so relaxed with me today I knew we could do it.”

The third successful defence belonged to grade II rider Natasha Baker (GBR). She took her third gold of the Games on Cabral with a score of 77.850%.

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “I actually can’t believe it. It is just a dream come true. For our last test together, I just think it was magical. It’s amazing. He deserves to go out with a bang.”

The Netherlands Rixt Van der Horst was second while a clearly delighted Steffen Zeibig (GER) took the bronze medal, the first individual Paralympic medal of his career.

A new champion was crowned in the morning when The Netherlands’ Sanne Voets produced a brilliant ride to win the grade III title on Demantur. Riding to music by top dance DJ Armin van Buuren she scored 73.850 to finish just 0.05 of a point ahead of Norway’s grade III individual Championship test winner, Ann Cathrin Lübbe. Sweden’s Louise Etzner Jakobbson was third.

“This is what it feels like,” she said, quoting the title of one of van Buuren’s biggest hits. “This is a feeling I can’t describe. There are no words for this.

“It felt really good and I believed when we got here that if I do everything right there is no one that can beat me. And everything went right.”

And finally, Lee Pearson (GBR) regained his grade Ib freestyle title, the 11th Paralympic gold medal of his career, which stretches back to Sydney 2000. Riding his world championship horse Zion, Pearson scored 77.400% ahead of Austria’s grade Ib champion Pepo Puch. Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup came third, collecting her second bronze of these Games.

“It’s a dream come true, honestly,” said an emotional Pearson after his ride. “I love that horse.

“I’m riding for me today and my horse. He wants to show his power and expression and he did that. I’m just grateful to him and grateful to everybody who has helped me since 1998 when I chose this path. I wanted to go in there powerful. I wanted to go down that centre line like we own it. I wanted to say to the judges, ‘we are here’.”

The end of a brilliant six days’ Para dressage saw Great Britain top the medal table with seven golds and four silvers. The Netherlands were second with one gold, two silvers and four bronzes, followed by Austria, Belgium, and Norway, each with one gold and one silver.

Full results available here.

By Rob Howell

FEI Media Contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Great Day for Great Britain as Three Golds Pour In

Natasha Baker (GBR) takes the gold, grade II individual test (Liz Gregg/FEI)

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 15 September 2016 – Following superb wins by British riders in the grades II and Ia individual tests at the Olympic equestrian Centre in Deodoro on Thursday (15 September), Great Britain have won the overall team championships of the Rio 2016 para dressage competition.

The team have won every Paralympic team competition since the sport was introduced to the Games in Atlanta 1996 and remain undefeated in European and World championships too – a total of 18 team titles.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Great Britain’s Chef d’Equipe Sarah Armstrong. “I couldn’t have wished for a better result and the guys have been great.

“When I took on the role in November I took a massive personal risk. They were coming off the back of a home Games and it was a big ask to return this and improve on it but I just knew that the athletes, the horses and the amazing support team that we have, I just knew that we could do it.”

The team, made up of Sophie Christiansen and Anne Dunham (both grade Ia), Natasha Baker (II) and Sophie Wells (IV) had a combined score of 453.306 to finish 20 points ahead of Germany in silver (433.321) with The Netherlands in bronze (430.353).

“It’s very exciting,” said Dunham, who has now won five team titles with the team since starting her Paralympic games career in Atlanta 1996. “The one horror that all of us have at the moment is being on the team that doesn’t actually win the team gold medal. But we won it, and we won it in style.”

The team result rounded off a good day for Great Britain, starting with Baker’s win in the grade II individual test. Riding Cabral she scored 73.400% to finish just short of two points clear of The Netherlands’ silver and bronze medallists – Demi Vermeulen, and Rixt Van der Horst.

The win was all the sweeter for Baker as it follows her defeat to Van der Horst at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games™ (known as WEG) and the 2015 FEI European championships. In 2014 she was the strong favourite for gold but Cabral was spooked by the TV cameras as he entered the arena.

“I’m so happy. I’m still shaking. I’m still crying,” said Baker. “I was so worried he was going to come in here and do a repeat of WEG. I’m just so proud.

“I just love him so much; he means the absolute world to me. I said to him as we were trotting round in the 10-minute box: ‘Just trust me JP, just trust me,’ and he did. He just worked with me and felt so relaxed. It wasn’t the best test we’ve ever done but I’m just over the moon with him.”

Christiansen won the grade Ia individual title on Athene Lindebjerg with the top score of the week so far, 78.217%. Team mate Anne Dunham, competing in her fifth Games was second, and there was a hugely popular bronze for Brazil’s Sergio Oliva, his country’s second Para dressage medallist after team mate Marcos Alves took two bronzes in Beijing 2008.

“This is surreal at the moment,” said Christiansen. “I’ve had a change of coach and just injury after injury and up until last week, I didn’t even know which horse I would be bringing.

“I’ve always wanted to do my best at everything I put my hand to – academics, sport. It’s going to sound big-headed but I think you have to have more than talent to stay at the top.”

“For me it is a dream come true,” added Oliva. “I have worked for more than 12 years to get this bronze medal so for me it means gold. I’ve worked hard to find the good combination – the Two Hearts – which to me means one heart, and to get a medal in my home country is amazing. I don’t have any words. I love this. I love this moment. This is a dream.”

Full results and live scoring available here.

By Rob Howell

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Hart Qualifies for Freestyle as Team Competition Concludes at Rio Paralympic Games

Rebecca Hart and Romani (Alexandre Loureiro/Stringer)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Following five days of Team and Individual tests, Paralympic equestrian team competition concluded Thursday afternoon at the Deodoro Equestrian Center. Rebecca Hart was first down centerline for the U.S. Team in the Grade II Individual test, scoring 67.714%. In the Grade Ia Individual test, individual competitor Roxanne Trunnell produced a score of 69.565%, while team representative, Margaret McIntosh, scored 66.217%. The U.S. finished 12th in team standings. Great Britain secured their 10th consecutive Team Gold medal, having topped the team competition since para-dressage’s inception at the Paralympic Games in 1996. Germany won Silver, while The Netherlands took Bronze.

The Grade II Individual tests kicked off Thursday morning at the Deodoro Equestrian Center. Hart (Wellington, Fla.) and Romani, her own 2002 Danish Warmblood mare, executed a respectable test and qualified for Friday’s Freestyle. Though the pair never quite found their rhythm, it was a clean test that placed them ninth in the class.

“It was not the test that I wanted so I am disappointed. Everything is a learning process though and you go with what you have at the moment; we did the best we could with it. I couldn’t have done anything differently, it was just not our moment,” Hart explained.

Speaking to her experience at her third Paralympic Games, Hart said, “It has been wonderful. It’s been a pleasure to be here in Rio where everyone has been so hospitable, welcoming, and very gracious.”

Riding as an Individual for the U.S. in the Grade Ia Individual test, Trunnell delivered a solid test aboard Royal Dancer, Julia Handt’s 2005 Westphalian gelding. The pair overcame a bobble during the first centerline to perform a harmonious test that placed them 10th in a very competitive field.

“I thought the test was good,” said Trunnell. “Royal was a good boy, especially in the free walk. We have been working on relaxing and he just flowed with it. Compared to the Team test, he felt more relaxed in the arena.”

This was Trunnell’s first Paralympic Games and she commented on the event, saying, “It is also Royal’s first Paralympics so it’s nice that we are going through it together. It’s not something I could have ever imagined, there are so many more people here than I expected. The crowds have been really respectful of the lower grades which we don’t always get, so that has been really nice.”

Riding as the final member of Team USA, McIntosh and her own Rio Rio, a 2006 Rheinland mare, placed 20th in the Grade Ia Individual test.

“The weather was so beautiful today in comparison to how hot it has been, so my horse was very happy out there,” said McIntosh.

Competing in her first major championship of any kind, McIntosh stated that while the actual competition experience was similar to a normal horse show, the exciting part of the Games for her has been staying in the Athlete Village. “I am in awe of the courage, determination, and effort that these athletes put into their daily lives, let alone what it takes to compete at this level and excel at their own sports. It’s been overwhelming to walk around the village and to see so many vibrant people at the top of their game.”

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