Category Archives: Para-Equestrian

Gold for Norway as Lübbe Back on Top

Ann Cathrin Lübbe (Liz Gregg/FEI)

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 13 September 2016 – The first gold of the Rio 216 Para dressage competition was won by Norway’s Ann Cathrin Lübbe at the Olympic equestrian Centre on Tuesday (13 September).

In a thrilling and closely contended grade III individual test Lübbe, riding Donatello, scored 72.878%, just over point seven of a percentage point ahead of Denmark’s Susanne Sunesen on Que Faire. And keeping it a neighbourly affair, Sweden’s Louise Etzner Jakobsson took the bronze at this, her first Paralympic Games, riding Zernard.

Lübbe is a former gold medalist having won both the individual and freestyle grade IV titles in Athens 2004, with silvers in those two events in Beijing 2008. She was clearly delighted to be back on top. “Oh, it’s good to be back,” she said. “I think it suits me. It’s heavy. I am happy. It’s nice and it makes a nice sound.

“It was very nice. I worked so hard for it. I’m so pleased that today I was the best and the horse did so well.”

Lübbe’s win was tinged with a level of sadness, however, as her horse had previously belonged to a student of hers, who was killed in a road accident. “Her parents are here,” she said. “It means everything. It’s so important to me.”

Denmark’s Sunesen was equally delighted with her silver. “I am very happy and relieved,” she said. “Everything was good. It means a lot. The medal is what it is all about. The coach for the Danish team, my family: it’s what we’re here for to win the medals.”

The day started with Great Britain’s Natasha Baker wining the grade II team test in one of the closest results of the competition so far. Riding her London 2012 double gold medal winning horse, Cabral, Baker scored 71.882 for the win, less than point zero six of a point ahead of second placed Demi Vermeulen (NED). Germany’s Steffen Zeibig was third. The competition was so close that the top four riders all scored 71 per cent plus.

“I had to work hard, really hard,” said Baker after her test. “He walked around OK and then he noticed the audience was here and he got a bit nervous and I had to really work with him. But I’m so proud of him. He came back to me so quickly.

“I never expected to get 71 per cent and I don’t really care what I got. I’m just so proud that we recovered. He coped with it all in London but he’s turned into a diva since then – it’s all gone to his head!”

While the individual test medals start to be given out, the team competition continues, as team members’ individual scores also count towards the overall team score. At the end of Tuesday Denmark had taken the lead, with France and Australia close behind. But that could all change on Wednesday (14 September).

Full results and live scoring available here.

By Rob Howell

FEI Media Contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
+41 787 506 142

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
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US Equestrian Team Continues Competition with Team and Individual Tests at Paralympic Games

Angela Peavy and Lancelot Warrior (Loren Worthington)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Tuesday at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games marked the final day of Team tests and first day of Individual tests for para-equestrian dressage. Competing in the Grade II Team test for the U.S. was Rebecca Hart, who scored 69.941%. The afternoon session featured the first of the Individual tests. Angela Peavy was the first American to perform her Individual test in the Grade III, scoring 68.585%. Placings for the team competition are determined by combining the top three scores of each team from both the Team and Individual tests. The Individual tests will continue Wednesday and Thursday before medals are awarded at the conclusion of competition on Friday.

Riding in her third Paralympic Games, Hart (Wellington, Fla.) performed a solid test aboard Romani, a 2002 Danish Warmblood mare. The pair showed good connection throughout the test, scoring consistently well on its collective marks and executing beautifully at the working trot and in the serpentine to place fifth in the class. The Grade II Team test featured 14 athletes from 11 nations with less than one percentage point separating the top four placing combinations.

“I was happy with how I rode and the feel that Romani gave me,” said Hart. “She is the best horse I have ever sat on and it is a privilege to ride her and represent our country. I was slightly disappointed in the score, but in saying that, this is the highest I have ever scored at a Paralympic Games. I want to thank my amazing support system for getting me to this point. Having Todd Flettrich, Margaret Duprey, and Fernando Ortega here with me is amazing. It takes a village to get here and I am thankful for everyone here and everyone at home. I am thrilled to be in the top five heading into our Individual test on Thursday.”

Peavy (Avon, Conn. and Wellington, Fla.) was one of 16 athletes representing 13 nations in the Grade III Individual test. Aboard Heather Blitz and Rebecca Reno’s Lancelot Warrior, a 2002 Hanoverian gelding, Peavy delivered another consistent and fluid performance for the U.S. Team. Exhibiting powerful working trot, the pair secured an overall eighth-place finish.

“I was very happy with Lance; it was another great ride,” said Peavy. “He came in and did everything I asked. I could not be happier with him and what he has given me. I was happy with the results; it is our first Games and I am very excited to be where we are at.”

Ann Cathrin Lubbe of Norway secured Individual Gold aboard Donatello. Denmark’s Susanne Sunesen and Que Faire took Silver, while Sweden’s Louise Etzner Jakobsson and Zernard won Bronze.

Competing Wednesday for Team USA will be Sydney Collier in the Grade Ib Individual test.

Live and detailed scores

From the USEF Communications Department

US Equestrian Athletes Give Solid Performances on Day Two of Paralympic Games

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Para-equestrian dressage competition continued on Monday at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games with day two of Team tests. Riding as an Individual in the Grade Ia Team test, Roxanne Trunnell gave a strong performance to score 69.348%. Competing in Grade Ia for the U.S. Team was Margaret McIntosh, who scored 68.087%. Currently ranked 11th in the team standings, the U.S. Team will see its final representative, Rebecca Hart, Tuesday in the Grade II Team test, while Angela Peavy will perform the Grade III Individual test. The Individual test is the final test in team competition, in which placings are determined by combining the top three scores of each team from both the Team and Individual tests. Individual medals are awarded to the highest placing combinations in the Individual test. Great Britain currently leads the team standings, while Belgium sits in second place.

The afternoon session at the Deodoro Equestrian Center saw 26 athletes representing 19 nations in the Grade Ia Team test. Riding for the U.S. as an Individual, first-time Paralympian Trunnell (Rowlett, Texas) and Royal Dancer, Julia Handt’s 2005 Westphalian gelding, showcased poise and determination. Trunnell rode an accurate test that earned high marks for the transitions and final medium walk, placing her and Royal Dancer 14th in the class.

“Royal felt amazing during the test,” said Trunnell. “I couldn’t help but smile during it because he was so forward and marching in his walk! I was thrilled with his free walk. I’ve been working on letting the reins go more which is a bit of a weird feeling for me since with Nice Touch [Trunnell’s partner at the 2014 World Equestrian Games] I always had to keep a hold of her a little, but I’m getting better about it. Overall it was a fantastic first Paralympic showing. I couldn’t bring cookies with me [for Royal], but I snagged him some apples and I was sure to give him one after that lovely test.”

Representing the U.S. in team competition, McIntosh (Reading, Pa.) rode down centerline in her Paralympic debut with confidence aboard her longtime partner, Rio Rio, a 2006 Rheinland mare. The pair was rewarded for an expressive free walk and the overall feel and skill exhibited throughout the test to place 19th.

Live and detailed scores

From the USEF Communications Department

Great Britain Takes Command of Para-Equestrian Team Competition

Great Britain’s Sophie Christiansen and Athene Lindebjerg (Jon Stround/FEI)

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 12 September 2016 – Great Britain took control of the team competition at the Rio 2016 para-dressage on Monday, with London 2012 double gold medallist Sophie Christiansen winning the grade Ia team test with a massive 77.522%. Riding Athene Lindebjerg, Christiansen scored the highest marks of the entire competition so far to beat team mate Anne Dunham into second place, with Germany’s Elke Philip in third.

“For her to go in that loud, atmospheric arena I was over the moon with her,” Christiansen said after her test. “And I’ve got a really bad cold today so I had to contend with that as well.

“It felt a bit tentative and it’s nice getting that score knowing that there’s more to come.”

Belgium’s Michèle George won the grade IV team test in the morning, setting out her stall for the defence of her two individual London 2012 titles in the process.

Riding FBW Rainman, the current world champion scored 75.286% to finish just over half a percentage point ahead of Great Britain’s Sophie Wells. Frank Hosmar of The Netherlands was third.

“It felt great,” said George after her test. “I was very happy with my horse. When I came in he was a little bit under because there were a lot of things to see and he’s very sensitive to that, but I think the warmth was in my favour today.

“He was at 99.9% and not over the top and I really enjoyed my ride.”

Wells’ solid performance opened the scoring for Great Britain in the team competition in the best way possible. “He went in and listened to what he had to do,” she said. “He was a little nervous which is understandable as he’s not been to a Paralympics before, but he came back to me and concentrated and did what he needed to do.”

Following the day’s tests Great Britain currently lead the team competition, ahead of Belgium and Germany. The competition is still not half-way through, however, as the results of Tuesday’s (13 September) grade II team test, and then the five individual tests which follow, will also be counted.

One of the more emotional moments of Monday’s competition came when Uruguay’s Alfonsina Maldonado, riding Da Vinci, competed her test. Maldonado’s debut marks the first time Uruguay has entered the para-dressage competition and it appeared that the nerves and pressure of the event may have affected her. She finished at the bottom of the nine-rider field and left the arena in tears. “I always dreamed to be a champion,” she said afterwards. “The horse was really good but I was really nervous and emotional because it was the first time my family was here to see me and I couldn’t control my hands and legs. I hope that my country feels proud. I did my best.”

By Rob Howell

FEI Media Contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
+41 787 506 142

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
+41 79 314 24 38

Lubbe and Pearson Lead on Day One of Para-Equestrian

Ann Cathrin Lubbe and Donatello (Jon Stroud/FEI)

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 11 September 2016 – On a sweltering day in Deodoro, Norway’s Ann Cathrin Lubbe was the first to take the lead in the Rio 2016 para-equestrian dressage competition on Sunday (11 September), earning the top spot in the grade III team test. Riding Donatello at the Olympic Equestrian Centre, the double Athens 2004 gold medallist scored 72.237% to finish ahead of The Netherlands’ Sanne Voets in second, and Denmark’s Susanne Sunesen in third.

Lubbe’s victory was made even more impressive as it occurred during a period of competition which was regularly interrupted by bursts of fireworks from the neighbouring town.

“I had a marvellous ride what with the noise and everything,” she said. “My trainer had told me to ignore everything and just ride, so I just rode. But he’s a very good horse too.”

Lubbe is appearing in her fourth Games, having first ridden in Sydney 2000. She didn’t ride in London 2012 and added: “It’s good to be back.”

Reigning grade III world freestyle champion Voets was just two percentage points behind Lubbe. “I’m really happy with that,” she said. “I was hoping for a little more but for now the feeling and the test and the way my horse reacted to everything it was good. He did everything I asked and that’s the maximum we can get.”

The afternoon’s grade Ib test was won by Great Britain’s 10-time Paralympic champion Lee Pearson, riding Zion and scoring 75.280%. Pearson’s score, however, will not count towards the British Team’s competition as he was not selected to ride for the team.

In second place, and winning the team aspect of the contest, was Austria’s Pepo Puch with 74.000%. Germany’s Alina Rosenberg, at her first Games, was third.

“That horse gave me everything he could possibly give me at his age, his education and his strength,” said Pearson. “I love him to bits. I do care about the results but I don’t care what the judges think because he was brilliant, amazing. I think it’s the best test he’s ever done.

“The win doesn’t make me complacent for two days’ time but I think the warm up plan worked with him being relaxed in the arena.”

For Puch this was his first ride at a major international on his new horse, Fontainenoir. “I’m happy. It was not a bad start,” he said. “He’s a really nice hard working guy, with lots of thinking.”

Puch, Brazil’s Rodolfo Riskalla and Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup had to contend with the added stress of not knowing whether or not they would be able to competition Sunday as their horses were held overnight following Saturday’s (10 September) horse inspection. Kaastrup, who missed out on a place at London 2012 after her previous horse died, came fourth in the grade Ib and described the wait as “the worst night of my life”.

For Italy’s world number two and reigning grade Ia freestyle champion, however, there was not such fortune. Her horse, Royal Delight, was also held for re-inspection and was not passed as fit for competition, knocking a devastated Morganti out of the Games completely.

The team competition continues on Monday (12 September) at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Deodoro with the grades IV and Ia competition.

By Rob Howells

FEI Media Contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
+41 787 506 142

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
+41 79 314 24 38

Strong Start for US Equestrian Team at the Rio Paralympic Games

Angela Peavy and Lancelot Warrior (Liz Gregg/FEI)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Para-equestrian dressage competition got underway Sunday at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Twenty-seven Grade III and Ib competitors representing 24 countries took to the main arena at the Deodoro Equestrian Center to perform the Team test, the first of two tests in team competition. Angela Peavy (Grade III) and Sydney Collier (Grade Ib) got the U.S. team off to a solid start, putting the U.S. provisionally into third place among the 14 nations, following day one of team competition. Five nations turned in one of their four Team test scores, while another three will not see their first athletes until Monday. Leading the team standings currently is France, while Denmark sits in second place. Both countries posted three of their four Team test scores.

U.S. Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt is pleased with how well the team is coming together, “We have an excellent team of strong riders here in Rio. We have some very young riders who started in this sport a few years ago, and they have been growing together, working and supporting each other. They are all at a good place mentally and are showcasing good readiness for this level of competition. We will see what the next couple of days brings. These are the best horses and riders in the world and the competition is going to be tough. We have an outstanding support team behind these riders that has been working tirelessly to take care of us and the horses. We are very grateful to the Team USA sponsors who have made all of this possible and to the organizing committee and officials – this is a superb venue.”

The Grade III Team test commenced the competition in the morning session with 16 athletes representing 13 nations. Pathfinding for the U.S. was first-time Paralympian Peavy (Avon, Conn. and Wellington, Fla.) riding Heather Blitz and Rebecca Reno’s Lancelot Warrior, a 2002 Hanoverian gelding. The pair produced a notably consistent and accurate test that featured a fluid and precise canter tour to earn a score of 68.974%, placing them sixth in the class.

“I was very pleased with my ride,” said Peavy. “My horse really poured his heart out – he was focused on his job and I felt like we had great connection. It was such an incredible atmosphere to be in with so many spectators.”

Looking forward to the Individual test on Tuesday, Peavy said she plans to, “Keep doing what I’ve been doing. Today we came out and put our all into it and that’s what we want to do again – ride another smooth and accurate test.”

Speaking to her first-time Paralympic experience thus far, she commented “It’s been a great experience. We have a very close team and are all very supportive of each other. All of the accommodations for the athletes in the village and the horses at the venue are very nice. It is a nerve racking and exciting event to be at, but when I got on Lance today and it was just me and him, I was able to totally focus on him and our performance. I am so thankful to everyone who has been supporting me, especially my parents, trainer Heather, and groom Alex.”

The afternoon session saw 11 athletes from 11 nations in the Grade Ib Team test. Representing the U.S. was the youngest athlete in the field, Collier (Ann Arbor, Mich.), competing in her first Paralympics with Wesley Dunham’s 2003 Oldenburg mare Western Rose. In the impressive atmosphere and heat of the afternoon, Collier was able to deliver a clean test, scoring 66.440% and placing ninth in the class.

“I was really happy with the test,” said Collier. “For this being my first time riding in the Paralympics, it was really great. Rosie was such a good horse and we really nailed our geometry today. I am really looking forward to what the future holds [this week]. I am so lucky to be with amazing teammates; I couldn’t make it without them. They really are my rock and we are a super strong team.”

Team tests will continue on Monday with Grades Ia and IV. Riding in Grade Ia, Margaret McIntosh will compete for the U.S. Team, while Roxanne Trunnell will represent the country as an individual.

Live and detailed scores

From the USEF Communications Department

US Paralympic Equestrian Team Fit and Ready for Competition in Rio

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Equestrian competition at the Rio Paralympic Games got underway at the Deodoro Equestrian Center Saturday with the horse inspection. A total of 76 athlete-and-horse combinations representing 29 countries, including 14 in the team competition, are set to compete over the course of the week for Paralympic medals and national pride. The U.S. will be represented by the team of Sydney Collier, Rebecca Hart, Margaret McIntosh, and Angela Peavy. Roxanne Trunnell will represent the U.S. in Individual competition. The U.S. squad is led by U.S. Para-Dressage Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt.

The U.S. athletes will compete as follows:

Sunday, September 11

Pathfinding for the U.S. will be Grade III athlete and first-time Paralympian Peavy (Avon, Conn. and Wellington, Fla.) riding Heather Blitz and Rebecca Reno’s Lancelot Warrior, a 2002 Hanoverian gelding. Peavy was the 2016 and 2015 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage High Performance Division Reserve National Champion. She and Lancelot Warrior were Team Gold medalists and Grade III Individual Champions at the Wellington CPEDI3* in January.

Grade Ib athletes will perform their Team tests Sunday afternoon. Representing the U.S. will be the youngest athlete in the field, Collier (Ann Arbor, Mich.), competing in her first Paralympics with Wesley Dunham’s 2003 Oldenburg mare, Western Rose. The pair began the year with strong placings at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and went on to become the 2016 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage High Performance Division National Champions in June.

Monday, September 12

In Grade Ia, the U.S. team will see Margaret “Gigi” McIntosh (Reading, Pa.) and her longtime partner, Rio Rio, a 2006 Rheinland mare. Though Rio will mark the pair’s first team appearance in a Paralympic Games or World Championships, they have had consistent top results over the past three years. During this year’s winter season in Wellington, Fla., they posted five wins in Grade Ia CPEDI3* competition, including as members of the Gold medal-winning U.S. Team.

Also riding in the Grade Ia will be individual Trunnell (Rowlett, Texas) in her Paralympic debut, aboard Royal Dancer, Julia Handt’s 2005 Westphalian gelding. The pair has been competing at the international level together since early 2015 and have always placed within the top four. They were a part of the U.S. Team that clinched the Team Gold medal at the Wellington CPEDI3* in January.

Tuesday, September 13

Anchoring the U.S. Team will be two-time Paralympian Hart (Wellington, Fla,) with her own Schroeters Romani, a 2002 Danish Warmblood mare. Competing as a Grade II athlete, Hart won in all of her outings with Schroeters Romani during the winter season, also contributing to the Gold medal-win for the U.S. Team at the Wellington CPEDI3*.

Team medals will be awarded on Friday based on the top three scores from each team in both the Team and Individual tests. Individual tests begin on Tuesday with Grade III on Tuesday and continue Wednesday with Grades IV and Ib, and Thursday with Grades II and Ia. Medals will be awarded for the Individual tests. Freestyle tests take place on Friday with another set of medals being awarded to each grade.

From the USEF Communications Department

Para-Equestrians from 29 Nations across the Globe Prepare to Do Battle for Paralympic Medals

London 2012 Team podium: Great Britain in gold, Germany in silver and Ireland in bronze (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Lausanne (SUI), 5 September 2016 – With just two days to go until the Opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on 7 September, Para-Equestrian athletes from 29* nations are preparing to compete on the world’s biggest stage in a bid for the most coveted medals in the sport. The list of definite entries is published here by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).

The unbeaten Team GB will be looking to retain their Team gold once again, and both the nations’ reigning Paralympic Champions return to Rio – Sophie Christiansen (GBR), individual and Freestyle Grade 1a, and Natasha Baker (GBR), individual and Freestyle Grade II – bidding to retain their individual crowns.

Also returning are Michèle George (BEL), individual and Freestyle Grade IV champion and Pepo Puch (AUT), Freestyle Grade 1b champion. Absent from this year’s entries are both Joann Formosa (AUS), winner of individual Grade 1b and Hannelore Brenner (GER), individual and Freestyle Grade III winner, who sadly withdrew only a few days ago due to an injury to her horse.

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will see Para-Equestrian sport celebrate 20 years in the Paralympic movement, with 14 countries fielding teams and a further 15 nations lining out with individuals at the Deodoro Equestrian Centre when Para-Equestrian Dressage gets underway on Sunday 11 September.

A new addition to the Paralympic Para-Equestrian family for 2016, Uruguay is sending its first para-equestrian athlete to the Paralympic Games, with Alfonsina Maldonado competing in Grade IV with her horse Da Vinci.

An exciting list of debutants includes Rixt van der Hoorst (NED) who scooped both the individual titles at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy (FEA), 2014 before doing the same again at 2015’s FEI European Para-Equestrian Dressage championships in Deauville (FRA) and, making his Paralympic Games debut for the home nation, 31-year-old Rodolpho Riskalla. Rodolpho represented Brazil in Dressage at international level for a number of years before stepping back from the sport in 2014. However, a bout of meningitis left him with disabilities and he has now returned to the sport in its Paralympic format.

The debutants combine with some of the best known names in the sport, including World Number 2, Sara Morganti from Italy, Grade Ia silver and gold medalist at the FEI World Equestrian Games 2014™, and Ireland’s Helen Kearney, who could both provide strong competition for the medals, as could the on-form Rebecca Hart from the USA. Great Britain’s Lee Pearson will be looking to add to his medal tally of 12 (including 10 golds), the highest of any Paralympic Equestrian.

“It is really exciting to see so many nations once again competing in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said, “and the list of definite entries includes some great names out to retain their titles, as well as many new riders making their Paralympic debuts. We’re also very proud to welcome Uruguay to the family as they field a Para-Equestrian athlete for the first time.

“We’re also delighted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Para-Equestrian at the Games this year, and that again competing this year are Anne Dunham (GBR), Jose Letartre (FRA) and Jens Lasse Dokkan (NOR). All three were at the first Para-Equestrian competition in Atlanta 1996, with Jens having competed at every Paralympic Games since.

“We’ve seen from a very exciting Rio 2016 Olympics that the Deodoro Equestrian Park provides first class facilities for this top level of competition and will once again serve to host a great six days of equestrian action. With riders ranging in age from 16 to 67 we will be able to witness the full universality of the sport at its best.”

*There were 30 nations on the nominated entry list as Russia had also qualified three athletes, but the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee by the IPC on 7 August 2016 means that no Russian athletes are competing at the Paralympic Games in Rio.

Daily reports and press releases from the Rio 2016 Paralympics will be available here.

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Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
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US Paralympic Equestrian Athletes Head to Florida for Mock Competition

Left to Right – Rebecca Hart, Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt, Sydney Collier, Margaret McIntosh, Annie Peavy, and Roxanne Trunnell. Photo courtesy Tina Wentz.

Weirsdale, FL – August 31, 2016 – In preparation for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, the United States Paralympic Equestrian squad has headed to the Grand Oaks Resort and Museum located in Weirsdale, FL for a mock competition. The Team includes Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt; Sydney Collier (Ann Arbor, Mich.), Grade Ib, and Wesley Dunham’s Western Rose, a 2003 Oldenburg mare; Rebecca Hart (Wellington, Fla.), Grade II, and her own Schroeters Romani, a 2002 Danish Warmblood mare; Margaret McIntosh (Reading, Pa.), Grade Ia, and her own Rio Rio, a 2006 Rheinland Pfalz-Saar mare; Angela Peavy (Avon, Conn. and Wellington, Fla.), Grade III, and Heather Blitz and Rebecca Reno’s Lancelot Warrior, a 2002 Hanoverian gelding; and competing as an individual, Grade Ia rider Roxanne Trunnell (Rowlett, Texas) and Julia Handt’s 2005 Westphalian gelding Royal Dancer. These five outstanding athletes will showcase their talented horses on September 1, with their Test of Choice, beginning at 10 AM in front of 5* Judge Natalie Lamping.

Following the mock competition, riders and their team of veterinarians, grooms, parents, volunteers, and supporters will prepare to fly to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 2016 Paralympics. Equestrian will make their way to the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center where they will compete September 11-16.

For more information about the U.S. Paralympic Equestrian Team, please visit United States Equestrian Federation at, the United States Equestrian Team Foundation at, or Team USA at

For more information about the 2016 Paralympic Equestrian competition, please visit

By: Lindsay Y. McCall

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

Brazilian-Bred Zizifo Interagro to Make Paralympic Debut in 2016 Rio Games

Zizifo Interagro, ridden by Patricio Guglialmelli, compete in Paradressage at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France. (Photo courtesy of Scoopdyga/Pierre Costabadie)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August 28, 2016) – All eyes are on Brazil as the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games make their South American debut in Rio de Janeiro, and one equine will be making the most of his home field advantage. Zizifo Interagro (Profano Interagro x Meiga (MAC)), a bay stallion born and bred at Interagro Lusitanos of Sao Paulo, Brazil has been named, along with his rider Pautricio Gugliamelli, to compete for Argentina in the Paralympic dressage competition. As one of just a few Brazilian bred horses competing in the Games, Zizifo and Guglialmelli will enjoy a large cheering section as they vie for a medal against the best Paralympic competitors in the world.

The pair aren’t strangers to international success, having represented Argentina in numerous Paralympic competitions, including the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France. Zizifo was purchased from Interagro in 2012 by Gia Einaudi, who was looking for an international caliber dressage horse with the temperament, gaits, and rideability to be successful on the world stage in paradressage. Einaudi exported Zizifo to Italy, where he was paired with Guglialmelli. It became immediately apparent that Zizifo was the perfect match, and they soon began to build an impressive resume.

In the hands of trainer Alessandro Benedetti, who also shows the horse competitively at 3rd and 4th level, Zizifo and Gugialmelli recently put in top performances at the Sommacampagna CPEDI3* in Verona, Italy. Einaudi attributes Zizifo’s exceptional success to his extraordinary character and talent, which is a reflection of over 40 years of careful breeding at Interagro. With a focus on athleticism, movement, temperament, and intelligence, Interagro has succeeded in preserving some of the purest and most sought after lineages of the Lusitano, while simultaneously developing a horse with the raw talent, versatility, and character to succeed in the FEI disciplines.

Zizifo’s Paralympic debut will stand as living proof of Interagro’s legacy, as he and Guglialmelli trot into the Olympic stadium in Rio. “It is Zizifo’s willingness to please and charisma that sets him apart,” said Einaudi. “He requires us to be very precise and correct in training and during competition, which keeps him relaxed and open-minded even in the stress of major international events. Alessandro [Benedetti] has been instrumental in the Zizifo and Patricio’s success, and despite having the demeanor and poise to compete paradressage, under Alessandro Zizifo easily switches gears to the power and elegance of upper level dressage.”

In fact, Benedetti and Zizifo recently debuted at the D1 Level in Italy, comparable to 4th Level in the United States, and won a national competition in Tuscany. Utilizing a careful balance of training in both paradressage and dressage, Einaudi team continues to build Zizifo’s strength and form for Rio. Once they reached the FEI world ranking and competed at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy in 2014, the pair began qualifying for the Paralympics. Three CPEDI competitions yielded the required scores to qualify them for the Games, and in June it was officially announced that Guglialmelli and Zizifo Interagro would compete for Argentina in Rio. With regular training under Benedetti and sessions with Olympian Morten Thompson, in addition to conditioning, a strict diet, and the care of numerous equestrian industry professionals, Zizifo is well on his way to Rio, and the journey brings him closer to his first home in Sao Paulo.

“Needless to say Zizifo means the world to us,” said Einaudi. “He has opened up a world of possibilities, and thanks to him we have achieved more than we ever thought possible in dressage and paradressage. We believe that Zizifo is a once in a lifetime horse!”

With over 40 years of experience breeding, training, and exporting Lusitanos, Interagro’s mission is to preserve the exceptional bloodlines and qualities of the breed while showcasing their talent, beauty, and intelligence, especially in the FEI and sport horse disciplines. Established in 1975 by Dr. Paulo Gavião Gonzaga, Interagro’s initial vision was to preserve and restore the original foundational Lusitano bloodlines and lineages, many of which were in danger of extinction following the Portuguese Revolution of 1974. Through meticulous breeding, exceptional care, and world-class training, the Interagro Lusitanos of today continue that legacy as they compete across four continents.

For more information on Interagro Lusitanos, Interagro’s horses for sale, or the Lusitano bloodlines, visit Interagro’s website at To organize a trip to Brazil or for any questions regarding sales or the logistics of importing horses to the US, contact their US Sales Representative, Peter van Borst, at 817 368 9447.