Gladstone, NJ (September 19, 2011) – Dr. Cesar Parra, the international dressage rider who has made no secret about his love for the United States of America, realized a dream come true during the 2011 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions when he was named as a member of the 2011 United States Dressage Team headed to the Pan American Games in Mexico. Parra also made history with his Pan Am goal, becoming the first Latin American rider to compete on a United States Dressage Team. The Intermediaire I Championship served as the USEF Selection Trials for the upcoming Games, and Parra rode Michael and Sarah Davis’s Grandioso to third place in the division and to a spot on the team.
Parra, a former dentist from South America who went on to become one of Colombia’s top international riders, moved his family to the United States in 1999 and became an American citizen in 2008. Last year at Gladstone Parra recognized his first dream of becoming an American champion when he rode Lori Washton’s Olympia to the National Intermediaire I Championship. Parra’s second dream, to represent the United States by being a member of the U.S. Dressage Team, has now also become a reality.
“This past weekend was very emotional and exciting for all of us. We had set as a goal to make the USA team for the Pan Am Games, so to accomplish that is wonderful. I feel very blessed to be representing the country that has given my family and I such a wonderful new life,” Parra said. Parra is no stranger to the Pan Am Games as he placed fourth individually at the 2003 Pan Am Games riding for Colombia. As a Colombian rider he also competed in the Olympics, the World Equestrian Games and was named the Colombian National Champion multiple times.
While Gladstone proved to be a dream come true for Parra, he was also thrilled with Grandioso’s performance. “In terms of the rides, I had some of the best moments I have ever had with Grandioso in the ring. He has developed tremendously in the last two months and is really showing what an amazing and talented horse he is. I have to admit that I saw the scoreboard while I was riding and it was great to see the scores so high!” Parra said. “Unfortunately there were a few mistakes through the weekend, but it makes me excited to think that we earned great scores and have the potential to do even much better!”
Grandioso was the 2007 Six-Year-Old Champion at the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Championships and also placed third in the 2009 Developing Horse Championships with Jason Canton. When the Davis family purchased the 10-year-old Westphalian gelding and put him into training with Parra, they set a goal to make the Pan Am team. “As we look toward the Pan Am Games we will continue to focus on making Grandioso even stronger,” Parra said. “He is going out to walk on the hills in addition to his regular workout. I am so happy with him, we just need to keep building strength.”
Parra, who owns Piaffe-Performance Farms with locations in New Jersey and Florida, added, “Of course I cannot thank the Davis family enough for their continued trust and confidence in me and the whole Performance farm team. The weekend was really amazing, I had such a huge group of supporters there at Gladstone, plus I was getting text messages from all over the world, from people watching the live stream on the USEF Network wishing me luck. That was really cool and I was so grateful for all of the support!”
In addition to his own success, Parra had two students competing at Gladstone, Chase Hickok in the Young Rider division and Bebe Davis, daughter of Michael and Sarah who own Grandioso, who competed in the Pony division. “I was really proud of both of them. Riding at Gladstone is very special and to come up the hill into the arena, knowing there is a crowd of people on both sides, can be intimidating for a professional and both Chase and Bebe handled it well,” Parra said. “I think it was a great experience for both of them. A show like the Festival of Champions makes you a better and stronger rider mentally. No one can take that experience and what you gain from it away from you.”
Parra added that it was a great thrill for him to watch his students take part in a victory ride at the Festival of Champions. “Bebe was Reserve Champion in the USEF National Pony Rider division and the smile on her face when they placed the red cooler and tri-colored ribbon on her pony was priceless. Chase also did extremely well in the Young Rider division and it was thrilling to watch her take her victory pass also,” Parra said.
The 2011 Pan American Games will be held October 14-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico, with approximately 6,000 athletes from 42 nations participating in 36 sports. The dressage portion of the Pan Am Games will be held at the Guadalajara Country Club.
For more information on Parra or Piaffe-Performance visit their website at www.piaffe-performance.com.