Lexington, KY – October 11, 2010 – Wow describes the quality of the routines, the variety of the music, the ambition and the talent displayed in the Freestyle competition of the first-ever Para-Dressage championships staged during the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at Kentucky Horse Park. The five Freestyle classes took place during the last three days of the Games, with the medal ceremony for all grades taking place around noon on Sunday.
Grade III para-riders put on their dancing shoes Friday morning with Hannelore Brenner (GER) adding more gold to her collection. In the afternoon Emma Shearborn (GBR) and Purdy’s Dream harvested gold in Grade Ia.
Saturday morning competitors classified Grade II kicked off the restraints of standardized FEI para-tests with Dr. Angelika Trabert (GER) partnering with Ariva-Avanti to capture the gold by .05 over Gert Vollmer (NED) and Triumph who scored 75.850. Great Britain’s Jo Pitt claimed the bronze, scoring 74.950 with Estralita.
“This is very much a great opportunity to finally be a part of the World Equestrian Games,” said Dr. Trabert. “I think being here means integration, and that is what is important. We can finally show what we can do and what we can do with our partnership with our horse.”
Jonathan Wentz and his Shire, NTEC Richter Scale, fared best of the American entries in Grade II and earned 68.550, which put them in 11th place.
“It felt really great – very supple, a little boo-boo at one time,” said Wentz, who has owned Richter for a year and ridden him in 14 recognized shows and two CI shows. “This is the highlight of the season. It has been an amazing experience to be included with the other athletes. I have gone to everything to watch. This is my coach’s first time teaching a Para athlete and my first international competition. We had a quick learning curve.”
Rebecca Hart and Norteassa took 14th on a score of 67.200 in the field of 20 Grade IIs. “It was fun doing it,” she said, adding that this marked Noreassa’s last competition. “I am retiring him – Pippin is 19 years old, and he is going to live a life of luxury and enjoy his pasture. I do not have a replacement for him as of yet. Hopefully, London [2012 Olympics] is next. In all honesty, representing our equestrian sport has been amazing to finally get included with the other riders.”
The Grade Ib para-riders took center stage in the afternoon. Lee Pearson, Great Britain’s untitled Para-Equestrian ambassador, staked his claim to gold on the personable Gentleman with the highest score – 82.500 – during the Para-championships of the Alltech Games, carving yet another bit of history.
“My horse warmed up a dream,” stated Pearson. “He was beautiful, hard-working and really concentrating. Then we entered the arena and he got behind my leg. I had to ride every bloody movement! I felt he could have done better and helped me out a little more. I am more picky than the judges! I was quite shocked with the scores – I did not think I did that well.”
Stinna Tange Kaastrup (DEN) bested her own record aboard the New Forest pony Labbenhus Snoevs to score 77.000 and the silver medal. Finland’s Katja Karjalainen and Rosie earned 72.850 to take the bronze.
“The music fit him so well,” said Kaastrup, 16, who has been riding Snoevs, 14, for two and a half years. “When I first got him, I had to teach him my own way which took about a year. This experience has been amazing, especially in the medal ceremony when my teammates picked me up. I could not have done this without the help of my mother Heidi and my trainer Lotte Strearup. My next hope is for the Olympic Games.”
Sunday morning dawned yet again with gorgeous weather for the Grade IV Freestyle. Sophie Wells (GBR) triumphed for gold on Pinocchio with a score of 78.500, edging out Michele George (BEL) and Rainman, winners of the team test earlier in the week, who earned 78.050. Frank Hosmar (NED) took the bronze on 77.250 with a knockout performance aboard Tiesto.
Susan Treabess and Moneypenny put in a super freestyle routine that netted 10th place on a score of 69.650.
“I am really happy that it ended like that – that was good, just a few little things,” said Treabess. “[Moneypenny] was on today, so you can’t ask for more than that. It was great. She’s pretty good at everything. Her canter work and lateral work is typically her highlight, so that’s what we kind of designed our freestyle around.”
Robin Brueckmann and Raison d’Etre finished 14th on 68.500, followed by Mary Jordan and Paxton Abbey on 66.000.
“I really liked my test until I had a little bit of a mind blank,” admitted Jordan. “So I had to think on my feet and kind of regroup, which is uncharacteristic for us but it happens. She still got a good score. It’s just an incredible achievement to be here, and to get a score over 60% is just great. I am thrilled with how my horse has pulled through this week. She’s a young horse and there’s a lot more to get out of this with her.”
Jordan expounded on a sentiment shared by all the Americans: they crave more of this type of competitive experience. The more they get to show in front of international judges, the better their chances will be to make names for themselves and to be competitive with the British who led the European para-charge to the medal podiums. At the moment there isn’t a US judge who is on the forum for para. The American contingent to the Alltech World Equestrian Games hopes to raise awareness of Para-Equestrian in the USA.
“[Raison d’Etre] is a light and fluffy horse, so I chose light and fluffy music,” said Brueckmann. “He has really good suppleness, and I wanted to display that. I thought the trot work was quite good. He has an exceptional walk, so that was good too. The canter work – we’ve been adjusting his tempo a bit, so I had to sort of tweak the choreography in midstream a bit, but it all worked out. I know the music really well, so I am able to do that and nobody can tell the difference.”
Jennifer Baker and Kranak finished two places later (17th) on 64.400 in the class of 18. She picked up the ride on Kranak by Total Serendipity after going through three horses in the last year: her mother used to teach Shannon Peters, wife of World Games dual bronze medalist Steffen Peters, whose great horse Ravel is owned by Akiko Yamazaki. When an emailed appeal went out, Shannon sent it around, and Yamazaki offered her Dutch Warmblood, Kranak, who had just retired from grand prix level competition.
“It was great, it was a lot of fun,” said Baker. “It’s my last ride on [Kranak], so [the freestyle] made it extra special. I had a great time with it. I love his canter pirouettes and his tempi changes and, of course, his lengthening to the halt is always a lot of fun. He listens really well. He’s so well-trained that it’s been a pleasure to learn how to ride him. I had to learn how to ride him – not that I had to learn how to train him or fix him or anything. I just needed to learn his buttons and where they were, and once I did – he’s a real schoolmaster.”
For Para-Equestrians in the host country of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, this is the beginning. There is a great demand for para-riders in all grades, and the sky is the limit in terms of international competition. Please support your local therapeutic riding programs.
About the United States Para-Equestrian Association:
The USPEA includes every equestrian discipline that is practiced by athletes with physical disabilities. Each rider or driver competes under the eighth discipline, The Para-Equestrian discipline, of the United States Equestrian Federation. The USPEA is a recognized affiliated of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). The USPEA provides programs, clinics, and competition opportunities for athletes with physical disabilities. Riders compete under the USEF rules during their national competitions and FEI rules during international competition and many of the athletes compete at the highest level of their sport.
For more information about the USPEA or for donation opportunities, please contact Hope Hand, President of the USPEA, email Wheeler966@aol.com or by phone: (610)356-6481.
To view online information about the USPEA please visit http://www.USPEA.org.
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