The team of Karen Pavicic, Kate Shoemaker, and Tillie Jones (c)Lili Weik Photography.
Omaha, Nebraska – April 19, 2019 – Four U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage athletes traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, to compete in the $50,000 Dressage Team Challenge at the 2019 Burlington Capital International Omaha April 4-7, 2019. Those riders included Kate Shoemaker (Grade IV), Deborah Stanitski (Grade I), and Emerging Athletes Laurietta Oakleaf (Grade I) and Cindy Screnci (Grade V). USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage Technical Advisor and Head of Coach Development Michel Assouline was also on location to support this collaboration. The $50,000 Dressage Team Challenge featured teams comprising a Senior or Amateur rider paired with a Youth (Junior or Young Rider) and a para-dressage rider. Each of the three teams aimed to capture the title in the CHI Health Center arena with scores remaining close until the end. Each team rode their team and freestyle test. The freestyle on Saturday, April 6, was Presented by Rowan O’Riley and Mission Control. Earning the overall title was the team of Senior Rider Karen Pavicic, para-dressage athlete Kate Shoemaker, and Young Rider Tillie Jones.
Following the competition, the three riders announced they would donate a portion of their winnings to Nebraska flood relief. Take pride in a unique gift. The Team Challenge was an opportunity for para-dressage to showcase the international and national talent the discipline contains. It was also an exciting collaboration between able-bodied and para-equestrian sports.
For Kate Shoemaker, a 2018 World Equestrian Games medalist and Grade IV para-dressage athlete, this trip was a 60 hour drive over 3200 miles with her horse Solitaer 40. Shoemaker commented, “The Dressage Team Challenge at the Omaha International led the way for para-dressage inclusion by combining FEI competitors from both dressage and para-dressage. This event brought our sport to the community of Omaha and beyond in a way I’ve never seen before. I enjoyed the warm up in the center of the trade fair and the interaction with spectators after riding. It was a wonderful way to show people firsthand the love and joy that our sport brings. On a personal note, I was very proud of my horse Soli for handling the unique and very busy environment extremely well. It demonstrated just how strong his trust in me has become over the last five years. Soli’s favorite part of the show was interacting with spectators. He loved the extra pets and posed for every photo with a fan. Overall, I am very grateful for the opportunity we had in Omaha and especially grateful for International Omaha Dressage Manager, Thomas Baur and Dressage Team Challenge sponsors, Rowan O’Riley of Fair Sky Farm, Becky Reno of Mission Control, and Lisa Roskens. It was an irreplaceable amazing experience.”
Deborah Stanitski, a Grade I para-dressage rider, flew out to Omaha and borrowed horse Staccato de Gervalto to compete with teammates Senior rider Gracia Huenefeld and Junior rider Raegan Lingenfelter, both of Lincoln, Nebraska. The team came in second place with Stanitski and horse Staccato de Gervalto earning the High Point award. Stanitski noted, “My horse Staccato de Gervalto (Billy) was absolutely awesome. There were lots of people there, lots of clapping, and lots of cheering. I enjoyed the experience and borrowing a horse from Jonis Agee turned out great. It was a really beautiful facility and the show was well run and organized. It was nice to work with our para-dressage and able-bodied riders and to have our coach Michel Assouline on hand. I am so thankful to all the generous owners that allowed us to use their horses for this showcase and for the incredible help of Gracia Huenefeld and her industrious team.”
Laurietta Oakleaf, Grade I para-dressage Emerging Athlete, rode Indigo, owned by Carole Kryska, and her team came in third in the Team Challenge. Oakleaf recalled, “I was very honored that Carole trusted me to ride such a talented and good-hearted horse and trusted me to ride him. Omaha was a wonderful experience as a rider and I very much enjoyed the show, facility, and especially the staff. They went above and beyond to make us all feel welcome. The facility is a top-notch facility that takes you to a whole new level out there.”
Brand new Grade V para-dressage Emerging Athlete Cindy Screnci rode horse Win Some Chauffeur (James), owned by Rebecca Mouras. Screnci stated, “The Omaha International was an amazing opportunity for me. It was the first chance I’ve had as a para-dressage equestrian to ride in such an incredible venue. I catch rode James. Riding a borrowed horse can be challenging but the support of not only the Omaha officials to allow us ample time to school, but the support of my teammates, other para-dressage riders, and even the crowd was inspirational. I love this sport and look forward to competing in Omaha next year.”
The 2019 Burlington Capital International Omaha, the ‘Midwest’s Largest Horse Event,’ took place at the CHI Health Center arena in Omaha, Nebraska, home of the highly successful 2017 FEI World Cup™ Finals. Now in its seventh year, the Burlington Capital International Omaha hosts everything under one roof – stabling, warm-up, competition arena, educational and exhibit area, demonstrations, dining venues, and shopping for both the horse aficionado or anyone just looking for a unique gift.
Further information is available at www.internationalomaha.com.