Gladstone, NJ – The 2012 USEF National Para-Equestrian Championships held in conjunction with the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage Paralympic Selection Trials came down to the slimmest of margins this afternoon as riders performed their Freestyle tests at the Pine Meadow location of the USET Foundation. Heading to the final test of the championships only a few marks separated the top three riders and the remaining 20% of the final score would be determined Wednesday. Rebecca Hart, Jonathan Wentz and Donna Ponessa all produced their highest scores of the competition in the Freestyle and less than a half of a percentage point would separate them in the final standings.
Hart (Unionville, PA) produced the highest score of the National Championship, a 75.917%, to claim her fifth USEF National Para-Equestrian Championship title. The 26-year-old performed an extremely polished and stylish Grade II Freestyle with Jessica Ransehousen’s veteran Lord Ludger accented by a high degree of difficulty.
Gladstone, NJ – The National Para-Equestrian Championships featuring the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage Paralympic Selection Trials continued Tuesday with riders performing their Individual Tests. Riders braved the rain at the Pine Meadow location of the USET Foundation Headquarters to showcase their skills across five grades of competition. Following the second test of the National Championship and Selection Trial, Rebecca Hart and Lord Ludger lead Donna Ponessa and Western Rose by the slimmest of margins.
Hart (Unionville, PA) is on a quest to claim her fifth National title and earn the opportunity to represent the U.S. at the Paralympic Games in London this summer. The 2008 Paralympic Games and 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games veteran earned the highest score of the day to win Tuesday’s Grade II Individual Test and lead the National Championship field. Hart rode Jessica Ransehousen’s veteran Holsteiner gelding to a score of 73.968% Tuesday on the strength of an accurate forward test.
Gladstone, NJ – The level of competition was extremely high Monday, as six combinations scored over 70% in the National Para-Equestrian Championships which are being held in conjunction with the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage Paralympic Selection Trials. So with both a national title and spots to compete in London on the line, all competitors put forth their best efforts. FEI Team Tests were ridden by all 24 combinations in their respective grade, with Donna Ponessa and Western Rose jumping out to an early lead.
Ponessa was the final rider of the day with Wesley Dunham’s Western Rose earning a score of 73.725%. The nine-year-old Oldenburg mare demonstrated a solid walk gait, which Ponessa showcased by riding a very accurate 1a Team Test.
The New Windsor, NY resident was very pleased with her horse’s effort today but she expects nothing less of the talented mare.
Gladstone, NJ – Competition in the National Para-Equestrian Championships featuring the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage Paralympic Selection Trials is set to begin Monday in five grades. All 24 horses presented at the Veterinary Inspection Sunday afternoon were accepted. Riders will perform three tests over three days of competition held at Pine Meadow which is part of the USET Foundation Headquarters. On Monday, riders will compete in the FEI Team Test in their respective grade, they then return to ring Tuesday to perform FEI Individual Tests. Competition concludes Wednesday as riders showcase their Freestyle Tests.
2012 marks the first time the National Para-Equestrian Championships are being held as a stand-alone competition.
The USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage Paralympic Selection Trials has seen tremendous growth as 16 riders are vying to represent the U.S. at the 2012 Paralympic Games, August 30 – September 4, while only six athletes vied for a team spot in 2008. Sydney Collier, Grade II, is the sole competitor in contention for National Championship honors; at 14 years old she does not meet the minimum age requirement to compete in London.