Tag Archives: Para-Equestrian

Hope Hand Awarded Pegasus Medal of Honor

Hope Hand (front center) receiving her Pegasus Medal of Honor. Photo by Adam Brennan.

Wellington, Florida – January 23, 2020 – On January 10, 2020, equestrians gathered at the U.S. Equestrian Federation Annual Meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida. Top athletes, owners, horses, and supporters were honored for their dedication to the equestrian sport. Hope Hand (Newtown Square, Penn.) was awarded the Pegasus Medal of Honor that evening in front of a large and grateful crowd. Hand was commended on her interminable push over the past 25 years for growing the Para-Equestrian discipline from the grassroots through the high-performance level. The Pegasus Medal of Honor was created as an annual award to recognize individuals who have exhibited outstanding service to horses and the sport through their dedication. The Pegasus Medal of Honor was earned by individuals who have excelled in attracting people to the sport and have contributed to horse sport by advancing its popularity. Hand’s contributions to the sport have extended from being a Paralympic athlete to President of the United States Para-Equestrian Association to numerous board and staff positions within the international sport. Hand’s efforts occur on a daily basis to support and grow the sport she loves for both the horses and disabled athletes. Hand wears many hats including being both ambassador and role model.

Hand has been a part of Para-Equestrian since it was a network of therapeutic linked shows, borrowed mounts as catch rides, the introduction of Paralympic Equestrian, joining USEF, the addition of Para-Driving, and the first World Equestrian Games with Para-Equestrian Dressage. Hand has been the wheels that made Para-Dressage a talked-about sport, but she rode to top medals in her equestrian career.

Hand was an alternate of the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Team and competed at the British Invitational in 1997, earning gold and a bronze. In 1998, she was one of the four disabled riders competing at the Bradshaw Challenge of Champions. As a member of Team USA, she won a bronze medal at the 1999 World Dressage Championships in Denmark and competed at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, Australia. From riding to ambassador Hope has helped propel the sport to where it currently stands.

In 2018, Hand witnessed the U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage team earn four medals at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon. For Hand, this was a pinnacle moment where every phone call, every plane flight, every clinic, and every ride down centerline was worth it all. With her cheerful personality and ability to accomplish any goal she sets forth, the Para-Equestrian sport continues to have a champion leader who gives it her all for the riders, coaches, sponsors, volunteers, show managers, and all involved.

Many of those riders, coaches, sponsors, volunteers, and show managers would say their first interaction with Para-Equestrian began with Hope Hand. Her words of encouragement and expertise are always welcome to newbies in the equestrian world.

Top international athlete Katie Jackson remembers that moment for her. “Hope was one of the first people I met when I began looking into para-dressage after my cancer.  I will always be grateful to her for how comfortable and welcome she made me feel as we sat together and she shared information with me.  Her enthusiasm and love for the sport were immediately apparent.  Hope has dedicated herself to furthering the para-equestrian sport and is someone I look to as a role model. She is generous in sharing her knowledge and experience and has devoted significant amounts of her time to para-sport on all levels.  From her involvement with USEF, USPEA, and her participation at the FEI level, to welcoming new riders at symposiums across the country and being ringside, always smiling and cheering on the riders, Hope is a true ambassador of our sport.  I cannot think of a person better suited to receive the Pegasus Medal of Honor.”

Tina Wentz, who served as a National Para equestrian classifier and later a FEI International classier and currently serves on the board of the USPEA, is a selector for the U.S. Team, and was mother to the late Paralympian Jonathan Wentz, joins Hand at many events and has been a part of the sport since 1998. Wentz said sincerely, “Sleep may be the only thing Hope Hand does not do well and it would be no wonder since she gives 110% of her boundless energy and time to Para-Equestrian Sport and Para-Dressage. Constantly promoting, recruiting, educating, and encouraging everyone she meets as she travels at her own expense to all US International and National Championship competitions and to numerous Para Dressage symposiums, clinics, and Centers of Excellence. Hope not only knows every US Para-Dressage athlete from emerging to elite but recruited many of them and is available 24/7 to all to advise, encourage, and educate them on their journey to be the best. Hope is well known in the Equestrian world for her tireless work in advancing Para-Equestrian sport and has served and is serving on numerous Boards and committees. All in the pursuit of bringing competition excellence to the US in Para-Dressage.”

Managing Director, USEF Licensed Officials Sally Ike, commented, “I hadn’t known that Hope was going to receive the Pegasus award until that evening when I saw her before dinner and congratulated her. Her acceptance speech brought back so many memories when she mentioned my name. I was first introduced to Hope about 25 years ago when I had a phone call from Jumper rider Debbie Stephens.  Debbie called to let me know that her friend Hope Hand was going to call me.  Most specifically, Debbie alerted me that Hope was in a wheelchair, and then clarified her statement by saying that there was nothing handicapped about her. Hope called, and brought some of her friends to help me with a clinic we were doing at the USET in Gladstone.  They did wheelies down the ramp to the USET’s Indoor.  The first Paralympic Games were a few years afterward.  An argument could be made that the Para-Equestrian movement in the United States began those November days at the USET. We have so much to thank Hope for; there is not a more deserving winner of this award.”

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

Roxanne Trunnell Kicks Off Para-Dressage CPEDI3* Grade I in Week 3 of AGDF

Roxanne Trunnell and Dolton. ©SusanJStickle.

Wellington, FL – January 22, 2020 – Paralympic hopeful Roxanne Trunnell (USA) dominated the FEI Para Team Test Grade I CPEDI3* class to kick off the third week of competition of the 2020 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

Trunnell and Flintwood Farm LLC’s Dolton received a score of 77.738%, winning by a margin of 7.44%. The USA’s Sydney Collier finished second on a score of 70.298% with All in One, owned by Going for Gold LLC.

During the first week of AGDF competition, Trunnell received the highest score of her career (83.167%). This week, she hopes to beat that score and commented that she’s “hoping to get into the 80s again.”

That same night was also Dolton’s first time competing under the lights. “The scoreboard kind of bothered him during the freestyle that first week, but he’s over that now. This week, I’m hoping to keep him up in the bridle more and keep him really marching, which he did really well today,” Trunnell admitted.

This is Trunnell’s fifth consecutive year competing in Wellington: “I love the weather here; it’s usually good and it’s so handicap friendly,” Trunnell concluded.

For more information and a full list of results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Adequan U.S. Para-Dressage Team Dominates at Paralympic Qualifier in Florida

Roxanne Trunnell, Grade I, and Dolton. Photo by Lindsay Y. McCall.

Wellington, FL – January 15, 2020 – Adequan® U.S. Para-Dressage Team rode into the new decade dominating the 2020 Adequan Global Dressage Festival CPEDI3* and CPEDI1*. This first show of the Paralympic calendar year took place January 8-11, in Wellington, Florida, at the beautiful grounds of the Global Dressage Festival. The Adequan® U.S. Para-Dressage Team, led by chef d’equipe Michel Assouline, included David Botana (Portland, Maine), Grade I, and Lord Locksley, a 19-year-old Trakehner stallion owned by Margaret Stevens and Susanne Hamilton; Rebecca Hart (Loxahatchee, Fla.), Grade III, and El Corona Texel, Rowan O’Riley’s 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding; Kate Shoemaker (Wellington, Fla.), Grade IV, and Solitaer 40, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Kate Shoemaker, Craig Shoemaker, and Deena Shoemaker; and Roxanne Trunnell (Wellington, Fla.), Grade I, and Dolton, an eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Flintwoode Farms LLC and Karin Flint. Equestrians rode over three days for both team and individual accolades. Champion of the CPEDI3* was USA rider Roxanne Trunnell and Dolton scoring an average of 81.871. Reserve Champion was Marie Vonderheyden and London Swing. This was the first look of the year with only seven months before the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. The 2020 Adequan Global Dressage Festival CPEDI3* and CPEDI1* was not only the place for each duo to finesse their tests in this Paralympic qualifier but it was also where riders with new horses like Beatrice DeLavalette and Ellie Brimmer were able to get into the international ring in front of top judges.

Chef d’Equipe Michel Assouline was excited for the U.S. riders. He noted, “Our riders have risen above all expectations showing great dedication and competence while maintaining U.S. Para Dressage in top FEI ranking position with a team average of 75.55%, our highest to date. Roxanne Trunnell’s progression seems unstoppable and Karin Flint’s Dolton is moving into FEI world number one position on the current ranking list with record breaking U.S. scores. Also very exciting is the broadening of our athlete base getting high scores in the 70% range. We have a great team of riders, owners and support staff working in strong unity; their endeavor continues.”

President of the USPEA Hope Hand added, “The weather was challenging due to gale force winds that seem to grace us in January every year, but the skies were clear and the temperature was just about perfect. The first show of the season is always exciting to see all the new combinations. It was also fun watching our WEG medalists who draw a crowd with their celebrity status setting the stage for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. We were confident in our team to do well but still on edge since every competition going forward is an important Paralympic qualifier. Over the last year, the Elite riders ramped up their fitness and riding programs to prepare for the January early start. Hard work does pay off big time. Roxanne Trunnell stole the limelight with her personal best scores each day exceeding 80% pushing her to the top of the World Individual Ranking List. She certainly rocked it and raised the bar for the other riders. Canada and Mexico followed the lead and also performed well, earning individual first places. The 2020 race to Tokyo undoubtedly will be remembered as one of the greatest athletic contests of strength and determination.”

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

Steffen Peters Aces the Grand Prix Special in Week One of AGDF

Steffen Peters (USA) and Suppenkasper.

Wellington, FL – January 11, 2020 – USA Olympic team medallist Steffen Peters stamped his authority on the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3*, presented by MTICA Farm, in the opening week of the 2020 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

Peters and Four Winds Farm’s 18.2hh gelding Suppenkasper pulled off a fault-free performance and were rewarded with 76.149% — including a high score of 78.404% from the Colombian judge at H, Cesar Torrente. This is the horse’s first visit to AGDF and he and Peters will remain in Wellington until the CDI5* show in week seven (February 19-23).

California-based 55-year-old Peters said: “That was really fun. He has endless energy; he’s a dream. If any rider would get on this horse they would say that this is the ultimate feeling.”

Peters attributed his almost 6% improvement from the Grand Prix to an altered warm-up routine for the big-framed but light-footed Spielberg x Krack C 12-year-old: “He’s such a firecracker, like he was in the grand prix. My dream is always to keep the feeling from the warm-up into the ring, and that worked out perfectly today.

“I walked him this morning and then I worked him for half an hour at lunch time, then I put him away and let him completely settle down, then I did another 20 minutes before the test. That’s what I used to do with Legolas and maybe this might be the new recipe for ‘Mopsie’.”

Peters has the World Cup Dressage Final in Las Vegas in mid-April and the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan in July in his crosshairs.

“Mopsie is sometimes a bit tricky in the arena, and we still have a huge hurdle to go with the freestyle, as it’s quite a different atmosphere and it’s still a bit about desensitizing, but hopefully with one more good freestyle score, we will head to Vegas,” added Peters, who picked up nines for the extended canter, pirouettes and for his riding.

“Since Tryon, where he got extremely excited, he’s been getting better and better. I’m one of those extremely lucky guys who gets to ride a horse like that and I think there’s an 80% in there; so many times we’ve been close, but I rate him as my big hero, as my best friend. He’s one of those horses that can easily make you shed happy tears.”

Of the 15 starters, it was Great Britain’s Susan Pape who was once again the bridesmaid. She rode Harmony Sporthorses’ 11-year-old Zenon stallion Harmony’s Eclectisch to second place with a shade under 70% after mistakes in the one-time changes pulled their score down. The USA’s Anna Marek filled third with the charming bay mare Dee Clair. Diane Morrison’s 12-year-old Sir Sinclair daughter scored 68.851%.

Having finished second in the week’s earlier Prix St Georges CDI1*, Swedish rider Carline Darcourt went one better, riding Bon Coeur 1389 to a 71.882% victory in the competitive Intermediate I CDI1* class.

The sporty black eight-year-old is a well-known breeding stallion in Europe, having already produced more than a dozen licensed sons. He is owned by Lövsta Stuteri who also own his sire, Benetton Dream. This is his first ever international show. The previous day’s winners, Susan Pape (GBR) and Bourani, had to settle for third place, with home rider Katie Johnson riding Paxton finishing second. All three scored over 70%.

Canada’s Ariana Chia once again topped the leaderboard at small tour, winning the Intermediate I CDI3* on Fiderflame with 69.5%. This marks their second win of the week, and Chia will be bidding to make it three out of three when she contests Sunday’s Intermediate I CDI3* freestyle class with the 10-year-old gelding by Fidertanz.

In the FEI para classes, Roxanne Trunnell (USA) held her lead in the Grade I after scoring a career-high of 83.167%. Trunnell piloted Flintwood Farm LLC’s Dolton, an eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Danone I, to the overall champion award.

“It feels really good; we’re training a lot at home and it’s all coming together,” Trunnell commented, adding that it was Dolton’s first time competing under lights, resulting in a touch of tension.

Beatrice De Lavalette (USA) dominated the Grade II para division after receiving her highest score of the week. She earned 73.667% aboard Nicolas De Lavalette’s Duna, while Jason Surnoski (CAN) came a close second with 72% aboard his own Phoenix.

The Grade III para division saw Rebecca Hart top the leaderboard after scoring an impressive 72.644% on Rowan O’Riley’s Fortune 500, a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding.

“It was really a good experience and I had a nice easy start to the season. The next qualifier is in week three, so we’re hoping to up our scores and represent really well,” concluded Hart, who has her eyes set on Tokyo 2020.

Lee Garrod of Canada improved her score again, scoring a 71.833% in the freestyle to win the Grade V para division on Question, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Quaterback.

For more information and a full list of results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Jill Irving Records Personal Best in First Freestyle of AGDF

Jill Irving (CAN) and Degas 12.

Wellington, FL – January 10, 2020 – Day two of the opening week of the 2020 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) heralded the first Friday night under lights of this competitive season at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

The result in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle, presented by Lövsta, was an exact repeat of the previous day’s results, with three Canadian ladies, all trained by Ashley Holzer, filling the podium. They were led by Jill Irving on her own long-time partner, the De Niro gelding Degas 12, who scored 76.06% — a personal best score. Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu rode All In to second place (75.74%), while 23-year-old Naima Moreira Laliberte filled third with 75.645% on Statesman.

“Degas is 18 this year so I’m thrilled with his energy,” said Irving, who rode to a Beatles compilation. “His piaffe and passage felt great. He’s really flexible and, with age, he’s become less nervous, which used to be an issue. I was super thrilled with him and it’s really fun to be part of all this at Global. It takes a village to make this sport roll.”

Fraser-Beaulieu, who is back riding after the birth of her first child in the summer of 2019, said: “This is my second competition back and he’s the type of horse that needs to be in the ring a fair amount, so yesterday in the Grand Prix I felt he was a little sticky and unsure. Today he came out ready to rock. The beginning of my test felt incredible — the best feeling I’ve ever had on him. Then I had a mistake in my ones, which was a pity.”

Laliberte was riding in her first Friday Night Stars class, a long-held dream of hers. She said: “I’m really happy to finally be competing here. I thought Statesman did a great job in there; it’s a different atmosphere and apart from one rider mistake, the rest felt quite amazing. We’re still newcomers; I’m happy to break the ice.”

This is her third season with the 13-year-old Sandro Hit gelding, and only their seventh grand prix competition together. They were part of the gold medal winning Canadian team at the Pan American Games in July 2019 and this was their first show since then.

Judge Bill Warren was impressed with what he saw: “To sit at Global at C and see the quality of horses and riding was just thrilling. I’ve judged Jill and Brittany many times over the years and I’ve seen the relationships develop with their horses, and it’s been really gratifying to see where they’ve come from and where they are now.”

The 2020 season’s first small tour class, the FEI Prix St Georges CDI3* presented by Triple Crown Nutrition, went the way of the Canadians, with Ariana Chia returning to Wellington with Fiderflame for the second year running and winning their first class of the show. The 10-year-old gelding by Fidertanz was the only one to break the 70% watermark, scoring 71.47%. This is Chia’s fourth year in a row competing at AGDF.

In the FEI Prix St Georges CDI1* class, all three top finishers of the nine starters scored over 71%, with the winner’s sash going to Great Britain’s Susan Pape and Harmony Sporthorses’ Bourani. The nine-year-old gelding by Belissimo M had not competed internationally in a year, and this was his first ever plus-70% score. Hot on his heels was Lövsta Stuteri’s breeding stallion Bon Coeur 1389. The eight-year-old by Benetton Dream FRH was ridden to 72.529% by Sweden’s Caroline Darcourt. Katie Johnson (USA) and Paxton rounded out the top three.

In the para equestrian division, Grade II rider Beatrice De Lavalette (USA) topped the leaderboard with 68.398% riding Sky High 15 in the individual test and then pulled off a 71.569% victory riding her other horse, Duna, in the championship test. This followed a disappointing performance the previous day when she finished third on Duna with 68.2%.

“Today my coach Shayna Simon really told me to push her, to keep her upright — and she was right,” said the 21-year-old of her own 12-year-old KWPN mare by Vivaldi. “I worked very hard during the test to make sure that she wasn’t too far down and that she was active. It was hard, but definitely worth it.”

De Lavalette was the most critically injured survivor of the Brussels Airport terrorist bombing in March 2016. She suffered partial paralysis and lost both her lower legs, making the accuracy with which she rides particularly impressive.

“I was very proud of my eight-meter circles today, because those are hard. Overall, it was a very good test, so I am happy,” added De Lavalette, who has only been riding Duna since July, having bought her from Judy De Winter in the Netherlands. Previously, she had been competing a PRE, so switching to a warmblood was a major change.

“When we first started with Duna it was a completely new, different horse. I had never had a warmblood before, so we were able to explore those new sensations and paces,” she concluded.

At Grade I, home rider Roxanne Trunnell continued her sizzling form on Dolton, scoring 81.964% to lead the class by a clear 10% over the budding talent of David Botana and the grand prix-trained stallion Lord Locksley. She has, this week, become one of very few riders worldwide to achieve scores of over 80% in a non-freestyle class, where the scores are typically higher.

Kate Shoemaker (Solitaer 40) once again posted an impressive score in the Grade IV division. The USA rider scored 74.634%, picking up two eights for her riding of the consistent 13-year-old black stallion by Sandro Hit. Grade V rider Lee Garrod (CAN) improved on her previous day’s score, landing a win with Question, a 12-year-old gelding by Quaterback, with 69.087%.

For more information and a full list of results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Grants Awarded to Two Para-Equestrian Dressage Riders

Meghan Benge – photo by Nicole McNally.

January 8, 2020 – The Dressage Foundation is pleased to announce that $1,000 grants from its Para-Equestrian Dressage Fund have been awarded to Meghan Benge (SC) and Erika Wager (NY).

Meghan began riding when she was six years old and has trained in hunters, para-driving (she was the 2008 Para Driving World Championships gold medalist), and now para-dressage. She has been named to the US Equestrian Para Dressage Development Athlete list and will use her $1,000 grant to train and compete in Wellington with her trainer, Melissa Vaughn. Meghan said, “My ponies, Trip and Zoey, and I are very thankful to receive this grant. It will allow us to obtain additional training prior to and in between our shows during the spring season. It will help put us one step closer to achieving our goals.”

Erika began riding at the age of 5 and has been focused on para-dressage for the past year. She has recently been named to the US Equestrian Para Dressage Emerging Athlete list and will use her $1,000 grant to train with Susanne Hamilton and attend USEF/USPEA clinics. Erika said, “I’m so grateful to be selected as a grant recipient! The funds will go towards continuing my education as a Para-Dressage rider with my horse, Clifton Zander, and are a tremendous help.”

The purpose of the Para-Equestrian Dressage Fund, seeded by a gift from the Lowell Boomer Family Charitable Remainder Unitrust, is to provide financial support for para-dressage riders to attend educational events that will enable them to receive training to help them reach their riding and competition goals.

For more information about applying for a grant from TDF’s Para-Equestrian Dressage Fund or to make a donation, contact TDF at (402) 434-8585 or visit www.dressagefoundation.org.

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

Article courtesy of The Dressage Foundation

Cynthia Screnci’s Journey from Jumpers to USA Para-Dressage

Cynthia Screnci and Erago VF at the 2019 Tryon Fall Dressage CPEDI3*. Photo by Lindsay Y. McCall.

Wellington, FL – December 11, 2019 – The love for horses has no boundaries. That is what makes the Para-Equestrian discipline so important. It gives riders with physical disabilities (whether they were born with them, occurred over time, or were the result of an injury) a place to compete with the highest goal of becoming a Paralympian and showing at the Paralympics. Cindy Screnci of Wellington, Florida exemplifies an athlete that has not let an injury stop her from achieving international aspirations on the animal she loves.

When Screnci was a child, her mom, a single parent, scraped together $800 to buy her first horse. Screnci and her horse competed in Gymkhana including barrel racing and pole bending. Screnci took a break from riding to do “life” and when her daughter was eight years old, she started riding in the hunter and jumper divisions alongside her daughter. Living in South Florida, Screnci enjoyed competing at a high level with her jumper Kasimir. The pair accumulated top accolades including several year-end awards, a Silver Stirrup Award, finished first in the North American League Jumpers, and many other top honors. In 2015, Screnci sold Kasimir and she was in between horses. Screnci recalled, “I was honestly just playing around in the low adult jumper ring on a friend’s horse for the weekend.  We had won the speed class the day before and went clear again moving us on to the jump-off.  This horse was a small, speedy guy and in the jump-off, we had done a few tidy tight turns so we were ahead by more than four seconds.  The second to the last line was a one stride, then five strides to a decent sized oxer, followed by a quick turn to the last line.  We went over the oxer and my horse spooked at a jump that was not part of the course but was set a bit close to our line. When he jogged left, I went right. I landed on my feet and twisted, breaking my ankle pretty severely. This type of injury would have been a normal 8-12 week recovery; unfortunately I contracted Osteomylitis, a severe bone infection, resulting in 25 surgeries over the next three years and a permanent disability in my left ankle.” Screnci wasn’t sure where her riding was at this point but with a purchase of Sally L from Murray Kessler, her next chapter began. Screnci explained, “Sally had been quite a successful jumper and had a lot of dressage training in her past. My friend Natalie Liebowitz, who sold the mare to me, told me that Robert Dover had wanted Sally for the Para-Dressage program because he loved her so much. With a great horse and my permanent disability, I thought I could be classified as a para-dressage rider, and the rest is history.  I started riding with David Marcus and lessoning on Sally L and absolutely fell in love with para-dressage. Going from the jumper ring to dressage has been great. I have had to change my seat completely and have learned essentially eight years of dressage in what will be a year in December, but I train six days a week and have dedicated myself to becoming a successful Grade V para-dressage athlete.”

Screnci’s success in a short amount of time includes training with Marco Bernal. She stated, “Marco has been the other piece of this crazy puzzle. He is an internationally successful Grand Prix rider who is referred to as an ‘Icon in the dressage world’ by everyone I meet. I am very fortunate and blessed to have Marco and his team on my side.  Every single person in his barn is supportive, excited, and a constant inspiration to me.” Outside the barn, Screnci’s husband Stephen and her children Lia and Bradley are key people in her village of support. Screnci recalled, “When I sat down and told them about my dreams and ambitions regarding para-dressage and competing Internationally with the big goal being Tokyo 2020, they were all in.  Finding Eragon VF (with the help of international para-dressage athlete Kate Shoemaker), training six days a week, competing on a regular basis, and now with the purchase of a new edition to the family, Ricci, my superstar school master, they have been with me all the way.”

Not only is Screnci putting in the hours in the ring to reaching her goal of the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020, but she is putting in the time with watching and researching the top athletes in Grade V. Screnci explained, “In a short amount of time I have learned that para-dressage is every bit as competitive as able bodied dressage.  The level of competition internationally even more so.  In my grade (Grade V) there are para-dressage riders that compete able bodied Grand Prix such as the United Kingdom’s Sophie Wells who has competed and won against such riders as Charlotte Dujardin.  I study all of the International riders regularly so I can be a prepared as possible when we eventually meet.”

With the discipline crossover from the hunter jumpers to para-dressage Screnci has noticed that there is a negative connotation with being seen as a para-dressage rider among equestrians. Screnci said, “Para-dressage is so much more than people in the United States seem to understand.  I am hoping to help change that and open doors for the US Para-Dressage program. I don’t want to see new potential riders shy away from para-dressage, especially in the higher grades of four and five.”

Screnci is enjoying helping to educate while doing the sport she loves. Screnci concluded, “Riding is more than my passion; it saved my life.  I grew up riding and owning horses and they are an intrinsic part of me. I wouldn’t be me without horses in my life the way they are. It’s very hard to explain to people who are not horsemen.  When I broke my leg, many doctors and much of my family not only asked but insisted I give up horses and riding.  Not my husband, or my children, but others in my family and of course friends. Three years of surgeries, external fixators, bone graphs, skin grafts, weeks of IVs, physical therapy and pain – what kept me going was knowing that at some point I would find my way back to these amazing creatures and would feel whole once again.”

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

Paralympian Sophie Wells and Judge Stephen Clarke to Join ‘Dressage Unwrapped’ at Olympia

Following the announcement of ‘Dressage Unwrapped’ which takes place at Olympia, The London International Horse Show on Monday 16 December, Paralympic champion Sophie Wells MBE and renowned dressage judge Stephen Clarke are the latest stars to be unveiled to take part.

Sophie and Stephen will join other celebrated dressage personalities, including Carl Hester, Gareth Hughes, and Richard Davison as they unwrap the secrets of the discipline of dressage. The brand-new ninety-minute session will take place at 4pm on the opening day of the Show and provide a unique insight into the sport, from training and producing dressage horses to competing on the world stage.

Sophie Wells MBE, a double Paralympic gold medalist as well as multiple World and European champion, will be taking to the saddle to demonstrate various dressage elements, from the basic movements to the more complex components of championship tests. Sophie will be joined in the arena by Stephen Clarke, widely regarded as one of the best international dressage judges on the circuit, as he talks the audience through what he is looking for from horse and rider during a test and the main considerations when scoring each of the movements.

Stephen’s experience in this field is second-to-none, with previous roles including President of the Ground Jury at the London 2012 Olympic Games and FEI Dressage Judge General, which involves creating and coordinating discussion among international judges to ensure equality and uniformity across the sport.

This unique insight will complement previously announced components of ‘Dressage Unwrapped’ which include appearances by Performance Manager to Britain’s Senior Eventing Team, Richard Waygood, and one of Britain’s best loved eventers, Olympic, World, and European medalist Pippa Funnell.

Olympia Show Director, Simon-Brooks Ward, said: “We’re delighted that Sophie and Stephen will be joining the high-profile team set to be part of Dressage Unwrapped. Their experience and talent are world-renowned, and their participation will significantly enhance the programme, providing an unprecedented insight into competitive dressage.”

Dressage Unwrapped is part of the evening performance at Olympia, The London International Horse Show on Monday 16 December, which also features the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix, as well as numerous international display acts, including The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry and spellbinding horseman Jean-François Pignon.

To purchase tickets for Olympia, please visit www.olympiahorseshow.com or telephone the box office on 0871 230 5580.

For more information, please contact:
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Wheatland Farm and Marie Vonderheyden Named as Finalists for FEI Awards 2019

Lausanne, Switzerland – The Fédération Équestre International (FEI) has released the list of finalists for the FEI Awards 2019, which includes United States Equestrian Federation/U.S. Para-Equestrian Association Para-Dressage Center of Excellence Wheatland Farm in the FEI Solidarity category and U.S. para-dressage rider Marie Vonderheyden in the FEI Against All Odds category. Public voting to help determine the winners closes Monday, October 7. Category winners will be honored at the FEI Awards Gala on November 19, hosted during the 2019 FEI General Assembly in Moscow, Russia.

Public voting will count towards 50% of the overall selection for each category. Click here to VOTE NOW.

Wheatland Farm, founded by Mark and Muriel Forrest, is one of only nine USEF/USPEA Para-Dressage Centers of Excellence and is a leading member of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), providing therapeutic riding and equine-assisted activities and therapeutic programs. As a Center of Excellence, Wheatland Farm is instrumental in providing educational and developmental opportunities for para-dressage athletes and coaches in the United States, offering services which include classification, trainer/coach identification, and sport opportunities, as well as programs in both human and equine sports science and medicine. Wheatland Farm has remained heavily involved with the U.S. Para-Dressage Program and serves as an important touch point between the Developing and High Performance teams and the therapeutic riding community.

“We are honored and humbled to be shortlisted for such a wonderful award. Wheatland Farm’s mission is to provide healing and hope through an excellent, world-class adaptive sport program that is inclusive of all equestrians,” said Muriel Forrest, co-founder of Wheatland Farm. “We are grateful for the support of US Equestrian, who together with the United States Para-Equestrian Association, are providing amazing support for para-equestrian sport, and we are honored to be a Center of Excellence for them in that capacity. We believe that this nomination will help to raise national and global awareness of para-equestrian sport in general and para-dressage, in particular. Thank you to the FEI for considering Wheatland Farm, and we humbly ask our friends in the equestrian community and the general public to lift up para-equestrians by voting for Wheatland Farm.”

Marie Vonderheyden, the only U.S. athlete nominated for this year’s awards, suffered a devastating riding accident in 2015, which led to medical professionals placing her in a medically induced coma for seven weeks. When she awoke, her family was informed that the regulatory part of her brain controlling personality and speech was irreparably damaged and her chances of walking again were slim. She showed tremendous perseverance throughout the recovery process, in which she re-learned how to swallow, the alphabet, colors, emotions, and balance. She reconnected with horses through therapeutic riding rehabilitation and progressed from there, ultimately learning how to ride again without assistance. She competed in her first para-dressage competition in 2019 and has intentions of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. Marie’s commitment and determination to return to the saddle is truly inspiring.

“A friend of ours submitted Marie’s story. We’re just amazed and so thrilled. We’re very humbled. We have so much thanks and appreciation for the people supporting and promoting Marie,” said Cecile Vonderheyden, Marie’s mother. “This is going to help us tremendously in our quest for Marie to go further in this sport and to help her accomplish her goal of competing at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.”

About the FEI Awards
Launched in 2009, the FEI Awards have celebrated the champions of the sport both on and off the field, inspiring individuals and organizations from all over the world. The nominated categories presented at the FEI Awards Gala are the Longines FEI Rising Star, Peden Bloodstock FEI Best Athlete, Cavalor FEI Best Groom, FEI Against All Odds, and the FEI Solidarity award.

More about the FEI Awards here: https://www.fei.org/awards/about.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Roxanne Trunnell Tops USEF Para Dressage National Championship with Dolton

Roxanne Trunnell and Dolton ©Susan J. Stickle Photography.

Mill Spring, NC – September 15, 2019 – Tryon Fall Dressage 2 CDI 3* and CPEDI 3* presented by Adequan® concluded Sunday at Tryon International Equestrian Center, wrapping up three days of international and national Dressage competition at the venue that simultaneously hosted the Adequan®/USEF Para Dressage National Championship. In CDI 3* competition, Karen Lipp (USA) rode to a win in Saturday’s FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3* with Whitney, while Katherine Bateson Chandler (USA) and Alcazar claimed their second FEI CDI 3* win Sunday with a 70.341% in the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3*. Roxanne Trunnell and Dolton secured the Adequan®/USEF Para Dressage National Championship title with a final cumulative score of 75.247%, and David Botana was named National Reserve Champion following his efforts riding Lord Locksley to a cumulative score of 74.318%.

“It feels really good [to win a National Championship], Trunnell shared. “I haven’t been with Dolton for very long. [Our] partnership is really forming.” Trunnell also relayed that one of the highlights of her tests with Dolton was “just how consistent he was. Always marching!”

Trunnell scored a 79.333% in the FEI CPEDI 3* Freestyle Grade I, earning the highest score of the weekend with the 2012 Hanoverian gelding (Danone I x Unknown) owned by Flintwood Farm LLC. “Our Freestyle music is from ‘Forrest Gump’ – it’s adorable!”

While Trunnell is hoping to be named to Team USA for the Tokyo Paralympics, she reflected that accuracy is a big focus, and that gaining experience at TIEC is a great environment to prepare for atmosphere and stiff competition going forward. “[Going forward we’ll do] just a lot of training, and working on accuracy with geometry. I think the bigger venue and more competition is more realistic of what we’ll get [in Tokyo], so it helps us mentally.”

Botana shared that his weekend with the 2001 Trakehner stallion (Unkenruf x Lida x Enrico Caruso) owned by Margaret L. Stevens, Lord Locksley, had been an “amazing” culmination of hard work over the summer: “We’ve worked all summer and learned a lot. We practiced the halt, bending, and improving precision, plus overall harmony. I think it all really came together this weekend. I think we were able to pull off some really improved balance in our turns, and stayed constant throughout the weekend with high scores. It’s been amazing; everything kind of came together, from working with my trainer and meeting to go over our test before each ride, and taking the judges’ comments and what I felt during each ride to transition on to the next test. [That 75] was amazing. We had a perfect ride, and it all came together.”

Botana and the big grey stallion have made strides towards harmony and Lord Locksley knows his job well despite a serious career change, Botana explained. “It’s a big transition from being a Grand Prix International stallion to being in Para Dressage Grade I, and he’s taken beautifully to it. It took us a while to get into a groove,” Botana recalled, “but now we’re in a perfect balance. He knows that as soon as I put my foot in the stirrup, we’re going to walk, and that’s it. There can be a million things going on, and he won’t bat an eye. But the second I get off and step a foot away, he’ll be back to his regular big stallion self!”

Katherine Bateson Chandler Wins FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3*

Bateson Chandler and the 2005 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Cantango x Polina x Ferro) owned by Jane Forbes Clark repeated their Friday win in the FEI Grand Prix CDI 3* with the top score in Sunday’s FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3*, but Alcazar was “a bit more with me today,” she explained. “I’m a little happier with this ride, because he’s another two days down the road of being in the heat, and sort of it’s been a little tough for him. He came off a lot of atmosphere in Europe, so now he’s a little like, ‘what happened to everybody?’ This has been an amazing show and he felt a bit more with me today.”

The pair has had a busy summer and Alcazar is ready for a break, Bateson Chandler relayed, but spent their last competition before a holiday making the most of their stay. “It’s an amazing venue. This is truly a world-class venue with beautiful stabling, which always really matters to us. We’ve got fans in the stalls, which really helps with the heat.”

Karen Lipp and Whitney Win the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*

Karen Lipp and Whitney travelled down centerline to win the blue rosette in Saturday’s Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3* with a score of 61.185%. Lipp shared that she has been working with Whitney, a 2005 Hanoverian mare (White Star x Hauptstutbuch Grace) owned by Kathleen Oldford, since she was four years old and has brought her through all of the young horse programs: “We did the four, five, and six-year-old programs. Her owner rode her a little bit and then decided to sell her, and then she didn’t like that idea, so she said, ‘You keep her and ride her.’ I’ve been showing her in the Grand Prix now for about two and a half years.

“I didn’t really have a quality horse to show in CDI for a year, so it’s been nice to have Whitney go the CDI ring because it was a long break for me out of the ring, and it’s a lot different than riding in normal shows.”

To learn more, visit www.Tryon.com.