Rebecca Hart and Schroeter’s Romani. Photos by Lindsay Y. McCall.
Wellington, FL – January 26, 2016 – Para-Dressage riders from the USA and Canada concluded the 2016 Para-Equestrian Dressage Tour on Sunday, January 24, with the breathtaking Freestyle Test competition held in the Stadium at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Beautiful Florida, known for its temperate climate during the winter, threw all it had at the Para-Dressage riders. Over three days riders were drenched with rain, blown by gusts of up to 50 miles per hour, shaken by 39 degree mornings, and had the pleasure of a helicopter landing beside the ring. When the equestrian competitions were cancelled around Wellington, the Para-Dressage riders kept going thanks to the quick and thought out process of show management and volunteers at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. These athletes never complained, they never whimpered – they are used to giving it their all no matter the set-backs. These riders showed how professional they were not only by their response to inclement weather but by their consistent outstanding scores over the weekend. The FEI ground jury this weekend included Sarah Leitch (GBR), Marc Urban (BEL), and Dr Jan Holger Holtschmit (GER). The $10,000 CPEDI3* was presented by Mission Control, Mane Stream, courtesy of Rowan O’Riley, Adequan®, and Nutrena. The two week Para-Equestrian Dressage Tour (January 8-10 and January 22-24) was the final opportunity in the United States to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Earning the High Point Overall championship for a second week was Rebecca Hart (USA) and Schroeter’s Romani, owned by Hart in conjunction with Margaret Duprey, Cherry Knoll Farm, Barbara Summer, and Bill and Sandy Kimmel. Roxanne Trunnell (USA) and NTEC Royal Dancer, owned by Julia Handt, garnered Reserve Champion High Point Rider. The overall grade winners were: Roxanne Trunnell and NTEC Royal Dancer (USA) in Grade Ia; Ashley Gowanlock and Ferdonia 2 (CAN), owned by Lauren Massey in Grade Ib; Rebecca Hart and Schroeter’s Romani (USA) in Grade II; Angela Peavy and Lancelot Warrior (USA), owned by Rebecca Reno, in Grade III; and Mary Jordan and Rubicon 75, owned by Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center, in Grade IV.
From the results of the $10,000 CPEDI3* in Wellington, the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Equestrian Team Selection Trials in just 6 months will feature superb horse and rider combinations.
U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt commented, “Our team really showed us that they can compete on their horses under any circumstances. Our top six horses that we have right now competed really well. They were unfazed by everything including helicopters, winds, and tents flopping. We would like to see some scores a point or two higher but under the circumstances these athletes rode every bit of what they could get out of their horses. They rode their best scores and performed well. The horses were consistent, the athletes were consistent, and I think the team has come together very well. I think we have the consistency down now. Before we would have a good ride one day or one show and I think now we have consistent rides and the scores are showing that. The only thing they can improve at this point are little. From a 7 to an 8 or an 8 to a 9 are very minor adjustments. It’s always precision with Para-Dressage. You can improve precision with better preparation. Fine tune, look at the videos, look at tests. They are all capable of pulling up 4 or 5 more points out of their scores. They ride exceptional horses. Now they just have to ride the daylight out of the test.”
Handt continued, “Not only were the riders great but this whole venue was fantastic. It was really good prep for Rio. We have a very young team, new horses, lots of changes, and it all worked out really well this weekend. The plan is there, there is a support team, we have excellent sponsors, the grooms are there, and there is no drama. They all help each other out and everyone supports each other. Everything runs as a well-oiled machine. Which it should be at this point in time and I couldn’t be any happier than the results we have right now. By the time they get to selection trials they will all perform really well.”
As the High Point Champion, Grade II Overall winner over both weeks Rebecca Hart has showcased her amazing talent in the ring. “I was very happy with my tests this weekend including my freestyle,” said Hart. “That was the second time we went through the freestyle and we hit all the music points the way I wanted it. Over the entire weekend I was thrilled with how Romani’s and my relationship and trust has grown from where we were two years ago to where we are now. It’s been a remarkable improvement. The relationship with Todd Flettrich, Margaret Duprey, and Fernando Ortega at Cherry Knoll Farm has been wonderful with helping us to create that. To be able to handle a helicopter landing next to us made me have more confidence and trust with Romani to know she trusts me that much.”
Hart continued, “As the selection trials approach we are going to keep working on the same things with Todd, Margaret, and Fernando. We will build form that same plan since it seems to be working. We need to work on a little more power, a little more harmony, more flow but really just keep doing the same things we are doing. It’s the same job different sandbox.”
Roxanne Trunnell (USA) and NTEC Royal Dancer took home the High Point Reserve Championship and the Grade Ia overall accolade. Trunnell commented, “Everything went better this week especially since we fixed the freestyle from the last show. The movements went better with the music and I was happy about that. My plan over the next few months is to keep on riding and solidifying our relationship.”
Margaret McIntosh (USA) and Rio Rio had top performances in Grade Ia and were part of the U.S. Team over the weekend. Macintosh enjoyed the positive influence the fluctuating weather provided. Macintosh expressed, “The wild weather this weekend was definitely to Rio’s advantage. She’s so relaxed that sometimes she needs a little bit of this atmosphere going on to put in a really good test. I think our final freestyle test was the culmination of that. She felt great in the ring; she was awake and paying attention. All that time that Missy (Ransehousen) spent out in the wind and the rain certainly paid off. When we bought Rio Rio she was a young horse and not trained to the FEI level. It’s been a lot of fun over the past two years to see her step up to the plate every time the ante has gotten higher and higher. It’s been so nice for me to have the experts of Jessica Ransehousen, Missy Ransehousen, and Clive Milkins and Kai Handt to develop this horse. I just hope it continues over the next six months to increase the connection, energy, and flow, and we will be ready.”
In Grade Ib Canadian Ashley Gowanlock and Ferdonia 2 earned the Grade Ib overall with a top Freestyle test on the final day of competition. “This was Fergie’s last international completion,” expressed Gowanlock. “I sang on the cake; it was our final hurrah and on Sunday she put her dancing shoes on for the last time and she knew it. She went in and did her best. She is the sweetest most willing partner. Whether she’s in the rain or a fly is biting her as we go down centerline, she still goes. She knows when I’m not feeling well and she picks up the slack.”
Equine Canada’s Para-Dressage Chef d’Equipe Elizabeth Robinson added, “Every time Ashley has needed a horse this one has been pulled out of the stable or the field. She has been retired multiple times. Ashley lives in Canada and Fergie lived in Florida with owner Lauren Barwick, so Ashley would get on a plane, give Fergie a few tries and takes her into the ring. It’s more than special to us that Ashley is able to do that with that horse. We are very grateful to the owners which was Lauren Barwick and now Lauren Massey. She is hoping to breed Fergie. It’s a nice ending to a horse that has done such a great international job for our team.”
Team Canada showed multiple new horses with their veteran athletes over the two weeks of the Para-Dressage Tour in Wellington. Chef d’equipe Elizabeth Robinson commented, “Having two shows back to back made this very worthwhile to our team to come down. We put all of our resources into the month of January, which we wouldn’t have otherwise. We are looking forward to the future. We have an incredible core, great people, and great riders. Our riders and support staff have all been working together for quite some time and have done a few games together. We hope to strengthen that and support our riders and put ourselves on a good path for Rio.”
Ashley Gowanlock of Canada had top scores in Grade Ib however USA Rider Sydney Collier took home a few blue ribbons of her own in Grade Ib. Sydney Collier rode two horses this weekend including Western Rose, owned by Wes Dunham and Wentworth, owned by Amy McIlwham.
Collier commented, “This was only my second show with Rosie. We haven’t had a whole lot of time to work together as a partnership. Every day that we get to work together I feel so lucky and I feel like she really enjoys being a para-dressage horse. I feel so lucky to be working with such a talented partner. I have three wonderful horses I am currently riding including Scampano 2, owned by KCR Dressage LLC. I have different goals for each one. Rosie I’ve been with for the least amount of time and I am really looking forward to building our partnership more and more. Even the difference we made from last show to this show, I am impressed how she has stepped up to the plate.”
Team rider and Grade III Overall Champion Annie Peavy and Lancelot Warrior (USA) dominated Grade III over both weeks. Peavy noted, “I was very happy with Lance. With all of the cold and wet weather conditions, we pulled through and he was great. My horse and I had a much better connection at these CPEDI3* events, even more so than in Europe or Texas. We just keep growing together. He gives me confidence when I need it and I give him confidence when he needs it. We work well together. I just have to keep going down the centerline and keep doing it.”
Grade IV overall rider was Mary Jordan and Rubicon 75. Jordan noted, “Our weekend at the Global Paralympic qualifier was an incredible growth experience and finished off on a real high note winning the freestyle and the overall Grade 4 championship. My coach George Williams and our team were outstanding and the positive feedback on Rubicon from the judges moving forward was encouraging and truly helpful. We are on a great upswing and look forward to the U.S. Selection Trials which will count for 50 percent of our score moving toward Rio.”
The two $10,000 CPEDI3* shows were presented by Mission Control, Mane Stream, courtesy of Rowan O’Riley, Adequan®, and Nutrena. Mane Stream, located in Oldwick, New Jersey, is designated as a Premier Accredited Center of Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International, (PATH). Mane Stream provides education, accreditation and resources for the equine assisted activities industry.
Linda Dietz, President of the Board of Directors for Mane Stream, said, “It’s important to us to support this show because this is what we do. We offer equine-assisted physical, occupational and speech therapy. We’re one of the oldest PATH accredited centers in the country, and we’ve been around for nearly 42 years. We think that it is inspirational for our riders, and we would love to see some of our riders on this team as well. We couldn’t have done this without the help of Rowan O’Riley.”
Rebecca Reno, representative for Mission Control, added, “Being a sponsor at these shows was incredible. Our athletes are tough and don’t complain. They rode in the covered arena, in the wind, in the rain and there was no whining from a single rider. I know that everyone works so hard at home, and there have been things that they all have overcome, but wow.”
Reno concluded, “That is a mental attitude. These riders don’t complain they get on and ride. I think that’s why they’re so successful. We’ve been so pleased and even though the weather wasn’t the best, this solidified for us why this has been so amazing. It’s been an honor to help sponsor the show.”
By: Lindsay Y. McCall
To view an online version of this press release with more photos, please visit: http://uspea.org/category/recent-uspea-press-news/.
About United States Para-Equestrian Association:
The USPEA is a network of riders, judges, national federation board members, and equestrian enthusiasts. The association gives athletes the ability to get involved and expand their knowledge and experience in the Para-Equestrian sport. The USPEA encourages para-athletes to participate in all disciplines under the para-equestrian umbrella.
The USPEA is a recognized affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) which serves as the National Governing Body for the equestrian sport. This relationship between the USPEA and USEF is to encourage para-equestrian competitors, leisure riders, coaches, fans and enthusiasts to network and get involved with the entire equestrian sport.
Ultimately the goal of the USPEA is to foster growth in the para-equestrian discipline. From growth in the number of participants to growth as a team, and growth in the experience and knowledge of all involved. From local horse shows to international Olympic Games, the USPEA will provide para-equestrians the knowledge of what they need to succeed. The USPEA connects with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), the United States Dressage Federation (USDF), and USEF which provides Para-Equestrians the top equestrian resources.
In June 2010, the USPEA earned its 501 (c)(3) status which has encouraged supporters to help supply funding to the Para-Equestrian Team as a recognized affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).