Sydney Collier and Western Rose. Photos by Erich Linder.
Grass Lake, Michigan – June 6, 2016 – Like a movie ending moment, Grade Ib rider Sydney Collier (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and Western Rose, owned by Wes Dunham, garnered the 2016 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage High Performance Division National Championship Sponsored by Deloitte. The duo maintained consistent scores over the weekend earning a final FEI Freestyle score of 73.167%. Grade III rider Annie Peavy (Avon, Conn.) and Lancelot Warrior, owned by Rebecca Reno and Heather Blitz, scored the highest freestyle of the day on Sunday at the Waterloo Hunt Club show grounds with a 75.833%. Peavy’s final score placed her as Reserve Champion of the 2016 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage High Performance Division National Championship. In the National division, Grade III athlete Pam Hardin (Evans, Ga.) and Quaterjack, owned by Hardin, Kara Hardin, Kasey Hardin, and Rachel Bryant, finished as the 2016 National Division Champion. Grade Ib rider Laurietta Oakleaf (Malvern, Pa.) and Niekele fan Busenitz, owned by Oakleaf and Laura McGinnis, took home the 2016 National Division Reserve Championship. It was an exciting weekend for the thirteen horse and rider combinations competing in front of ground jury members Kristi Wysocki 4* (USA); Kathy Amos-Jacob 5* (FRA); and Carlos Lopes 5* (POR). For ten of those horse and rider combinations it was the final chance to secure a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Dressage Team representing the United States at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games in September.
Sydney Collier is looking forward to the opportunity that she may be heading to Rio de Janeiro in September. Although the short list/ FEI Nominated Entry will not be released until a later date the 2016 championships gave an idea of how each rider competes under international pressure. Collier is no stranger to international competition since she was a team member of the 2014 World Equestrian Games Para-Dressage Team in France. Collier has been working hard over the years growing as an athlete and perfecting her dressage skills with coach Wes Dunham. Collier rode two horses in the championships over the weekend, Western Rose and Wentworth, and her determination and strength showed that she has the talent to represent the United States once again in Rio.
Collier expressed, “Winning yesterday meant the world to me. It was an affirmation that all of my hard work and training has really been paying off. It also makes me so happy to be able to make everyone that has been riding alongside me on my journey proud. In addition, getting to ride down centerline in Jonathan Wentz’s honor meant so much to me; he is who started me on this path and although he can’t be with us in person I know he is riding alongside all the riders as the sport of Para-Dressage grows. I don’t know if there are even words to describe how proud I am of my horses and how thankful I am to have such a supportive team beside me. Without my family, sponsors, trainer Wes Dunham, and amazing groom Satu Greer, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the success I achieved at selection trials. Then to make things even more special I won back in my own home state at a show grounds that I used to compete at when I was first starting Para-Dressage. It seems like everything has really come full circle and seeing the growth development that training with Wes and my two amazing mounts Wentworth and Rosie has made in my riding. I cannot even tell you how proud I am of the two of them for performing so well with me. Freestyles have always been my favorite day of competition; I just love how much you can express yourself and how much the horses really enjoy dancing to the music.
Collier concluded, “A huge thank you as well to Deloitte for sponsoring such an incredible national championship and selection trial event, as well as show management, a great panel of judges, and all of the other officials that made this event possible.”
Reserve High Performance champion Annie Peavy is also no stranger to international competition. Peavy and Lancelot have traveled the world competing against the best Para-Dressage athletes in the world. Peavy was also an individual rider at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in France. Peavy and Lancelot secured the Reserve Championship High Performance Championship and earned competitive scores over the selection weekend. Peavy also earned the Reserve High Performance Division National Championship in 2015 aboard her own Ozzy Cooper.
Peavy noted, “This weekend was great for Lance and me; he was truly a warrior. After a long trip from Wellington he got off the trailer ready to compete. It was a very tough competition and I couldn’t have asked any more of him. I am anxious for the team to be named, but if we are on the team I know it will be a summer of doing what I love with intense focus.”
Peavy continued, “Following the trials I am heading to Connecticut for a few days to see good friends and give Lance a chance to travel back to Florida and have a couple days off.
When I return to Florida I plan on continuing to work with Heather to have Lance at his peak. Ozzy (Ozzy Cooper) is reportedly doing well and we will also continue to work together on our partnership.”
Peavy concluded, “I have to thank Heather for once again helping me train and also helping me take the judges impressions and translate that to the show arena. Both horses are so well taken care of by Alex Philpin; a happy healthy horse makes my job much easier. But most importantly I have to thank my parents for their support and passion for me to achieve my dream.”
In 2015 the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships added the High Performance and National divisions. The 2016 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Division Champion was Pam Hardin and Quaterjack. The pair took the lead after the FEI Individual Test and maintained that lead to obtain the tricolor rosette. Hardin was also competing in the selection trials over the weekend as was the Reserve National Division Champion duo Laurietta Oakleaf and Niekele fan Busenitz.
Hardin reflected on what this championship meant to her. “When I can no longer ride a horse and my days are filled with more memories than new beginnings, I will remember this week and how proud I was to have the chance to compete with such amazing women athletes for a chance to represent my country and to become the Para-Equestrian Dressage National Division Champion. I will remember reconnecting with friends and beginning new friendships. I will remember the partnership that was created with a ‘horse of a lifetime’ and I will cherish the support I received from both friends and family as I pursued this dream. I must thank my trainer and friend, Melanie Mitchell, who walked me onto this path and daily keeps me on the correct one, doing so with laughter and enduring care for the comfort of my horse. I would never be on this journey without her, or my family, friends, and sponsors, or the para-equestrian community, as a whole.”
Hardin will return home to Georgia and is hoping to qualify for the Region 3 championships in October 2016.
The overall National Champions in each division were determined by weighting the tests with the Team Test counting for 40%, Individual Test 40%, and Freestyle Test 20%.
The U.S. Paralympic Dressage Team selection rankings will be based on 50% of a combination’s overall performance in the Selection Event and 50% on the combined overall score from its best two CPEDI3* events taking place January 1, 2015 – May 16, 2016. The selection procedures also include discretionary criteria. All nominations to the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Dressage Team are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee and the USEF. The short list/FEI Nominated Entry for the U.S. Paralympic Dressage Team will be forwarded to the FEI by the United States Equestrian Federation by June 20, 2016. Equestrian competition at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games is scheduled for September 11-16, 2016, at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in the Deodoro Olympic Park, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
For more information about the Selection Event for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games/National Championship/Open National Show procedures, please visit https://www.usef.org/_IFrames/breedsdisciplines/discipline/allparaequestrian/hpparaEquestrian.aspx.
For more information about the 2016 Rio Paralympic Equestrian Events, please visit http://www.rio2016.com/en.
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).