Tag Archives: USPEA

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.

US Para-Dressage Secure Top Scores at Hartpury Festival of Dressage

Kate Shoemaker, Michel Assouline, and Rebecca Hart. Photo courtesy of Michel Assouline.

Gloucestershire, United Kingdom – July 9, 2019 – International athletes Rebecca Hart and Kate Shoemaker of the United States competed at the Hartpury Festival of Dressage CPEDI3*, located at Hartpury University in Gloucestershire, July 3-7, 2019. Hart, a three-time Paralympian (2008, 2012, 2016) and three-time WEG athlete (2010, 2014, 2018), rode her horses El Corona Texel and Fortune 500, both owned by Rowan O’Riley. Hart earned top placings with both horses including a second place in the Grade III Freestyle with Fortune 500 earning a 73.113 and a second place with El Corona Texel in the Team Test. Kate Shoemaker, a 2018 World Equestrian Games medalist and Grade IV para-dressage athlete, earned a Freestyle score of 74.080 and top Team Test score garnering her two second places on her horse Solitaer 40. The U.S. riders were led by USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage Technical Advisor and Head of Coach Development Michel Assouline.

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.

US Para-Dressage Athletes Showcase Talent at Burlington Capital International Omaha

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.

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.

US Equestrian Is Excited to Launch Para-Equestrian Dressage Coach Certificate Program

Michel Assouline working with Para-Dressage athlete and Coach.

Lexington, KY – January 16, 2019 – US Equestrian is excited to launch the Para-Equestrian Dressage Coach Certificate Program, a first of its kind for the industry. This certificate program covers the principles of para-dressage coaching including guided improvement process, coaching philosophy, and sport-specific skill acquisition.  It develops a coach’s ability to prepare athletes from grassroots education to international competitions, along a continuum of progressive certificate levels. With the goal of coach development, the program uses classroom lecture time as well as simulated lessons, where coaches are given information and feedback on their teaching, knowledge, and overall performance.  The certificate program will take 3-6 months to complete, with a fast-track program offered, and involves onsite practicums, self-study, online exams, and final assessments.

Michel Assouline, USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage Technical Advisor and Head of Coach Development, is responsible for spearheading this initiative, bringing a decade of curriculum development and Paralympic coaching experience to bear. Michel will be joined by other USEF-approved faculty to approve applications, deliver on-site practicums, and perform final assessments. The 2019 dates for the Para-Dressage Coach Certificate Program are listed below. The link to the full information booklet showing the application process and certification levels can be found here:  https://www.usef.org/compete/disciplines/para-equestrian/para-equestrian-dressage-programs-forms/usef-para-dressage-coach-certificate-program.

US Equestrian would like to thank the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for providing the Federal Adaptive Sport Grant which has helped to make this coach certificate program possible. This initiative has been conducted in partnership with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship with a goal of increasing awareness and coach education opportunities within Paralympic Equestrian Sports and to aid in the development of a USEF Coach database to support the competition pipeline for para-eligible athletes.

2019 Dates: Para-Dressage Coach Certificate Program

Program Launch Announcement: January 11, 2019, USEF Annual Meeting, Wellington, FL

Fast Track Program: (candidates choose one if they are eligible)
*    Option 1: March 3-4; Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center, Loxahatchee, FL
*    Option 2: September 7-8; Tryon International Equestrian Center, Mill Spring, NC

Formal Program: (candidates attend both)
*    Onsite Practicum 1, May 15-16; Tryon International Equestrian Center, Mill Spring, NC
*    Final Practicum & Assessment, Sept 9-10; Tryon International Equestrian Center, Mill Spring, NC

For more information on dates and eligibility, please contact Laureen Johnson, Director of Para-Equestrian, at USEF, 859-225-7693, lkjohnson@usef.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.

US Para-Dressage Displays Readiness in Wellington CPEDI3* for World Equestrian Games

Wellington, FL – January 25, 2018 – U.S. Para-Dressage had one of their most successful showcases at the 2018 Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF). After earning the Team Gold at the AGDF Week 0 CPEDI3* (Jan 4-7), U.S. riders returned to AGDF Week 2 CPEDI3* (January 18-21) for their second win. Twenty-five horse and rider combinations from the USA and Canada competed over the second week of Para-Dressage competition including riders from Grade I-V. Riders brought forward their best tests in front of the FEI Ground Jury including Elke Ebert (GER) Kristi Wysocki (USA), and Carlos Lopes (POR). Para-Equestrians performed under unseasonable Florida weather in The Stadium attaining high scores over the three days. Team USA included Sydney Collier and Western Rose, Katie Jackson and Royal Dancer, Annie Peavy and Royal Dark Chocolate, and Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40. The USA Team was led by Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt with US Equestrian Head of Para-Dressage Coach Development and High Performance Programs Michel Assouline. Securing the high score overall individual award was Rebecca Hart with her new mount El Corona Texel. Obtaining the reserve championship individual was Annie Peavy and Royal Dark Chocolate. The AGDF 2018 shows were a chance for athletes to earn their FEI certificates of capability for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018. USPEA wants to thank all of the sponsors including Mission Control, Rowan O’Riley supporting athletes in the USPEA and US Equestrian, and Cargill. They would also like to acknowledge the staff and volunteers at the AGDF and US Equestrian for their hard work to create two spectacular CPEDI3*.

Hope Hand, President of the USPEA, added, “The above US Para-Dressage Team photo speaks ‘Success’ at all levels. With the support from US Equestrian and USPEA, our Team, which includes everyone involved, no matter how small a part you may have played, was a key contributor to the growth and success of the US Para-Dressage Program. Thank you all for making us proud to be a member of your Team. Keep sharing the ‘Joy’ with your wonderful horses, two hearts are unbeatable.”

Following the successful AGDF riders will prepare for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 Test events and CPEDI3* scheduled April 19-22, 2018, at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina (USA). Athletes will then head to the Invitational Training Event and Mock Competition, June 28 – July 8, 2018, at Wheatland Farm in Purcellville, VA. This will prepare the U.S. Team for the final endeavor of 2018 the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon September 11-23, 2018.

About selection for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018:

Horse and rider combinations have through August 13, 2018, to secure their FEI Certificates of Capabilities and earn an FEI nominated entry.

FEI Nominated Entries will be named after the Invitational Training Event and Mock Competition but no later than August 13, 2018, and based upon the procedures set forth herein, the Selectors, in consultation with the U.S. High Performance Consultant, Chef d’Equipe and Team Veterinarian, and USEF High Performance Human Sports Science and Medicine personnel will recommend a WEG Team of at least four (4) athlete/horse combinations and up to the maximum number of horses and athletes able to be nominated under FEI Rules for the Event for the “Short List/FEI Nominated Entry” subject to recommendation of the USEF Para-Equestrian Sport Committee, and the approval of the Board of Directors or an Ad Hoc Selection Group approved by the Board of Directors. Such list will be submitted to the FEI as the Nominated Entry no later than the closing date for the Short List/FEI Nominated Entry. The Short List/FEI Nominated Entry of at least four athlete/horse combinations will be named as follows in accordance with FEI Rules for Para-Equestrian Dressage Events. Each team consists of four Athletes and four (4) Horses, or three (3) Athletes and three (3) Horses. One (1) team member must be classified Grade I, II or III. A Team may not include more than two (2) Athletes from any one (1) Grade. In a team composed of four (4) Athletes the three (3) best total scores only count for the team result.

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.

To view an online version of this press release, please visit: http://uspea.org/category/recent-uspea-press-news/.

FEI World Ranked Para-Dressage Rider Katie Jackson Earns Top Accolades in 2017

Katie Jackson and Royal Dancer. Photo by Susan J Stickle.

Austin, TX – November 13, 2017 – International Para-Dressage athlete Katie Jackson from Austin, Texas has been working hard in 2017 topping Grade V Para-Dressage with scores in the mid 70’s and recently earning her USDF Silver Medal and High Point Award in the Fourth Level Open Division in able-bodied Dressage. Only two years ago Jackson was just out of surgery and barely even walking after she was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of soft tissue cancer. Amputation of her right leg, above her knee, was the only option to make sure all of the cancer was removed from the area. Jackson made a commitment to herself to continue to do the sport she loved and aim for the world stage. With talent, hard work, and a strong support system Jackson and Royal Dancer, now owned by Jackson and her husband Yancy thanks to the generosity of Rachel and Julia Handt, have become a top duo on the Para-Dressage stage. Jackson’s list of accomplishments in two years include earning the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Lloyd Kramer Annual Sportsmanship Trophy, United Stated Dressage Federation (USDF) Grade IV Para Equestrian National Champion Number One Rider of the Year, helping to win four gold medals at each Nation’s Cup for Team USA in Florida and California, Awarded Women’s Sports Foundation 2017 Travel & Training Grant, and currently she is the third ranked FEI World Para-Dressage Grade V athlete. In September, Jackson topped Grade V at the US Equestrian 2017 Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships and CPEDI3* in Tryon, NC. In October 2017, Jackson rode at the GAIG/USDF Region 9 Championships, Southwest Dressage Championships and Houston Dressage Society Autumn Classic where she earned her USDF Silver Medal and High Point Award in the 4th Level Open Division. Finishing off the year, Jackson was presented the Grade V 2017 Adequan®/USDF Para-Dressage Grade V Rider of the Year in addition to the All Breeds Para-Dressage Rider of the Year from the Westfalen Horse Association, for her accomplishments with Royal Dancer.

In Summer 2015, Jackson could only imagine where she would be weeks, months, and years down the road. In 2016, she was a brand new Para-Dressage rider and one year amputee competing at her first international Dressage competition. Jackson stated, “It has been an incredible year and I am so thankful to be able to be on this journey.  I have learned so much about myself, my riding, and what it takes to be a top competitor.  It is very rewarding to challenge my body and my mind to see what I can accomplish, especially now, as an amputee.”

Jackson has been a horse woman and athlete since she began riding at six years of age focusing on Dressage. She continued her riding even after graduating from the University of San Diego with a Bachelor in Arts and then from the UCLA School of Dentistry, beginning her dental practice in Austin, TX in 2007. She noted, “Earning my silver medal has been on my bucket list of goals. Even as a little girl I always dreamed about getting to wear the pretty shadbelly coat and riding at the FEI level.  I just never imagined I would be earning it so soon.  Earning this medal now, as a para-equestrian, makes it even more meaningful and special for me.”

Jackson is thankful to all of her support including her husband Yancy. She is also thankful to Austin Prosthetic Center who has helped to tell her story and keep her mobile so Jackson can continue living a life without limits. Jackson added, “I am extremely grateful to Kai Handt of North Texas Equestrian Center as well for believing in me and challenging me to ride at this level.   Kai’s support and coaching have aligned me for these successes and I am very thankful to be able to ride under someone with his knowledge and experience.”

Jackson is now aiming at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina and the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

For more about Jackson’s story, please visit https://www.austinprostheticcenter.com/single-post/2017/10/21/Riding-toward-the-2020-Paralympics.

By: Lindsay Y. McCall

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.

To view an online version of this press release, please visit: http://uspea.org/category/recent-uspea-press-news/.

US Para-Dressage Athletes Continue Successful Summer 2017

Annie Peavy and Royal Dark Chocolate. Photo by Lindsay Y. McCall.

Thousand Oaks, California – July 22, 2017 – Summer 2017 began with an impressive international showcase from the United States Para-Dressage riders. The United States Para-Dressage Team dominated at the Golden State Dressage Classic CPEDI3* held at the Rancho Murieta Equestrian Center in Rancho Murieta, Calif. June 15-18. The Golden State Dressage Classic CPEDI3* was followed by an exciting Para-Dressage Symposium with Michel Assouline and US Equestrian Para-Dressage Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt, all sponsored by US Equestrian. Across the pond, 2016 Paralympian (USA) and 2014 World Equestrian Games athlete Annie Peavy headed to Europe this summer riding at the Hartpury Festival of Dressage July 5-9, located at the Hartpury College in Hartpury, Gloucestershire, England. Peavy rode her Paralympic mount Lancelot Warrior and her new mount Royal Dark Chocolate. Peavy and her 2008 Oldenburg mare, Royal Dark Chocolate, owned by Rebecca Reno, scored a 72.425% in the Grade IV Freestyle competition. Their outstanding first show has prepared them for their next journey to the Bishop Burton CPEDI3* July 25-29, held at Bishop Burton College in Bishop Burton, East Riding of Yorkshire, England. Fellow Paralympic teammate Margaret “Gigi” McIntosh (USA) will join Peavy at Bishop Burton with her new partner, 13 year old Danish Warmblood mare, Heros. Finally, United States riders in both National and International will close out the summer competition at the USEF Para Equestrian Dressage National Championship Sponsored by Deloitte, September 14-17, held at Tryon International Equestrian Center in Tryon, North Carolina, site of the 2018 World Equestrian Games competition.

The Golden State Dressage Classic CPEDI3*, held at the Rancho Murieta Equestrian Center in Rancho Murieta, Calif. June 15-18, showcased veteran para-dressage riders and many new horse and rider combinations. The U.S. Team led by Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt included Katie Jackson and NTEC Royal Dancer (Grade V); Roxanne Trunnell with NTEC Daytona Beach (Grade I), Michele Bandinu with Soulman 13 (Grade IV); and Kate Shoemaker and Solitaire 40 (Grade IV). World Equestrian Games (2014) and Paralympian (2016) Roxanne Trunnell and NTEC Daytona Beach topped Grade I over the three days. “The first day was wonderful,” said Trunnell. “She pranced to a 69.571% the highest score of the day. Since Daytona is a big girl it takes her a little bit longer to get her back supple for that nice, swingy, forward walk that the judges want to see in the Grade I tests compared to the more compact horses. So to aid with this situation I did a lot of lateral work with her. Even with 100 degree temperatures Daytona was a soldier. Since Daytona has a long giraffe neck I’ve been playing around with her frame. She starts to get tense in the back when I have her really up in the bridle but when I warm her up where she is reaching for the bit and let her frame become more relaxed and natural to her, she rounds up nicely in her back and gets a relaxed swingy forward walk. I was happy how consistent she was that whole weekend.”

Trunnell added, “My coach and Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt has been helpful for not only the U.S. Team but for Daytona and me as a pair. An example of this is how Kai speaks about keeping a horse forward. He said, ‘a horse is like a Porsche: the engine is in the back. You ride a horse from the back first.’ Daytona is a horse that needs to be ridden from behind and that requires a tremendous amount of half-halts. Knowing that she is trained this way has helped me keep her responsive and pretty in the show ring by giving her little ‘wake-up calls’ in the form of half-halts from my seat during a test.”

Other notable rides at the CPEDI3* included new para-equestrian partnership Alanna Flax-Clark and Real Erbeo in Grade II; Ashleigh Flores-Simmons and Binero in Grade III; new rider Michele Bandinu and Soulman 13 in Grade IV; and Katie Jackson and NTEC Royal Dancer in Grade V.

Equestrians were able to move from the CPEDI3* to the US Equestrian Para-Dressage Symposium with Michel Assouline and US Equestrian Para-Dressage Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt that same week.  Michel Assouline was recently named the US Equestrian Head of Para-Dressage Coach Development and High Performance Programs. This symposium opportunity included lectures, collaborative coaching, and intensive work on what the judges are looking for in the new FEI Para-Dressage Tests.

Michel Assouline commented, “I was pleasantly surprised to find an overall good standard of riders and horses. The facilities were really stunning and well organized in Rancho Murieta. I liked the concept of mixing para-dressage and able-bodied dressage competitions which generates broader crossway interest. The horse and rider combinations looked good indeed with room for improvement. I felt the riders and their coaches all had the ability to enhance the skill sets needed to develop their horses’ performance. Everyone was so keen to learn.”

Assouline and Handt conducted this similar symposium on the East Coast just months prior. Assouline said, “I am happy to say there are equally good quality riding and horses on both sides. The depth on the East coast is obviously greater. In California we worked on Improving their horses’ way of going including throughness, connection, contact and activity. We also worked on test presentation and outline awareness; accuracy. In addition to picking up marks where it’s easy.”

Assouline concluded, “I enjoyed working with Kai very much. I was able to bring different approaches and structures to the established system which Kai seemed to have embraced. Riders benefited from a daily test review with video analysis which is an important step forward and aid in the way we should up our game. I also included videos of recent top European riders in action to create an awareness of where riders are at present, and where they have to go and surpass themselves eventually. In the US, para-dressage riders tend to compare themselves against one another because it’s the only option with the lack of international competitors, so we need to offer them European exposure in the form of videos for the moment, being the cheapest option. I intend to monitor progress through an online competition system too which is being set up by Laureen Johnson and the USEF IT Team. In the meantime several riders have been regularly sending video links for advice.”

Understanding what each athlete’s counterparts are showcasing in the international arena may be the key to the US riders earning medals at the world championships. Each year a handful of US Para-Dressage riders head overseas to immerse themselves within European competition. Annie Peavy headed to the Hartpury Festival of Dressage July 5-9, with Lancelot Warrior and Royal Dark Chocolate. Peavy explained, “Hartpury was great exposure with my new horse Cocoa. We learned a lot as a team; the more I get to know her, the more I love riding her. Both Cocoa and Lance traveled to England well; I am grateful to have two strong competitors. Our plans are to stay in England the rest of July and compete at Bishop Burton. I am thankful for my parents endless support along with my groom, Alex Philpin, and trainer, Heather Blitz.”

2016 Paralympian Margaret McIntosh will join Peavy in Bishop Burton this July. Along her side will be Michel Assouline’s wife and classical dressage trainer Mette. McIntosh said, “After hearing a resounding endorsement of her horse-hunting talent (she found both British Grade I team horses), I asked Mette Assouline to help me find a Grade I horse. Missy (Ransehousen) and I met her in Denmark in May, where we found Heros, a 13 year old, 16.1, dark brown Danish Warmblood mare. I am training with Mette at her farm in Colne Engaine, Essex, U.K. for the month of July with the CPEDI3* at Bishop Burton and Tryon in September as our goals. My regular coach Missy Ransehousen will be here at the end of July to help me at the show. I am so excited to have the opportunity to ride and train in Great Britain, the Mecca of Para Equestrian Dressage. Many thanks to my great support group, including Missy and Jessica Ransehousen, my family, especially Brian, and Assouline Dressage for helping me make this incredible journey happen.”

US Para-Dressage athletes will finish the summer off with the USEF Para Equestrian Dressage National Championship Sponsored by Deloitte in Tryon, NC. The Para-Dressage show is scheduled for September 14-17, 2017.

The United States Para-Equestrian Association would also like to mention four para-dressage horses that have passed this year. Rider Lara Oles lost her Bella earlier in the year, Katie Jackson lost her horse Wembley in April, Elle Faulkner lost Flash Dance in June, and Ashleigh Flores-Simmons lost Binero in July. The USPEA would like to express their sincere sympathy for each of these riders.

By: Lindsay Y. McCall

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.

Kristi Wysocki Earns FEI Five Star Para-Dressage Judge Promotion

Thousand Oaks, California – July 8, 2017 – Kristi Wysocki, of the United States, was recently promoted as a Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) 5* Para-Dressage judge. A 5* accreditation is the highest rank given to international judges. Wysocki is the only US FEI 5* Para-Dressage judge joining only a handful of experts in the world with this level of expertise.

Wysocki was first introduced to the Para-Dressage discipline at the 2008 Unites States Equestrian Federation Para-Equestrian Dressage Selection Trials for the 2008 Paralympic Team. Her next exposure to the sport was at the CPEDI3* held at N.E.D.A. Fall Show in 2009. Watching the athletes and horses and speaking with the international panels of judges during these competitions drew her attention to the value of the sport. She recognized the minimal funding the Para-Dressage riders had so in the spring of 2010, Wysocki organized a fundraising event for the U.S. Para-Dressage riders in Loxahatchee, Florida. She also attended the U.S. Para-Dressage training camp for the 2010 World Equestrian Games held in Lexington, Kentucky. Each of these experiences made Wysocki more interested in becoming further actively involved in the sport. In 2011 Wysocki became a FEI 3* Para-Dressage judge. In 2012 she served on the Selection Committee for the U.S. Paralympic Equestrian Team. She was promoted to an FEI 4* Para-Dressage judge in July 2013 and obtained her Technical Delegate status in the spring of 2014. She has served on the U. S. Equestrian Para-Dressage Committee since the spring of 2011 and currently serves as the chair of that committee. She now sits on the U.S. Equestrian International Disciplines Council as a representative for the Para-Dressage sport.

Wysocki is a lifelong horsewoman in addition to her past career as an engineer. Her engineering background and degree in Metallurgical Engineering has always given her a keen interest in both horse and rider biomechanics. Wysocki noted, “It was not until she became involved in the Para-Dressage branch of Dressage that she really started to see just how much the two can become one, despite many physical hurdles.” Wysocki feels her experience in this division has helped her learn so much more about this most important aspect of riding. She stated, “Para-Dressage has only enhanced my life-long love and bond to the horse. I really feel my experiences in Para-Dressage have made me more aware of the relationship between the two athletes (horse and rider).  I truly believe it has made me not only a worthy Para-Dressage judge but also a much better Dressage judge, trainer and rider than I would have been without.”

Hope Hand, President of the USPEA, noted, “The US is extremely proud of Kristi’s accomplishments and her dedication and commitment to the Para-Dressage Program.”

Wysocki concluded, “I am honored and humbled to be promoted to an FEI 5* Para-Dressage judge.”

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.

Hanneke Gerritsen Para Dressage/Dressage Symposium and Schooling Show June 2-4

Lyman, Maine – May 22, 2017 – Carlisle Academy Integrative Equine Therapy & Sports, recognized as a USEF/USPEA National Para-Equestrian Dressage Center of Excellence, will host a Para Dressage/Dressage Symposium and Evaluation Ride Schooling Show June 2-4, with Hanneke Gerritsen. Hanneke Gerritsen is a FEI 5* Paralympic Dressage Judge and Deputy Chair of the FEI Technical Committee. Gerritsen will offer an educational and interactive symposium packed with information and training for riders and coaches. The symposium will be held at the Carlisle Academy located in Lyman, Maine. Friday & Saturday, June 2-3, 2017, includes the Dressage & Para-Dressage Symposium, followed by Sunday, June 4, Dressage & Para-Dressage Schooling Show. Para-dressage athletes, dressage riders, and interested veterans are encouraged to attend. For more information about dates, activities, or biographies, please visit http://carlisleacademymaine.com/programs/sports-education/para-dressage-education-training/ or contact Sarah Armentrout, Head of School, at sarmentrout@carlisleacademymaine.com or 207-985-0374.

This will be Hanneke Gerritsen’s fifth visit to Carlisle Academy. During the symposium riders will have 45-minute private mounted sessions each day along with lecture-based education. Trained program horses are available. PATH Instructors and Dressage Coaches are encouraged to audit lessons and participate in coach development sessions. A USEF National Classifier will be available for classification. A Sports Medicine Veterinarian will lecture and utilize horses for demonstrations. Veterans may participate free of charge and are encouraged to audit to learn more about the sport, in collaboration with to an Adaptive Sports Grant provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Participants will receive a bound manual on a variety of topics with accompanying lectures on Para-Dressage Classification Process, Introduction to Para-Dressage Competition, A Judge’s Perspective on Winning Rides/Video Analysis, Musical Freestyle Tips, Adaptive Equipment & Compensation Aids, Paralympic Military Program, and Common Equine Athlete Soft Tissue Injuries. Sunday’s schooling show is open to symposium participants, but is managed under a separate registration.

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.

Riders Have Successful Symposium with Para-Dressage Coach Michel Assouline

Assouline speaks to symposium attendees.

Wellington, FL – March 22, 2017 – Team Great Britain Para Equestrian Dressage Coach Michel Assouline flew to Wellington, FL to conduct a Para-Dressage Symposium March 12-14, 2017. The symposium followed the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival CPEDI3*. For United States Para-Dressage riders this was a unique opportunity to work on the new FEI Para-Equestrian Dressage Tests following an international competition. Both Assouline and U.S Para-Dressage Technical Advisor and Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt worked with each athlete and their home coaches in the Van Kampen Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The focus of the symposium was finding the appropriate competitive horse for each athlete’s Grade and working on what the judges are looking for in the new Tests.

Michel Assouline noted, “I had the pleasure to work with riders and coaches at the Wellington International Equestrian Center, during the USEF Para-Equestrian Symposium. Horses had quality and true potential to progress with the aim to gain consistent marks in competition. It was a question of seeing what they can be rather than what they were, repeating good habits in their training routine which will be more easily replicated in competition. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. Training sessions were fragmented in building blocks to identify blockers in detail, which were then shared with coaches, as attention to detail is everything in any winning culture. A really exciting pool of good rider-horse combinations.”

Para-Dressage rider Katie Jackson took part in the symposium with Assouline. She expressed, “I really enjoyed having the opportunity to learn from Michel Assouline.  The symposium was a fantastic opportunity for all of us to learn from one of the best in our sport.  On the first day Michel shared valuable insight about developing the para-dressage athlete, giving us his perspective on how to grow as individual riders and as a team.  He also spoke on the key areas that have created the success of Team Great Britain, including having a strong foundation for riders, coaches, and their support teams to grow and develop from.  During my rides I appreciated Michel’s attention to detail. I especially liked his patience and focus on correct basics such as straightness and connection to improve the horses’ gaits.  He gave helpful suggestions on how Royal and I can improve as a team and I felt that we made some big improvements over the two days of riding.  A big thank you to USEF/USPEA and our sponsors for making this symposium possible.”

For more information about future U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Symposiums, please contact Laureen Johnson, High Performance Director, Para Equestrian & Vaulting, United States Equestrian Federation, Inc. Email: lkjohnson@usef.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.