Rebecca Hart and Schroeter’s Romani. Photos (C) Lindsay Y. McCall.
Wellington, FL – January 24, 2016 – Team USA and individuals once again dominated the competition at Week Two of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) $10,000 CPEDI3*. This week’s U.S. team, led by Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt, included riders Roxanne Trunnell and NTEC Royal Dancer (Grade Ia), Rebecca Hart and Schroeter’s Romani (Grade II), Angela Peavy and Lancelot Warrior (Grade III), and Margaret Mcintosh and Rio Rio (Grade Ia). Despite torrential downpour on Day 1, a ring change, a schedule change, and then extreme winds followed by cold weather on Day 2, the USA riders were unfazed and completed the task of qualifying the USA Team for the Rio Paralympics.
The $10,000 CPEDI3* is presented by Mission Control, Mane Stream, courtesy of Rowan O’Riley, Adequan®, and Nutrena runs through January 24, 2016. Sunday completes the competition with the Freestyle Tests held in the Stadium at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The two week Para-Equestrian Dressage Tour was the final opportunity in the United States to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Team Test day began with torrential rain that continued through the entire day. Riders and their horses moved from The Stadium to the Van Kampen Arena. As rain pelted the metal roof of the arena riders gave it their all in front of the FEI ground jury of Sarah Leitch (GBR), Marc Urban (BEL), and Dr Jan Holger Holtschmit (GER). The USA riders held the lead from Team Test day to Day Two Individual Test Day on Saturday. Day Two began with extreme winds that caused tents to blow, flags to wave, and gusts that pulled over parts of the arena. To add to the unique atmosphere a helicopter landed and took off just next to the ring as Rebecca Hart entered the ring and Kelly Boccia completed her test. The steadiness and focus of these international athletes and their horses showcased the talent these riders have.
Grade II Paralympian Rebecca Hart laughed about the noise the helicopter brought as it landed just outside The Stadium. “I was pretending it was not there. The only reason I knew it was time for me to enter the ring was because the gate opened.”
Hart and her horse Schroeter’s Romani, owned by Rebecca Hart in conjunction with Margaret Duprey, Cherry Knoll Farm, Barbara Summer, and Bill and Sandy Kimmel, have made small changes over two years to reveal an amazing equine and human partnership. Hart most recently began riding without stirrups to minimize the effect the spasms she was incurring while riding with stirrups. The duo has proven themselves around the world and are excited for the future.
Hart expressed, “The last two days have solidified how much I appreciate this horse. She has grown up immensely from when I started riding her two years ago. It was very special to have the things that would have been upsetting to her a while ago not affect her this weekend. To know that the trust is there between us now really makes going into the next year exciting. With the change of rings, wind, and helicopter, the fact that she handled all of that and did the job for me was fantastic. It just goes to show that the system and the foundation we have with Cherry Knoll Farm and Todd Flettrich is starting to come together very nicely and it’s coming together at key points. Today Romani truly helped me out. I went in, did our first halt, and I had a massive leg spasm. I can’t help her when that happens. She felt it and she just kept going. That’s showing we are coming together as a team. She was confident when that happened. I love this horse. That moment was very special to me because she carried me though when I needed her. I am so thankful to my wonderful support team with Todd Flettrich, Margaret Duprey and Fernando Ortega; this success wouldn’t happen without them.”
Hart added, “These last two weeks have been great. To be able to help the USA get into Rio and be together with my teammates has been wonderful. Everyone is doing a fantastic job under a lot of pressure and it’s been really special to be able to share this experience with them.”
Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt was proud of the USA riders over these last two weeks. Handt noted, “It was a very challenging weekend this week. The weather was not in our favor. The first day we had to change arenas, some of the horses got soaking wet and had to move from one arena to another and warm up twice. Luckily the facility has an indoor and we were lucky enough to use it and move the venue over there. All the horses performed very well under trying conditions. Today we had lots of wind, helicopter, sirens, and tents blowing. We can really see that our top riders and top horses are ready for the challenge. Even under all these trying circumstances they performed up to their best, got their scores up, and performed consistently. Together the US team worked to qualify for the Paralympics. Our athletes are showing a steady improvement from the last competitions to here and they are coming together as a team. We have trainers and riders that are up to the challenge and all of our current team horses are in very good position. We even have a couple other people that have stepped up this weekend. It looks like we have 6 or 7 riders that will be trying out at the selection trials for the team. It should be an exciting trial for the Paralympics.”
Grade III team rider and 2014 World Equestrian Games (WEG) athlete Annie Peavy will be one to watch as the U.S. riders head to Selection Trials this summer. Peavy has enjoyed her partnership with her horse Lancelot Warrior over the weekend. Peavy noted, “We had a very strong ride on the first day which continued through the second day. I felt like he was really with me despite the bad weather. He felt both confident and powerful. Although today our warmup was a little scary, he went into the arena and focused on me the entire time. My tests felt great over both days and I really enjoyed his trot mediums in my individual test.”
Also a 2014 WEG athlete and USA Team rider this weekend Roxanne Trunnell had superb rides on Julia Handt’s NTEC Royal Dancer. Trunnell commented, “I was very pleased with how this show turned out. The first day when they moved us to indoor arena I wasn’t concerned how Royal was going to handle the change, since I’ve ridden in there a lot. However, when we got in there and I heard how loud the rain made it I wasn’t sure how he would handle it, but he stayed focused on me. Today since it was so windy and I have never ridden Royal in the wind, I was a little nervous. Touché (Trunnell’s WEG horse) freaks out at every little thing in the wind so I was kind of expecting that but I only had to remind Royal to pay attention to me once and he never spooked. I want to thank Julia Handt for loaning me her special boy.”
Also representing Team USA was fellow Grade Ia rider Margaret McIntosh and Rio Rio. Macintosh commented, “The wild weather this weekend definitely contributed to the most energetic rides I have ever enjoyed on Rio. Various glitches on the centerline kept us from optimum scores but Rio’s connectivity improves every day, with Missy’s (Ransehousen) hard work after Carlos’ wise words, I am looking forward to a great freestyle.”
The USA riders didn’t just perform well as a team over both days but as individuals as well. Roxanne Trunnell topped Grade Ia with Margaret McIntosh in second, Jody Schloss of Canada in third and Robyn Andrews of Canada in fourth.
In Grade Ib Sydney Collier took home the blues both days with Wes Dunham’s Western Rose. In the team test Collier earned the second place with Amy McIlwham’s Wentworth but took home the third behind Canada’s Ashley Gowanlock and Ferdonia 2 in the Individual Test. Gowanlock earned the third place in the team test. Laurietta Oakleaf (USA) and Nickel fan Busenitz rounded out Grade Ib earning the fourth place rosette.
Collier was excited about each of her rides. “This weekend went great. I am so incredibly proud to have three amazing horses I am working with. It was an interesting show because normally at this type of show we hope the weather will cooperate with us a little. There were so many factors could have distracted me but I was impressed with my own ability to shut it all out and ride my test. Rosey and Wentworth both improved so much from day one to day two and I am so proud of each of them. I really enjoyed the mediums in each of their tests because they are my absolute favorite. It feels like you are floating. They were both super good and not distracted by the wind. There were times I thought I may blow off my horse but each horse was focused and ready to do their job.”
In Grade II Rebecca Hart held the lead with Gold Medal winning Paralympian of Canada Lauren Barwick and Onyx in second. Kelly Boccia (USA) and Donauwalzer CSF earned the third place both days and Charlotte Merle-Smith and her brand new mount Firewalker (USA) took home fourth. Deborah Stanitski and recently borrowed horse Pilikua Koa garnered fifth.
Grade III was dominated by Angela Peavy and Lancelot Warrior (USA) over both days with Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 (USA) in second. Pamela Hardin and Quaterjack (USA) took home third on the team test day.
Grade IV saw a brand new para-dressage rider earn the first place accolades over both days. Sophie Ghedin and Remy Martin G (USA) took the lead over WEG rider Mary Jordan (USA) and Rubicon 75, owned by Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center.
Ghedin, a former Montreal resident who became an American only four years ago, bought Remy Martin ten years ago before she was injured. One of the first competitions she did was Dressage at Devon where she won. Ghedin at the time rode with Scott Hassler and JJ Tate. After a bad surgery that severed a nerve in her leg she was unable to ride like she used to. Ghedin explained, “So JJ continued to ride Martin moving him to Prix St. George. When I started riding again I rode with Jessica Kissel and Claudio Olievera. My friend Rowan O’Riley pushed me to do the Para-Dressage and Hope Hand as well. After this last surgery happened I still wasn’t ready. I think I had to be ready and accept my injury. This was my first CDI, my first CPEDI, and my first big show in Para-Dressage. We’ve been working to Prix St. George and I1 movements so it’s been different to go to Grade IV. I just love this horse. He is amazing. He’s been through everything with me. In the ring he tends to get pretty strong but I just remind him that I am here and bring him back and then he relaxes. He can be amazing. My favorite movements are his extensions and canter extensions.”
Ghedin acknowledged, “This was a first for me as a CDI and I am so thankful to all of these girls. They are amazing. Just two weeks ago I did my first Para-Dressage test in a National show and here I am. I am so impressed with the riding abilities and horses that each of these riders has in the arena. I also wanted to thank all of the sponsors including Rowan O’Riley who pushed me into this, Mission Control, Adequan, and Nutrena. This was a wonderful show.”
Rebecca Hart agreed. “The workers and volunteers here at Global did an amazing job. With the fluctuation weather they had to be so flexible and they made sure we had a good show despite the wind and rain.”
Para-Dressage competition continues on Sunday, January 24, 2016, with the Freestyle Tests in The Stadium.
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).