Thousand Oaks, CA – December 22, 2012 – After topping the Paralympic equestrian ranks at the 2012 London Paralympic Games and earning the highest ranking among the United States Equestrian Olympic and Paralympic Team, Jonathan Wentz of Richardson, Texas was on top of the world. The duo of Wentz and NTEC Richter Scale were synonymous with dynamic duo. Wentz was a team player, a hard worker, and someone who always put his horse first. Tragedy would hit the equestrian community at the end of September 2012 when Wentz passed away due to unknown causes only two weeks after his Paralympic debut. Wentz was back at college at Southern Methodist University where he was in his senior undergraduate year. Just days before his death, Wentz gave a speech in front of his peers and spoke about what it meant to him to become a Paralympian. Wentz was a leader in and out of the classroom and took his role as a U.S. athlete seriously. The 21-year-old 6’5″ Texan was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at birth and didn’t let his diagnoses define him. He was the epitome of a champion, achieved the goals he set-forth, and truly loved his sport and his fellow teammates.
In 2010, North Texas Equestrian Center’s Kai Handt helped prepare his horse NTEC Richter Scale and Jonathan Wentz for international competition. “Richter” as Jonathan would call him was a non-standard dressage horse. NTEC Richter Scale’s heavy build and atypical color would not stop this horse from earning top results with his 6’5″ rider. Jonathan would refer to Richter as a “fine wine that kept getting better with age.” As 2010 ran into 2011 the duo continued to compete and earn top results. Wentz was always showcasing multiple mounts during competition but he always went back to his trusty gelding. In 2011 Jonathan Wentz and NTEC Richter Scale earned the 2011 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship followed by qualification for the Paralympics and the 2012 Para-Equestrian Dressage Reserve National Championship. Wentz’s dream came true in London in September 2012 when the duo anchored the team to the leader board and was only percentage points away from a Paralympic medal. On the final day of the Paralympic Equestrian competition, Wentz put forward his best freestyle test in his career. As the crowd began to wave in congratulations Jonathan looked up to the crowd, gave NTEC Richter Scale a pat, and conducted the crowd to cheer and applaud for what his horse had done for him. He was proud of their performance and the journey that got them to London. On Jonathan’s last interview after the Games he thanked his coach, his team, his family, and generously showed his gratitude to the 18-year-old horse that helped him accomplish his dream. He looked forward to heading back to the U.S. back to college and was ready to start preparing for the 2014 World Equestrian Games.
The United States Equestrian Federation has posted both the 2012 Horse of the Year and 2012 Equestrian of the Year nominations. To vote for the Horse of The Year, please go to the website http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/hoty/ and enter your e-mail. To vote for Equestrian of the Year, you have to go to http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/eoty/ and enter your USEF member identification number. There are multiple athletes both four-legged and two that have outperformed their peers in 2012. Jonathan Wentz and NTEC Richter Scale were the number one performing equestrians among Show Jumping, Eventing, Dressage, and Para-Dressage at the Olympic and Paralympic level. It was with great sadness the Wentz family announced the death of their son and athlete Jonathan Wentz only 15 days after the Paralympics. The equestrian community has lost a true athlete and a friend.
To vote for the Horse of the Year please go to: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/hoty/.
To vote for Equestrian of the Year please go to: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/eoty/.
Please vote by January 7, 2013.
If you would like to read more about Jonathan Wentz and the U.S. Para-Equestrian Team’s performances, please go to: http://uspea.org/category/recent-uspea-press-news/.
To view Jonathan’s speech at Southern Methodist University, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGsRxkeVDaQ&noredirect=1.
Written 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).