Check out the Photo Gallery! Para-Equestrians Rise to the Top on Inaugural Day of 2012 USEF Paralympic Selection Trials and National Championships

Donna Ponessa and Western Rose (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)
Donna Ponessa and Western Rose (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)

Gladstone, NJ - The inaugural day of the 2012 United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Paralympic Selection Trials and Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships kicked-off in Gladstone, New Jersey on June 11.  Twenty-four riders competed at the United States Equestrian Team Foundation headquarters with 23 striving to capture one of the four spots on the United States Paralympic Equestrian Team. Running concurrently with the Selection Trials is the 2012 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships. Scores for the Selection Trials and National Championships are calculated over three days using 40% of the Team Test, 40% of the Individual and 20% of the Freestyle Test Score to achieve an overall score. On the first day of competition six riders posted scores over 70% with Donna Ponessa of New Windsor, New York leading the pack with Wes Dunham's horse Western Rose. Only a percentage point behind Ponessa was Jonathan Wentz of Richardson, Texas. The third athlete to rise to the top was 2008 Paralympian, Rebecca Hart of Unionville, Pennsylvania.

Donna Ponessa stepped forward as the last rider of the day to compete in front of FEI Ground Jury members, Carlos Lopes (5*) POR, Anne Prain (5*) FRA, and Marc Urban (5*) BEL. Ponessa entered the ring aboard Western Rose with an unyielding walk down centerline. This would be Ponessa's second trip into the ring after an outstanding 71.569% score aboard PG Ganda, owned by Vinceramos Thereapeutic Riding Center. As the Grade Ia rider navigated her test aboard Western Rose she remained determined. Her efforts resulted in the top score of the day, 73.725%, and a loud cheer from the crowd. Ponessa noted, "Rosie really gave it all she had today, she is a very special horse. PG Ganda did great for me as well. He was just shipped up from Florida and we have been working to get him fit and working to get to know each other better. I look forward to tomorrow and plan on working on my consistency and ability to relax. It has taken a team of people to get to this week including my trainer Wes Dunham, Woodstock Stables in Millbrook, NY, Sue and Kevin Niblo, Bang & Collins PR, and Marshall & Sterling Insurance. I want to thank each person for allowing me this opportunity."

Jonathan Wentz and Silvano (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)
Jonathan Wentz and Silvano (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)

Clipping the heels of Ponessa was 2011 Para-Equestrian Dressage National Champion and 2010 World Equestrian Games participant, Jonathan Wentz. Wentz rode Dr. Michele Miles' horse Silvano to an outstanding 72.727%. He would follow Silvano's performance achieving a 72.500% on North Texas Equestrian Center's  Richter Scale.
 
"Richter Scale has been great, he is my solid rock. I know I can hop on him at any moment during the week and he will give me the same accurate test that he performed today, smiled Wentz." Over the last few months Kai Handt and Jonathan have ramped up NTEC Richter Scale's program. From daily exercise on the treadmill, trail rides, and consistent training, Richter has become a fit and athletic Dressage horse.

Only three months ago Dr. Michele Miles purchased the ex-World Cup Jumper, Silvano. With outstanding gaits, a sound mind, and his sensitivity Silvano looked to be a perfect match for Jonathan. Dr. Miles has delightfully allowed Wentz to tour Silvano as he competes for a spot on the London Paralympic team. "I am so thankful to Dr. Miles, my trainer Kai Handt, Equine Express, and my family for being a part of this journey," commented Wentz. "Kai has given me four world-class mounts to campaign this year across the country and to be able to pick from four horses was unexpected. I know with Kai that if something may happen to one of my horses we would find another horse and keep on moving."

Rebecca Hart and Lord Ludger (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)
Rebecca Hart and Lord Ludger (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)

By coincidence the top three riders of the first day of competition also represent the top three Grade levels in Para-Equestrian classification. Grade Ia (most severely impaired), Ib, II, III, IV (least impaired). Ponessa captured Grade Ia with Western Rose and PG Ganda, Wentz dominated Grade Ib with Silvano and NTEC Richter Scale. Rebecca Hart topped Grade II with Lord Ludger, followed by Dale Dedrick of Ann Arbor, Michigan aboard Bonifatius, and again Rebecca Hart with Carlingford's Taldi behind Dedrick.  Both of Rebecca Hart's horses are owned by three-time Olympian Jessica Ransehousen who has graciously loaned her horses, her training, and her sense of humor to Hart alongside US Para-Equestrian Chef d'Equipe Missy Ransehousen. 

Since 2006 Hart has earned four National Championships, participated at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY, and she was on the 2008 Hong Kong Paralympic Team. During the Selection Trials Hart has been riding Carlingford's Taldi who is new to the Para-Equestrian Dressage World. Hart explained, "Taldi is relatively new and is an ex-eventer. Unlike Lo Lu, I cannot use any adaptive equipment with Taldi. What's great is that I get to spend a lot of time in the saddle figuring out each horse and determining my strengths and weaknesses on each horse. Taldi just needs a little more mileage which is why we brought him here in front on these International judges. It will be nice to see what they have to say over the weekend and how he rates internationally."

Even as a seasoned competitor Hart continues to be thankful for the large amount of support she has received. From her own family, to the Ransehousens, to Nutrena, to her new sponsor Starbucks, Hart is grateful to participate in the sport that has grown as she has grown over the last 10 years.

Wendy Fryke and Lateran (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)
Wendy Fryke and Lateran (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)

Following Grade II was Grade III Team Test led by Wendy Fryke of Parker, Colorado. Fryke and her Wesphalian Stallion, Lateran, have recently received their two scores for a USDF Silver Medal in able-bodied Dressage. Frkye explained, "For Lateran to perform his best in the Para-Equestrian tests we like to work on our Fourth-Level able-bodied tests. Fouth-Level requires more collected gaits which allows me more control when I fire him forward in the Grade III Para-Equestrian tests, which require more transitions. So when I entered the ring on Monday, I put my big girl pants on and really went for it.  This is the time to put as much risk forward as possible without losing control."

Grade IV Para-Equestrian Mary Jordan attained the top two scores in her Grade with Sebastian, owned by Deecie Denison, and Jordan's own mare P. Sparrow Socks. As Selection Trials approached Jordan began a training schedule with Chef d'Equipe Missy Ransehousen and Jessica Ransehousen at Blue Hill Farm.  Jordan commented, "We have done some wonderful prep before coming here including shows in Virginia and Pennsylvania. At first I was driving back and forth from Maine to Pennsylvania to train at Blue Hill but two weeks ago I took time off work, packed up and began focusing on my riding and my relationship with my horses. This whole year has been an amazing experience, including traveling the world to compete as a United States Para-Equestrian team member. Without my family, Teva Neuroscience, Inc., Blue Hill Farm, and all of my support I would not be here at Gladstone."

Mary Jordan and Sebastian (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)
Mary Jordan and Sebastian (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)

The USET Foundation opened their property and their arms to the United States Para-Equestrian Selection Trials and National Championships. Without the assistance of USEF, the volunteers, and the Dressage Festival of Champions staff, the Para-Equestrian Team would not have one of the most historical places in the world to host their Selection Trials and National Championships. Fryke agreed, "I want to thank the USET Foundation and USEF for including us within the Dressage Festival. It's been an honor to be included in this historic event. This moment shows how far the Para-Equestrian discipline has come in a short amount of time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 begins the second day of competition featuring the Individual Test. Horses will enter the ring at 8:00 a.m. at the United States Equestrian Team Foundation property in Gladstone, New Jersey. Wednesday, June 13, 2012 Para-Equestrians will begin the exciting Freestyle competition followed by an awards ceremony for the 2012 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship.


Mary Jordan and P. Sparrow Socks (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)
Mary Jordan and P. Sparrow Socks (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)

Results from June 11, 2012 Team Test of 2012 USEF Paralympic Selection Trials and Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships

Competitor - Horse, Horse Owner, (Hometown)---Score

Grade Ia:
Donna Ponessa-Western Rose, Wesley Dunham, (New Windsor, NY)---73.725%
Donna Ponessa-PG Ganda, Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center, (New Windsor, NY)---71.569%
Kim Decker-Dashers Destiny, (Centreville, Virginia)---63.725%
Laura Goldman-NTEC Willi Wesley, Kai Handt, (Highland Heights, Ohio)---63.039%

Grade Ib:
Jonathan Wentz-Silvano,Michele Miles, (Richardson, Texas)---72.727%
Jonathan Wentz-NTEC Richter Scale, Kai Handt, (Richardson, Texas)---72.500%
Margaret McIntosh-Carlingford JD,Trudy Phillips, (Reading, Pennsylvania)---64.318%
Laurietta Oakleaf-Niekele fan Busenitz, Joanne Bosma, (Jacksontown, Ohio)---63.561%
Margaret McIntosh-Idalgo, owner Janis Smith, (Reading, Pennsylvania)---60.985%

Grade II:
Rebecca Hart- Lord Ludger, Jessica Ransehousen, (Erie, Pennsylvania)---71.825%
Dale Dedrick-Bonifatius, (Ann Arbor, Michigan)---70.238%
Rebecca Hart-Carlingsford's Taldi, Jessica Ransehousen, (Erie, Pennsylvania)---67.778%
Elizabeth Pigott- One Night Stand, Regina Cristo, (Downington, Pennsylvania)---65.952%
Kim Jones-Ghlenlivet, Nancy Lewis-Stanton, (Georgetown, South Carolina)---62.937%
Elizabeth Pigott-Whitney's Willow, Melissa Ranseshousen, (Downington, Pennsylvania)---62.302%
*Sydney Collier, Otto, (Ann Arbor, Michigan)---61.508%
(Sydney Collier will not be competing for the Selection Trials due to the age qualification of 16-years for the London Paralympics. Sydney will be competing towards the 2012 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship)

Grade III:
Wendy Fryke-Lateran, (Parker, Colorado)---67.469%
Erin Alberda-Sir Rocco, Melissa Mulchahey, (Woodinville, WA)---54.383%
Eleanor Brimmer- Carino H, (Wayazata, Minnesota)---58.951%

Grade IV:
Mary Jordan-Sebastian, Deecie Denison, Wells, Maine)---68.438%
Mary Jordan- P. Sparrow Socks, (Wells, Maine)---64.531%
Robin Brueckmann-Radetzky, (Summerfield, North Carolina)---64.479%
Lise Yervasi-Brendan Braveheart, (Baker City, Oregon)---57.969%
Lise Yervasi-Tailor Made, (Baker City, Oregon)---54.479%


Dale Dedrick and Bonifatius (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)
Dale Dedrick and Bonifatius (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)

RIDE TIMES FOR THE 2012 USEF PARALYMPIC SELECTION TRIALS AND PARA-DRESSAGE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: Tuesday JUNE 12, 2012


8:00 AM 44 Mary Jordan P. Sparrow Socks PE4T
8:08 AM 42 Lise Yervasi Tailor Made PE4T
8:16 AM ***Break*** ***Break*** **Break**
8:26 AM 23 Elizabeth Pigott Whitney's Willow PE2T
8:34 AM 30 Eleanor Brimmer Carino H PE3T
8:42 AM ***Break*** ***Break*** **Break**
8:52 AM 31 Erin Alberda Sir Rocco PE3T
9:00 AM 32 Wendy Fryke Lateran PE3T
9:08 AM 25 Kim Jones Ghlenivet PE2T
9:16 AM ***Break*** ***Break***
9:31 AM 45 Robin Brueckmann Radetzky PE4T
9:39 AM 41 Lise Yervasi Brendan Braveheart PE4T
9:47 AM 43 Mary Jordan Sebastian PE4T
9:55 AM ***Break*** ***Break*** **Break**
10:15 AM 28 Sydney Collier Otto PE2T
10:23 AM 22 Dale Dedrick Bonifatius PE2T
10:31 AM 24 Elizabeth Pigott One Night Stand PE2T
10:39 AM 14 Margaret McIntosh Idalgo PEIbT
10:47 AM ***Break*** ***Break*** **Break**
11:02 PM 12 Jonathan Wentz NTEC Richter Scale PEIbT
11:10 PM 13 Laurietta Oakleaf Niekele Fan Busenitz PEIbT
11:18 PM 27 Rebecca Hart Carlingfords Taldi PE2T
11:26 PM 4 Donna Ponessa PG Ganda PE1aT
11:34 PM ***Break*** ***Break*** **Break**
11:44 PM 2 Kim Decker Dashers Destiny PE1aT
11:52 PM 3 Laura Goldman NTEC Willi Wesley PE1aT
12:00 PM 15 Margaret McIntosh Carlingford JD PEIbT
12:08 PM ***Break*** ***Break*** **Break**
1:08 PM 26 Rebecca Hart Lord Ludger PE2T
1:16 PM 11 Jonathan Wentz Silvano PEIbT
1:24 PM 5 Donna Ponessa Western Rose PE1aT

FAST FACTS: 2012 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage Paralympic Selection Trials and National Championships
WHAT: Para-Equestrian Dressage Selection Trials for London Paralympics
WHEN: June 11-13, 2012
SHOW MANAGER: Kim Keenan-Stordahl

SCHEDULE:
8:00AM--Tuesday, June 12th
Class 21 - FEI Grade Ia Individual Test
Class 22- FEI Grade Ib Individual Test
Class 23 - FEI Grade II Individual Test
Class 24 - FEI Grade III Individual Test
Class 25 - FEI Grade IV Individual Test

8:00AM --Wednesday, June 13th
Class 31 - FEI Grade Ia Freestyle Test
Class 32 - FEI Grade Ib Freestyle Test
Class 33 - FEI Grade II Freestyle Test
Class 34 - FEI Grade III Freestyle Test
Class 35 - FEI Grade IV Freestyle Test

1:00PM --Wednesday, June 13th
Award Ceremonies directly following last class

LIVE SCORING: Please visit the USEF Network to find out more about Live Scoring during the event. Verified scores will be posted to the website approximately every ten (10) minutes.

LIVE TWEETING: Follow the USEF Paralympic Selection Trials and Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships results from the USPEA Twitter Account and view the #PARAEQTRIALS from @uspea.




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