Gladstone, NJ- In less than a week the 2014 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship and World Equestrian Games Selection Trials will occur June 2-5, 2014. Para-Dressage athletes from around the United States will meet at the USET Foundation Headquarters in Gladstone, NJ, for their opportunity to represent the United States in Normandy, France. Over the year equestrians have prepared by traveling around the world to multiple Para-Equestrian Dressage competitions. One of those athletes includes young rider Sydney Collier (Grade Ib) of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Collier participated in the 2012 USEF National Championships but was unable to compete for the London Paralympics since she was under the minimum qualification age of 16. The 2013 through 2014 calendar has been a year of intense preparation, thousands of miles, and multiple trips down the centerline. Earning the Jonathan Wentz Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2014 helped Collier in 2014 before the Selection Trials/ National Championship.
The Jonathan Wentz Scholarship Fund was established to continue the dream of Paralympian Jonathan Wentz; to advance High Performance Para Dressage in the USA by supporting and encouraging USA Para Dressage Young Riders to set the goal of International competition. Scholarship funds go toward assisting USA Para- Dressage High Performance Young Riders (ages 16-25 within the competition year), who are actively competing in 3* and above International Para-Dressage competitions, and have qualified for the U.S. Young Rider Para-Equestrian Championships. Funds are awarded to help offset competition expenses up to $1,000.00 per competition to help cover entry and other fees including stabling and/or shipping (must be greater than 500 miles one way) costs for competition.
Collier was excited to receive this Scholarship Fund she explained, "I am excited and focused as Selection Trials and the National Championship gets closer and closer. It was such a great experience in 2012 to have qualified at the National level. Even though I was too young at that point to be included in Selection Trials for the London Paralympics it was an invaluable learning experience as I was growing and developing as a rider. I hope other Junior/Young riders will continue to use the National level shows as preparation for events like this regardless of the possible age restraints because it is absolutely the best way to find yourself prepared for all the ins and outs of future international and high level competitions."
She continued, "I was so incredibly honored to be the first recipient of the Jonathan Wentz Memorial Scholarship Fund for Junior/Young Riders who are both actively competing at the International level and actively promoting Para-Dressage through speaking engagements and by volunteering at events in the community. In 2010 I met Jonathan Wentz at the World Equestrian Games and even though he was showing at a top level and was part of the USPEA, Jonathan was an invaluable mentor and friend showing me the ropes of training and competition while also sharing many laughs along the way. I learned from Jonathan that to be competitive and recognized as an athlete you need to be consistently training, competing and improving as well as an ambassador for your sport. As this was my goal I followed his lead, training my first year to the National level competitions and then to International CPEDI3* competitions. Although I am young I have competed in six CPEDI3* competitions and over 20 USDF/USEF recognized shows over the last three years in preparation for the upcoming World Equestrian Games U.S. Para-Dressage Selection Trials. I hope that as the sport of Para-Dressage continues to grow in the USA that I can continue Jonathan's dreams of growing a strong and thriving Junior/Young Rider Para Dressage Program and also be as great a friend to other athletes and competitor as he was to me. The Jonathan Wentz Scholarship was absolutely invaluable to me as it helped me be able to travel to the Florida CPEDI3* this year by covering part of the shipping costs across the country."
Sydney will be showing Willi Wesley and NTEC Cuplee at the Selection Trials June 2-5, 2014. Collier acknowledges, "I would like to say a huge thank you to Victoria and the entire Dugan family in Texas for their incredible generosity in allowing me to ride their fabulous horse Willi Wesley. Willi Wesley is a 14 -year old German Sporthorse living at the North Texas Equestrian Center. He has trained and competed up through the Grand Prix level. Besides being a fabulous mover and absolutely drop dead handsome he has the most wonderful and tender heart and soul. My body is not always the easiest to work with and he has been able to adjust and work with my different cues and compensatory aids without missing a beat. I would also like to thank Kai Handt for opening his training facility to me to work with Willi while I was in the Texas area. Finally, to all my sponsors I am so incredibly grateful for being a part of Team ParaQuest."
About the 2014 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship and Para-Dressage Selection Trials:
The 2014 calendar year has been one of the most competitive years in history for U.S. Para-Dressage. The 2014 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship and Para-Dressage Selection Trials for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) will show case that. The Trials/ National Championship will be held June 2-5, 2014, at the USET Foundation Headquarters in Gladstone, NJ. Twenty-four horse and rider combinations were recently invited from Grades Ia, Ib. II, III, and IV. Riders had through May 31, 2014, to qualify. Athletes will be vying for not only a spot on the U.S. WEG Para-Dressage Team but the championship titles of the year. Riders have through the end of May to continue to qualify for this event. The ground jury includes President Kristi Wysocki (4*) USA, Adrienne Pot (3*) USA, and David Schmutz (4*) USA. The 2014 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship and Para-Dressage Selection Trials is managed by Connie Davenport.
About the Jonathan Wentz Memorial Scholarship Fund:
The Jonathan Wentz Scholarship Fund was established to continue the dream of Paralympian Jonathan Wentz; to advance High Performance Para Dressage in the USA by supporting and encouraging USA Para Dressage Young Riders to set the goal of International competition.
At age 13, Jonathan set the goal of riding for the USA in the Paralympics. At age 16, he established a plan and budget to achieve his dream. At the age of 21, Jonathan was able to achieve his dream of riding for Team USA in the 2012 London Paralympics earning the highest placing of all USA equestrians that competed in London. Another goal of Jonathan's was to develop a Para Dressage Young Rider program to help grow and improve Para Dressage in the USA. His scholarship fund will be used to offset the cost of YR Championships and International competition for Para Dressage Young Rider's and to encourage their participation enabling them to excel in their sport.
Scholarship funds will go toward assisting USA Para Dressage High Performance Young Riders (ages 16-25 within the competition year), who are actively competing in 3* and above International Para Dressage competitions, and have qualified for the U.S. YR Para Championships.
Funds shall be awarded to help offset competition expenses up to $1,000.00 per competition to help cover entry and other fees including stabling and/or shipping (must be greater than 500 miles one way) costs for competition.
Guidelines for Application of Jonathan Wentz Scholarship Fund:
USA athletes must submit a Jonathan Wentz Memorial Scholarship Application with expenses itemized, along with a copy of completed entry forms, invoices and/or receipts for consideration of scholarship funds, along with a list of their competition highlights, competition goals and competition plan/schedule for the current and future 2 years. (Example; 2013- 2014, 2015 -2016)
Scholarship funds are intended for direct payment of specific competition expenditures, entry fees, stabling, and/or shipping only. Checks made out to athlete or immediate family for reimbursement will require a completed W-9, and will be subject to approval. Scholarship funds may be awarded for a maximum of two CPEDI3* events per competition year or the YR Para Championships & one CPEDI3* with a maximum of $1,000.00 awarded per competition. Grants are subject to the approval of the USPEA board. Funds will be awarded based on "own horse" (according to FEI Para definition), distance to competition, number of competitions athlete is planning to attend in 2-year competition period, competition record, number of applicants and/or funds available.
This trophy was established in memory of Paralympian Jonathan Wentz, to recognize a USA Para Equestrian ATHLETE (includes Para Dressage, Para Driving, Para Vaulting, Para Jumping, and Para Reining) who has competed and excelled in multiple International Competitions and received scores that contributed to the USA Individual and/or Team ranking on the FEI ranking list during the competition year. This individual has also served as a role model in advancing the sport in the USA, and educating the public on the discipline.
Paralympian Jonathan Wentz, at the age of sixteen established a plan to achieve his goal of representing his country at the Paralympics. Toward that goal he tirelessly trained and competed as a high performance Para Dressage athlete for the USA. He tenaciously pursued his goal while working to improve his sport through serving on USEF committees, giving riding demonstrations, public speaking and mentoring new riders. Jonathan felt it was extremely important for the growth of the sport for Para Equestrian High Performance athletes, to be recognized as athletes without regard to their disability, to be viewed parallel to Olympians. To achieve this level a Para Equestrian must be committed to training & competing consistently at the highest level, like their Olympic counterparts. It also requires a commitment to improving the sport and educating the public on all Para Equestrian disciplines.
The Jonathan Wentz Memorial Perpetual Trophy recognizes the USA Athlete's excellence in competitive Para Equestrian sport at the International level. This award honors USA athletes who serve as a role model for their sport and it commends those equestrians who help to advance Para Equestrian sport in the United States.