Lexington, KY - The FEI World Para Dressage Championships kicked off today with riders competing in the Team Test. The Kentucky Equine Research U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team fielded a group of four riders, three of whom were new to the international stage for the team competition. Jonathan Wentz, Laura Goldman and Susan Treabess all represented the U.S. for the first time at the championship level, with the 2000 and 2008 Paralympian Robin Brueckmann providing valuable veteran leadership.
Nineteen year-old Jonathan Wentz (Richardson, TX) led off the day for the U.S. riding Kai Handt's NTEC Richter Scale. Wentz and the Shire cross gelding rode a very accurate and precise test in the Grade II division to score a 62.762% leaving them individually in fifteenth place for their level.
"It was a really solid test," said Wentz. "This is quite an amazing experience." This pair was a late addition to the team after Rebecca Hart elected to focus solely on the individual championship. Despite this change of plan, Wentz was able to remain focused on his overall goal. "There was added pressure," said Wentz. "I just want to do my best for the USA."
Laura Goldman and Trudy Phillips' Carlingford JD were next in the ring for the U.S. On the strength of a precisely ridden test and well-shaped circles and serpentines, the pair scored a 68.706% in the Grade Ia team test, earning an individual third place finish.
Goldman was very pleased with her performance and the Irish Sport Horse gelding she has ridden for only a short time. She also was immensely appreciative of everyone who helped her compete at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
"I amazed myself," said Goldman. "This horse is fantastic. Without all these folks with the para movement I couldn't have done it."
The last two riders of the day for the U.S. contested in the grade IV team test. Robin Brueckmann of Summerfield, NC performed an elegant test with Elly Schobel's Raison D'Etre. The Kentucky-bred American Warmblood scored a 65.75%, earning the pair an individual placing of sixth. Brueckmann's test was highlighted by a fluid trot tour and expressive lateral work.
"I'm very pleased. I think I maximized what I could," Brueckmann said. "This is the third team score. I feel like I contributed to the team."
Last to go for the Kentucky Equine Research U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team was Susan Treabess (Winters, CA) and Katy Peterson's Dutch Warmblood mare Moneypenny. A solid, flashy test meant Treabass and Moneypenny rounded out the U.S. effort with a score of 63.00%. With an overnight combined score of 197.456, the U.S. Team lies 10th going into the second and final part of the Team competition which will conclude on Wednesday when the four team riders will perform the Individual test for a combined team score.
"The goal was to put in a clean test and have fun and stay relaxed, and I did that," said Treabass. "Moneypenny and I have a good harmony and a good relationship."
The second portion of the World Para-Dressage Championship begins at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
Photo: Laura Goldman and Carlingford JD. Photo by Shannon Brinkman for USEF.