This year is the most exciting calendar year for the United States Para-Equestrian Team in history. It will be the first time ever that the para-dressage team will compete with all of the equestrian disciplines at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) in Lexington, KY. The hopeful WEG riders first stop this summer was May 28-30, 2010, in Ashburn, Ontario, Canada. While in Canada, riders earned top scores for their performances, including the Silver medal for the United States. Riders used this show as their last big qualifier for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Selection Trials scheduled for June 24-27, 2010, held at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, IL.
The para-equestrian's journey to Ashburn, Ontario, Canada, was to compete at the WindReach International Para-Dressage CPEDI*** and WindReach EC Gold Para-Dressage Competition. This FEI event was an official qualifier for WEG.
The WindReach International Para-Dressage CPEDI*** show took place at WindReach Farm. The farm was designed by Paralympian rider Alexander (Sandy) J. Mitchell. The entire facility was designed to meet the needs of individuals with different abilities and is equipped with wheelchair accessible pathways. WindReach Farm is also a member center for the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association (CanTRA), and the Ontario Therapeutic Riding Association (OnTRA). The United States Para-Equestrians felt honored to compete at such a spectacular facility alongside many other international para-dressage riders.
This competition was the largest para-equestrian competition in North America. There were riders from all over the world including the United States, Canada, China, Bermuda, Japan, and Australia. Mary Jordan, a Grade IV Para-Dressage rider used this competition as a practice before the selection trials at the end of June. Jordan rides Paxton Abbey, who is a horse she has bred, raised, and trained as an international dressage horse.
Jordan commented, "After a long winter of training I wanted the opportunity to be in front of international judges and competitors to be tested in the best way possible on an international stage. That was my goal. I already had my scores in hand so I wanted to be tested. The motivation for me was to come back in the international atmosphere and really step up my game and be as competitive as possible.
After a short break, riders will make their way to Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, IL, for the WEG selection trials. Currently, 15 United States Para-Dressage riders have scores that will allow them to compete at the selection trials. Out of those 15, 10 of the riders will be selected for WEG. Out of the 10 riders, four will make the team, and six will ride as individuals.
For Jordan, this journey has been incredible on two levels. She noted, "Like any other equestrian out there you dream to one day ride for your country and there are no guarantees in the process you just have to work really hard and always seek to improve. Second, it is always a journey as a para-equestrian. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis eight years ago. I thought I would spend my life in a wheelchair but with advancements in medicine and my own strength I have had the opportunity to compete as a para-dressage rider. I only hope I can take a step further to earn one of the spots on the United States Para-Dressage team at the World Equestrian Games."
Once the selection trials occur, the para-dressage riders will take a few months to train and rest before traveling to Lexington, KY, for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™. The para-dressage competitions will take place in the Covered Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park starting on October 5, 2010, and ending October 8, 2010. Starting on October 5, 2010, the Individual Team Tests are scheduled, and riders will compete with their horses for four days, ending with Individual Freestyle Tests on October 5, 2010.
About the United States Para-Equestrian Association
The United States Para-Equestrian Association (USPEA) includes every equestrian discipline that is practiced by athletes with physical disabilities. Each rider or driver competes under the eight para-equestrian disciplines of the National Organization. This year, at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, the para-dressage discipline will make history competing under the eighth discipline of the USEF. The USEF High Performance Para-Dressage Team will compete as an FEI sport for the first time at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games held in Lexington, KY.
The USPEA provides programs, clinics, and competition opportunities for athletes with physical disabilities. Riders compete under the USEF rules during their competitions and many of the athletes compete at the highest level of their sport.
For more information about the USPEA or for donation opportunities, please contact Hope Hand, President of the USPEA, email Wheeler966@aol.com or by phone at (610)356-6481.
To view online information about the USPEA, please visit www.USPEA.org.