The Para-Dressage Test Event showcased athletes from Canada and the United States in the main Tryon Stadium for the first time this season to familiarize with the ring that many will be competing in this September at the WEG. Victory in the Grade I Individual Test went to Roxanne Trunnell (USA) and Kate Shoemaker’s 2012 Hanoverian gelding Dolton (Danone I x Londonderry), receiving a score of 73.155%. The Grade II Individual Test was championed by Sharon Buffitt (CAN) aboard her own Elektra II, a 2005 Oldenburg mare (Radjah Z x Rastar), after riding to a score of 66.716%. Rebecca Hart (USA) rode Rowan O’Riley’s 2010 Oldenburg gelding (Fidertanz 2 x Don Romantic), Fortune, to the blue in the Grade III Individual Test, receiving a 70.147%.
Grade IV saw Kate Shoemaker (USA) secure first place in the Individual Test on her own 2009 Hanoverian stallion Solitaer, riding to a score of 71.341%.
“I really liked how consistent he was throughout the test,” commented Shoemaker. “It was an error-free test – there was never a moment that I thought, ‘Oh gosh, that wasn’t okay,’ so it’s really good to have that kind of consistency throughout the test. He stayed with me the whole time and it produced a really good result in the end.”
Shoemaker is looking to earn her spot on the U.S. Para-Dressage Team with the stallion (Sandro Hit x De Niro), and said, “I think everybody’s goal right now is to try and make the team, so we’re just going to keep pushing towards that and hope that we continue to have a good show this weekend and show the selectors that we’ve earned our spot to be there.”
“Having the home field advantage is huge for us – the fact that we get to get our horses in the venue and they get to see this, I think is a significant advantage, so we’re just really excited to be here,” she concluded.
Grade V competitor Katie Jackson (USA) has only been with current mount Diesel, a 2003 Oldenburg gelding (De Niro x Welt Hit II), for eight weeks, but has her eyes set on WEG as well. “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind,” she explained. “We’ve been together with the focus of coming here for the Test Event for only a month and I’ve been riding him for about eight weeks, but Diesel is just a really incredible horse. I think the perfect analogy is from my coach, who said, ‘He fits you like a glove,’ and he really does. From the first day I rode him I asked, ‘Are you sure you’re not hiding another amputee somewhere?’ He understood my aids from the very beginning. He didn’t get nervous, he just said, ‘Okay, let’s do this.’ He’s such a hard worker and what a good boy.”
Jackson is a Clear Cell Sarcoma survivor and has been competing in the Para-Dressage discipline since 2015. Now ranked as number three on the FEI World Individual Grade V Rankings List, the Texas native has been focused on getting her new partner ready for competition.
“Until now, the focus really was getting him here and getting to bring him to his first CPEDI, so a big accomplishment for him today – but from here we’re going to go to Catherine Haddad Staller’s barn in New Jersey to continue training and potentially go to the CPEDI in Ottawa. Of course the goals for all of us right now are WEG and getting back in this arena in September.”
Jackson, who has competed at TIEC before, spoke highly of the facility, stating, “I love this venue. I think I said this last time when I was here, but it has that international feel. It is a really incredible atmosphere with excitement, but not distraction, and I really think that was it. He came in and schooled really well and was able to focus. It’s a really horse-friendly, rider-friendly venue, from the stabling to the warm-up and the arena.”
“There is a huge value to be here,” she explained. “That was one of the reasons we wanted to be able to come this week because the more times down the centerline in an international environment the better, and to be here especially – it gives the horses just a little bit more confidence in what’s going on when they come in September. It’s neat to be able to do this.”
Expressing an exorbitant amount of gratitude for her team and those who have helped make her journey possible, Jackson concluded, “I want to thank Diesel’s previous owner, Rowan O’Riley, for this opportunity and what she’s done for all of us as Para-Equestrians and for the sport as a supporter and for her generosity in making this ownership of Diesel possible. It’s just incredible, and to Catherine Haddad-Staller, my new coach – just for embracing Para-Dressage, stepping in and taking the reins. It’s been a blast. I’m grateful to both of them and to the team that’s formed around me.”
FEI CPEDI 3* competition will continue tomorrow in Tryon Stadium with the Para Team Tests. To access results from the Para-Dressage Test Event, click HERE.