Ottawa, Ontario—Para-Equestrian Canada is pleased to announce the team members who will be representing Canada at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) to be held in Lexington, KY September 25—October 10, 2010.
The selected Canadian Para-Dressage Team members, in alphabetical order, are Lauren Barwick, Sharon Buffit, Eleonore Elstone, Ashley Gowanlock, Tara Kowalski, Madison Lawson and Jennifer McKenzie.
“We are proud to have seven horse/rider combinations who have met not only the FEI qualifying criteria, but also a much higher Canadian requirement to compete at the Games. We have a strong team, well prepared and all looking forward to being very competitive,” said Elizabeth Quigg-Robinson, Chef d’équipe for the Canadian Para-Dressage Team.
As a Grade 2 rider, Barwick, of Aldergrove, BC, has successfully represented Canada at a number of international competitions. She earned great results at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, but most remarkable is her gold and silver medal performances at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Hong Kong. Along with her horse Maile, Barwick, 32, has helped to propel the sport of Para-Dressage into the spotlight. At WEG, Barwick plans to ride her gold medal mount Maile, a 16-year-old bay Dutch Warmblood mare.
Buffitt, 35, of Montreal, QC, leased Ecurie d’aubrac’s ten year-old Canadian Sport Horse, Gitane D’Aubrac, in the winter of 2009 with the goal of becoming a member of the Canadian Para-Equestrian Team at WEG. This past spring, Buffitt, who is a Grade 2 rider, traveled to Moorsele, Belgium to compete in a CPEDI3*on a borrowed horse. Buffit was also a member of the Canadian Para-Equestrian Team at the WindReach International CPEDI3*, where she finished in fourth place in each of her tests riding Gitane D’Aubrac.
As a native of Langley, BC, Elstone was born in Germany and immigrated to Canada in 1974. As a Grade 4 rider, Elstone, 58, first began competing in the sport of Para-Dressage in 2006 at the CPEDI4* Pacific Rim competition held in Langley, BC where she successfully won each of her classes, and continued on to represent Canada at the World Para-Dressage Championships the following year. These successes qualified Elstone to compete at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Hong Kong, allowing her to accomplish her goal of participating at a Paralympic Games. For WEG, Elstone plans to ride Why Not G, a seven-year-old bay Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Kelleigh Kulscar and Elstone.
Gowanlock, 23, started riding for therapeutic reasons when she was two-years-old, and for her, what started as a hobby soon grew into a passion. A resident of Vancouver, BC, Gowanlock, a Grade 1b rider, first represented Canada at the 2007 Para-Dressage World Championships in Hartpury, GBR, where she finished eighth in the Team Test and Freestyle, and placed seventh in the Individual Championship Test as a Grade 1B rider. In 2008, Gowanlock qualified for the Paralympic Games where she had strong results in each of her tests. In Kentucky, Gowanlock will ride her 2008 Paralympic mount, Donnymaskell, an 11-year-old black Hanoverian gelding owned Alexander (Sandy) Mitchell.
At the young age of five, Kowalski, 20, of Chilliwack, BC, was introduced to the world of equestrian sport. Born three months premature with cerebral palsy, she was quick to discover a love and passion for horses and Para-sport. Kowalski recently began riding and competing on MJ Fatal Atracson, a 19-year-old Anglo-Arabian gelding owned by Dr. Philippa Keegan and Rachael Tipper. The pair recently placed second in each of their Grade 1a tests at the WindReach International CPEDI3*, and are looking forward to representing Canada at WEG.
Following a riding accident in the summer of 2007 while exercising a friend’s horse, Lawson, 16, of Bonfield, ON, suffered spinal damage and spent the rest of the year learning to walk and adjusting to life as an incomplete paraplegic. By February 2008, Lawson was back in the saddle and put all of her energy into learning about the sport of Para-Dressage. Lawson has emerged as a promising young Canadian athlete with her horse McGuire, a 15-year-old dark bay Canadian Sport Horse. Lawson and McGuire first represented Canada at the WindReach International CPEDI3*, earning three, fourth place finishes in the Grade 4 tests.
Since starting para-equestrian pursuits in 1999, McKenzie has represented Canada 10 times, most notably at the 2003 and 2007 Para-Equestrian World Championships and at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Hong Kong. McKenzie, 46, of Maple Ridge, BC, has also been named Athlete of the Year 2007–2008 by PacificSport Fraser Valley and by Horse Council British Columbia in 2003. At WEG, McKenzie plans to ride her new horse Sunbury Lodge Voodoo, a 15-Year-Old brown Warmblood gelding who was recently imported from Australia.
The Canadian Para-Equestrian team at the 2010 World Equestrian Games will be led by Elizabeth Quigg-Robinson (Chef d’équipe), Amie O’Shaughnessy (Team Manager), and Andrea Taylor (National Team Coach).
The four horse rider combinations whose scores will count towards the team portion of the Para-Dressage competition will be named following the official jog on October 4, 2010. The WEG Para-Dressage competition will take place October 5–10, 2010. Complete details about WEG maybe found at www.alltechfeigames.com.
About Para-Equestrian Canada
Para-Equestrian Canada is the Equine Canada committee responsible for developing programs for athletes with a physical disability, and implementing the Para-Dressage high performance program. Para-Equestrian is one of Canada’s most successful international disciplines, achieving an individual gold medal and an individual silver medal at the 2008 Paralympic Games, as well as two individual bronze medals at the 2004 Paralympic Games.
About Para-Equestrian Sport
Para-Equestrian sport provides riders with a physical disability the opportunity to compete against other riders with similar abilities. Riders are given a “Grade” based on their functional ability, and are judged on their riding skill against other athletes of the same Grade. There are five grades of competitions in dressage, with Grade 1A representing the more severely impaired riders, and Grade 4 representing the least severely impaired riders. Many Para-Equestrian athletes also compete alongside able-bodied competitors in Equine Canada competitions. At the grass roots level, Para-Equestrian encompasses a number of different disciplines, while the international stream focuses only on Para-Dressage. For more information, please visit www.equinecanada.ca/para-equestrian.
About Equine Canada
Equine Canada is Canada’s national governing body for equestrianism. A member-driven, charitable institution, it is the executive branch of the Canadian Equestrian Team, and the national authority for equestrian competition; the national voice for recreational riders; and the national association for equine welfare, breeding, and industry. Equine Canada is recognised by the Government of Canada, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), and the Canadian Olympic Committee as the national organisation representing equestrian sport and equine interests. For more information about Equine Canada, please visit www.equinecanada.ca.
Photo: Lauren Barwick