Newcomers to the para-dressage ranks and veteran riders with newer horses have taken advantage to work their FEI Para-Equestrian tests and freestyles prior to the CPEDI3* to be held at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival March 13-16th, one of only two qualifiers for the selection trials for the 2014 Alltech/World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.
Top competitor Rebecca Hart turned heads at Welcome Back to White Fences February 20-23 with the debut of her new mare, Schroeters Romani, scoring a 77.57% in the FEI Para Grade II Individual test. “It takes a village,” says Hart who is a two-time Paralympian.
“I am super excited about Romani. I’m honored and humbled to be able to get to ride this horse. We have the best support team behind us and I can't thank them enough for the opportunity. This wouldn't be possible with out them,” says Hart. She purchased the 11-year-old Danish Warmblood mare with the help of Margaret Duprey, Cherry Knoll Farm, Hart's family, Barb Summer, William and Sandy Kimmel and Sycamore Station Equine Division.
The pair had a tremendous debut earning a 9 for their free walk on both days. Hart regularly rides with Missy Ransehousen at Blue Hill Farm in PA but Grand Prix rider Todd Flettrich was on hand to help coach her at the show in Loxahatchee, FL.
Eighteen-year-old Angela Peavy brought out two new potential elite partners, Ozzy Cooper, a 2006 Trakehner, and Lancelot Warrior, a 2002 Hanoverian, in addition to her familiar mount, Stuart Little, a 1998 KWPN, to get a feel of the atmosphere at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival 8 in Wellington.
Riding three horses in the FEI Grade III Team and Individual tests kept her busy but she is up for the challenge and focused on her competitive goals. “My experience this weekend was great! My horses were all super well behaved and it was nice to practice before the CPEDI. Heather Blitz, my trainer, was very positive and helpful with many ideas. I can't wait for the CPEDI!”
Eleanor Brimmer, Grade III, partnered with her new mount, London Swing, a 2002 Hanoverian by Londonderry used both AGDF 7 and 8 weekends to garner scores of 63.4, a 69.5 and a 71.8% in their freestyle. 'Louie' is just the sweetest personality according to Brimmer and over the last two horse shows he has developed quite a following. He was a stallion until he was ten years old. "I like how sometimes he nickers very quietly to other horses but he doesn't get distracted from his work." Louie was the very last horse Brimmer tried after an exhaustive search that included Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. "I loved how comfortable his trot was and how easy he was in the bridle. He also worked very hard to figure me out. He was the horse that gave me the best feeling that I might be able to put together a campaign for Normandy in such a short amount of time."
“I love showing at Global" says Brimmer. "The facilities are top notch and the footing is amazing. I really appreciate the opportunity I get at Global to show in front of a lot of top international judges at the national shows to better prepare for going in front of the judging panel at the CPEDI. Global is hosting one of two World Equestrian Games qualifiers this year in the United States and I'm grateful for Global's continuing support of international para dressage competition.”
New Riders on the Para Scene
Newcomer Elle Woolley who rides with one hand and a bar on her rein, rode her first ever Grade III Team test to a 68.6% aboard P. Sparrow Socks, a 2002 RPSI mare she acquired from fellow Grade IV para rider Mary Jordan.
“I couldn't be more thrilled with my first day out there. I had no idea what to expect and my horse really stepped up. She knew she was performing and our scores reflected it. I'm very proud of her for our very first show together to be at a huge recognized venue.” The second day, Woolley found herself sitting on a less energetic horse and is figuring out how to manage show energy to peak for the coming CPEDI3*.
Also new to the FEI Para tests, former event rider and pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Deborah Stanitski of VA debuted with her own 2000 Holsteiner cross, Tiramisu. She used both of the last two weekends to polish her Grade II team, individual and freestyle tests and settle some initial nerves. Improving scores ranging from 63.8 to 72.7% showed positive results.
Wisdom from Rosiland Kinstler who trains both Brimmer and Paralympian, Dale Dedrick, focused on the importance of Para riders utilizing national shows, where warm ups are shared and the need for exposure to all types of settings.
“Scores are certainly a reference point but there is no substitute for going down centerline. A big part of competing is knowing your horse in the show environment. It is not the same as home,” she notes. “Structuring the warm up for both horse and rider is all important. Especially for Para riders, they need to be able to trust their horse. Having the chance to show several times before a major event is a great opportunity to learn to be a successful show rider.”