Katy, Texas - After recently returning from a highly successful summer European tour, two-time Paralympian (2008, 2012) Rebecca Hart trumped her efforts during the 2015 USEF Para Equestrian Dressage National Championship CPEDI3* to capture the 2015 USEF Para Equestrian Dressage National High Performance Championship. Aboard Schroeter's Romani (owned by Hart in conjunction with Margaret Duprey, Cherry Knoll Farm, Barbara Summer and Bill and Sandy Kimmel) she earned impressive scores that topped her previous test results, garnering the championship for the seventh consecutive year.
"This is one of those moments where I have to pinch myself," Hart said. "We have done a lot of prep work and ground work coming into this event, and to have her come off so strongly in front of a five-judge panel at a national championship was a really special moment for me. I couldn't have asked for anything more from her."
On the opening day of competition, the Grade II athlete rode to the score of 73.118 percent for the Team Test in front of the ground jury consisting of Sarah Leitch (GBR), Eva Maria Bachinger (AUS), Gudrun Hofinga (GER), Kristi Wysocki (USA) and Ground Jury President David Schmutz (USA). Her result was the high score of the day.
Hart explained, "The first day, during the Team Test, she warmed up beautifully. Coming off of a really strong European summer, I wanted to go in and show the judges that we took their comments that they gave us from those shows in Europe - that we worked on them and improved. We had three European judges there, and they were actually the highest scoring of all five judges. That was the highest percentage I have ever been awarded on the first day of competition from a five-judge panel."
During the second day of competition, all eyes were on the talented pair as they rode their Individual Test. Duplicating their impressive results from the opening day, Hart and Romani scored a 74.314 percent, with Bachinger awarding the duo a 76 percent for their consistent ride.
On the final day, it all came down to the Freestyle. Hart has been working to perfect the rhythm and timing of the choreography, accentuating Romani's expressive walk. Hart recently made the permanent move to Wellington, Florida, to train with international Grand Prix rider and trainer Todd Flettrich out of Cherry Knoll Farm.
"I think it was instrumental for us [to make the move to Florida] to be as successful as we were at the championship," Hart said. "Being in a consistent program and keeping everything moving forward is something that Romani really thrives off of. It was a tough move leaving my family, friends and network in Pennsylvania, but I have a great support system here, and I cannot thank Margaret Duprey and Cherry Knoll Farm, as well as Todd [Flettrich] for the amazing support."
Their hard work was reflected in the scores of the Freestyle, earning great remarks from the ground jury and riding to the cumulative score of 77.65 percent, with two judges awarding her a 79.75 percent, and a third giving her a 79 percent. The Freestyle sealed their position as the 2015 USEF Para Equestrian Dressage National High Performance Champions.
Hart said, "Going into the Freestyle, that was a really special moment. I got three scores over 79 percent. To have three of five judges give me a score over 79, I have never had scores like that in my life. It is a huge shout out to Cherry Knoll Farm and Todd Flettrich, for all of the work and support they have given me to get us to that point in a relatively short amount of time. I am looking forward to what we are going to do in the future."
Trainer Todd Flettrich was with Hart every step of the way, coaching her to the top of the podium. "It is such a pleasure to be a part of Rebecca and Romani's journey and training," Flettrich explained. "They are two wonderful girls. It is not just Becca that is wonderful, but Romani is also a wonderful horse. Romani's attitude, and her willingness to participate everyday, is fabulous. Becca is not only a talented person, but she is also a very intelligent person. She is so gracious and thankful to everyone who has helped make her success possible."
Flettrich continued, "I always tell her that it is the relationship between her and that horse that makes everything possible, it is beautiful. It was their most consistent weekend yet, and there is always room for improvement, but the overall quality of their tests is consistent. I am looking forward to seeing how their relationship continues to grow in January with accuracy, precision and expression."
Hart will now return to her home base in Wellington, Florida, where she plans to prepare for the 2016 Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
Hart's name is a familiar one in the dressage sphere, as she has earned the title of USEF National Para-Equestrian Champion in 2006, 2008-2010, 2012, 2014 and now 2015. She competed last year at the World Equestrian Games for the United States Equestrian Team and has also shown in two Paralympics for the USA. She now has her sights set on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
For more information on Rebecca Hart and Cherry Knoll Farm, please visit www.cherryknollfarminc.com.