Wellington, FL - The unstoppable force in the para world that is Rebecca Hart, is off again on her next adventure, this time, with more confidence than ever. Hart and her newest mount Romani, owned in conjunction with Cherry Knoll Farm of West Grove, PA, and Wellington, FL, Sycamore Station Equine Division, Barbara Summer, The Ruffolo's, as well as Will and Sandy Kimmel, are off to the 2014 Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games (WEF) in Normandy, France, and are ready to begin a new and exciting chapter of their career, unveiling a unique and ever developing horse-rider connection.
As preparation, this spring she showed the 12-year-old mare at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival 12 CPEDI3* and came home with the second placing in both the FEI Para-Dressage Individual test with a 70.476 percent and in the FEI Para-Dressage Freestyle with a 72.667 percent. Next, the pair traveled to Europe where they gained invaluable exposure and experience at the CPEDI3* events in Deauville, France, as well as Moorsele, Belgium.
"We went over to gain some more exposure and show Romani to get her out there," said Hart. "You definitely need to see and be seen. I feel good because of what we presented in Europe in the spring to what we are doing now. I feel like there's been a clear progression since then. To have her trusting me more in those situations and not second guessing me so much has been huge. I'm really excited to go show her off and show how far we have come."
Hart suffers from birth-onset hereditary spastic paraplegia that places her in the Grade II division of para competition. This division is one of the most highly contested-It includes para superpowers like Great Britain's Natasha Baker. European para-dressage has a deep-rooted and established program that offers much competition to Hart. The U.S. Para-Dressage Equestrian Team will ride down the centerline as just five of the 102 horse and rider combinations expected to ride at the La Prairie Racecourse August 25-29, 2014. Chef d'Equipe Kai Handt, leads the team on their journey to the podium.
Marlene Whitaker worked with Hart to orchestrate a freestyle for Hart and Romani that balanced power and femininity. Their goals were to highlight the walk and fluidity of the turns while showcasing higher level lateral work. According to Hart, Romani "picked" her freestyle.
"She got a little bit loftier when we played our piece and she just relaxed into it and her back got softer," said Hart. "It works for her. We are making some calculated risks because we are more connected in our partnership now. We are still pretty new but much more connected so we felt we could push the envelope. You don't want to go and be conservative you want to go and be competitive."
For Hart, her disability is a source of motivation for herself and others. She finds special joy in helping others discover what she has with riding.
"There's always an element of 'I don't know if I can'", said Hart. "What I say to people when they think that is that you never will know if you don't try. Basically I didn't know if I was going to be able to do it but I didn't let that stop me. Everyone is kind of dealt a hand of cards and you can't change them you just have to learn how to play them."
"You can't change the rules of the game you just have to be savvy," she continued. "In playing your had you only get one deck so you can either sit out and do nothing and that's one way to handle it or you can get out and play. It may not always go exactly according to plan but at least you're out there doing it. If you don't play you don't have the chance to win."
The 2014 World Equestrian Games takes place from August 23 through September 7. The eight official FEI disciplines will compete: Jumping, Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Reining, Vaulting, Endurance, and Para-Dressage. 300 exhibitors will compete- including true role model Rebecca Hart.
For more information on Cherry Knoll Farm, please visit www.cherryknollfarminc.com