Ten riders competed in the Paralympic Games Selection Trials at the Good Horseman Dressage Foundation's Dressage at the Horse Park show May 1-2, 2003 in the stadium that hosted the Atlanta Olympic Games. Six of these riders were short-listed and four will later be chosen for the team that will go to Athens, Greece this summer to compete in the Paralympic Games.
On Saturday, Keith Newerla won the IPEC Championship Test riding Ballyshannon and Kathyrn Groves rode Fleetwood to win the Freestyle. On Sunday, Lynn Seidemann won the IPEC Team Test with riding her own Quarter Horse, Ryan. In the Rider With Disabilities section, the High-Score Award went to Kathryn Groves and Fleetwood, 70.341% and Reserve to Keith Newerla and Ballyshannon, 68.947%.
Seidemann and Robin Brueckmann are the most experienced of the short listed riders, having both competed at the Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia and at the World Championships in Belgium last summer, where Seidemann won gold and silver medals.
A Paraplegic, Seidemann rides with two whips in the Grade 1 tests since she does not have the use of her legs. “It's hard to get the leg to go and keep the hands and keep the collection,” she said.
Seidemann, of Dallas, TX said, “The experience makes it different if I go to Athens. Last summer was the first time I competed internationally but this time the expectations are higher.”
Kathryn Groves On the Road
Groves, of Orlando, FL, commented similarly, “Being an Olympic year everybody's more serious and as determined as I've ever seen them.” She also competed in Belgium last summer, her first time competing outside the US.
Groves, who also competes in third-level open dressage in spite of a prosthetic hand and severs burns resulting from a car accident, has left her home and family for several weeks to go on the road to qualifying competitions and spend some time training in Raleigh, NC with Dennis Callin.
“My trailer has living quarters so ‘home' is right there, but it's a lot of time away from home,” she said.
Next weekend she will compete at a dressage show in Pinehurst, NC and then Groves will return to Florida.
Keith Newerla, 21, also finds balancing his personal life and riding a juggling act. A college student in Minnesota, Newerla has little time for horses when he is at school, and has had to make several trips to qualify for the short list and for training, spending some time in Pennsylvania to work with team coach Missy Ransehausen.
“Going to Athens would be the experience of a lifetime for me,” he said. And Newerla is confident that he could handle the pressure of the big competition: “You're there long enough to settle in before the competition, so I think I'd relax. Riding is riding.”
Missy Ransehousen, Head Coach for the Disabled Riders
In her fourth year as Head Coach for the Disabled Riders, event rider Missy Ransehausen has been to every international competition with the Elite group of riders.
“Obviously we want to win a medal and we'll do the best we can,” she said. “The competition is tough at all the grades, (levels of difficulty).”
Ransehausen also reasons, “The program is still new for us and is developing into what it needs to be. We're still about a year or two from where we need to be.”
In preparation for Athens, she said, “We're working on the overall quality of the ride throughout the test…it has to look as close to able-bodied dressage as it can be.”
After selectors choose a team, based on their scores prior to the selection trials, their performance at the selection trials and one performance following the trials, riders will begin preparations to travel to Europe, where they will prepare in the Netherlands to go on to Athens for the Games.
Paralympics Short List
Keith Newerla Grade I Ballyshannon 67.249%
Reserve Ch. Kathryn Groves Grade IV Fleetwood 66.649%
3 rd Robin Brueckmann Grade IV Richmond 66.639%
4 th Barbara Grassmyer Grade III Innsbruck 66.409%
5 th Rebecca Hart Grade III Lego 65.914%
6 th Lynn Seidemann Grade I Ryan 64.850%
Text by Amber Heintzberger
The Heidelberg Cup 2003: Kathy Groves on the Road to Belgium
Belgian Equestrian Photographer "Dirk Caremans" was at the 2003 World Championships in Moorsele