Thousand Oaks, CA - With a Team Gold under their belt earned at the 2011 CPEDI3*in Mexico City, the United States Para-Equestrian Team takes to the air headed to beautiful Melbourne, Australia. The 2011 CPEDI3* in Werribee, Victoria, Australia begins Thursday, December 8th with a horse inspection, followed by the Team Test on Friday, Individual Test on Saturday, and finally the Freestyle competition on Sunday, December 11, 2011. This international competition will be held in conjunction with the Saddle World Dressage Festival held at the Werribee Park National Equestrian Center located southwest of Melbourne, Australia. The United States Para-Equestrian Team consists of Donna Ponessa from New Windsor, NY for Grade Ia, Rebecca Hart of Unionville, PA for Grade II, Erin Alberda of Woodinville, WA for Grade III, and Mary Jordan from Wells, ME representing Grade IV.
Each rider will compete throughout the weekend against Para-Equestrian team members from Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. This competition is one more stride on the road to the 2012 Paralympics held in London, England.
The United States Para-Equestrian Team members selected for Australia have been padding their resumes for months for this competition. At the CPEDI3* Saugerties held in September 2011 team members Jonathan Wentz, Dale Dedrick, Rebecca Hart, and Mary Jordan led their team to win Gold for U.S.A. Two months later, team members Jonathan Wentz, Dale Dedrick, and Donna Ponessa secured another Team Gold at the CPEDI3* Mexico City. This week Team USA is hoping to achieve additional success in front of international judges Mr. Kjell Myhre (NOR), Dr. Ulf Wilken (SWE), Ms. Jan Geary (AUS), Ms. Sue Cunningham (AUS), and Ms. Wendy Barker (AUS).
Team member Mary Jordan noted, "Riding in Australia is an incredible opportunity to once again ride in front of top international judges and build competitive mileage on the heels of our excellent recent experience of competing at the CPEDI3* in Saugerties, NY."
Traveling abroad is not a new concept to top-level equestrian athletes. Mary and her teammates past competitions have included four star European Championships in Norway, three stars in Canada, New York, California, Mexico, and Chicago, and teammate Rebecca Hart went to the 2008 Hong Kong Paralympics where she placed fourth individually. Most recently, in 2010 Rebecca Hart, Erin Alberda, and Mary Jordan competed at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games held in Lexington, KY where the Para-Equestrian Dressage discipline made their first World Equestrian Games debut. For the United States competing abroad gives riders an opportunity to be judged on foreign soil. Mary explained, "I find competing overseas in challenging pressure situations and unusual circumstances an invaluable tool as it builds competitive experience, seasoning, and confidence. I know our team has embraced this opportunity to gain competitive international mileage and in the long run that type of commitment by the riders will benefit future United States Para-Equestrian teams."
The FEI team selections for the 2012 London Paralympics will be on the mind of each Para-Equestrian during the Australia competition. With only months left to build team slots for the 2012 London Paralympics the riders will have to give their best performances. Due to the financial responsibility and logistics of flying horses to Australia the United States Para-Equestrian Team has been generously given horses to use during the CPEDI3*. "The Australian horse owners have been truly kind and generous in this process of allowing us to use their very talented horses," smiled Mary. "Our team looks forward to competing in Australia."
For more information about the 2011 Melbourne CPEDI3* or the Saddle World Dressage Festival or please visit www.vic.equestrian.org.au.