The First International Combined Festival of Dressage for Para Equestrian held last weekend in Moorsele, Belgium is an important qualifying competition for the Paralympics in 2008. The United States placed riders in the top ten in both the Grade III Individual and the Grade III Freestyle.
Three U.S. riders and their horses traveled to Belgium, Barbara Grassmyer from Placerville, California with Mibis, a 12 year old Dutch Warmblood; Rebecca Hart of Erie, Pennsylvania on her Norteassa, a 14 year old Hanoverian; and Robin Brueckmann of Summerfield, North Carolina on Richmond, a 9 year old Hanoverian.
In the Grade III Individual Hart scored a 65,120 finishing in 7th place and Grassmyer finished 8th with a total score of 64,560. In the Grade III Freestyle (Final), Hart took a respectable fourth place finish with a total score of 71,834 and Brueckmann finished seventh with a total score of 69,222. Brueckmann also scored 63,097 and finished 13th in the Grade IV Individual.
Serving as Coach, Melissa Ransehousen said: "All the athletes did quite well. There are always improvements to be made but overall, they were quite good."
Team Leader Denise Avolio was enthusiastic about their performance, “We performed well as a team in front of many nations and accomplished our goals for this competition. We also set ourselves up to perform well at the 2007 World Championships.”
While this competition served as an individual qualifier for the 2008 Olympics, a U.S. team previously qualified in Vancouver at the Continental Championship and Paralympic Qualifier.