Robin Brueckmann and Radtezky at the 2012 Paralympic Selection Trials/ National Championships (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)
Gladstone, NJ -June 10, 2012 - In 2008, five Para-Equestrian Dressage riders competed in the United States Selection Trials for the Beijing Paralympics. Four years later twenty-three horse and rider combinations earned the right to compete at the 2012 United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Paralympic Selection Trials
. Dr. Stacey Kent, DVM, FEI Ground Jury member Carlos Lopes 5* (POR), and USEF Dressage Team Vet Dr. Rick Mitchell, DVM were on hand to evaluate each horse during Sunday's veterinary inspection. Each horse passed with flying colors shifting the rider's focus to the next three day's of competition. From June 11-13 Para-Equestrian athletes will compete at the United States Equestrian Team Foundation (USET) headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey. Running simultaneously with the Selection Trials is the 2012 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships
. Overall scores for both the Paralympic Selection Trials and National Championships will be calculated using 40% of the Team Test, 40% of the Individual and 20% of the Freestyle Test Score. With only four spots on the United States Para-Equestrian Dressage Team headed to London it will be crucial that each test is precisely executed.
Jonathan Wentz watching the jog at 2012 Paralympic Selection Trials/ National Championships (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)
During the three days of competition FEI Ground Jury members, Carlos Lopes (5*) POR, Anne Prain (5*) FRA, and Marc Urban (5*) BEL will evaluate each duo on their interpretation of their respective tests. These critiques will be valuable since equestrians will see these judges again when they qualify for London. Lopes and Prain are members of the ground jury and Marc Urban is the Assistant Technical Delegate for the Paralympics.
Many of the riders competing in the Selection Trials have felt the competitive environment of a show of this caliber before. 2008 Paralympic Team members Robin Brueckmann and Rebecca Hart have returned for another opportunity to represent the United States. Both of these riders represented the United States in Hong Kong and once again at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) in Lexington, KY. As seasoned riders there are always new variables. In November 2011 Robin Brueckmann had her right leg removed due to Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. After years of pain and lacking motor function Brueckmann spoke to many doctors about the possibility of amputating her leg. Together they made a carefully contemplated decision to amputate her leg. In three months she was riding in a three-star Para-Equestrian competition with her trusty horse Radetzky. Rebecca Hart will be riding Lord Ludger during the Selection Trials and National Championships. Hart earned top scores throughout 2012 and has added a new horse for the Trials, Carlingsford's Taldi.
Kai Handt jogging Silvano for Jonathan Wentz at 2012 USEF Paralympic Selection Trials/ National Championships (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)
2011 USEF Para-Equestrian National Champion and 2010 WEG rider Jonathan Wentz has had a banner year and is looking forward to riding NTEC Richter Scale and Silvano in his first Paralympic Selection Trials. His hard work and dedication has paid off in 2012 earning an Individual World Ranking of 10th overall.
In only four years the number of Para-Equestrian competitors multiplied. In 2010 Erin Alberda, Kim Decker, Wendy Fryke, Laura Goldman, Mary Jordan, Kim Jones and Elizabeth Pigott, were there when the 2010 WEG Selection Trials occurred. The WEG Trials was the first time the number of Para-Equestrians in the United States reached 20. It was also the first year Para-Equestrian Dressage became the eighth discipline represented at the World Equestrian Games.
Donna Ponessa at 2012 USEF Paralympic Selection Trials/ National Championships (Photo: Lindsay Y McCall)
In 2011, Eleanor Brimmer, Dale Dedrick, Laurietta Oakleaf, and Donna Ponessa joined the Para-Equestrian competition ring and climbed the ranks to earn top scores in their Grades and represent the United States internationally.
In 2012, former event rider Margaret McIntosh became a Para-Equestrian and young rider Sydney Collier joined the team. These riders are just a handful of riders that have become a part of the Para-Equestrian discipline over the last few years. After four years the sport continues to grow and the exceptional competition that will be showcased in Gladstone will be a Trials to remember.