Thursday, May 15, 2014

Gigi and Becca Both Make the FEI World Ranked List!!

It is with great pride that we announce that both Gigi and Becca have made it into the top 5 in the FEI World Rankings!!!  We are so thrilled for the ladies, and for the entire team at Blue Hill Farm who have worked so hard to earn this great achievement!

I spoke with both Becca and Gigi this week to get their reaction to this phenomenal news:

Link to FEI World Rankings
Gigi was absolutely thrilled to find out that she's currently ranked 2nd in the World Rankings!  Her success in the 2 CPEDI's in Europe have contributed to this overall ranking.  The trip to Europe was more than just a success on the competition level, as that time in the throws of international competition also presented her with the time to bond with Becca. 

"Together we experienced the extreme highs & lows of competition.  When I was conflicted over riding against other riders with severe disabilities, she and Missy reminded me that I had to get past that emotion and compete!  I have a lovely horse and great help with the crew at Blue Hill Farm, including Missy, Jess, Rachel, my family and all the people who have encouraged me since my accident."

Becca is equally as excited about the world rankings!

"To have a new partner in Romani and to already be ranked 5th in the world is a great confidence builder going into Selection Trials being held June 2-5 in Gladstone!"

The whole support team at BHF wishes these ladies the best of luck preparing for and competing at the Selection Trials at Gladstone!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fabulous Phelps Media Press Release on Becca and Romani!

Rebecca Hart and Romani Return from Europe Ready to Rock Gladstone

Written by: Sue Weakley
Client: Cherry Knoll Farm
Release Date: 2014-05-07
Photo Credit PMG
Wellington, FL – May 7, 2014 – Para-equestrian dressage rider Rebecca Hart just arrived home from European competition ready to kick into high gear for the June 2-5 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships and selection trial for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy, France.

Hart and her equestrian partner, Schroeters Romani, a 12-year-old Danish Warmblood mare (Lobster-Manique, Come Back II), competed in CPEDI3* shows in Deauville, France, April 4-6, and Moorsele, Belgium, April 25-27, to gain valuable competition experience.

“I am so glad that we did go because it was such a great learning experience,” Hart said. “We were competing in front of five judges and in Florida we compete in front of three. They were the two largest para shows that have ever happened. It was very well attended with the best of the best out and about and getting ready for the WEG. So, we got to see where we stood and what we need to work on, which was huge.”

Photo Credit PMG

“When we are competing in the States, we are sheltered and such a small group,” she continued. “The Europeans are very good at what they do—they’re the top dogs at this sport. If you want to play over there, you have to go and get in their world. It’s only going to get better from here.”

Hart said Romani traveled like a pro and has taken all the changes in stride since the mare’s purchase in Denmark five months ago with the help of Hart’s supporters: Margaret Duprey and Cherry Knoll Farm, Hart’s family, William and Sandy Kimmel and Sycamore Station Equine Division.

Photo Credit PMG
“I’m very excited for Rebecca,” Duprey said. “She took the ‘bit’ and went to Europe to see how she compared to her competition there.  Now she knows what her homework is before the selection trials next month.”

Duprey not only helped Hart with her dream to purchase Romani, but she also helped create the Jonathan Wentz Memorial Challenge for High Performance Para Dressage through the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation. She and the Barnfield Foundation will match leadership gifts made to the USET Foundation for para-equestrians to compete in international competition including the World Equestrian Games and Paralympics to meet the $800,000 goal.

“Hopefully, this challenge will raise the funds that will allow para-equestrian riders the chance to go to Europe and compete as Rebecca did,” Duprey said.

Hart returned home to Unionville, PA, and continues her training with Missy Ransehousen, who traveled to Europe for six weeks to coach. Hart and Romani spent time in Florida to train and compete in the CPEDI3* in Wellington March 12-16, and while in Florida, she trained with Todd Flettrich. Hart said Romani has coped well with moving so often in the past several months.

“She is a trooper,” Hart said. “Her life has been turned upside down. She got settled in Pennsylvania and then we moved her to Florida and then off to Europe we went.”
“In Deauville, she stayed focused and together,” she said. “She can be very nosy—she likes to see what is going on around her. She has always been an able-bodied horse and at a para competition there are wheelchairs and crutches. There’s a lot to look at and it can be intimidating for a horse that’s not used to that. She was aware of it but she kept her cool.”
In France, the pair qualified for the freestyle with scores ranked in the top five in their division, Grade II. Then, in Belgium, they made the cut again.

“She loves her freestyle and she gets into the music,” Hart said. “The technical aspect was good. It was quite high. But the music−in Belgium we had issues with the sound system. It ended up skipping part of the music and then it got stuck on the loop and it only did her trot music. It ruined the artistic presentation of her freestyle. It was disappointing but the technical was strong.”

Hart will unveil a new freestyle in Gladstone created for the pair by Marlene Whitaker from Custom Freestyle.

“We’re looking at something a bit lighter, a bit more feminine,” Hart said. “A bit more emotional, softer music because of the way she is. She can’t carry a heavy, dramatic music. It’s going to be a fun freestyle.”

Hart said she plans to work on connection and artistic expression with her horse between now and the National Championship.

“All the technical aspect is there,” she explained. “Now we want to add to the overall performance and the connection I have with her so that there is something to keep her focused and keep her moving without having the obvious distraction of the test. I want to get that flow and harmony to be able to support her and really show her off to the best of her ability. I feel that she’s quite phenomenal.”

For more information on the Jonathan Wentz Memorial Challenge, contact the USET Foundation, 908-234-1251.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Paraquest's (Gigi & Rio) Final Report From Moorsele!!

Gigi and Rio have returned home, and Missy has told Gigi that she is to stay out of the barn for a few days in order to rest up from their big trip!!  The following is a report from the final phase of their trip.

"The last leg of our European tour found us in the small town of Moorsele , BE at magnificent equestrian show venue, Quadrille.  Mary Jordan, Rebecca Hart and I shared our stabling with three lovely British riders and a very boisterous Italian Paralympic team! As a bonus, our dear friend James Dwyer from the Irish team and his lovely "new" wife, Phillipa Johnson-Dwyer (South Africa) were stabled nearby, adding to the relaxed atmosphere.

The club-like atmosphere at Quadrille, incorporating a restaurant just behind the judges' tables and a lot of activity around the ring was challenging but once again, Rio proved her worth as a no-nonsense competitor, completing her first Team test at the 1a level with a 69.2% for sixth place. A 68% (6th) in the individual test on day 2 highlighted my weak points but found us still competitive.

The freestyle class presented a new set of challenges! As I was newly reclassified as a 1a (due to gradually but markedly increasing spasticity), I had not prepared an appropriate freestyle. The multi-talented Rachel Gross drew on her extensive musical knowledge to cobble together lovely music from the movie 'Spirit'. Missy provided the choreography and we rode through the test once on Saturday evening. 

Rio delivered a very technically correct test (as I struggled to keep up with the music) to finish with a 69.9% in fifth place! Many thanks to Missy and Rachel for their great efforts!

We left Belgium having successfully accomplished the goals set many months ago.  The riders and horses gained experience at very electric venues not found anywhere in the United States.
The exposure to the high level of competition, so daunting in Deauville , became a matter of course in Moorsele.   Rio's scores have improved and become more consistent at every competition this spring. We have been judged several times by the same European five-star judges who have rewarded us with markedly higher scores at each outing.

We are well-prepared for the June 2-5 National Championships and selection trials at the old USET headquarters in Gladstone, NJ. It would be lovely to see you there!

Thank you so much to Missy Ransehousen and Rachel Gross for their inestimable coaching and horsemanship and to Rebecca Hart for her philosophy. And to all of you whose encouragement helped launch this trip of a lifetime, I am eternally grateful!

All results from Quadrille