Sharing an article written by resident Blue Hill Farm team member Lisa Thomas, written for Wellington Equestrian Realty. Article below.
Para-Dressage Championships Conclude In Texas; Next Stop Adequan® Global Dressage Festival In Wellington
Last week in Katy, Texas the USEF High Performance Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships wrapped up with yet another year of solid performances by all of the para-equestrians who attended. The USPEA (United States Para-Equestrian Association) is a recognized affiliate of the USEF (United States Equestrian Federation), providing opportunities for training, clinics and competitions on an international stage for riders with disabilities. The USPEA seeks to offer those riders who became exposed to horses through therapeutic riding programs the opportunity to take their equestrian pursuits to the competitive level.
Para-Dressage divisions are classified by Grades according to disability, and the USPEA has seen growth in the para-equestrian sport with the number of riders tripling over the past several years. Since recognized USDF para competitions are not as readily available as able-bodied events, most USDF able bodied competitions offer para-equestrians the opportunity to ride and compete, earning points towards national championships.
The High Performance and National Championships just recently concluded in Katy, Texas and all of USA’s High Performance para-equestrian’s were in attendance. Across all the grade divisions a total of 15 riders were in attendance, competing on 19 horses. Rebecca Hart garnered her 7th High Performance National Championship title aboard Schroeter’s Romani.
Below is an excerpt from the recent USPEA’s Championship press release:“Katy, Texas – November 3, 2015 – Accomplished Grade II athlete Rebecca Hart once again took home the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage High Performance National Championship aboard Shroeter’s Romani. Hart maintained the lead over a large field of competitors at the 2015 Championship earning the Leading Athlete award. She also topped the ranks of Grade II in the Katy, Texas CPEDI3* event. Hart is a two-time Paralympian (2008, 2012) and two-time World Equestrian Games athlete (2010, 2014). Annie Peavy earned the 2015 USEF Para-Equestrian High Performance Dressage Reserve Championship with Ozzy Cooper, owned by Rebecca Reno.
“In addition to winning the High Performance Championship and earning the Leading Athlete Award, Rebecca Hart and Romani topped the Grade II CPEDI3*. The pair has been campaigning around the world perfecting their tests and earning valuable feedback from judges across Europe.”In our previous article we featured para-equestrian Margaret McIntosh who traveled from her home base at Blue Hill Farm in Unionville, Pennsylvania to compete at the championships in Katy, Texas. Coached by Missy Ransehousen, an upper level event rider, prior Pan American team member and 3 time paralympic coach, McIntosh had high expectations from her own Rio Rio for the National Championships in the Grade 1a. This pair had success by winning their CPEDI3* Individual Test, but the travel to Texas and great shift in climate from the hurricane in Mexico had it’s impact on her final test. Rio Rio, although exceptionally well trained and prepared for this event, had a typical horse moment, demonstrating that even para horses are prone to an occasional buck with weather changes. With only 2 riders in her Grade 1a division, this sort of error immediately cost McIntosh a second win.
Bolstering The High Performance Numbers For The USPEAMcIntosh’s division wasn’t the only one with a low number of entries. With several of the high performance divisions only having a few entries, one questions why participation is low at high performance level in the Para-Equestrian championships. A call to the president of the USPEA, Hope Hand, revealed several reasons why the championships waned in numbers.
“One of the biggest challenges to increasing the number of riders at competitions is, of course, the cost associated with sourcing appropriate mounts and funding the travel to compete at national horse shows. Surprisingly, there actually isn’t a shortage of horses. We have great horses, but we need to be able to raise funds to educate, provide training and develop our newer para-riders so they can come up through the ranks and compete in the high performance divisions.”
Hope Hand also commented that fund raising to provide training camps and educational programs is one of the biggest challenges when seeking to bolster the number of participants. “Our developing riders are young and the learning curve to prepare these riders for this level of competition is great. We need to raise money for training camps to funnel more riders into the High Performance pipeline. The 15 riders who competed in Texas represented our entire list of High Performance Para-Equestrians. Everyone at that talent level was present.”
In speaking with Missy Ransehousen, she agrees that the challenges lie with providing proper training for the developing riders. Rebecca Hart who trained with Blue Hill Farm for years until moving to Wellington, is a prime example of the hard work required to make it to the top of the sport. “Becca has trained and dedicated herself to being a competitive para-equestrian for the past decade. She dominates the sport because she has trained hard and has made personal sacrifices to get to where she is within the sport.”
Hart has relocated to Wellington, Florida and is currently training with Todd Flettrich, who was also trained and mentored earlier in his career by Jessica Ransehousen, Missy’s mother and 3 time Olympian. Hart flourished through her previous coaching experience with the Ransehousens, and by relocating to Wellington to train full time with Flettrich, has every tool for success. Through the generous backing of Margaret Duprey and Cherry Knoll Farm, William and Sandy Kimmel, Barbara Summer and Hart’s other supporters, she will continue to be competitive on the international stage.
Adequan Global Dressage Festival Announces Expanded CPEDI Para-Equestrian Tour!Just in time for the 2016 season, Jennifer Wood Media circulated this encouraging press release regarding a generous donation for the upcoming season in Wellington.
“The Adequan® Global Dressage Festival is very excited to host an expanded tour for the para-equestrian riders in 2016,” stated Thomas Baur, Director of Sport for AGDF. “Wellington is home to some of the best equestrian competition in the world, and we hope to continue to grow the sport and welcome more great competitors each year. This year is especially important as riders prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We look forward to hosting the world’s top horses and riders as they build up to those important championships.
“Mission Control, an advertising company owned by Ed Peavy and Rebecca Reno, is one of the four presenting sponsors of CPEDI competition at this year’s AGDF. In 2015, Mission Control presented two small tour CDI shows, and for 2016, Rebecca Reno has been a driving force in expanding the CPEDIs. The couple began sponsoring the sport in support of their daughter, Annie, who is a Grade III Para-Dressage rider.“Annie Peavy was recently named reserve champion in the CPEDI 3* High Performance division at the 2015 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships. She and champion Rebecca Hart, along with many other top Para-Dressage competitors, look forward to competing in Wellington this winter as they prepare for the 2016 Paralympic Games. Peavy trains with Heather Blitz, who is a well-known competitor on the AGDF circuit each season.”
Join Us In Raising Awareness of the USPEA and Their Para-EquestriansIt’s now time to see what we can do to help other riders dedicate the time and raise their level of training so we can develop other talented para-equestrians to compete at this level!
The international para-dressage athletes will be competing at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida, January 7-10 and 21-24, 2016 and their riders need our help. If you will be in Wellington this January, please come out to show your support and to watch these competitors in action. The USPEA together with the USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) will be hosting fundraising events in the Wellington area and we will certainly post that information once the details have been finalized.
In the interim, please learn more about the USPEA (United States Para Equestrian Association) through their website, consider making a donation to this developing discipline and come out to support them in Wellington this upcoming January!