Monday, January 25, 2016

Team USA Para-Equestrians Triumph at Week II in Wellington!

Once again Missy and Gigi had a successful weekend at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CPEDI 3* in Wellington, Florida!  This weekend proved a bit more challenging with the international set of judges, but in the end Gigi and Rio Rio pulled off a brilliant freestyle to conclude their 2 weeks of qualifying Paralympic competition in Wellington.  In addition they were members of the Champion US Team for the second week of competition!

Congratulations to Team Rio Rio on one more positive step towards the 2016 Selections Trials!

Team BHF! - Photo Credit Lindsay McCall
Weekend Report From Gigi:

"The wild weather was once again a theme for the second qualifying competition for the US team for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The forecast for Friday, January 22 involved severe thunderstorms and torrential rain all day.  The show management wisely moved the competition from the beautiful Stadium to the covered arena but not before the first riders warmed up through the promised deluge!  Saturday was clear and bright but the chill in the air was exacerbated by fierce winds that intensified throughout the day leaving the higher grade riders dodging flopping foliage and flying flowerpots. Sunday was clear, calm and remarkably chilly but we were all very appreciative of those back home in Pennsylvania snow wrestling in the frozen North!

"Weather and the various venues provided no issues for Rio Rio but the Budweiser Clydesdales (at AGDF to practice for a performance) being led four-abreast, struck her with terror!

"Rio placed second in the Team test (69.2%) with very much tougher judging than we encountered at the last CPEDI3*. Heavily penalized for our wobbles on the center line, Marc Urban (Belgium) gave us only 65%. Fortunately, the German judge,  Holger Holtschmit, came up with 73%! More adventures on the center line left us in second place again in Saturday's Individual test (68.4%).

"Finally, Sunday's Freestyle was great! Rio was forward, active and quite steady to win with 72.9%! The judges often comment on the music from The King and I, choreographed by Marlene Whittaker.

"I am very excited to have been a member (along with Rebecca Hart, Angela Peavy and Roxanne Trunnell) of the winning United States CPEDI3* team this weekend! This result qualifies the US team for the 2016 Paralympic Games. While the final team members for Rio de Janeiro will not be chosen until the selection trials in June, Missy's tireless efforts this weekend, in all sorts of inclement weather, have Rio Rio and me in close contention for that honor! (The final determination will be based 50% on the scores from the International CPEDI3*s and 50% on the June selection trial results.)

"Thanks so much to Missy and Jessica and my wonderful Blue Hill Farm supporters, great friends and family! Many thanks to Mimi Lufkin for pitching in to help us at both competitions!

"Also, many thanks to Becky Reno and Mission Control, Rowan O'Riley and Mane Event, Adequan, Nutrena, USPEA President, Hope Hand, USEF Discipline Director Laureen Johnson, AGDF Show management and volunteers and the FEI Stewards, Chris Porterfield, Sally Davenport, Denise Pool and Patty Sweeney!"

The show of teamwork over the past year in support of Gigi and Rio Rio has been inspirational and everyone from Blue Hill Farm in Pennsylvania is just thrilled with these results.  Congratulations to Missy, Gigi and all her supporters on an impressive kick off to the road to Rio!

While those of us up north continue to dig out from the mega-storm, why not light a fire and spend the evening reading some of the press coverage of the event.  Be safe, stay warm, and thank you again for your interest and support of our Blue Hill Para-Equestrians!


AGDF Week II - Photo Credit Susan J. Stickle
An excerpt from the Adequan Global Dressage Festival Press Release:
Full AGDF Press Release

"The week was full of unpredictable weather, which ultimately proved to benefit the team, according to a number of the riders and Handt, as it provided an opportunity for the combinations to experience adversity in the ring, a quality each team ride will need to be comfortable with before looking towards the Paralympic Games.

"The wild weather this weekend was definitely to Rio's advantage," noted McIntosh, who's mare Rio Rio can be a bit too settled in the ring. "She's just so relaxed that sometimes she needs that atmosphere going on to take it to the next level for a really good test. I felt like today was a culmination of all of that. She felt great in the ring and she was awake, paying attention. Thanks to Missy and Jessica Ransehousen for all of their hard work with her."

Team USA - Photo Credit Lindsay McCall
An excerpt from the USPEA Press Release:
Full USPEA Press Release

"Chef d'Equipe Kai Handt was proud of the USA riders over these last two weeks. Handt noted, "It was a very challenging weekend this week. The weather was not in our favor. The first day we had to change arenas, some of the horses got soaking wet and had to move from one arena to another and warmup twice. Luckily the facility has an indoor and we were lucky enough to use it and move the venue over there. All the horses performed very well under trying conditions. Today we had lots of wind, helicopter, sirens, and tents blowing. We can really see that our top riders and top horses are ready for the challenge. Even under all these trying circumstances they performed up to their best, got their scores up, and performed consistently. Together the US team worked to qualify for the Paralympics. Our athletes are showing a steady improvement  from the last competitions to here and they are coming together as a team. We have trainers and riders that are up to the challenge and all of our current team horses are in very good position. We even have a couple other people that have stepped up this weekend. It looks like we have 6 or 7 riders that will be trying out at the selection trials for the team. It should be an exciting trial for the Paralympics."

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