10.01.12

The Passing of Jonathan Wentz 1990-2012

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Para-Dressage at 8:18 pm by Thomas

I am always confounded when an individual passes in the horse world that I did not know personally but at least knew of through their successes. I first want to send my thoughts and prayers to his family, I wish I had had the chance to know your son personally but I have no doubt the horse world was a better place because of his participation. I think I can safely say that Jonathan Wentz was a horse person first, Equestrian second and a person with a disability some where further down a list with many other things coming before it. I think it is also fair to say that Jonathan was able to accomplish a number of his dreams, namely competing in the 2010 World Equestrian Games and the 2012 London Summer Para-Olympics all by the age of 21.  So Thank You Jonathan for just being yourself and proving that any so called disability does not define who we are as human beings.

For a more in depth article on Jonathan check out the photos and article by Lindsay Yosay McCall on the United States Para-Equestrian Associations website.

Thomas Demond

10.10.10

Great Britain and Germany Share the Gold Medals in Para Dressage Freestyle At 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Para-Dressage, Results, World Equestrian Games at 9:20 pm by Press Release

Lexington, KY — Riders from Great Britain and Germany dominated the freestyle in all five grades of the Para Dressage World Championships at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.  Today’s competition decided the grade IV champion, and it was Great Britain’s Sophie Wells on Pinocchio (78.50%).

Gold-medal winners over the last few days include Germany’s Hannelore Brenner on Women Of The World (79.20%) in grade III, Germany’s Dr. Angelika Trabert on Ariva-Avanti (75.90%) in grade II, Great Britain’s Lee Pearson on Gentleman (82.50%) in grade Ib, and Great Britain’s Emma Sheardown on Purdy’s Dream (78.55%) in grade Ia.

“He was a little bit more energetic than normal, so I decided not to go in with a whip, and that was very abnormal, so I was taking a risk from the beginning, really,” said Wells.  “When I picked up the walk he came against me and he stopped and then I thought ‘Oh my gosh I need to find somewhere else in my plan where I can put in another simple change’.  So all the time when I was going through my next movements I was trying to think where I could put it in.”
Pearson created his top-scoring freestyle just for this competition.

“For me the trot work is a lot easier than the walk work, so I try to incorporate some lateral work and some extensions,” he said.  “I try to have my contingency plan if my horse is not going quite how I’d like him to go in the arena.  Then I send a video of that to my music man, and I tell him what country I am going to and he makes me some music that’s pertinent for that country.  So for these Games it was really quick, slap-your-thigh, cowboy-type music.”
Sheardown said her warm-up prepared her and her horse well for their performance.

“I am pleased with my horse,” she said.  “He had a good walk, and I managed to keep him relaxed.  The rest felt really nice.”

Great Britain completed a trifecta in Grade Ia, sweeping all the medals.  Sophie Christiansen on Rivaldo Of Berkeley (77.85%) earned the silver medal, and Anne Dunham on Teddy (74.80%) took the bronze.

“It’s able-bodied trainers who train us as if we’re able-bodied people,” said Dunham.  “They put the responsibility on us to ride the horse and get the best out of it.  Trainers are as important as anything else.  We’re lucky in Britain to have some marvelous trainers.”

In grade Ib the silver medalist was Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup on Labbenhus Snoevs (77.00%), while the bronze went to Finland’s Katja Karjalainen on Rosie (72.85%).

Kaastrup rode one of the few non-warmbloods in the Para Dressage Championships. Labbenhus Snoevs is a New Forest Pony.

“Since I started, it probably took around a year to make him the way he is today,” she said.  “It’s not easy.  I have a problem with the half-passes.  It’s not easy to figure that out without any legs, but I did, and he’s just the best.”

The grade II silver medalist was The Netherlands’ Gert Bolmer and Triumph (75.85%), and bronze went to Great Britain’s Jo Pitt and Estralita (74.95%).
“My test was really great,” said Bolmer.  “The competition was really good in grade II.  I feel like we had different medal winners in the freestyle than in the individual, so the competition was really good and really hard.  It was a long competition but a great competition.”

The grade III competition concluded on Friday and saw Denmark’s Annika Lykke Dalskov on Preussen Wind (75.40) earn silver and Australia’s Sharon Jarvis and Applewood Odorado (74.70%) take the bronze.

Today’s grade IV freestyle concluded the Para Dressage World Championships and saw Belgium’s Michele George on FBW Rainman (78.05%) earn the silver medal, while bronze went to Frank Hosmar and Tiesto (77.25%).

This afternoon’s press conference welcomed the 15 medalists—the first para dressage WEG medalists.  When asked to choose one word to describe their discipline, these athletes in para dressage’s inaugural WEG championships chose words like “inspirational,” “partnership,” “amazing,” “opportunity,” “outstanding,” “harmony,” and “recognition.”

Pearson commented on how the United States and other countries have come a long way in this discipline and offered some insight in to how to keep that momentum going.

“I’ll give you an example,” he said.  “I went down to the reining demonstration and asked if I could have a go at it, and they looked at me in my wheelchair and said, ‘No, but we’d love to get some para-equestrians to do some reining.  How do we go about doing that?’ And I said, ‘You have to let them on the horse first.  That’s a good start.’

“That’s my not-so-sensible answer, and my sensible answer is in England we have an amazing riding for the disabled organization, which is obviously therapy.  Not all of the riders come from that, but quite a huge percentage come from riding for the disabled first.  We also have a great support structure called World Class Performance, which is lottery funding to allow elite disabled and able-bodied athletes in England to apply to go on to a squad and receive funding.  Then we have a great competition structure, because you’ve got to be able to compete and come here and feel confident.  It’s just about giving people the opportunity.”

10.08.10

Great Britain Is Golden In Para Dressage World Championships At Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Para-Dressage, Results, World Equestrian Games at 7:16 am by Press Release

Lexington, KY—Great Britain continued its historical domination of the Para Dressage World Championships by taking the team gold, and sweeping all three individual medals in the Grade Ia division, as well as the individual gold and silver in grade Ib. These medals follow yesterday’s gold-medal performance by Sophie Wells, bringing to seven the total British medal count in para dressage at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Leading the British charge was Sophie Christiansen, 22, who took individual gold in the grade Ia test with a score of 76.100 percent and provided a crucial score for her team. Christiansen was overcome when her score was announced.

“My trainer decided I should ride for longer today. I normally ride for 15 minutes, and today I rode for 30 minutes,” she said. “I’m so happy with him because he just took care of me. That score is the highest I’ve ever gotten in the individual test. The feeling afterward is so wonderful. I was so nervous this morning!”

Joining Christiansen on the all-Britain individual medal podium were Anne Dunham with silver (73.200%) and Emma Sheardown (71.900%) with bronze.

“I was pleased,” said Dunham, 61, after her ride. ”It went very well. This one was better than the other day. He was freer and more forward. I try not to let the pressure affect me. I simply try to do the best I can, just do my best and let people catch up afterwards.”

Sheardown, 25, was equally pleased with her performance. “I was really happy with it. I am even happy with the score,” she said. “This is my first championship, and it feels absolutely amazing, and I so like all the disciplines being here.”

Also mining British gold was grade Ib rider Lee Pearson, 36, who performed a nearly flawless ride on the handsome bay Gentleman to score 76.435 percent. British rider Ricky Balshaw, 23, joined him on the podium to accept the silver medal (72.870).

Pearson, a 12-year team veteran, found himself surprisingly anxious. “I was really nervous today. I had to tell myself to take a breath before I entered—for the first time. It was because of my expectations of myself and because I warmed up 10 minutes short. He felt ready, but my mind wasn’t.”

He added, “Every gold medal is special, but this one is different because it’s our first time at the WEG. So we will go down in history, even though we weren’t as comfortable as we like to be with the other teams breathing down our backs.”

Balshaw survived a spooky moment with the flashy chestnut Academy Award to ride a strong, clean test. “I don’t know quite what was with the spook.  He was coughing,” he said immediately after his ride. “I was quite pleased with the test.  The pirouettes were good. I may have backed off a little bit in the extensions because of what happened.”

Dunham, Pearson, Christiansen and grade II rider Jo Pitt, 31, contributed scores to the winning British team performance (395.456). Team silver went to Germany (390.277), and team bronze went to Denmark (418.389), which edged the Netherlands (417.480) late in the day.

Danish rider Stinna Tange Kaastrup’s score of 70.174 percent clinched team bronze for Denmark and also garnered her individual bronze in grade Ib.

“I felt awesome out there,” said Kaastrup, 16. “My horse was a little turned on. He was very proud of himself to be out there, and I was very proud of him.”

10.06.10

Wells and Brenner Gather Gold in Para Dressage World Championships

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Para-Dressage, Results, World Equestrian Games at 7:45 pm by Press Release

Lexington, KY—British riders have traditionally dominated the medals at the Para Dressage World Championships, and Sophie Wells lived up to that history by taking individual gold in the grade IV individual test, aboard the flashy chestnut Dutch Warmblood, Pinocchio. Her score of 71.677 percent gave her the definitive lead over the Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar, and Denmark’s Henrik Weber Sibbesen at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

“I was quite pleased with my test,” said Wells, 20. “ My horse was a little difficult to warm up, but I thought that the trot work was actually quite good. He came against me a little bit when I picked up the canter after the walk, but then he came back to me again, which was good.  When we were in here on Monday, he was quite distracted by the open corners, but today he was much better.”

Hosmar, 42, was equally thrilled with his score of 70.129 percent aboard his bay Dutch Warmblood Tiesto.

“Today my horse felt really good.  Yesterday he was a little bit tense because he was reacting to the sound of the sand hitting the plastic fence, and it was distracting him because the arena is so quiet.  So today we asked if they could turn up the music so that we couldn’t hear that noise,” said Hosmar.  “Also today the test was a more difficult test, which is better for him because otherwise he gets bored easily and starts looking around.  Today he was so relaxed, and I could feel him waiting for me, and so it was a really good feeling.”

Sibbesen and his handsome black Hanoverian Rexton Royal secured the bronze with their score of 69.419 percent.

In the grade III individual test, the final standings mirrored those of the grade III team test, with Germany’s Hannelore Brenner and her chestnut Hanoverian mare Women Of The World taking gold (72.400%), over Denmark’s Annika Lyke Dalskov on Preussen Wind (71.067%) and Australia’s Sharon Jarvis on Applewood Odorado (68.867%).

Brenner, 48, the reigning Paralympic champion in this test, was pleased with her performance. She believes her long-standing relationship with Women Of The World is the key to their success. “We are like a old couple,” she said. “She knows what I think and I hope I know what she thinks.  She was so free and very happy.”

Brenner has also enjoyed her World Equestrian Games experience. “It is amazing for me to compete here,” she said.  “Since 1999 the Para Sport has really taken a step forward. It’s great, really great. It’s the first time for us to be with the other German riders. We are like one big German family now. Before we arrived, [the German dressage riders] were already here, and we met each other. But we are not one yet. This is the first time we are together with them, and I hope there will be more.”

Dalskov’s Trakehner stallion Preussen Wind is by Gribaldi, the same sire as dressage superstar Moorland’s Totilas, and he shares Totilas’ charisma and floating gaits. Jarvis was the high score for her Australian team yesterday, and she continues to lead the way for the Aussies aboard her bay Dutch Warmblood.

Individual competition resumes tomorrow with individual tests for grades Ia, Ib, and II.

Britain Leads Medal Hunt Halfway Through Para Dressage World Championships

Posted in Para-Dressage at 4:14 pm by Press Release

Lexington, KY— Great Britain, the team expected to win the gold medal at the Para Dressage World Championships, has taken the lead halfway through the team competition. Germany stands second, with the Netherlands third and Denmark fourth.

The 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games mark the first time that para dressage has been part of the World Games.

“[The British team hasn’t] lost a gold medal at a major championship since the sport started, so there is a lot pressure,” said Sophie Christiansen of the British team, whose score of 69.41 percent in grade Ia team test on Rivaldo Of Berkeley aided the British effort. “I went to [the 2004 Athens Paralympics] at 16, so I know how to deal with the pressure. We have so much support, and that gives us Brits the upper hand.”

Christiansen, 22, added, “I didn’t know how he’d react to a big atmosphere. I’m very pleased with our score since we had a couple of blips. I’m happy, and I know I can improve.”

Lee Pearson, aboard Gentleman, led the British effort by scoring 73.81 percent in the grade Ib team test. “I was aware we needed a good test, but my main focus was to remember this test. It’s a bit of an itsy-bitsy test, and I’d not done it much,” said Pearson, 36. “I had a safe test. It was a little bit underpowered, but it’s what we needed for a team test. He’d never heard so many cameras clicking going down the centerline, but he was good today.”

Anne Dunham, riding Teddy, scored 71.76 in the grade Ia team test to add the third British score.

The German and Dutch riders, who are close behind, haven’t given up yet. Julianne Theuring, the final German rider to ride today on her flashy PRE stallion Empaque IV, in the grade IV team test, said she didn’t know what score she needed to pull ahead of Britain before she rode her test.

“This is my first test [in a World Championship], and I think it was good. I am satisfied with the test,” said Thuering, 24. “He is a stallion, so it is difficult with the mares. That is why he screamed during the test.”

The Dutch hope to close the gap in tomorrow (Wednesday’s) second test.

“I hoped to have a better test today, but it was good for the first day,” said Frank Hosmar, 42, of the Netherlands. “We have tried to beat the British team. Maybe it is still possible.”

Teammate Gert Bolmer said that he’s enjoyed the World Games, no matter the medal. “It feels a bit like the Paralympics, but with different sports. We have shared the same hotel and buses with the Dutch dressage team, and they have been very supportive of us,’ said Bolmer, 27.