Lauren Barwick (CAN) and Donna Ponessa (USA) Earn High Point Awards at Houston Dressage Society CPEDI3*
(USPEA by Lindsay McCall) – Katy, TX – The final day of the Houston Dressage Society (HDS) Spring Classic I & II CPEDI3* concluded with the Freestyle Test competition and presentation of the Para-Equestrian accolades. The HDS Spring Classic I & II CPEDI3* was sponsored by The COR Group and ran concurrently with the CDI3* and CDI1* sponsored by the North Texas Equestrian Center. Over three days Para-Dressage athletes from the United States and Canada displayed dynamite FEI Para-Dressage Tests in front of international judges Kathy Amos-Jacob (FRA), David Schmutz (USA), Kristi Wysocki (USA), and Carlos Lopes (POR). Lauren Barwick (CAN) of Reddick, FL obtained the HDS Spring Classic I & II CPEDI3* Champion High Point Award and the Arbor Gate CPEDI3* award for the highest average score across the Team, Individual, and Freestyle Tests. Donna Ponessa (USA) garnered the Reserve Champion High Point Award for her stellar performance over the weekend. For the United States, the HDS CPEDI3* was the last individual qualifier before the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) 2012 London Paralympics Selection Trials in June.
For Canada the HDS CPEDI3* was an additional environment where they could polish their three tests before heading to Canada to prepare for the 2012 London Paralympics. As the High Point Champion of the HDS CPEDI3* Lauren Barwick dominated the Grade II division with her elegant mare, Off To Paris. The duo consistently achieved scores over 71% to earn the High Point Champion award. As of January 31, 2012, Barwick was ranked 5th on the FEI World Para-Equestrian Individual Ranking List. Her accomplishments as a Gold and Silver Medalist and Four-Star Parelli Professional have given her the confidence and determination to continue to work hard as a Para-Dressage athlete.
Donna Ponessa (New Windsor, NY) solidified her partnership with Dr. MicheleMiles’ horse Silvano over three days. Silvano is an ideal match for Grade Ia rider, Ponessa, due to his expressive walk and elasticity of his steps. Ponessa secured the Reserve Champion High Point award with her top scores in the Team and Individual Tests.
For Jonathan Wentz (Grade Ib), Silvano was also an asset over the weekend to achieving superior scores. Wentz and Silvano continued to earn leading scores over Wentz’s other horse NTEC Jabriel, owned by Rachel Zent. Wentz noted, “The entire weekend was great. For the Freestyle competition on Silvano I used Richter’s music. I improvised a little bit since Silvano and Richter’s pace are so different. I also made sure not to incorporate any high level movements and play it safe with Silvano. I did do a lot of extensions, but in a 20 X 40 ring performing an extension on a horse with a large stride like Silvano is difficult. Even the 10-meter circle was more challenging since Silvano is about the diameter of a 10-meter circle. As for Gabe (NTEC Jabriel), we worked on using different techniques. We decided to switch to a snaffle to work on control. I was happy with Jabriel but I know we still have some items to work on. During our Individual Test on Saturday Gabe had all 7′s and 8′s on the first half of the test. I know he is capable of top scores and I know that I also have Richter to earn great scores. Richter is the steadiest rock in the world; I love Richter and I know him. As soon as I sit in that saddle I know I don’t have to worry about the horse I just have to focus on myself. With Richter I can control every foot fall and that assurance, especially this close to the Paralympics, is a great plan. Of course I would have loved to bring Richter but we needed to look at what we have in the pipeline and see what changes need to be made before Selection Trials. I am looking forward to the Trials, we have been working Richter constantly and I don’t know if even the judges are going to recognize the new Richter. Finally, I am excited for the United States Team, we really have a chance to earn a medal this year.”
Wentz is currently ranked 10th on the FEI World Rankings and continues to climb the charts. For the next month, Wentz will be working with NTEC Richter Scale, NTEC Jabriel, Silvano and his coach Kai Handt as they prepare for the 2012 Paralympics Selection Trials.
With her recent Selection Trials qualification on Andrea Hart’s Nicolai, Olympian Courtney King-Dye will also be making the trip to Gladstone. The duo achieved their highest score of the weekend in Sunday’s Freestyle with a 69.415%. Courtney expressed, “I was thrilled this weekend; Each day I rode him progressed from the day before and I continued to get to know Nicolai better.”
She continued, “The Freestyle I rode on Nicolai is designed for my new horse at home because it contains a lot of lateral work and zig-zag patterns. I had a lot of fun riding my freestyle on Nicolai. After the first day I figured out that my reins were too short which inhibited his movement. I noticed that adding the longer rein, although it may look a little sloppy, gives Nicolai a better top line, a better frame, and it makes him relax. I am now looking forward to taking what I learned in Houston and applying it to my work with my new horse, Buddy.”
After Houston Courtney will head back East where she will begin working with Buddy in preparation for Selection Trials. Courtney noted, “This whole journey has been amazing. I know it is unrealistic to have only one goal in mind to go to the Olympics because only four riders can go. With ever competition the stars have to align, the horse has to wake up on the right side of the stall, and I just have to do the best I can do and hope that is good enough to earn a spot.”
Courtney continues to express how thankful she has been to everyone including Andrea Hart, Koryn Staehling, Rebekah Wesatzke of Hearthstone Stables, Lendon Grey, Kathy Jones, and the multiple people that have continued to support Courtney thoughout her journey.
Andrea Hart responded, “There were so many people involved who pulled together in the community of Houston to make this dream happen for both Courtney and Sydney, especially Rebekah who wanted these girls to have this opportunity. I really enjoyed watching the girls ride this weekend, I am impressed by their athleticism, and I was happy to be a part of it.”
In Grade III Wendy Fryke (Parker, CO) and her Stallion Lateran maintained harmony between horse and rider as they navigated their carefully choreographed musical freestyle earning them a score of 69.915%. In Grade IV Jennifer Baker (Loveland, OH) once again piloted Rondo Del Rey, owned by Kathy Jones, to achieve an excellent score for their musical interpretation and wonderful half-passes. Both Fryke and Baker are looking forward to their next goal to compete at the USEF Paralympics Selection Trials and 2012 Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship.
As a high performance athlete the financial burden to compete and travel can be extensive. With support from sponsors like Leslie Rohrer of The COR Group, Para-Equestrians are able to earn their scores to qualify for the Paralympics or World Equestrian Games. Hope Hand of the United States Para-Equestrian Association expressed, “I am very thankful to Leslie Roher and The COR Group for Sponsoring the CPEDI3*. I am also grateful to the sponsors of each individual class. The rewards were beautiful that were presented to the riders including two fabulous coolers, a large basket of gifts, and monetary awards. Supporters continue to help grow the Para-Equestrian discipline and create awareness about the high performance discipline Para-Equestrian Dressage. I would also like to thank the volunteers at the horse show, the entire management including Kathy Jones, and the multiple sponsors who made the Houston Dressage Society CPEDI3* a wonderful venue for Para-Equestrian competitions. We look forward to working with the Houston Dressage Society in the future.”
The United States Para-Equestrian Association and riders would like to thank the sponsors of the Houston Dressage Society CPEDI3*:
North Texas Equestrian Center, The COR Group, Arbor Gate Farm, The Reserve at, Lake Travis Equestrian Center, Cavalor, Charles Saltzer, Windy Knoll Farm, Jody, Wilson Dressage, Back on Track, Yelow Rose Dressage, Cynthia Ruiz, Bruce Buskirk, Steinhausers, Equestrian Portraits, The Bridal Suite, Campbell Family, Roseate Dressage
The United States Para-Equestrians Association and riders would like to thank the following horse owners for their contributions to the Para-Equestrians at the Houston Dressage Society CPEDI3*:
Andrea Hart for Nicolai ; Kathleen Jones for Rondo Del Rey; Dr. Michele Miles for Silvano; Rachel Zent for NTEC Jabriel; Raul Armendariz for Isleno Arm and Farol;
Kai Handt for NTEC Manchada; Nancy Hinz for Madoc Dylan; and Patrick Truxillo for VPRH Pegasus vom Niehaus – HOF
Scheduled for June 10-13, 2012 are the USEF London Paralympics Selection Trials and USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships. Since the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games the number of United States Para-Equestrian riders has grown exponentially. At Gladstone, NJ in June the competition is expected to be tough and exciting.
Photo Courtesy of USPEA by Lindsay McCall – Lauren Barwick (CAN) and Off To Paris Champion High Point Rider at HDS CPEDI3*
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