Wellington, Fla. – March 11, 2019 – Week 9 of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) started on Friday, March 8, with FEI Para Team Tests. This is the second week of AGDF that offers international competition for para-dressage riders. Para riders from Grade I to Grade V rode in FEI Individual Tests on Saturday, and those with an average combined score of 60 percent or higher qualified for the FEI Para Freestyle Tests on Sunday. AGDF continues through March 31 at Equestrian Village at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Roxanne Trunnell (USA) and Dolton started Friday morning with a win in the FEI Para Team Test Grade I – CPEDI 3* with a score of 75.06 percent. Grade I Para Riders have severe impairments affecting all limbs and trunk. The riders usually require the use of a wheelchair, and their balance is severely impaired.
“I thought it went really well,” said Trunnell of her test with the seven-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Danone I owned by Kate Shoemaker. “We’ve been working on getting him stretching more. I thought the stretch was good. We want him more framed up, more in a compact position with his head, not so out in front and loose.”
Trunnell enjoys working with Dolton. She said, “He has a huge walk and a very cute personality. We’re starting to really bond. He’s only seven, and he’s just a baby. He still has those cute baby quirks to him. Every test is a learning experience for him. We’re learning how to make it better every time.”
“I really like the facility,” commented Trunnell on AGDF. “It’s very handy and accessible.”
Alanna Flax-Clark (USA) and El Paso, her 15-year-old Dutch Riding gelding by Elegant, won the FEI Para Team Test Grade II – CPEDI 3* with a score of 66.212 percent.
In the FEI Para Team Test Grade III – CPEDI 3*, Rebecca Hart (USA) and Fortune 500, a nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Rowan O’Riley, won with a score of 68.529 percent.
Kate Shoemaker (USA) and Solitaer 40, her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Sandro Hit, won the FEI Para Team Test Grade IV – CPEDI 3* with a score of 72 percent.
In the FEI Para Team Test Grade V – CPEDI 3*, Lee Garrod (CAN) and Question, her 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Quaterback, rode to a win with a score of 65 percent.
Cynthia Screnci (USA) and Sally L, her 15-year-old Hanoverian mare by Satisfaction, concluded Friday’s competition with a win in the FEI Para Novice Test A Grade V – CPEDI 1*. The pair rode to a score of 61.927 percent.
Competition continued on Saturday, March 9, with FEI Para Individual Champ Tests.
Alanna Flax-Clark (USA) and El Paso, her 15-year-old Dutch Riding gelding by Elegant, won the FEI Para Individual Champ Test Grade II – CPEDI 3* with a score of 65.294 percent. Grade II is for riders who mainly use wheelchairs and have some combination of trunk, arm, or leg impairments. Flax-Clark is from Granada Hills, CA, and now trains in Califon, NJ.
“He felt more consistent in the walk today, and I think more responsive,” said Flax-Clark of El Paso. “We changed a little stuff from yesterday, and I think overall it felt more fluid. We kept my reins a little bit longer, so he wouldn’t fall forward as much and the poll would be a little bit higher. I think it just gave him a little bit more room to move and not fall back.
“It was a bit more scary for me because I didn’t feel as locked in,” continued Flax-Clark. “I can’t adjust my reins during my ride, so it’s always what can I do beforehand so that we both feel comfortable and get the best ride possible.”
El Paso is a big help to Flax-Clark in the show ring. “He’s a super show horse. I don’t really have to worry about anything in the show ring, especially here he feels right at home,” said Flax-Clark. “From January, the first day we took him out at AGDF, it was like he was right at home. He’s really focused, he loves showing, he loves working, and I can focus on what I need to do in the ring.”
Flax-Clark said of AGDF, “This is just my second year here and it’s great to be able to ride in front of the international judges and get their comments and also just to be around all the other para riders and learn from them.”
Lee Garrod (CAN) and Question won the FEI Para Individual Champ Test Grade V – CPEDI 3* with a score of 65.69 percent. Grade V is for riders who have a mild impairment of movement or muscle strength, or a deficiency of one limb or mild deficiency of two limbs. Grade V is also for riders with some visual Impairment.
“I had more horse under me today, for sure,” said Garrod of her 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Quaterback. “He moved with power today. He’s a very honest horse, and his temperament is lovely. He’s exactly what I’m looking for in a Para Horse.”
Looking forward to her freestyle on Sunday, Garrod said, “I want to keep my horse under control, but with elegance and power.”
Saturday also started with another win for Roxanne Trunnell (USA) and Dolton, a seven-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Danone I owned by Kate Shoemaker, this time in the FEI Para Individual Champ Test Grade I – CPEDI 3* with a score of 75.476 percent.
David Botana (USA) and Lord Locksley, an 18-year-old Trakehner stallion by Unkenruf owned by Margaret Stevens, came in second with a score of 72.381 percent. Botana is the first junior rider ever to be on the U.S. Para-Dressage team.
In the FEI Para Individual Champ Test Grade III – CPEDI 3*, Rebecca Hart (USA) and Fortune 500, a 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Rowan O’Riley, won with a score of 68.284 percent.
Kate Shoemaker (USA) and Solitaer 40, her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Sandro Hit, won the FEI Para Individual Champ Test Grade IV – CPEDI 3* with a score of 74.309 percent.
Competition concluded on Sunday, March 10, with a morning full of FEI Para Freestyles from Grade I to Grade V.
Kate Shoemaker (USA) and Solitaer 40 rode to their third win of the week in the FEI Para Freestyle Grade IV – CPEDI 3* with a score of 75.208 percent. The pair have had a strong week, and rode to a personal best score of 74.309 percent in their Individual Test on Saturday.
“I think today our highlight was in our shoulder-in. Maybe not because they were the best part of our test, but because they were the most improved and he was really, really solid in them today: staying on the line, keeping the bend, and staying uphill,” said Shoemaker of her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Sandro Hit. “I was really happy that both days he’s actually been able to score eights in the shoulder-in, which is actually something we’ve been working so hard on this last year.”
Shoemaker’s freestyle test was actually a bit of a challenge at first for her. “That choreography was actually about 18 months in the making. However, when I was first working on it, we couldn’t do it. It was way too challenging for both Soli and I,” commented Shoemaker. “We kept at it and then last summer before our U.S. Team Invitational Event before WEG, we rode this choreography for the first time and it came out really well.”
“Tom Hunt ended up doing our music, and it came out perfect for Soli. I think a lot of it is that I really love the music, so I can really ride to it. It has a lot of feel, which helps me really be able to fit what I’m riding,” concluded Shoemaker.”
In the FEI Para Freestyle Grade III – CPEDI 3*, Rebecca Hart (USA) and Fortune 500 won with a score of 73 percent. “I loved that I was able to get the walk the way that I wanted it with him,” said Hart of the nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Rowan O’Riley. “His trot work is always elastic and fluid, and I just wanted to feel the walk a little more in there and get it a little more consistent and clear.”
“We were able to do that, so that was super. It was a nice feeling. I just wanted to be able to give him the trip that he deserved,” continued Hart. “His best quality is probably how hard he tries. Once he figures out what you want, he’s a very honest horse.”
Fortune 500 has been great at adjusting to learn the cues of his Para rider. “He doesn’t always get things right away, but once he does he’s like, ‘Oh, why didn’t you say so? We’ll carry on.’ Once he figures out what I want for a different cue [para cue vs. able body cue], he goes ‘Yep, got it. That’s how we do it now.’ He’s so honest in that way,” concluded Hart.
Lee Garrod (CAN) and Question, her 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Quaterback, started the morning with a win in the FEI Para Freestyle Grade V – CPEDI 3*. The pair earned a score of 60.333 percent.
In the FEI Para Freestyle Grade II – CPEDI 3*, Alanna Flax-Clark (USA) and El Paso, her 15-year-old Dutch Riding gelding by Elegant, rode to a score of 66.389 percent to win with their “Mamma Mia” freestyle.
Roxanne Trunnell (USA) and Dolton, a 7-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Danone I owned by Karin Flint, concluded the day of competition with a win in the FEI Para Freestyle Grade I – CPEDI 3*. The pair earned a score of 78.556 percent.
Competition at AGDF will resume for Week 10 from March 13-17 and features the “Friday Night Stars” Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO 3* presented by Stillpoint Farm. For more information and to see a full list of results, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.