Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 21, 2019 – The second week of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) featured CPEDI3* Para Dressage, presented by Adequan®, Mission Control, Nutrena, and Fair Sky Farm. The competition began Friday, Jan. 18, and continued throughout the weekend with the CPEDI3* Freestyle classes from Grade I to Grade IV concluding the show.
Roxanne Trunnell (USA) started her week with a win in the FEI Para Team Test Grade I with a score of 73.690 percent. Trunnell rode Dolton, a 7-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Danone I and owned by Kate Shoemaker, that she previously rode to the Grade I Freestyle bronze medal at the World Equestrian Games™ (WEG). Grade I is for riders with the most severe impairments.
Trunnell is from Kennewick, WA, and moved to Florida to train with Andrea Woodard. About her relationship with Dolton, Trunnell said, “It’s getting stronger. What I really love about him is how friendly he is. He is a young horse, but on the ground he acts really cute. I love how calm he is under saddle. I’m used to riding spooky horses and he never spooks with me.”
Trunnell and Dolton continued her domination later in the weekend by winning the FEI Para Individual Champ Test Grade I with a score of 73.155 percent.
“We’ve really been working on getting the stretch in the stretch circle,” said Trunnell of her test goals. “I want to get him up in the bridle a bit more and I’m hoping to do Tokyo [Olympics] with him. That would be exciting.”
Fellow USA rider Rebecca Hart won the FEI Para Team Test Grade III with a score of 72.794 percent. Hart rode El Corona Texel, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding by Wynton and owned by Rowan O’Riley, that she rode to the Grade III Freestyle silver medal and the Grade III Individual bronze medal at the WEG. On Saturday, the pair won the FEI Para Individual Champ Test Grade III with a score of 69.088 percent.
In the FEI Para Team Test Grade II, Alanna Flax Clark (USA) won with a score of 64.899 percent. Clark rode her horse El Paso, a 15-year-old Dutch Riding gelding by Elegant It was a second blue ribbon for Flax-Clark and El Paso in the FEI Para Individual Test Grade II with a score of 65.735 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, with Sarah Schmitt.
To end the day, Kate Shoemaker (USA) won the FEI Para Team Test Grade IV with a score of 74.208 percent. Shoemaker rode her horse Solitaer 40, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Sandro Hit, that she rode to the bronze medal in the Grade IV Freestyle at the WEG. Later in the weekend, Shoemaker and Solitaer won the FEI Para Individual Champ Test Grade IV with a personal best score of 73.252 percent.
“He’s super sweet and when we go in the show ring he’s really, really focused,” said Flax-Clark on her partner of one year, El Paso. “He’s actually a hot horse, and it helps me conserve my energy when I’m out there. He’s just really loving and focused in the show ring, which is really nice for me and it helps me stay focused in the show ring and not have to worry about anything around me. It’s like we’re in our own little bubble and can really focus on our test.”
“We’re going to continue to work on having more energy and more self-carriage and also work on trying to figure out a better way to transfer in the warm up the way my reins are set up so they carry through,” continued Flax-Clark, “So that I’m able to get him a little bit more uphill in the show ring too.”
Flax-Clark said of AGDF, “I like the environment, and it’s great to be able to ride in front of the international judges and see really where you stand. I’d love to go to Tokyo [Olympics]. He’s a brand new horse for me. He’s really training well, and he’s come a long way since I got him. I think he can go pretty far.”
On the final day of CPEDI3* competition, Hart rode away with a win aboard El Corona Texel in the FEI Para Freestyle Grade III with a 75.278 percent. Grade III is for riders who have severe impairments in both lower limbs with minimal or no impairment of the trunk or moderate impairments of the upper and lower limbs and trunk. Some riders in Grade III may use a wheelchair.
Hart is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, and moved to Wellington, FL. “I have loved this horse from the moment I saw his video on YouTube. I love his personality and his intelligence,” said Hart about El Corona Texel. “He’s quite a fiery horse, but he’s an incredibly kind horse. I love how we can have a true conversation when we’re riding, and it just makes it a very unique, special partnership.”
“Marlene Whittaker put the freestyle together for me, and we worked really hard on that one,” continued Hart of her freestyle music and choreography. “It’s actually the one that we rode at [the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games], so it’s a special freestyle for us. We all played [the music] for him so he could have a little bit of input. He would just be like, ‘Oh yeah’ and he’d start to get a little more exuberant, and we were like, ‘Okay, Tex likes this one!’”
Hart has been coming to AGDF for seven years and said, “I love having such a great facility for the 12 weeks. They have shows on the weekend, and we can just come and do a test and then go home. Having that availability, and in addition having the big three-stars and the four-star and the freestyles under the lights, that variety of atmosphere so that you can do a smaller national show or you can do a big three-star all within your backyard, is fantastic.”
Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 won the FEI Para Freestyle Grade IV with a score of 75.458 percent. Shoemaker travels back and forth between her home in Phoenix, AZ, where she is an equine veterinarian, and Wellington to train.
“He’s my heart horse, so just every day having the opportunity to ride him and to have that partnership is special,” Shoemaker said. “He’s a horse that when I got him I was told that I was never going to be able to ride him and that he would never be successful in Para. So to come this far with him – we’re now starting our fifth season together – I feel like it’s all about the partnership. He gives me so much that it’s just unbelievable.”
“His elasticity is definitely his strength, and it was something that the judges noted this weekend that they really appreciated in him. Now we’re really starting to bring together a little bit more power and more balance in the arena, which is what’s been the big change,” added Shoemaker. “As much improvement as he’s had, he still gives me those moments where there’s the next step up that we’re working on. It’s really an exciting journey that we are on right now.”
Shoemaker said of her choreography, “Last summer I got together with Tom Hunt, and asked him if he would be willing to do a freestyle for me. I was ecstatic when he said yes. He actually custom composed the music to fit to ‘Solly’ and the choreography that we put together.”
Flax-Clark and El Paso won the FEI Para Freestyle Grade II with a score of 68.222 percent, while Trunnell on Dolton ended the day with a win in the FEI Para Freestyle Grade I with a score of 77.889 percent.