Mill Spring, N.C. – Sept 18, 2018 – Para-Equestrian Dressage competition kicked off this morning for the second week of the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018. The first individual medals of the discipline were earned in the Individual Test Grade IV which saw 12 horse-and-rider combinations.
Riding away with the gold medal was The Netherland’s Sanne Voets on Reuzenaar Beheer BV and J.J.H.M.Voet’s Demantur N.O.P, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding. The pair were the first to go down centerline in the class and was able to hold onto their impressive lead with a score of 73.927 percent. In 2001, Voet was trapped under a horse after a serious riding accent in 2001 and the accident caused serious damage to her legs. She refused to sit on the sidelines, however and focused on returning to the saddle. Little did she know only a few years later she would become a two-time Paralympian and Voets won a gold medal at the Rio Paralympics.
Earning the silver medal was Brazil’s Rodolpho Riskalla with a score of 73.366 percent aboard Don Henrico, a 15-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by Gestüt Schafhof. The 2016 recipient of the FEI Award Against All Odds, Riskalla, a professional dressage rider was aiming to compete in the Rio Olympics before his life was turned upside down. He contracted an extremely aggressive form of Meningitis and when he woke from his coma, the doctors removed most of his fingers, as well as amputated his legs below the knee. While his goal of competing as an able-bodied athlete was over, his determination allowed him to compete as a para-equestrian less than a year later for the Paralympics.
Rounding out the podium with a score of 73.146 percent was Denmark’s Susanne Jensby Sunesen on Helmer Sunesen’s 20-year-old Danish Warmblood mare CSK’s Que Faire.
Two members of the U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team presented by Deloitte took to the ring on Tuesday. In the Individual Test Grade IV, Annie Peavy and Royal Dark Chocolate finished in sixth with a 68.902 percent, while her teammate, Kate Shoemaker placed right behind her with a 68.707 percent on Solitaer.
Para-Equestrian Dressage competition will continue for the remainder of the week and conclude Saturday, Sept 23.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Sanne Voets (NED) – Individual Para-Dressage Grade IV gold medalist
On riding first:
“Well, I wasn’t happy but it doesn’t change the job. You still have to go down that centerline and halt at X, then go forward and turn to the right and so on. Of course, when you are the first to go you are not happy with it. Somebody always has to go first, and that was me today.”
On her favorite part of the test with Demantur N.O.P.:
“The trot part is always a really lovely part because he is so light-footed and he has so much energy and expression in his way of moving. He is a horse that can trot in 100 different ways. He can trot big, he can trot small, he can do passage even easier than just trot. I always have to look out for that and make sure he doesn’t passage when it should really be trot. He is so eager and so willing to work that if I ask something he will always try his heart out to do it for me. Today, he felt really happy and relaxed from the moment I got in the saddle. He was really fresh the last few days, so I was a bit scared today that he might be a little too hot, but he was perfect. He gives me so much confidence and really gives me the feeling that it is just him and I in that arena. Of course, we have a huge team around us and we have so much fun and they are doing everything they can to bring me to the ring in the best possible way, but when we enter the arena it is just my horse and I. That felt really good today. We had fun.”
On her partnership with Demantur N.O.P.:
“This horse has been at my barn for about two and a half years. I really think partnership is important and that is why I love my sport – to invest time together, bonding together and getting to know each other. For me, it was really hard to drop him off at the airport and watch him go into the container because he stayed there overnight. After I dropped him off, it was ‘Bye, see you in almost three days!’ It was horrible! I hate it – even though you receive the messages that he arrived well and ate well, I want to see him with my own eyes. When I arrived at the stables and saw his face, in a split second I knew he was OK and in that moment we could start to relax. I think you can imagine if you have children and you bring them to daycare for the first time, that’s horrible. I can understand those mothers now.”
On her reaction to winning the gold medal:
“I’m really happy, and very relieved. I was waiting for two and a half hours because one of the strongest riders in the field was last to go. I have to say, I knew it was a medal score – probably silver or gold, but I was not sure. I told myself that it could be gold, but to be a bit careful and not to think of that yet. While I was waiting, I called a friend. It was a really expensive call I guess because it took one and a half hours!”
Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA) – Individual Para-Dressage Grade IV silver medalist
On his reaction to earning the silver medal:
“All this year’s work, you ride to get a medal one day and it’s done, it’s there so it’s amazing! I always say, we need to keep it up and keep going because you never know what can happen, who knows? There is an expression in French that says a good thing can come from a bad thing. I didn’t know if I was going to get a medal one day, and now I’m here and it’s amazing. It means everything to me.”
On if he expected to earn a medal:
“No, because we are all so close. Let’s say six, seven riders, we are really so close and so we knew it would be tight. It’s great!”
Results: Individual Para-Dressage Grade IV
1. Sanne Voets / NED / Demantur N.O.P / 73.927
2. Rodolpho Riskalla / BRA / Don Henrico / 73.366
3. Susanne Jensby Sunesen / DEN / CSK’s Que Fair / 73.146
4. Manon Claeys / BEL / San Dior 2 / 72.854
5. Louise Etzner Jakobsson / SWE / Zernard / 70.780
6. Annie Peavy / USA / Royal Dark Chocolate / 68.902
Annie Peavy (USA) – Individual Para-Dressage Grade IV sixth place
On her experience so far:
“She’s great at home, and I live in Wellington so we’re working in very hot conditions. She comes out every day, she’s a mare so she has her opinions, but she’s really starting to bond with me. We’re just growing so much more and I can take her out and she is calm, and then she can really fire up in the arena. So then we came to the venue and it was hurricane-ing when we got here so it was exciting! And she really doesn’t mind the wind and rain which I’m thankful for, so she was just very on and steady the whole time. It might have made her more electric but that’s what I want for the show arena so I really appreciate the hurricane!”
On her highlights:
“I was really pleased with her medium trot because I feel like that’s something in the past we definitely had to work on more and more. It’s not our natural talent, and I feel like she was really listening and pushing from behind and I really liked that about her.”
On being the first rider for the U.S.:
“It’s very much an honor to be riding for the U.S. and to be the first para-athlete in the arena today. You can feel the energy with the spectators in the arena in your home country. Everyone is so excited for you, no matter what happens. It’s my first big games at home.”
Kate Shoemaker (USA) – Individual Para-Dressage Grade IV seventh place
On her performance:
“Today was, unfortunately, a little bit of a disappointment. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting. I definitely left my horse in the warm-up arena today and he was just a little bit too hot and too tired by the time we got to the arena. So it wasn’t our ride today but there’s two more to go, at least we hope so, and we’ll go from there.”
On representing the U.S.:
“It’s my first international championship, and it’s just fantastic because I’m here at Tryon where I’ve shown twice before and this time we’re surrounded by the world’s best. And just seeing everybody and getting to talk to everyone from different countries is a wonderful experience and it’s great to have this in our backyard. This experience will have me more prepared for when I go to the next championship.”
On the WEG bringing exposure to the sport to the U.S.:
“Absolutely, I think it’s bringing more awareness. As a sport we’ve been a little bit misunderstood and maybe para means paralyzed, or maybe it’s for paralyzed riders, and that’s not the case. We have the five grades for the different disabilities so giving people the chance to see this I think has been wonderful and it’s already bringing a lot more attention to it.”