Wellington, Fla. – Sept. 25, 2017 – Three-time Paralympian Rebecca Hart is proud to announce her partnership with Rowan O’Riley’s 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding El Corona Texel. Hart has her sights set on qualifying for the 2018 World Equestrian Games in North Carolina and the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
After multiple top finishes around the globe, Hart retired her 2014 World Equestrian Games and 2016 Paralympic mount, Schroeter’s Romani, a 15-year-old Danish Warmblood mare owned by Hart in conjunction with Margaret Duprey, Cherry Knoll Farm, Barbara Summer and William and Sandy Kimmel. After Schroeter’s Romani’s retirement in December 2016, Hart began searching for her next horse to help her reach her goal of a podium finish.
With the support of Rowan O’Riley, who supports dressage sport for both Para and able-bodied riders, including international competitor Catherine Haddad Staller, Hart acquired the talented gelding, El Corona Texel, after finding him in Belgium this summer.
“Rowan has been phenomenal in supporting me as an individual and embracing para-sport as a true high performance discipline,” Hart explained. “It was an absolute privilege to get to spend time with her in Europe when we were looking for Tex. I am incredibly blessed and fortunate to have been given this opportunity and I look forward to working with Rowan and Tex to achieve our goals for Team USA.”
El Corona Texel (Wynton – Goodtimes) already boasts a promising resume, which includes winning the Belgium Championships as a 6-year-old and qualifying for the Longines FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Dressage Championships in Ermelo with Ainhoa Prada Ortiz.
“I was drawn to Tex for his incredible talent in the dressage ring, but also his great character,” Hart said. “He is an incredibly personable horse and wants to work and be with you. I love working with a horse that wants to be your partner. I love building that relationship and having that come through in the performances.”
Searching for the ultimate partner was no easy task for Hart and O’Riley. They knew that the right horse was out there if they kept looking, and if Hart wanted to achieve her goals they had to find a horse with all the right qualities.
“We passed up many talented horses in order to find the rare horse that had the qualities to take Becca to the podium,” O’Riley said. “She has come close to medaling and her aspiration is to earn a medal at the next Olympics. We wanted a horse with world-class gaits, ring presence and the consistent performance that she could craft into the right partner to get to the World Equestrian Games in 2018.”
The new U.S. Head of Para-Equestrian Coach Development, Michel Assouline and his wife Mette, played an important role in providing guidance and feedback during the horse search. Assouline was head coach to the multi-medal winning British para-equestrian dressage program for 12 years before accepting the position with US Equestrian. In addition to the gelding’s superior gaits, his kind disposition, beautiful frame and presence caught the eyes of Hart and O’Riley.
“Becca tried him and we discovered that she could develop a future partnership with him – he is tolerant to her way of delivering her aids, while also being willing to listen to different aids that he was not accustomed to. He really wants to try his best,” O’Riley noted.
As one of the only current competitors for Team USA who has participated in multiple Paralympic Games and World Championships, Hart’s enthusiastic attitude as a team player in addition to her sheer talent immediately gained the attention of O’Riley, whose oldest daughter has cerebral palsy.
“I really admire Becca as an athlete, but she is also a wonderful supporter of her fellow para-equestrians,” O’Riley explained. “She is always there to watch and say something nice about someone else’s ride. This past season when she didn’t have a horse, she was at every show and all the meetings. She is a true teammate and competitor whether or not she is actually active at that moment. I was just impressed with her spirit as an athlete and competitor.”
Hart and El Corona Texel made an impressive competition debut by winning both of their classes at the CPEDI3* at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in September. The pair earned a 68.039 percent in the Grade III Para-Team Test and a 68.275 percent in the Grade III Para-Individual Test. To solidify their partnership and qualify for a spot on the team to represent the United States, Hart will also compete ‘Tex’ at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival this winter in Wellington, Florida.