USA Para-Dressage Completes Spectacular Week with Four Medals at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) Tryon

By: Lindsay Y. McCall
Photos by: Meghan Benge

Mill Spring, N.C. – September 25, 2018 – USA Para-Dressage is celebrating a momentous week with unprecedented results at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) Tryon. The U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team presented by Deloitte included Rebecca Hart of Wellington, Florida, (Grade II), Annie Peavy from Avon, Connecticut (Grade IV), Kate Shoemaker from Peoria, Ariz. (Grade IV), and Roxanne Trunnell from Rowlett, Texas. The Team was led by Chef d’ Equipe Kai Handt and US Equestrian Head of Para-Dressage Coach Development and High Performance Programs Michel Assouline. Riders competed over the September 18-22, week at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, N.C. (USA). This was the third WEG that included Para-Equestrian Dressage and the first time the United States Para-Equestrian Dressage Team medaled at a World Equestrian Games. Individually Rebecca Hart, a three-time Paralympian (2008, 2012, 2016) and three-time WEG athlete (2010, 2014, 2018), rode El Corona Texel, owned by Rowan O’Riley, to a bronze medal in the individual test and silver medal in the Grade III freestyle. Paralympian (2016) and two-time WEG athlete (2014, 2018) Annie Peavy rode Royal Dark Chocolate, owned by Rebecca Reno, to three top finishes over the week in Grade IV. Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40, Owned by Kate, Craig & Deena Shoemaker, earned a bronze medal in Grade IV freestyle. Roxanne Trunnell Paralympian (2016) and two-time WEG athlete (2014,2018) rode Dolton, owned by Kate Shoemaker to a bronze medal in Grade I freestyle test. The U.S. Team as a whole earned a fifth place finish at the WEG in front of the FEI Ground Jury members Kristi Wysocki (USA), Marc Urban (BEL), Marco Orsini (GER), Anne Prain (FRA), Sarah Leitch (GBR), Hanneke Gerritsen (NED), and Suzanne Cunningham (AUS). These results have been in the making since U.S.A. Para-Dressage began working to improve the quality of horses and perfection of tests over a decade ago. These four athletes worked hard for their country and their results show their determination.

Kate Shoemaker (Far Right) and Solitaer 40, owned by Kate, Craig & Deena Shoemaker, earned a bronze medal in the Grade IV freestyle at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon. Photo by Megan Benge for USPEA.
(Far Right) Roxanne Trunnell Paralympian (2016) and two-time WEG athlete (2014,2018) rode Dolton, owned by Kate Shoemaker to a bronze medal in Grade I freestyle test at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon. Photo by Meghan Benge for the USPEA.
Team USA after winning their medals. (top) Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt, Kate Shoemaker, Michel Assouline, Andrea Woodward, (bottom) Rebecca Hart, Roxanne Trunnell (missing Annie Peavy).

Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt reflected , “What a historic horse show the 2018 World Equestrian Games were for our USA Para-Equestrian Dressage riders. Our team won four individual medals including three bronze and one silver.”

Before arriving at the Tryon International Equestrian Center the team arrived at training camp located at Stonegate Farms in Statesville, NC. Handt noted, ” Our team came to training camp with their game faces on. Training went very well even with the looming hurricane in the background. Once we arrived at the WEG grounds the girls went to show and had a great first day with Rebecca Hart capturing individual bronze. Each athlete on the U.S. Team earned the opportunity to compete in the freestyle competition.  Only the top eight of each grade moves forward to this. On the second day, which was team test day, our team came in fifth with exceptional scores that were in close proximity to the bronze medal. On the final day each rider competed in the freestyle test and they attained superb results.”

For Kai Handt the road to these medals started as a coach of Para-Dressage rider Jonathan Wentz. Wentz paved the way for young athletes everywhere and with his coach by his side, his horse NTEC Richter Scale, and a strong support network Wentz made it to the 2010 WEG and 2012 London Paralympics. Wentz passed shortly after the Paralympics that year leaving a goal for U.S. Para-Dressage to fulfill. Wentz was passionate about improving the quality of horses, growing the program from the grassroots, and his biggest goal attracting young disabled riders to discover their talent and one day ride for USA. Kai Handt helped fulfill these goals especially after being elected as the Chef d’Equipe/Techinical Advisor for USA Para-Dressage.

Handt added, “At the 2010 WEG our team was 11th. After I became Chef d’Equipe in 2014 we moved to 7th at the Normandy Games. To move to 5th now and have the U.S. team with the most medals at the 2018 WEG is pretty exciting. When I came aboard as Chef I told our athletes we would medal before the end of my four-year term. It was a hard road, we brought forward a clinic program after each CPEDI working with each rider and horse. We also took riders to the North American Junior Young Rider Championships and all of our riders medaled in individual and team gold including many of the girls who were on this WEG team. We also went from zero to four CPEDI’s in the USA with the help of our great sponsors and show organizers. Our athletes traveled and competed in Europe at some of the most prestigious CPEDI’s in the world. Finally, Michel Assouline came on as US Equestrian Head of Para-Dressage Coach Development and High Performance Programs and USEF established the USEF/USPEA Center’s of Excellence where regional hubs of excellence attract new riders to the sport of para-equestrian dressage. Each of these additions have contributed to the U.S. and their continued growth and exceptional performances that were seen at this WEG.”

Rebecca Hart (USA) Grade III and Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt at the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon. Hart earned a Bronze in the individual and a silver in the freestyle with El Corona Texel. Hart, is a three-time Paralympian (2008, 2012, 2016) and three-time WEG athlete (2010, 2014, 2018), . Photo by Meghan Benge for the USPEA.

For Kai Handt, who runs North Texas Equestrian Center(NTEC), in Katy, Texas, and a competitor himself, US Para-Dressage has been his passion for almost two decades.  Handt commented, “NTEC and my family has sponsored over 14 para-dressage horses in the last 13 years for CPEDI’s and national competition. We love supporting our athletes and we are still in the process of helping new young riders get into the sport. We are looking forward to working with new and our current sponsors, horse owners, and athletes to get on the podium at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020.”

Handt concluded, “As a team we want to thank Adequan® and Allyn Mann, director of strategic partnerships for Luitpold Animal Health,, Rebecca Reno and Mission Control, Longines, US Equestrian, USPEA, USET Foundation,Rowan O’Riley, Karin Flint, The Shoemaker family, Stonegate Farms, Jennifer Brinkley and Jules Nyssen., all of our sponsors, our horse owners, our support staff, and the many volunteers that helped our riders before, during, and after these Games.”

Rebecca Hart had exceptional results at the WEG. She commented, “I am beyond thrilled with Tex and to earn my first-ever medal with my family watching was amazing. I couldn’t have done this without the support of everyone who has been there for me. The 2018 World Equestrian Games was a culmination of years of work for me. To be able to stand on the podium and see my flag raised not once, but twice was beyond an emotional experience for me. The path to the podium has been a long one–aided by many. I want to take a moment and thank all of the people and horses who paved that path. Every person, experience good and bad, and horse has gone into those medals, and I am honored to be able to receive them. I am truly blessed with my incredible team that made this dream come to fruition. Thank you for the outpouring of love and support. It is so incredible to share this with everyone and to see the strength and depth of Para-Dressage sport continue to grow in this country. I look forward to the future.”

Rebecca Hart (USA) at the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon. Hart earned a bronze in the individual and a silver in the freestyle with El Corona Texel. Hart, is a three-time Paralympian (2008, 2012, 2016) and three-time WEG athlete (2010, 2014, 2018), . Photo by Meghan Benge for the USPEA.

 

Annie Peavy from Avon, Connecticut (Grade IV) with Royal Dark Chocolate, owner Rebecca Reno 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon. Photo by Meghan Benge for USPEA.

Annie Peavy added, “Congratulations to my teammates on their medals. I was so proud to compete with these ladies and represent the United States with the other seven disciplines. Cocoa was an amazing partner, our relationship grew stronger with the help of Heather Blitz, Alexandra Philpin , Dr Mitchel, Drew Golden and too many friends to name. Our team couldn’t do it without Michel Assouline, Kai Handt, Laureen Johnson, Tina Wentz, Duncan Peters Jean-Pierre and Janet and a huge thank you to US Equestrian, thank you Murray Kessler for recognizing the potential in our sport.”

Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40,  owned by Kate, Craig & Deena Shoemaker, earned a bronze medal in the Grade IV freestyle at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon. Photo by Megan Benge for USPEA.

This was Kate Shoemaker’s first Games. Shoemaker stated, “The WEG was everything I could have asked for. On the last day Soli did one of the best rides we have ever had. To be able to do it at WEG was everything. We have worked so hard for this and I am super proud of my horse and everyone on our team. We had so much support behind us at this WEG including our trainers, family, and staff. I am thankful to everyone especially my coach Andrea Woodard, my groom Alexus Sisley, my parents Craig and Deena Shoemaker, USEF and staff Kai Handt, Michel Assouline, and Laureen Johnson. Tom Hunt who put together our music perfectly and of course my amazing teammates. Finally I am thankful to my favorite horse in

Roxanne Trunnell Paralympian (2016) and two-time WEG athlete (2014,2018) rode Dolton, owned by Kate Shoemaker to a bronze medal in Grade I freestyle test at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon. Photo by Meghan Benge for the USPEA.

the whole world, Solitaer 40.”

Roxanne Trunnell concluded, “This WEG was exciting. Getting a medal on such a young horse at his first WEG was pretty special. Dolton was such a superstar in the tests. With this being his first major championship & him being so young I really didn’t know what to expect out of him so I just figured we’d go into the arena and what happens, happens. He didn’t care at all about being in that big ring at all, he was completely tuned into me and we had some of the best stretch downs. All of this wouldn’t have been possible if Kate & Deena Shoemaker hadn’t offered Dolton to the Para-Dressage program and I hadn’t been paired up with him and then sponsored by Karin Flint. I’m really thankful to all of them and very happy to have the opportunity to work with this wonderful horse.”

USA Para-Equestrian Dressage is looking forward to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

Results of USA:

TEAM USA Overall 5th place
Royal Dark Chocolate, Angela Peavy, USA (67.075%)
Solitaer 40, Kate Shoemaker, USA, 69.800%
El Corona Texel,Rebecca Hart, USA. 72.676%
Dolton, Roxanne Trunnell, USA, 72.464%
Total: 214.940

Individual USA

Roxanne Trunnell and Dolton (Grade I)
black / 6y. / G / HANN / Danone I / Londonderry / 105WO77 / Kate Shoemaker
Indiv. 72.143 % 5th place
Team 72.464 % 4th place
Freestyle 75.587 % Bronze

Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel (Grade III)
bay / 9y. / G / KWPN / Wynton / Goodtimes / 104LA10 / Rowan O’Riley
Indiv. 72.235 % Bronze
Team 72.676 % 3rd
Freestyle 73.240 % Silver

Annie Peavy and Royal Dark Chocolate (Grade IV)
chest / 10y. / M / OLDBG / Royal Doruto / Don Larino / 105NH99 / Rebecca Reno
Indiv. 68.902 % 6th place
Team 67.075 % 7th place
Freestyle 71.660 % 7th place

Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 (Grade IV)
black / 11y. / S / HANN / Sandro Hit / de Niro / 104YU87 / Kate Craig & Deena Shoemaker
Indiv. 68.707 % 7th place
Team 69.800 % 5th place
Freestyle 73.230 % Bronze

For more information about the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) Tryon or for Results please visit: https://tryon2018.com/
officialresults

The USEF International High Performance Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, USOC, and USEF Sponsors and Members.