Previously we reported on the expanded CPEDI 3* Para-Equestrian competition at the Adequan Global Dressage festival, and over the weekend of January 9th the first series wrapped up with the riders from the USA taking the top two spots in this Rio qualifier!
Rebecca Hart, who now currently trains with Todd Flettrich out of Margaret Duprey’s Cherry Knoll Farm in Wellington was the weekend’s high point scorer and overall champion with Margaret McIntosh nipping at her heels bringing home the reserve championship. Both these ladies have come through the training program under Jessica and Missy Ransehousen at Blue Hill Farm in Unionville, Pennsylvania.
Rio Rio and Margaret McIntosh, who we’ve previously featured in one of our rider spotlights, finished their first qualifying competition for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with flying colors.
At the end of October, they came home from a disappointing trip to Katy, Tx, resolving to reassess their training routine in order to have successful results at the January International competitions in Wellington. McIntosh and Ransehousen consulted their team of experts, which involved their vet, farrier, chiropractor and nutritionist at KER. In addition they put Rio Rio on a strict fitness program to build upon the new nutritional program by increasing Rio’s fitness program with more daily hill work!
They also enlisted Clive Milkins’ expertise for clinics at Ransehousen’s Blue Hill Farm in November and December. Clive is well known in the para world as the long term coach of Great Britain’s gold medal winning para-equestrian Sophie Christiansen.
This collaboration of top Paralympic trainers was just the ticket for McIntosh. “Missy, Jessica and Clive joined forces to analyze my riding and partnership with Rio Rio. That was an extraordinary privilege and one of the most productive experiences of my equestrian life.”
All of their efforts came together beautifully this past weekend when a very fit and happy Rio produced three solid dressage tests to win the Grade 1a Championship and the overall Reserve Championship with 73.05%!
Rebecca Hart, 6 time national champion, continues to lead the charge for the US Paralympic team effort, aboard Shroeter’s Romani, a dynamic horse that she acquired a few years ago through the generous support of Margaret Duprey, Cherry Knoll Farm, Barbara Summer, and Bill and Sandy Kimmel.
Kai Handt became the Chef D’Equipe of the US Paralympic team in 2014, taking over the position from Missy Ransehousen who was a dedicated Chef D’Equipe for over 12 years and through 3 Paralympics. The US Para Team has always been challenged to compete with the Europeans on the world stage, and one of the struggles has been finding venues where the Para-Equestrians could compete in an international atmosphere.
This year, the Adequan Global Dressage Festival is providing that international atmosphere and venue for North American Para-Equestrians.
In a recent interview with the USPEA, Handt commented that “The USA changed a lot since Spring of last year. We changed our qualifying procedures, our rules and much more to get where we are now – producing better and more competitive athletes. It’s really panning out now and we are hoping we kind of crest by the time we go to the Paralympics. If everyone does the same performance they did this week- in two weeks, and work on the little details, I think we are on the right path to where we want to go. We currently moved up on the world ranking list and if we keep going I hope we are in the top three by the end. Everyone knows what their homework is and they are self critical enough that they are going to push hard and get even better in two weeks.”
If you are in Wellington, please come out and show your support for our Para Athletes in 2 weeks when they return for the second Paralympic qualifying event here at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, January 21st, 2016