U.S. Para-Equestrian team brings home gold

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Jonathan Wentz
Jonathan Wentz, shown here at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, was one of the members of the gold-medal U.S. team at the CPEDI3* in Mexico City. Photo: Lesley Ward

The red carpet was rolled out for United States Para-Equestrian Team at the 2011 CPEDI3* in Mexico City, Mexico at Rancho San Juan. Eighteen Para-Equestrians competed under five stringent judges for their respective country November 10-12, 2011. The five countries represented were Mexico, United States, Venezuela, Norway, and Argentina. The United States Team included Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt, Para-Equestrian Donna Ponessa (Grade Ia), Jonathan Wentz (Grade Ib), and Dale Dedrick (Grade III) who gave flawless performances of their tests to take home the Team Gold for the United States.

This competition was unique because competitors did not ride their own mounts. Each of the para-equestrians rode a horse that was graciously donated by The Mexico Para-Equestrian Team. The United States Para-Equestrian Team rode horses donated by the Baitenmanns (Erica Baitenmann is a Mexico Para-Equestrian rider).

Besides earning the Team Gold the United States, Para-Equestrians excelled individually as well. Donna Ponessa of New Windsor, NY captured gold medals in Grade Ia Freestyle, Individual, and Team competition while riding Gecko. USEF 2011 Para-Equestrian Dressage National Champion Jonathan Wentz from Tyler, TX also earned three gold medals in each Grade Ib test aboard Ariello. Grade II rider, Dale Dedrick from Ann Arbor, MI earned the Silver Medal on Bruno in Mexico City rounding out a spectacular weekend for the United States.

From the moment the United States Team crossed the boarder the Mexico Team gave everyone a first-class experience. President of the United States Para-Equestrian Association Hope Hand noted, “We could not thank the Mexico team, Erica, and Reni Baitenmann more for giving our team such a fabulous experience. We understand the time and dedication it takes to put together an event like this and they went above and beyond. The food was amazing, the lodging was five-star, and the shuttles provided were unexpected. From the welcome reception where all the volunteers, coaches, horse owners, and riders were recognized to the award ceremony at the end of the weekend. On behalf of the United States we would like to thank the Mexico Team for giving us great horses, a top-notch facility, and an overall supreme experience. This was the beginning of a life long relationship that will eventually lead to the Pan American Games for para-equestrians.

The 2011 Mexico City CPEDI3* was another hurdle on the road to the 2012 London Paralympics. After the holidays the team will return home to Wellington, FL where they will host two CPEDI3* competitions at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center January 19-22 and January 26-29, 2011.

For more information about the USPEA please visit www.USPEA.org

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