Great Britain wins Paralympic equestrian team gold

Michele George
Michele George of Belgium celebrates her gold medal-winning ride with Rainman in Grade IV. Photo: Liz Gregg/FEI

Sunday, September 2 saw the conclusion of the Team Championship as well medals awarded for individual performances in Grade IV, III and 1a competition at the 2012 Paralympic Games. The host nation took medals by the handful claiming two Individual Silvers, an Individual Gold and Team Gold. This is the fifth time Great Britain has earned the top spot on the team podium since 1996 when Para-Equestrian Dressage was first included in the Paralympic Games. Claiming Silver behind Great Britain was the team from Germany with Ireland earning Bronze.

The U.S. team put in determined efforts in both the Team and Individual Tests and finished in seventh place.

Donna Ponnessa (New Windsor, NY) was the only American to ride on Sunday and gained valuable experience in Greenwich’s impressive Stadium. Ponessa finished in sixth place in the Grade 1a Team Test with Wesley Dunham’s Western Rose. The pair scored 69.2% in a test that was highlighted by a beautiful free walk and where Ponessa earned high marks for her position.

Ponessa had been hoping for a better performance but nonetheless was pleased with her own and the 9-year-old Oldenburg mare’s effort.

“We gave it our all but it could have been a lot better. There was some improvement [over the Team Test] and some things we didn’t do as well,” said Ponessa. “It’s a learning process.”

The pair returns to the main arena on Tuesday to perform their Grade 1a Freestyle Test, an opportunity Ponessa is excited for.

“There’s still one more ride left. I’m disappointed in our ride today but there’s another day and hopefully I’ll be that much more savvy.”

In Grade IV competition Belgium’s Michele George and Rainman won Gold with Britain’s Sophie Wells and Pinocchio earning Silver and The Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar riding Alphaville to the Bronze medal.

Hannelore Brenner of Germany earned the Gold medal in Grade III competition with Women Of The World, Silver went to British rider Deborah Criddle and LJT Akilles and Annika Dalskov with Aros A Fenris from Denmark earning Bronze. The Grade 1a Gold medal went to Sophie Christiansen and Janiero 6 from Great Britain, Helen Kearney and Mister Cool from Ireland won Silver and Singapore’s Laurentia Tan won the Bronze medal with Ruben James 2.

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