|Sophie Christiansen celebrates her third gold medal from this year’s Paralympics. She won the Grade Ia Freestyle with Janeiro 6. Photo: Liz Gregg/FEI
The Para-Equestrian Dressage portion of the 2012 Paralympic Games came to a close on Tuesday with Freestyle Test being ridden in Grades IV, III and 1a. Donna Ponessa was the lone U.S. representative on the day, performing her Grade 1a Freestyle in front of the Ground Jury of Kjell Myhre, Lilian Iannone, Gudrun Hofinga, Sarah Rodger and Freddy Leyman.
The pair upped the difficulty in their test by including trot work. Ponessa also showed her New York roots selecting a medley of Broadway show tunes to complement the 9-year-old Oldenburg mare’s gaits.
The trot work not only added a degree of difficulty to the test but also helped keep Western Rose’s attention and allowed her to maintain a forward walk.
“Rosie’s a really smart mare and she gets bored sometimes with walking. Because the walk has no natural impulsion to it, I can feed off some of that because she’s using her back end. That actually makes her walk a lot more forward and more impulsive,” said Ponessa. “The trot was placed in those spots for that reason she also has the most effortless trot.”
Ponessa was representing the U.S. for the first time in London and was inspired by the entire experience.
“I don’t know what adjective would describe the experience. It’s just been more than I ever could imagine. I knew it was going to be great but just not this great.”
The pair finished in eighth place.
Sophie Christiansen of Great Britain rode Janeiro 6 to gold in Ia with an outstanding score of 84.750. Laurentia Tan, who is based in the UK but competes for her home country of Singapore, rode Ruben James 2 to a 79.000 for a silver finish. Ireland’s Helen Kearney and her Irish Sport Horse gelding Mister Cool came in a close third with a 78.450.
|The Grade III Freestyle medalists: Deborah Criddle of Great Britain, silver; Hannelore Brenner of Germany, gold; and Annika Dalskov of Denmark, bronze. Photo: Liz Gregg/FEI|
In Grade IV competition Michele George and Rainman from Belguim won Gold with Great Britain’s Sophie Wells riding Pinocchio to the Silver medal and Frank Hosmar and Alphaville from The Netherlands earned the Bronze medal.
Hannelore Brenner and Women of the World won Gold in Grade III competition, Great Britain’s Deborah Criddle and LJT Akilles claimed the Silver medal, and Annika Dalskov of Denmark with Aros A Fenris won Silver.
The 2012 Paralympic Games have been proven to be the most successful Championships for the U.S. Para-Equestrian Team in recent years. The successful results provided by all the American riders are evidence of the thriving and growing program.
See all 2012 Olympic and Paralympic equestrian news at HorseChannel.com/Olympics.