Competitors in the 2020 Adequan/USEF Para Dressage National Championship concluded their week at the Tryon International Equestrian Center on October 25 with their FEI Para Freestyle tests.
“It’s only the second time I’ve ridden through it,” said Hart. “We trotted in and I hit all my main markers, and I was super thrilled with that. We had one little spook in the corner, and I got two steps behind, but the power and the energy and the fact that he stayed with me even after that spook was so nice. He is a very powerful horse, and we’ve been working really hard during our COVID lockdown to get prepared and in sync with each other in the ring with distractions and music. This is the first time we’ve gotten to test all of that training, and he has just risen to the occasion.”
In creating the new freestyle, Hart said she tested out several different musical selections before settling on one.
“Some of the music, he was just trotting nicely and pleasantly,” said Hart. “When this music came on, he puffed himself up and was like, ‘Yeah, buddy! This is it!’ He likes his music. He thinks it’s fun.”
Hart and Tex will go home to Florida and have some downtime before competing again at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in January.
“We’re going to keep carrying on with everything that we’ve been doing at home,” said Hart. “It’s working really well for him. It’s been great to kind of test that and get feedback from the judges. I like to continue working on the basics. He’s got all the talent and the skill, so it’s just keeping him healthy and happy and focusing on the little things.”
Hart gives thanks to her sponsor, Rowan O’Riley, who owns Tex and Hart’s other competition mount, Fortune 500.
“She’s just a phenomenal advocate for the sport and so amazingly generous,” says Hart.
Sydney Collier of Ann Arbor, Mich., scored a personal best in her freestyle with Going for Gold LLC’s All In One in the Grade I division with a 78.711, which gave her a composite score of 76.147% and the reserve champion title in the Adequan/USEF Para Dressage National Championship.
“He’s such a special horse,” said Collier. “Any time I get to ride him is just the best time of my life. So to be able to be here, competing against such awesome people is such an incredible experience.”
This year’s national championship is only the second time that Collier has performed this freestyle in a CPEDI competition.
“It’s fairly new to me. I’ve had this freestyle longer than I’ve had Alle,” said Collier. “I had to adapt the freestyle to him and adapt the feel, and Katie [Robicheaux, Collier’s trainer] has really helped me to understand all the little musical cues that are so neat to understand to make it flow the way it did today.”
Collier and Alle will head to Florida in December for the winter competition circuit.
“My plans are to compete at the two qualifiers there and goals are to compete as much outside of those two qualifiers as possible,” said Collier. “Obviously with COVID-19, it’s so up in the air for so many of us, but just to be able to be in the warmer weather and be able to train with Alle consistently is such a blessing. I can’t wait to be down in Wellington—it’s such a camaraderie. I think the horse community is so resilient that we’re going to make it happen.”
Each year, competitors at the Adequan/USEF Para Dressage National Championship vote for one of their peers to win the Lloyd Landkamer Memorial Sportsmanship Award. This year, Cynthia Screnci of Boca Raton, Fla., received the honor. Screnci competed in the Grade V and won the division with her 11-year-old KWPN gelding, Eragon VF.
The Lloyd Landkamer Memorial Sportsmanship Trophy is awarded annually to the para-dressage athlete competing at the Adequan/USEF Para Dressage National Championship who best personifies the high standards and virtues of integrity, sportsmanship, honor, courage, team spirit, good temper and unselfishness.
See full results from the 2020 Adequan/USEF Para Dressage National Championship
Watch the 2020 Adequan/USEF Para Dressage National Championship on-demand on USEF Network. Click here to watch.