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U.S. Para Dressage: Taking on the World

Posted: October 2021
Length: 03:37
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About This Video

Paralympic equestrians, including U.S. Para Dressage Team gold and bronze medalists from the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, and top para dressage athletes open up about what the sport of para-equestrian dressage means to them. Sydney Collier, Beatrice de Lavalette, Rebecca Hart, Cynthia Screnci, Kate Shoemaker, and Roxanne Trunnell discuss how horses have impacted their lives, how para dressage has offered expanded opportunities, and the perspective that being an athlete on a U.S. Equestrian Team has afforded them.

This video is brought to you by Perrigo.

About The Expert

Sydney Collier, Beatrice de Lavalette, Rebecca Hart, Cynthia Screnci, Kate Shoemaker, and Roxanne Trunnell

Sydney Collier, a Grade I para dressage athlete, competed in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games and also represented the U.S. Para Dressage Team at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Normandy 2014. Later that year, Collier was named the USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year and was recognized by the FEI with their Against All Odds Award. The award recognizes a rider who has persevered through extreme challenges, as Collier has with the effects of Wyburn-Mason syndrome.

When she was a child, a routine vision screening led to a diagnosis of Wyburn-Mason Syndrome, a life-threatening condition that causes arteries and veins to grow together causing vascular malformations (AVMs) inside the brain. Collier's AVMs quickly began affecting her vision and the control of her left side. Over the course of eight years, Collier endured a series of experimental treatments. During a risky brain surgery in 2009, Collier suffered a massive stroke. Despite the setback, she was determined to return to riding, a sport she had enjoyed since age seven.

Since June 2019, Collier has been competing with All In One, Going for Gold LLC’s 2009 Hanoverian gelding. The combination made their debut on the Adequan® U.S. Para Dressage Team at the 2019 Adequan/USEF Para Dressage National Championships and Tryon Fall 2 CPEDI3* where they placed third individually and were part of the team that won first place.

In 2020, Collier rode All In One to second-place finishes in the team, individual, and freestyle tests at the CPEDI3* at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) 3 in Wellington, Fla. The pair went on to win the Grade I division at the 2020 Adequan/USEF Para Dressage National Championships in Tryon, N.C.

Collier and All In One kicked off 2021 as part of the winning Adequan U.S. Para Dressage Team at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, where the pair posted scores in the 70s across the individual, team, and freestyle FEI Grade I Para Dressage tests. At the Perrigo Tryon Summer Dressage CPEDI3*, Collier and All In One helped win the team competition and again earned scores in the 70s in the Grade I classes.  

In late 2020, the pair were promoted to the Elite program on the Para Dressage Pathway list.

Follow Sydney Collier at sydsparaquest.com and on Twitter and Instagram.

Bea de Lavalette, a Grade II para dressage athlete and member of the U.S. Para Dressage Team at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, made her Adequan U.S. Para Dressage Team debut at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) 3 CPEDI3* in January 2020. She posted scores in the 70s with Duna, the 2008 KWPN mare she owns with Elizabeth and Nicolas de Lavalette, to place second in the Grade II Freestyle and help win the team competition.

In the winter 2020/2021 season, de Lavalette debuted her new KWPN gelding, Clarc, who went on to be her Tokyo 2020 Paralympics mount. The pair scored a 76.061 in the FEI Para Test of Choice at the Wellington Season Kickoff in January and went on to sweep the Grade II CPEDI3* at AGDF 3. De Lavalette and Clarc helped the Adequan U.S. Para Dressage Team take home a win at the AGDF 9 Perrigo CPEDI3*, finishing first in the Grade II Individual and Freestyle Tests and second in the Grade II Team Test. The pair traveled to the München-Riem CPEDI3* in Germany and finished second in the Grade II Team Test and third in the Grade II Individual and Freestyle Tests. At the Perrigo Tryon Summer Dressage CPEDI3*, de Lavalette and Clarc swept the Grade II tests.

De Lavalette lost both of her lower legs in the 2016 bombing at the Brussels Airport in which more than 30 people were killed and 300 injured. She started riding again five months after the attack, returning to the saddle with Delegada X (“DeeDee”), the 2002 PRE mare who has been her equine partner since January 2014. De Lavalette shares her incredible story as a motivational speaker. In January 2019, she was a featured speaker at the Equestrian Businesswomen Summit in West Palm Beach, Fla. In 2020, she and trainer Shayna Simon departed Shannon and Steffen Peters’ Arroyo Del Mar to settle in the Wellington, Fla., area where they now run a high-performance dressage training facility.

Keep up with news about Bea de Lavalette at beaparathlete.org.

Rebecca Hart, a Grade III para dressage athlete, is a four-time Paralympian (Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio de Janerio 2016, and Tokyo 2020). As a member of the U.S. Para Dressage Team at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, she contributed to the United States' historic first Paralympics equestrian team medal, a team bronze in the FEI Para Dressage Team Test to Music.

She also is three-time FEI World Equestrian Games™ team member (Tryon 2018, Normandy 2014, and Lexington 2010) and eight-time USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Champion (2020, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2006). She and Rowan O'Riley's El Corona Texel, were the first U.S. para-equestrian dressage combination to medal at a world championship. As a member of the FEI WEG Tryon 2018 U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team presented by Deloitte, she earned the U.S. its first-ever para-dressage medal at a WEG, winning bronze in the FEI Grade III Individual Test and then a silver medal in the FEI Grade III Freestyle.

Hart was born with a rare genetic disease called hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP), a progressive impairment that causes muscle wasting and paralysis from the middle of the back down.

Follow Rebecca Hart on Facebook and Instagram.

Cynthia “Cindy” Screnci, a Grade V para dressage athlete, transitioned from the jumper ring to the para dressage ring following a broken ankle from a riding accident and bone infection complication called osteomyelitis. She began competing at the FEI level in 2019, earning a win at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival 9 CPEDI1* with Sally L. 

In 2020, Screnci racked up several wins at the CPEDI3* and CPEDI1* levels with Eragon VF and Riccione. At the 2020 Adequan®/USEF Para Dressage National Championship, Screnci was the Adequan®/USEF Grade V Para Dressage National Champion with Eragon VF, a member of the winning Adequan® U.S. Para Dressage Team, and received the Lloyd Landkamer Memorial Sportsmanship Award. In November 2020, Screnci and VF Eragon were promoted to the Development program on the Para Dressage Pathway lists.

In 2021, Screnci and Eragon VF swept the Grade V classes in the Perrigo CPEDI3* presented by Adequan and Nutrena at the AGDF 9. Screnci competed abroad at the CPEDI3* in Mannheim, Germany, highlighted by a third-place finish with Sir Chipoli in the Grade V Freestyle Test. The pair claimed top honors in each of the Grade V classes at the Perrigo Tryon Summer Dressage CPEDI3*.

Screnci also serves as an athlete representative on the USEF Para-Equestrian Sport Committee and as a member of the Human and Equine Safety and Welfare Committee.

Follow Cynthia Screnci on Instagram and Facebook.

Kate Shoemaker, a Grade IV para dressage athlete, made her Paralympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, where she was part of the U.S. Para Dressage Team that took home the United States' first Paralympic equestrian team medal, earning bronze in the FEI Para Dressage Team Test to Music.

Kate Shoemaker rides in Grade IV competitions due to white matter lesions from periventricular ischemia causing motor control dysfunction, muscle weakness, and spasms on the right side of her body. She compensates for the loss of three planes of motion control in her ankle with an ankle foot orthosis (brace) and uses special rein stops for added rein control.

With multiple top finishes in CPEDI3* competition in 2018, Shoemaker was named to her first FEI World Equestrian Games™ U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team with Kate, Craig, and Deena Shoemaker's Solitaer 40, and the pair took home an individual bronze medal for the Grade IV freestyle. Solitaer 40, went on to be Shoemaker's 2020 Tokyo Paralympics mount, as well.


Shoemaker was selected to the Adequan U.S. Para Dressage Team for the 2020 AGDF 1 CPEDI3* in Wellington, Fla., aboard Solitaer 40 and was also selected to participate on the team at the Tryon CPEDI3* in Tryon, N.C., aboard Gaborencio in October. 


In 2021, Shoemaker won every outing in the first half of the year. With Solitaer 40, Shoemaker swept the Grade IV classes and helped earn two Perrigo CPEDI3* team wins at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival during weeks three and nine. At the Perrigo Tryon Summer Dressage CPEDI3*, Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 again won the team competition and each of the Grade IV classes. 

Follow Kate Shoemaker on Facebook and Instagram.

Roxanne Trunnell, a Grade I para dressage athlete and Paralympic gold medalist, earned two individual gold medals and a team bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. Riding Flintwoode Farms LLC and Karin Flint's Dolton, she took early gold in the Grade I Individual Test; it was the first Paralympic equestrian gold medal for the U.S. since 1996. She followed up with another gold medal in the Grade I Freestyle to Music, setting a Paralympic record score of 86.927%. Alongside teammates Rebecca Hart and Kate Shoemaker, she also earned team bronze in the FEI Para Dressage Team Test to Music for the United States' first Paralympics equestrian team medal. 

Trunnell also competed in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics and is a two-time FEI World Equestrian Games™ U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team member (Tryon 2018 and Normandy 2014). At the WEG Tryon 2018 she and Dolton won the bronze medal in the FEI Grade I Freestyle. Trunnell is also the 2016 Grade Ia Reserve National Champion in the High Performance Division. 

As a competitor in able-bodied dressage, Trunnell aspired to be an Olympian. She earned a United States Dressage Federation (USDF) bronze medal and was close to obtaining her silver medal until contracting a virus in 2009 that caused swelling in her brain that changed her life forever. The virus put her in a coma and resulted in her requiring a wheelchair. After a long recovery, Trunnell slowly began to ride again and completed her Masters in Psychology with a focus in Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy.

In November of 2012, she was classified Grade 1a, and by May 2013, she rode in her first CPEDI at the Golden State Dressage Show in Rancho Murrieta, Calif. Since 2013, she has delivered top-three placings consistently, contributing to U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team success.

In 2021, Trunnell won at every outing in the first half of the year. She and Dolton swept the Grade I classes and helped earn two Perrigo CPEDI3* team wins at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival during weeks three and nine. At the Perrigo Tryon Summer Dressage CPEDI3*, Trunnell and Dolton again won the team competition and each of the Grade I classes, including a world record score of 89.522% for an FEI Para Dressage Freestyle Test. 

Follow Roxanne Trunnell on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram