Wellington, Fla. – The Adequan® U.S. Para Dressage Team ended the winter season with a dominant win over their Canadian opponents in the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) 9 CPEDI3* on March 8-9. Led by Chef d’Equipe Michel Assouline, the team of David Botana, Rebecca Hart, Kate Shoemaker, and Roxanne Trunnell earned a cumulative score of 441.488, largely part to career high scores. As a result, their effort led to an all-time high team score for the U.S. Canada ended with a total score of 408.488.
“We have a new upcoming [para-athlete, David Botana], who excelled and improved from the last show. He averaged a 72 [percent] in the two tests. For a young combination, it’s very exciting. Combining [both tests], this is our best ever team score; everything [is improving],” said a pleased Assouline. “[Roxanne] is growing more and more with the horse, the expression is better, the accuracy, all the components of high-scoring. I’m also really pleased with [the scores] from Kate.”
On Friday, Grade I para-athletes Trunnell and Botanta got the U.S. team off to a solid start with the FEI Team tests, counting 50% toward the team score. Trunnell and Dolton, Karin Flint’s six-year-old Hanoverian gelding, earned a score of 75.060%. This was a FEI Grade I Team Test career high score for them, surpassing the score they set at the AGDF CPEDI3* in January.
“His stretch downs were really smooth. We’ve been working on relaxation and letting him [go for it]. He felt more comfortable [than in the January CPEDI], like he’s done this for a very long time,” said Trunnell, following their Team Test.
Botana, who made his first appearance on a U.S. team, and Lord Locksley, Margaret Stevens's 18-year-old Trakehner Grand Prix/Breeding stallion, followed Trunnell in the Grade I Team Test standings with a score of 72.262%. Their score also improved from the January CPEDI. The 16-year-old newcomer competes with VATER Syndrome and his drive to compete led him to para dressage. Botana could not be more proud of his first team event performance.
“This is a whole new level of riding. Locksley is great; he has a big walk…I’m blown away with how far we’ve come, and trusting your horse matters. To be comfortable between horse and rider is such a gift. We finally have it, and it’s showing in the scores,” said Botana. “When they announced that I was going to be on the team, I was overjoyed. For being on the scene for a relatively short amount of time, and to be on a team with athletes that have gone to the Paralympics and World Equestrian Games, it’s a huge honor. To stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them, it’s awesome. I’m so happy.”
Hart and El Corona Texel, Rowan O’Reilly’s nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, completed the FEI Grade III Test and earned a score of 65.343%. Shoemaker and Solitaer 40, her 12-year-old Hanoverian stallion, ended the day with a score of 72.000%.The U.S. team headed into Saturday’s FEI Individual Tests with a steady lead over Canada with a cumulative score of 219.322.
On Saturday, competition shifted to the FEI Individual Tests, counting 50% toward the overall team score. Grade I combinations Botana and Lord Locksley and Trunnell and Dolton built on Friday’s success with quality tests. Scoring a 72.381%, Botana and Lord Locksley again improved upon their January Team Test results. Trunnell and Dolton followed suit with a 75.476%, another personal best for them in the FEI Individual Test.
Hart and El Corona Texel followed with the FEI Grade III Individual Test, improving on Friday’s marks with a score of 66.961%. Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 ended the competition on a strong note for the U.S. Team. They earned a 74.309%, a personal best for them in the Grade IV Individual Test.
“I didn’t get as much out of my ride [on Friday] as I wanted, and I wasn’t 100 percent sure why. Today, I changed the way I went about my plan, and determined that it was me,” said Shoemaker. “It was about having patience in my ride, both in the warm-up and the test, and having trust that he was going to do what I asked him, that I didn’t need to micromanage him. It really worked out. Now that we’re in our fifth full season competing together, I owe it to Soli to trust him. He showed me today that I really can, despite the flopping tents and the wind, so I was very pleased with it.”
The AGDF 9 CPEDI3* will conclude on Sunday with all U.S. combinations competing as individuals in their respective Freestyles.
The USEF International High Performance Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, USOC, and USEF Sponsors and Members.