Mill Spring, N.C. – Rebecca Hart (Wellington, Fla.) and Fortune 500 stole the show this week at the 2021 Adequan®/USEF Para Dressage National Championship, producing three lovely tests to top national championship competition for the first time in their partnership. Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 were presented with reserve national champion honors following their first competition after the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Competition concluded today at Tryon International Equestrian Center featuring the FEI Individual Freestyles for Grades I-V to close out the weekend.
Hart and Fortune 500, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Rowan O’Riley, have been working with Hart’s trainer, Jennifer Baumert, throughout the year, but her other mount, El Corona Texel, took much of the focus due to their selection to the Paralympic Games, so Hart was pleased with “Moola” this week and their progress together.
"Moola has really just wowed me this entire week. He’s been so good and so consistent and steady. He’s just such a giant marshmallow and he’s so much fun to have out here. It’s nice to let him have his moments too,” said Hart. “Before Tokyo, Jen and I were still pretty new in our relationship, so we really learned a lot about each other on that trip and were just letting things settle in getting to know each other. We’re pushing each other more now and really working on fixing the things that we want to and adding the easiness, the harmony, and the power in the ring, so that’s what we are building on right now.”
With Baumert’s guidance, Hart and Moola have been working towards more consistency and fluidity in their tests and Hart felt that the rideability and responsiveness was really sharp this week in the duo’s final outing of the season. The pair competed in Wellington and in Tryon earlier this year and Hart felt that that the improvements they’ve been able to make in a short span will be crucial in her quest to be selected to the 2022 FEI Para Dressage World Championships in Herning, Denmark next summer.
“My expectations are the same for both of the horses. I always want to go in and work on the accuracy and the harmony, so I have the same expectations, but we do have different things that we are working on with each horse. It was a harder week for my physically this week, because I’m a south-Floridian, and the chilliness and dampness really kicks in my spasticity and everything, so it was really nice to have both of the horses be very kind and forgiving and still doing their jobs even when I can’t quite help them as much.”
As a veteran athlete for the U.S. Para Dressage Team, and last year’s national champion aboard El Corona Texel, Hart has seen the program grow over the years, as well as her own goals and aspirations. Looking ahead to the 2022 competition season, she already has the first CPEDI3* of the winter season in Wellington, Fla. marked as an opportunity to show off the work she hopes to accomplish with both Moola and Tex over the next four and a half months.
“We’re looking at that March CPEDI and we’re going to keep working on the fluidity and the harmony in the ring. I want to make those transitions smoother and we’re all dressage riders, we’re never happy,” chuckled Hart. “Working on that goal of perfection and making it look as easy and harmonious as possible and really showing them to the best of their abilities.”