By U.S. Equestrian Communications Department
Herning, Denmark – The Adequan U.S. Para Dressage Team finished a strong week at the ECCO FEI World Championships Herning 2022, taking two individual medals and team bronze in the Orifarm Health FEI Para Dressage World Championship. On the final day in the FEI Para Dressage Freestyles, the team saw all four combinations make their way down the centerline in BB Horse Arena.
Shoemaker and Quiana began the morning with a personal best in the FEI Para Dressage Grade IV Freestyle, receiving an 80.275 percent from the judging panel, marking a career goal for Shoemaker and showing a taste of what’s to come for the new combination. Shoemaker acquired the mare late in 2021 and is already thrilled with the momentum they’ve built as a combination and the relationship she has with the 2014 Rhinelander mare.
“This is a personal best score for us. We had so many goals coming into this, and a lot of the goals are out of your control because it involves what other people do, but we really wanted this 80 and I’m just so ecstatic we got it,” said Shoemaker. “I have to give all of the credit to my horse and my team. Without them I wouldn’t have the opportunity to sit up there and get to experience that. They all work so hard on my behalf, and we did it together.”
Roxanne Trunnell (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) piloted Fortunato H20 to a fantastic score in their first international championship together, earning a 76.447 percent. The score is a personal best for the duo and as the youngest horse in the entire field, the 2016 Oldenburg stallion owned by Lehua Custer, made an impressive debut with Trunnell in Grade I competition.
“This is the first time he’s doing this at a show, so it’s all been new to him,” said Trunnell. In terms of her music selection, which was a mix of Jurassic Park and Titanic, in her own words, noted that Michel thought the music would suit Fortunato H20 well. “He was super today. He was a little more tense today, but we worked through it and I’m really proud.”
In Grade II, Beatrice de Lavalette (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Sixth Sense overcame a few bobbles in their test to receive a 72.107 percent, good enough for fifth in the competitive division. The pair, who also are a first-time championship combination, consistently improved throughout the week and will take what they’ve learned this week and apply it to their training and program looking ahead to an exciting two years before team selection begins for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
“He was a little frisky today and we had a few bobbles where he trotted when we weren’t supposed to, but overall, I’m still really happy with the ride,” said de Lavalette. “Obviously I really am going to be focusing on Paris,” she explained as she discussed her takeaways from this championship. “It’s my hometown and one I don’t want to miss. We’re going to take everything we learned from this week, our bobbles, some of our areas that could have been marked higher and focus on improving those parts of our partnership.”
As the last ride of the day, Rebecca Hart (Wellington, Fla.) and El Corona Texel warmed up beautifully before the atmosphere of the arena unsettled the 2009 KWPN gelding owned by Rowan O’Riley. Hart kept her composure and reassured “Tex” through some spooking to finish their test and nailed their finale salute. The pair received a 72.080 percent from the judges, but Hart is sure that the pair can nail their freestyle in the future.
“That was very disappointing, I’m going to be honest. He warmed up so well and felt so good and we got in there and things were waving and moving, and it just overwhelmed him, but it happens and that’s horses,” explained Hart. “I was happy that I was able to keep him relatively relaxed through that. Historically through that I would have tightened up and shortened his neck, but I said to myself that we’re working on this new. relaxation approach and I wanted him to have a good experience in there still. We can do better and I’m looking forward to getting to ride a freestyle with him again, though we may change our music after this,” she laughed.