By U.S. Equestrian Communications Department
Herning, Denmark – Rebecca Hart (Wellington, Fla.) and El Corona Texel secured the first medal of the games for the U.S. contingent, bringing home an individual bronze medal in the Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Individual Grade III Championship presented by Elsass Fonden. The duo received a 73.147 percent for third, while Tobias Thorning Joergensen (DEN) and Jolene Hill took gold with a 78.676 percent and Natasha Baker (GBR) and Keystone Dawn Chorus earned silver on a 73.970 percent.
Hart and El Corona Texel, a 2009 KWPN gelding owned by Rowan O’Riley, put on a harmonious display in their Grade III Individual Test, receiving strong marks in their trot work and bringing a relaxed and light presence to the BB Horse Arena. The pair are the most veteran combination on the Adequan U.S. Para Dressage Team for this championship and Hart was pleased with their overall performance on their first day of competition.
“I’m feeling really good about that test. Text can be a little bit spicy sometimes and we’ve been working a lot on his relaxation and getting what we have in the warm-up and bringing that lovliness into the competition arena,” explained Hart. “I really enjoyed the mediums and the comeback today. He stayed there and I took a breath in and he was right there and all of it I could really just enjoy and not micromanage things and it was a really nice feeling. He was so much happier out there and it’s nice to have a happy athlete and happy horse.”
The duo has been working at home on desensitization and finding a new training routine that best suits the needs of Tex and finding a relaxed balance with energy to bring to the arena from their warm-up and home training.
“We’ve been tweaking a few things at home and this is the first big championship environment we’ve been able to try it in and it’s worked really well. He gave me a great feeling today,” explained Hart. “For me, we’ve found that doing a walk tour instead of a trot tour before we go into the ring actually works better for him. He can see everything, take a breath and focus. Earlier in our career, I never thought I would be able to do that because we would lose energy, but he’s with me even more now because he’s comfortable in his own space.”
Touting her incredible support team and reflecting on the past four years since her first individual medal in Tryon, Hart noted that her growth as an athlete and person and Tex’s growth as a horse has been immense and they continue to learn from each other.
“I am wildly excited to see our program growing like this. I am here with three amazing riders on new young, incredibly talented horses, and to have depth in our program where we’ve got riders with multiple horses and sponsors who are so strongly behind us, it’s just fantastic to see where we are now compared to twenty years ago and to consistently be in that medal hunt is the goal,” said Hart. “I want to see my teammates up on the podium with me and that’s what I’m looking forward to for the rest of the week and will give us something to look forward too.”
Team competition begins tomorrow with the Team Tests for Grade IV, II, and I, while Hart will conclude competition for team medals on Saturday with Grade III. Competition will begin tomorrow with Grade IV at 12:21 p.m. GMT+2/6:21 a.m. ET with Kate Shoemaker and Quiana, while Beatrice de Lavalette and Sixth Sense will head into the ring for Grade II competition at 4:43 p.m. GMT+2/10:43 a.m. ET. Roxie Trunnell and Fortunato H20 will be the last combination in for the team on Friday, riding at 6:52 p.m. GMT+2/12:52 p.m. ET.