Wellington, Fla. – The U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team presented by Deloitte had another victorious outing at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) presented by Deloitte on January 19-21. The team consisted of Sydney Collier (Ann Arbor, Mich.), Katie Jackson (Austin, Texas), Angela “Annie” Peavy (Wellington, Fla.), and Kate Shoemaker (Peoria, Ariz.).
The team competed in two tests – the FEI Team Test on Friday and the FEI Individual Test on Saturday – which each counted 50% toward the overall team score. The U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team presented by Deloitte won with a total team score of 414.754%, over Canada who scored 406.638%.
Assouline noted that this week’s strong performances are a good sign for the future.
“I’m really pleased with the progress,” he said. “It’s a long-term project; there is a big challenge because we are far from the standard of Europe, but I can already see changes. I can see here already that we have eight [scores] over 70% before the freestyles. We are aiming for Tokyo, and we have to get a good team for [the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) Tryon 2018].”
Riding in Grade IV was Shoemaker on Solitaer 40, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Craig and Deena Shoemaker. They finished third on Friday and then won on Saturday with scores of 69.708% and 71.463%, respectively.
It was a strong return to the competition ring for Solitaer 40, who has been back in work for six months since breaking his coffin bone.
“He’s gaining strength, and we’re finally getting back to where we were before,” said Shoemaker. “This is a really big deal for us to be here. The vets originally said WEG was going to be out of the question. We’re just delighted to be here and delighted that we’re getting better every day.”
Shoemaker noted that the judges gave her feedback on Friday for her horse to show more energy.
“We took that to heart and did that today in the warm-up, and it showed in the test as well,” she said. “They showed that they were much happier with that today, and we were pleased. He just felt fantastic. He was very with me every step of the way, asking, ‘What’s next? How much can I give?’ I think it really showed.”
In their first team performance representing the United States since Solitaer 40’s injury, Shoemaker said this competition was “really significant.”
She continued, “It was nice to have a nod from the selectors that they’re seeing an improvement and seeing it’s going in the right direction. WEG has been our unspoken goal. I think we need to take it up to the next notch and we’re going to get there. We’re heading in the right direction. It’s nice to have a confidence boost from the judges, in them saying, ‘Yes, this is heading in the right direction. Keep going.’”
Also competing in the Grade IV tests was 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympian Annie Peavy on Royal Dark Chocolate, a 10-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Rebecca Reno. They scored 72.833% in their team test on Friday, and returned for a score of 69.024% in the individual test on Saturday for third place.
“I was really happy with her,” said Peavy, the 2017 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Champion. “It’s been a year that I’ve owned her, so I think we’re really molding and understanding each other better each show. It’s just much more focused and down to each detail for the test that we need.
“Yesterday was obviously much better than today!” she continued. “Today there was some excitement with her in the arena, but even when we have those days, I never feel like it’s out of control. I still know her and she respects me. Yesterday she was just another level of supple, and going, and free in her body. It just felt very smooth.”
In Grade V, Jackson rode Royal Dancer, a 12-year-old Westphalian gelding she owns with Yancy Jackson. They scored 63.298% in the FEI Team test and received 65.000% in Saturday’s FEI Individual test for the win in both classes.
Collier, a 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympian, and Western Rose, a 14-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Wesley Dunham, scored 66.607% in the FEI Team test for Grade I and seventh place. On Saturday, they competed in the FEI Individual test and scored 65.119% for ninth place.
Along with increasing scores, Assouline also saw great team camaraderie at the CPEDI 3*.
“We have more unity,” he said. “It is a sport, but you need team spirit as well, where they are together. It drives the sport forward. Amicably speaking, they become more competitive, which is a good thing. It makes them ride better. That’s where the standard is getting higher. There are more [riders] now, and they’re more often together. It’s quite exciting to have all of these combinations that are breaking the 70% barrier.”
All four riders will return to the ring for the final day of competition and their individual FEI Freestyle tests at the AGDF on Sunday.
Watch the US Equestrian Learning Center video to learn more about para-equestrian dressage. Plus, follow USA Para-Dressage and US Equestrian on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all the latest from the competition.
The USEF International High Performance Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, USOC, and USEF Sponsors and Members.