Hart Maintains Lead in USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship

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June 4, 2014 -- The USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship continued on Wednesday with all 24 competitors performing their second tests of the week. Before the Ground Jury of Adrienne Pot, David Schmutz, and Kristi Wysocki, riders demonstrated the FEI Individual Tests in their respective grade to earn a further 40% of their championship score in the Dick and Jane Brown Arena at the historic USET Foundation Headquarters in Gladstone, N.J. Rebecca Hart maintained her overall lead and lies on a championship average of 74.073 as she looks to secure her sixth National Title.

Hart (Unionville, Pa.) and her own 11-year-old Danish Warmblood Schroeter's Romani performed an accurate, flowing Grade II Individual Test to score 73.048 on Wednesday. With their win on Wednesday the pair, which had spent much of the spring in Europe, earned their second victory of the championship after claiming top honors in the Team Test on Tuesday.

Credit: SusanJStickle.com Hart and Schroeter's Romani on Tuesday

Credit: SusanJStickle.com Hart and Schroeter's Romani on Tuesday

"Today she wasn't quite as in front of my leg as I would have liked but it was one of those rides where you just have to ride what you have," said Hart of her Individual Test. "And today it paid off."

The 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games and 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games veteran is enjoying competing at the storied USET Foundation Headquarters and believes this week is a great illustration of how far the sport of para-equestrian dressage has come in recent years.

"Gladstone is so historic and to ride here and in this ring where all the greats have ridden is fantastic. Para has grown so much in the past couple of years, to fill the upper and lower barn and have more than 20 riders when we only had five or six a few years ago is amazing."

Lying in second place in the Championship following two tests are Margaret McIntosh (Reading, Pa.) and her own eight-year-old Rheindlander mare Rio Rio on a score of 71.159. On Wednesday the combination scored 69.928 in their Grade 1A Individual Test, a mark that would have been higher had they not incurred an error for going off course midway through their test.

McIntosh was pragmatic about the mistake and looks forward to riding her Freestyle with Rio Rio on Thursday.

"I have no good reason for forgetting my test today. Yesterday my test was a dream and I think I got a little caught up in the excitement of that. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, you can't go off course in your Freestyle!" said McIntosh. "Rio Rio loves the music and it really picks her up and keeps her going forward."

Grade 1B competitor, Sydney Collier (Ann Arbor, Mich.), stands in third place overall with Victoria Dugan's 14-year-old Warmblood gelding Willi Wesley on an average of 71.138. On Wednesday they scored 71.609 for their Individual Test.

In Grade IV competition, Susan Treabess (Winters, Calif.) and Kathryn Hill's nine-year-old PRE stallion Kamiakin secured their second win of the week as they topped the Individual Test with a score of 71.627. Angela Peavy (Avon, Conn.) also earned her second win of the championship after topping the Grade III FEI Individual Test with Rebecca Reno's 8-year-old Trakehner gelding Ozzy Cooper on a score of 69.228. Hart and Schroeter's Romani were the winners of the Grade II Individual Test to help them maintain their overall lead. Collier again bested herself in the Grade 1B Individual Test earning a repeat victory with Willi Wesley. Roxanne Trunnell (Rowlett, Texas) and her own 19-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Nice Touch were the winners of the Grade 1A Individual Test after scoring 70.652.

Marsha Cullen (Claremore, Okla.) and her own nine-year-old Draft cross gelding Latte kicked off of the day as they performed their Grade II Team Test. After starting their test on Tuesday they were unable to complete their performance because of lightning in the area. The combinations scored 61.863, finishing in fifth place, to bring Team Test competition to a close. On Wednesday afternoon Cullen and Latte scored 62.286 in the Grade II Team Test finishing in fifth.

Championship competition is extremely close heading into the final Freestyle tests, which will count for the final 20% of the championship score, with less than a point and a half separating second through eighth place.

For score, results and orders of go visit; http://www.foxvillage.com/fvdshowresults/(gk5mitujwaurfi55exs2hqvs)/ClassList.aspx?sh=2364&st=1

Follow the U.S. Para-Equestrian Team here.