June 29, 2010 -- Three days of competition for the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship concluded on June 27 at the stunning Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Ill., which has hosted this event for each of the past three years.
"This is the largest number of riders we have ever seen," said Sandy Raferty, Chairman of the USEF Para-Equestrian High Performance Committee. "We are thrilled with the turnout."
Eighteen riders competed in either a Long Course or Short Course format before the panel of international judges: Carlos Lopes (POR), Chris Porterfield (GBR), and Lillian Iannone (ARG). The combined score from Friday's Team test, Saturday's Individual test and Sunday's Freestyle competition was used to determine the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Champion.
U.S. Para-Equestrian team veteran Rebecca Hart came out on top again this year, winning the Short Course--however, this year she outdid herself by winning the National Championship title on Kazan and National Reserve Champion on Nortessa.
"I am overwhelmed and it is such an honor, both horses have exceeded my expectations," said Hart.
Robin Brueckmann finished third overall dominating all three tests of the Long Course format competition aboard Raison D'Etre. Brueckmann speaks fondly about the opportunity her good friend Elly Schobel, who owns Rais, has afforded her.
"We both want to get to the World Equestrian Games," said Brueckman.
Laura Goldman on Carlingford JD "is our rising star" said USEF Director of Para-Equestrian Pam Lane who continued "Laura has just recently begun competing and is an inspiration on the team" finishing fourth overall.
Sheer determination drives fifth place Susan Ellen Treabess, when speaking about her mount Moneypenny, "she is there, it's me who has to get it right."
Holly Bergay aboard Grand Ballerina, Johnathan Wentz on NTEC Richter Scale, Wendy Fryke and Lateran, Jennifer Baker and Duel, and Mary Jordan with Paxton Abbey made up the remainder of the top 10 finishers.
There was more at stake than a national title this past weekend, the competition also served as the selection trial for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games where 10 Para-Equestrian horse rider combinations will be named to represent the United States on the world stage this fall in Kentucky. Selectors Kim Kelly, Laura Sheer, Lynn Sneidmann, David Schmutz and Sandy Raferty were ringside the entire competition.
"We are really pleased with the process," said Raferty, "There is a lot of pressure with all the eggs in one basket here, the perseverance and the reserve of the riders is impressive."
The U.S. will send 10 horse/rider combinations to the Games.