August 29, 2012 -- The four American horses presented before the Para-Equestrian Dressage Ground Jury in the main arena at the 2012 Olympic Games were deemed sound and fit to compete at Wednesday's Horse Inspection. The U.S. will be represented by two veteran riders and two rising stars, when competition begins Thursday with the Team Tests. A total of 15 teams and 19 individuals will be representing their countries.
At the Horse Inspection 77 horses were presented from 27 different nations. Two horses, Finland's Rosie and Norway's Ballantine, will be re-inspected tomorrow morning.
The U.S. horses looked to be in beautiful health and were exceptionally well-turned out due to the meticulous care of veterinarian Dr. Stacey Kent and their grooms. Missy Ransehousen serves as Chef d' Equipe for the U.S. team in London.
Rebecca Hart (Unionville, Pa.) is making her second appearance at the Paralympic Games after having represented the U.S. in 2008 at the Games in Hong Kong. She will ride Jessica Ransehousen's 20-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Lord Ludger in Grade II competition. Together the pair won the 2012 USEF National Para-Equestrian Championships and earned Hart her fifth National title. Lord Ludger is groomed by Alexandra Philpin and was presented at today's Horse Inspection by Missy Ransehousen.
The 27-year-old is excited to be representing the U.S. in London, a location that has special significance to the sport.
"This has been a really fabulous experience for Para-Equestrian because this is actually the birthplace of Para-Equestrian as a sport. So it's kind of a homecoming for the sport and it's great to get to represent our country here," said Hart. "Today we had the jog in a beautiful, beautiful backdrop of the Queen's House and always it's good to get that out of the way; all the U.S. horses looked really good. So I'm excited for tomorrow."
Also representing the U.S. in Grade II competition and making her U.S. team debut is Dr. Dale Dedrick of Ann Arbor, Mich. Dedrick will ride her own Bonifatius. With the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding Dedrick collected Reserve National Champion honors in 2011 and placed fourth in 2012. Meagan Szarek both grooms for Bonifatius and jogged him this morning.
Jonathan Wentz is the second veteran on the U.S. team and brings his partner from the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, NTEC Richter Scale. Wentz and Kai Handt's 18-year-old Shire cross gelding captured their first USEF National Para-Equestrian Championship in 2011 and were the Reserve Champions in 2012. Twenty-one year old Wentz rides in Grade 1b competition. NTEC Richter scale is looked after by Rachael Campbell and was presented today by Kai Handt.
The final member of the U.S. team in London is Donna Ponessa, who will ride Wesley Dunham's 9-year-old Oldenburg mare Western Rose. Ponessa, a Grade 1a competitor, claimed third place honors at the 2012 USEF National Para-Equestrian Championships with her Paralympic partner. Western Rose is cared for by Lisa Miller and was jogged by Wesley Dunham.
Ponessa (New Windsor, N.Y.) is extremely honored to be representing her country and is tremendously grateful to all those that helped her get to London.
"It makes me really proud to be an American. I'm just really, really proud to have made the journey with my support staff and team; it's such a team effort it wasn't done in a vacuum. We accomplished a lot in a relatively short amount of time and I'm pretty overwhelmed about being here."
Competition gets underway Thursday with the Grade II Team Test at 9:00am GMT and later in the afternoon at 2:00pm GMT with the Grade 1b Team Test.
For Results and Orders of Go visit; http://www.london2012.com/paralympics/equestrian/schedule-and-results/
Follow the 2012 U.S. Para-Equestrian Team here.