The Canadian Para-Equestrian Team has kicked-off their 2013 season with a big win at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival WEF Dressage Classic CPEDI3*. Not only were they victorious in the team competition, but the Canadians riders also won 10 of the 15 classes offered at the international competition which was held at the lovely Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, March 14-17, in Wellington, FL.

Using the combined scores from the Team test and Individual Championship test, Canadians Lauren Barwick, Ashley Gowanlock, Lynne Poole and Jody Schloss won the team competition with a total of 399.598%, while the host nation, United States, finished second with 373.422%.

In individual competition, Schloss of Toronto, ON, won all three of her Grade 1a classes riding Inspector Rebus, her 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. The pair received 63.913% for their Team test, 65.362% for the Individual Championship test and 69.000% in the Freestyle. Also competing in Grade 1a was Robyn Andrews of St. Johns, NL, riding her horse Fancianna, a 12-year-old Warmblood mare. The pair finished in second place in all of their tests, scoring 63.116% in the team test, 64.130% in the Individual Championship test and 65.500% Freestyle score.

Riding Lauren Barwick’s 14-year-old Oldenburg mare, Ferdonia 2, Gowanlock, of Surrey, BC, also won all three of the Grade 1b tests – Team Test (65.200%), Individual Championship test (67.011%), and Freestyle 68.417%.

Team veteran Barwick of Aldergrove, BC, rode Equine Canada’s 12-year-old Oldenburg mare, Off to Paris, to top scores in Grade II over the three days earning 68.922% in the Team test, 69.190% in the Individual Championship test, and 68.667% in the Freestyle, also winning all three classes.

“We are isolating movements we need to improve on – separating them from everything else so that we can work on them and then put the tests back together. This is a challenge for me, because I love the big picture, and with such focus on some of the other movements, we lose some of the portions of the tests we usually excel in,” said Barwick who is also a Parelli 4 Star Professional and a 2008 Paralympic gold and silver medalist. “Being the first international competition since London, it felt fairly low stress. I am really looking forward to preparing the mare for 2014 World Equestrian games.

“I was also very excited to have Ferdonia 2 back in the arena after an injury last year. She has been back in training for only the past four months, and I was thrilled with her scores. I am looking forward to getting her back to her brilliant self,” added Barwick.

In Grade VI Team test, Lynne Poole of Schomberg, ON, finished in first (64.048%), riding Vasco E, her 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, and fifth riding Frisbee, her 21-year-old Welsh gelding. Madison Lawson of Bonfield, ON, rode her horse McGuire, her 18-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding, to third place with 63.016%. In the Individual Championship test, Poole and Vasco E placed third, scoring 64.524%. Poole and her second horse Frisbee were fifth, while Lawson and McGuire moved up to second with 64.960%. Lawson and McGuire also placed second in the Grade VI Freestyle, scoring 68.667%, while Poole and Vasco E were third with 67.167%. With Frisbee, Poole rounded out the Canadian entries with a score of 65.250% for fourth place.

“I am pleased with how this competition went,” said acting chef d’√©quipe and national team coach Andrea Taylor. “It is the first time I’ve seen some of the riders compete since London, and the judges weren’t giving any marks away just because the sun was shining. Some obvious mistakes were made but on the whole the riders came out and got on with the job. I was really pleased by the quality of the coaching the Canadian riders are receiving from their personal coaches. This is a huge step forward for Para-Equestrian Dressage in Canada.”

This competition in Florida was made possible through the Own the Podium program, a national sport technical initiative designed to help Canada’s summer and winter athletes achieve podium success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.