Mill Spring, NC, – Four Canadian Para-Dressage Team members rode down the centreline on Sept. 19, 2018, at the FEI World Equestrian Games ™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) in Mill Spring, NC to compete in the Individual Championship.
Kicking it off in the morning was the Grade III Individual Championship, with two Canadian Paralympians, Lauren Barwick of Reddick, FL and Roberta Sheffield from Lincolnshire, GBR, representing the maple leaf.
Riding Engelbrecht (Vivaldi x Rimini 41), a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding she co-owns with Brenda Ladd, Barwick earned solid scores of 7.0 and above for individual Grade III movements, which include medium walk, volte and half circles. Her total score was 68.912% for eighth place. As part of the top 10, Barwick has secured her invite forward into the Grade III Freestyle on Sept. 22, 2018.
“I am super happy to be here,” said Barwick, 41, a four-time Paralympian and three-time World Equestrian Games competitor who brought home silver and bronze medals from WEG 2014. “I rode the test tactfully. This was our third competition and he is still young. He did well. It is a new partnership and I needed him to have a good experience because we are looking ahead (to Tokyo 2020).”
Speaking to the overall experience thus far in Tryon, Barwick continued, “I have so much appreciation for the amazing crew I have here, my husband and our Team Canada group. Everyone has been supportive. It has been one of the best team environments I have experienced so far.”
Having been reclassified earlier this year from Grade IV to III under the FEI classification system for athletes, Sheffield, 38, competed alongside Barwick with a new mount, her 16-year-old Andalusian stallion, Bailaor XXXIII (Minero VII x Tetano III), affectionately known as “Buddy”. The duo earned 12th place on 65.529% after scoring high with the judges in movements that required regularity, flexion and bend, with their highest score awarded for the medium trot.
“It felt very good to go in there today,” said Sheffield, who debuted Bailaor earlier this year, winning all three classes at the Somma Lombardo CPEDI 3* in June. “Competing at a major games in a new grade is a learning experience for both of us. For me, it has been really good for my riding and having to go so crystal clean on all the basics. It’s all about rhythm. It’s a much bigger adjustment for Buddy, but he is a super horse and tries really hard.”
The gold medal in the Grade III Individual Test was awarded to Rixt van der Horst from the Netherlands, who scored 73.735% with Findsley. Natasha Baker and Mount St John Diva Dannebrog from Great Britain took silver with 72.471%, and bronze went to Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel from the United States on 72.235%.
The heat was on with the start of the Grade I Individual Test in the afternoon. Representing Canada was first-time major games competitor, Winona Hartvikson, 59, of Langley, BC, and Canadian Paralympian, Jody Schloss, 45, of Toronto, ON.
Hartvikson and Ultimo (Invasor III x Teodoro), the 11-year-old Andalusian gelding she co-owns with Jane MacDonald, earned 10th place. Impressively, the duo captured scores above 73% from two judges and had a final total of 69.893%.
The duo had scores above 7.0 for several of the movements, including the serpentine – three equal loops 5m along either side of the centreline that is judged on regularity and quality of walk, balance, bend, size and shape of loops, smooth change of direction, and contact.
“Ultimo gave me what he could in this heat and humidity,” said Hartvikson. “It was very hot out there but I am pleased. He had steady contact and he stayed forward. He just went in there like an old pro, but we all know he doesn’t have much experience, so he definitely put his heart right out there.”
Scoring high in directives that included regularity, suppleness of the back, activity and straightness, Schloss, also had a strong showing with her 14-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, Lieutenant Lobin (Lobster x Fanal Prydsholm). She earned 13th place on a score of 66.893%.
“I am so proud of Lieutenant Lobin,” said Schloss. “He was listening to everything I said. At home, we sometimes have troubles in the volte 8m circle, but he did it perfectly today. It has been an amazing experience here so far.”
Sara Morganti of Italy was crowned the Individual Grade I winner with her mount, Royal Delight on a score of 74.750%. Singapore’s Laurentia Yen-Yi Tan and Fuerst Sherlock took silver on 73.750%, while Elke Philipp and Fuerst Sinclair captured bronze with 73.143% for Germany.
“We have come a long way in 18 months,” said Clive Milkins, Canadian Para-Dressage Technical Leader and Chef d’Équipe. “As far as I’m concerned, the four athletes had some challenges along the way with slight hiccups, but all four horses and athletes have been absolutely outstanding. They have been professional, quiet and delivered the results that we wanted thus far.”
The Canadian Para-Dressage Team’s next challenge will be the Team Test on Sept. 21.