Ten U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage athlete-and-horse combinations competed at the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage Invitational Event July 6-8, 2018. Hosted by Wheatland Farm in Purcellville, VA, the invitational served as an opportunity for combinations to qualify for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG).
Without the staff, volunteers, sponsors, and each of the U.S. riders this event would not have been the success it was. This invitational mock competition was not a standalone selection trial. Results from this competition were one of the components used in determining the Short List/Nominated Entries for the WEG.
Wheatland Farm went above and beyond to create a first-class event where each rider could focus on their horse and their tests. USPEA acknowledges the support of not only Wheatland Farm but USEF including Will Connell (Director of Sport), USET Foundation (who sponsored an evening barbecue), Wegmans, Bentley, Triple Crown, Southern States, John Deere, Tart Lumber, Atwood Surfaces, Antares, Adequan and Allyn Mann, photographers Tylir Penton and the Purcellville Gazette, and the volunteers and staff at the Invitational Event.
Wheatland Farm’s involvement began in 1999 when Irish Tenor Mark Forrest and his wife, Muriel started the Faith & Family Foundation, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization to help families just like theirs. Owners of Wheatland Farms and parents of eight boys—one who passed away as a baby, and their beloved son Johnny who passed in 2017—Mark and Muriel know only too well the challenges of raising children with serious illness. Working to create a balanced home life for their special needs boys, and their very active, typically developing ones, Mark and Muriel realized that programs and services for families like theirs were few and far between. In 2017, Wheatland Farm was recognized as a US Equestrian/USPEA Para-Dressage Center of Excellence in addition to being a PATH International member therapeutic riding and equine assisted activities and therapies program. Wheatland is also a fully inclusive traditional English riding program; provides adaptive and traditional aquatics, an adaptive hair salon, a wheelchair lending and detailing program, and fun outdoor activities. All programs are designed to include siblings and typically developing children in an all-inclusive environment, and are provided by The Faith & Family Foundation at Wheatland Farm throughout the year. As a Center of Excellence, Wheatland Farm will continue to grow as they become an Elite Training Center for Para-Dressage. Mr. and Mrs. Forest’s goal is to have available quality dressage horses & instruction for Para Dressage riders to give them a strong foundation to learn & excel in the sport.
Hope Hand, President of the USPEA, noted, “The Forrest Family is all about working as a Team. I know our athletes benefited greatly from this experience. Thank you Wheatland for your support and vision to help the Para-Dressage Sport meet gold medal standards.”
The selectors, in consultation with the USEF Para-Equestrian High Performance Consultant, Chef d’Equipe, and Team Vet, recommended these combinations to the Para-Equestrian Sport Committee for invitation to the event. With the approval of the Para-Equestrian Sport Committee, the following combinations were selected to compete July 6-8, 2018, listed in alphabetical order. Further naming of the Short List/FEI Nominated Entries for the WEG Deloitte U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team will occur in the near future.
Michele Bandinu (Santa Barbara, CA) and Soulman 13, his nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding, and Skagen 5, his 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding.
Rebecca Hart (Wellington, FL) and El Corona Texel, Rowan O’Riley’s nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, and Fortune 500, Rowan O’Riley’s eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding.
Katie Jackson (Austin, TX) and Diesel, her 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding.
Margaret McIntosh (Reading, PA) and Heros, her 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare.
Angela Peavy (Wellington, FL) and Royal Dark Chocolate, Rebecca Reno’s 10-year-old Oldenburg mare.
Kate Shoemaker (Peoria, AZ) and Solitaer 40, the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding she owns with Craig Shoemaker and Deena Shoemaker.
Deborah Stanitski (Charleston, SC) and Butterfinger Bonanza, her 20-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare.
Roxanne Trunnell (Rowlett, TX) and Dolton, Kate Shoemaker’s six-year-old Hanoverian gelding.
An invitation to the training event and mock competition does not guarantee that a combination will be named to the Short List/FEI Nominated Entries for the WEG Deloitte U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team.