Wellington, Fla. – March 16, 2021 – The Perrigo CPEDI3* presented by Adequan and Nutrena took place on the ninth week of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Fla. With Chef d’Equipe Michel Assouline at the helm, the US team of Beatrice de Lavalette (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and her new mount Clarc, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Elizabeth and Nicolas de Lavalette; Rebecca Hart (Loxahatchee, Fla.) aboard El Corona Texel, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Rowan O’Riley; Kate Shoemaker (Wellington, Fla.) and Solitaer 40, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Kate, Craig, and Deena Shoemaker; and anchored by Roxanne Trunnell (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and Dolton, a 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Karen Flint and Flintwoode Farms LLC, rode to several personal bests and top placings.
In a highlight effort of the weekend, Trunnell and Dolton, who are currently the top ranked para dressage combination in the world, executed a clean and relaxed test in the FEI Para Dressage Individual Test on Saturday evening to receive an 83.334% from the judging panel – the highest score ever recorded in the FEI Para Individual Test in any grade.
“It feels great to break a world record,” Trunnell said. “Dolton is a very nice horse, and I am proud of him.”
Next up, the combination will head to the June CPEDI in Tryon, like many other North American para dressage riders hoping to make it onto teams for the Tokyo Paralympics. Trunnell noted, “I am looking forward to Tryon. Dolton really likes to compete there, and Tokyo will be fun if we get selected for the team.”
Team competition began on Friday, March 12, and featured combinations testing the FEI Para Team Test with Trunnell guiding Dolton to the best score of the evening, an 80.119% in Grade I. De Lavalette and Clarc placed second in Grade II with a 66.869%, while Hart piloted El Corona Texel to a 75.784% and second place in Grade III. Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 recorded a 75.292%, a personal best for the combination in the Para Team Test in Grade IV.
“I was really looking for consistency this week. It’s too early for us to peak right now, so I said to our athletes, ‘Let’s be safe and make sure we have some decent scores,’” said Assouline. “Some of them performed higher than expected, but also it’s important to keep in mind that some of them performed on the safer-side, so given all of those factors, the scores were just excellent. We have something very special happening right now within our program.”
The team returned on Saturday evening to compete in the FEI Para Individual Test held under the lights at AGDF, creating a championship-like atmosphere to determine final team placings. Trunnell and Dolton wowed with record breaking mark of 83.334% in the first test of the evening, setting a strong tone for the three remaining combinations. De Lavalette and Clarc earned a 69.461% to win Grade II competition before Hart and El Corona Texel received a 71.618% in Grade III competition to help build the overall team score. Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 earned their second career-high score of the weekend with a 74.390% in Grade IV to round out the team’s performance before finishing the week with a score of 77.442% in the Freestyle.
“It’s been a really breakthrough week for my horse and I,” Shoemaker said. “We’ve been working on finding the next level within the gaits at home, and this is the first time that we’ve really seen that reflected in the show arena, so I was really excited that he was able to give that to me. The feeling was just incredible throughout the weekend. To finish on the freestyle with such a top score was really rewarding, and I’m just really happy with it all overall!”
“It still remains that we have work to be done, particularly in our Freestyles, and there’s still improvements we can make. It is a big challenge because there are not many opportunities to ride and practice the Freestyle, but we’re working on providing more opportunities because that’s what we need to prepare,” continued Assouline. “Overall, I’m very pleased with the week and where we are at the moment as a team.”
In the FEI Grade III Level of the Perrigo CPEDI3*, Canada’s Lauren Barwick dominated, earning blue ribbons in the Team, Individual, and Freestyle classes throughout the weekend, ending with a score of 77.656% in the Freestyle on Sunday.
“It’s been a longtime since I’ve gone three for three,” began Barwick. “Rebecca Hart (USA) is such a phenomenal competitor and has such great horses. She makes you work for everything in the arena. Her horse is just so competitive that it makes me want to be a better rider, and I know that I have to work for everything in there.”
Barwick piloted Lee Garrod’s 2012 Westphalian by Spirit of Westfalia, Sandrino, throughout the weekend, and has only been partnered with the gelding for just over a year. “We are still getting to know each other and trust each other,” she explained. “My plan moving forward is the event in Tryon and then hopefully Tokyo. This horse was acquired by Lee, my sponsor, for the main purpose of competing in Tokyo for Team Canada. So, we will go to Tryon and hopefully be selected for our country’s team.”