Mill Spring, N.C. – Sept 22, 2018 – The U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team presented by Deloitte continued making history for the program by adding three more individual medals to their collection. Athletes Rebecca Hart, Kate Shoemaker, and Roxanne Trunnell increased the medal tally for the U.S. at the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) Tryon 2018 on Saturday in their respective Freestyle divisions.
Grades, Hart (Grade III) won the silver medal with a score of 73.240 percent. This marked her second medal of the games, moving up a podium step from her bronze medal performance on Wednesday. Shoemaker (Grade IV) and Trunnell (Grade I) earned their first WEG medals, bronzes, with scores of 73.230 percent and 75.587 percent, respectively. In addition, Annie Peavy competed in Grade IV earning a score of 71.660 percent. Scoring above 70%, all four combinations showed their consistency and progression.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to end [a home WEG] with four medals. This is the best [performance] we have had in terms of medals, and this is our best show since I started in this sport,” said Chef d’Equipe Kai Handt. “We have a very young team with young horses, and over the last four days, they got more secure with them. I think the girls were pumped to show what they really could do. We have a fantastic staff now with the changes we made in the last year; it’s really paying off now. I want to thank all our staff and supporters, our team leader Laureen Johnson, [US Equestrian Director of Sport] Will Connell, Michele Assouline, our fantastic sponsors, and the support team standing behind these athletes.”
Saturday’s medal count began when Kate Shoemaker (Peoria, Ariz.) and Solitaer 40, the 10-year-old Hanoverian stallion she owns with Craig and Deena Shoemaker, executed a dramatic, yet elegant test to a mixed composition featuring music from Jurrasic Park choreographed by Tom Hunt. It was one of “Soli’s” best Freestyle scores and a result Shoemaker felt most proud to end with at her first WEG.
“Today’s ride was everything I could have asked for. Soli had one of his best rides, and to be able to do it on the last day of [para-dressage at] the WEG with our music and everything that we worked so hard for, it’s a wonderful feeling. I am super proud of my horse and everyone on my team,” said Shoemaker. “I’m somewhere above cloud nine; I was light-headed for the first five minutes [after finding out] and I could hardly stand up; I was so elated. This was a dream of mine since I knew [the WEG] was a possibility. The chance to be on a podium is something you think will never happen and then to chase it and get here is amazing.”
Trunnell (Rowlett, Texas) and Dolton boosted the U.S. para-dressage medal count with an exquisite, heartwarming routine set to the music from Forrest Gump. She and the six-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Kate Shoemaker have only been working with the music for about a year, but their bronze medal score, an all-time personal best FEI score for her, further validated they are on the right track with their routine.
“The test was awesome, he [flowed] with the music; it fits him perfect. I’ve been working for a while for this, and to have it come true on a young horse is cool. It feels good to be part of the U.S. team; everyone has been working so hard and it’s finally paying off,” said Trunnell.
Capping off an already emotion-filled day, Hart (Wellington, Fla.) concluded para-dressage competition at the WEG as the final Freestyle performance of the day. Itching to climb at least a spot on the podium, Hart and El Corona Texel held the U.S. fan base in suspense as she and the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Rowan O’Riley glided from movement-to-movement to an “ethereal” musical number by Marlene Whitaker.
“I didn’t know I won a [silver] medal [right away]. I thought they were lying. I’m loving this team; it’s absolutely fantastic,” said Hart. “All the hard work behind the scenes and on the field of play. We have amazing support from US Equestrian and USET and new leadership with Michelle Assouline coming in and advancing our at-home training programs and schedules to bring the best foot forward and making sure we’re peaking at the right time. The quality of horses and the support of our own individual teams is amazing.”
Peavy (Wellington, Fla.) and Royal Dark Chocolate were the first combination to head down centerline to begin the day of Freestyle competition. She and the mare finished their WEG out on a high note, earning their highest score of the week and placing seventh in Grade IV. They performed their test set to the music of Chocolat, a special piece of music that Peavy thinks suits her mare nicely.
“I was really pleased with my ride today in the Freestyle. She felt calmer, still listening to me and on the aids [more than] she has ever been at a show before. Especially, since the recovery from Thursday, she was just really with me and on every moment.”