Six-Time U.S. Para-Equestrian Champion Rebecca Hart with her mount Schroeters Romani, her groom Alex Philpin, and Margaret Duprey (co-owner of Schroeters Romani) after winning at the World Equestrian Games, selection trials and National Championships in Gladstone NJ, June 4.
Rebecca Hart, Unionville, PA, claimed her sixth USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship June 5 at the USET Foundation Headquarters in Gladstone, N.J. over a field of 24 entries.
Hart and her own Schroeter's Romani, who she has only been riding since November after purchasing the mare in Europe, closed out the week scoring 76.917 for her Freestyle to finish on a championship score of 74.642. The two-time Paralympian rode the 11-year-old Danish Warmblood to her familiar "Classical Gas" melody, increasing the level of difficulty by adding lateral movements.
"When I first rode her, I knew she was very special," said the Grade II rider of Schroeter's Romani. "She was really willing to work with me, and her body and my body worked right away, and mentally we were right in sync."
Hart, who has enjoyed seeing the sport of para-equestrian dressage grow in the United States, believes that all the riders in the program are inspiring each other to reach new competitive heights.
"I think that pressure is always there," said Hart of her quest to capture her sixth National Championship. "To see the growth (in the sport in the U.S.) from where it was when I first started is amazing. The pressure is always there, but that is a good thing."
Earning the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Reserve Championship was Margaret McIntosh of Reading, PA and Rio on a score off 71.582. The former eventer and her own eight-year-old Rheindlander mare performed an up-tempo Freestyle set to music from "The King and I" to score 73.500 in the final Grade 1A test of the week.
"I came here with very few expectations and I'm very satisfied with my horse," said an excited McIntosh of her second National Championship appearance. "She is a little green, but she was great all week and I'm very happy."
Finishing the championship in third place were Roxanne Trunnell (Rowlett, Texas) and her own 19-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, Nice Touch, on a total of 71.582.
Hart was the overall victor in the Grade II Championship and McIntosh won the overall Grade 1A championship, while Trunnell won the Freestyle. Hart also claimed highest honors in the individual and team tests held June 3 and 4.
"The caliber of riding has gone through the roof," said Ground Jury member Kristi Wysocki of the 2014 National Champion field. "It was very exciting to judge because our riders are so good."
Following the event, the USEF named Hart and Schroeter’s Romani as the first of 10 horse-and-athlete combinations listed by ranking on the Short List for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team. The top four ranked horse-and-athlete combinations will serve as the Team and the fifth-ranked combination will serve as the self-funded Individual.