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February 4, 2014

Group Effort Nets New Horse for Para-Equestrian Rebecca Hart

Romani and Rebecca Hart. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Hart.

Wellington, FL- February 4, 2014 - Rebecca Hart, a two-time Para-Olympic athlete, has a new horse, thanks to a group of people who believe in her. 


Hart's new horse, Romani, an 11-year-old Danish Warmblood mare, was purchased with the help of Margaret Duprey and Cherry Knoll Farm, Hart's family, William and Sandy Kimmel and Sycamore Station Equine Division.


"It was a massively joint effort and I am honored to be a part of it," the equestrian said. "I have a huge support system. It's as much their victory as mine."

She hails from Unionville, PA, and trains with Missy and Jessica Ransehousen.


In 2012, she won the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship title aboard Lord Ludger. Her former mount, owned by the Ransehousens, was retired to a life of eating grass, hacking and light riding at the age of 21 after the 2012 London Olympic Games.


Hart and Lord Ludger placed just out of the medals at the both the 2008 and the 2012 Para-Olympic Games and she hopes Romani is the key to future success. The pair will arrive in Wellington in February and will be based out of Duprey's Cherry Knoll Farm. They will compete in the Adequan Global Dressage Festival 10 CPEDI3* Para-Equestrian Dressage show in Wellington in March and then fly out of Miami for CPEDI3* competitions in Belgium and France.


Hart plans to qualify for the June 2014 Para-Equestrian National Championship and Selection Trials in Gladstone, NJ, with the ultimate goal of participating in the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France. Beyond that, she wants to go for the gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Hart thinks Romani could be the perfect partner. She said the 16.2 hand mare arrived from Denmark at the end of November and is athletic, supple and fun to ride. She had a comfortable connection with the horse the first time she rode her.


"A para horse has to have something special to make it as an international horse, but at the same time, it also has to understand the disability and have a fantastic brain and personality to go along with that," she explained. "It was funny. She sized me up when I met her. She looked me up and down - it was the most bizarre experience I've ever had with a horse. She's like, 'I understand that your legs don't work. I hear what you're saying.' And off we went."


She said that when she mounted Romani in Denmark, it was the first time in 18 years of riding that sitting in the saddle did not hurt her hip.


Hart has birth-onset hereditary spastic paraplegia, a degenerative disease that causes muscle wasting and paralysis, and credits riding with her continued mobility and ability to walk. She said that the more people understand para-equestrian riding, the better it will be for the sport.


"Para-equestrian actually means that it's parallel to able-bodied sports," she said. "It just happens to be with riders who have disabilities. We compete at all the same venues as the able-bodied riders, and we're held to the same FEI standards. There are just different aides and compensations."

 

Hart added that she's thankful for her support team who has recognized that she competes in a legitimate high-performance sport.

 

"I can't thank them enough for helping me fulfill my lifelong dream and for allowing me to share my adventure with them," she said. "Every time we succeed, it's as much their victory as it is my own."


 
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