Two-time Paralympian Rebecca Hart has purchased Romani, an 11-year-old Danish Warmblood mare, with the help of Margaret Duprey, Cherry Knoll Farm, Hart’s family, William and Sally Kimmel and Sycamore Station Equine Division.
“It was a massively joint effort, and I am honored to be a part of it," said Hart, Unionville, Pa. “I have a huge support system. It's as much their victory as mine.”
Hart, who trains with Missy and Jessica Ransehousen, retired her former top mount, Lord Ludger, after the 2012 London Paralympics. The 16.2-hand Romani was imported from Denmark late last year.
“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,” Hart, 29, said. “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.”
Hart, who has birth-onset hereditary spastic paraplegia, a degenerative disease that causes muscle wasting and paralysis, competes in Grade II tests. She’s aiming for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (France). The pair will first compete at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival 10 CPEDI*** Wellington, Fla., in March and then will fly out of Miami for CPEDI*** competitions in Belgium and France.