Bronze For Becca: Hart Earns First U.S. Medal In Herning

Aug 11, 2022 - 1:04 PM

This story has been updated with results from the Grade V individual competition.

Rebecca Hart earned the United States’ first medal of the ECCO FEI World Championships Thursday morning, taking bronze in the Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Individual Grade III Championship in Herning, Denmark.

Tobias Thorning Joergensen earned another medal for the home country, taking gold with a 78.67% on Jolene Hill. Natasha Baker of Great Britain just bested Hart to earn silver with a 73.97% on Keystone Dawn Chorus.

Hart and El Corona Texel, who scored a 73.14%, previously earned silver and bronze individual medals at the 2018 Tryon World Equestrian Games (North Carolina) and were members of the bronze medal team at last year’s Tokyo Paralympics. Hart has been a member of the Adequan U.S. Para Dressage Team since the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.

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Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel earned the first medal of the ECCO FEI World Championships for Team USA. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Equestrian Federation

” ‘Tex’ can be quite spicy sometimes,” Hart said after her test. “So we’ve been working a lot on his relaxation, and just getting what we have in the warm up and being able to present the loveliness that he can do in the actual competition arena. We’ve changed a few things at home, and it’s the first big championship that we’ve been able to try it with him in this kind of environment. And he really came up and gave me really good answers today.

“I really enjoyed his mediums and his [transitions in and out of it], because sometimes he can get a little tight, and he actually just stayed there. And I took a breath in, and he came right back, and I was like, ‘Oh, excellent,’ ” she continued. “Just that I could actually enjoy the ride rather than micromanaging things—that was a really nice experience. And I felt like he was so much happier out there with me, and it’s really nice to have a happy athlete.”

Hart, 38, lives in Loxahatchee, Florida, where she also works at Starbucks and is a Starbucks-sponsored athlete. (Read our “Day In The Life” with Hart here.) Tex is a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Wynton—Urieta Texel, Goodtimes) owned by Rowan O’Riley whom Hart has been competing since 2017 and rode in both the 2018 WEG and Tokyo Paralympics. Hart joked that she was the “grandmother” of the team this week, as an experienced member among some greener athletes and horses. Hart’s teammates in Herning are the same women who joined her in Tokyo, but all of them have brought new mounts to Herning.

“I’ve been with the U.S. Paralympic team since when we used to borrow horses. I kind of watch the progression, and it’s just been amazing to see the growth of this country,” she said. “We did amazing things in Tokyo and then to have more sponsors and horse owners coming in and wanting to get involved in the para side of the sport is really exciting, not just for our country but for the whole sport in general.

“So it’s it’s really great to have that support and see that development and have people on young horses,” she continued. “I think it’s exciting that we’ve got some really talented young horses coming in.”

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Rebecca Hart, with coach Jennifer Baumert, was all smiles after her test. Photo Courtesy of USEF

Joergensen successfully defended his individual gold medal from Tokyo.

“Experience really plays a part in performing well here, and we have it now. I am really pleased with the trot work; it was really fluent. Perhaps I could have given a little more, but that was not the plan today,” he said.

Baker theorized that another British team horse might have given her mount a pep talk in the stables overnight.

“I think my horse and [Charlotte Fry’s] Glamourdale must have been chatting over night, because my horse was on a mission today,” she said. “This is the fastest test I have ever done; I was hanging on to a thread. Not that she was afraid or so, not at all. It also does not help that I am very unfit as I have been off the horse for almost six weeks; I only started riding two weeks ago after having been sick. This is my second proper competition of the year, so I am grateful to be able to do this result.”

In the Grade V individual competition, Michèle George of Belgium regained the title, eight years on from when she last won it at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Caen (France) in 2014.

Riding Best of 8, she scored 76.41% to take the gold medal ahead of her erstwhile rival Sophie Wells (Great Britain), who rode Don Cara M to 75.27%. That was just 0.023 points ahead of The Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar in bronze, on Alphaville N.O.P with 75.25%.

Speaking after her ride, George said: “I’m very pleased with the mare. I think it’s a very difficult competition because there are a lot of things that she sees and hears so she was quite tense, but I tried to manage it and I’m really proud. I really enjoyed it even if it was difficult in moments because she was a little spooky.

“It means the world to me,” she continued. “Every competition starts on zero, so it’s a new start, and I never look at previous ones. Every medal for me is unique because the circumstances are never the same. It means a lot to me.”

Herning Hart bronze
Grade III medalists (from left) Natasha Baker (GBR), Tobias Thorning Joergensen (DEN) and Rebecca Hart (USA).

Click the links for results from Grade III and Grade V. Want more from the ECCO FEI World Championships? Click here. Check out the Sept. 5 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine for analysis from the competition.

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