Mill Spring, N.C.—Sept. 19
Rebecca Hart made history today when she earned Grade III individual bronze in the Adequan Para-Dressage World Championship at the FEI World Equestrian Games. That medal represented the first ever earned by a U.S. para-dressage rider at any WEG.
She’s come awfully close before, finishing fourth at various championships, but today is the first time she stepped onto the podium thanks to a great ride on El Corona Texel.
“It feels amazing,” she said. “I love it. I’m finally not the bridesmaid. I’m just thrilled; this is beyond phenomenal, and I’ve been crying basically for the last hour. To be able to do it on home turf with my family watching is amazing. It’s the first U.S. para WEG medal ever and my first medal ever, so this won’t be coming off my neck for a while.”
Hart and El Corona Texel earned a score of 72.23 percent.
“I loved that I was able to keep him from the warm-up, through the tunnel and into the ring,” said the 33-year-old from Wellington, Florida. “It’s his first championship, so he hasn’t been experienced with this kind of atmosphere before, and I wasn’t sure how he was going to be, and he’s quite sensitive, so I just wanted him to stay with me, and to have him stay with me is just fantastic.
“He’s just a unicorn,” she continued.
Dutch rider Rixt van der Horst climbed on top of the podium after a great ride on Findsley that earned her a mark of 73.73 percent.
“I just hoped to be at WEG; to get a gold medal is a dream come true,” she said. “I’m really happy. My favorite parts were the rhythm and elegance through the whole test. I knew she felt good; overall the feeling was amazing. She was really doing it for me; she knew she had to perform in the arena.”
Natasha Baker and Mount St. John Diva Dannebrog claimed silver despite a bobble at the start of her test.
“I had no idea what was going to happen coming into this,” she said. “I counted about nine riders I was seeing getting over 70 percent this year, and you don’t see that in any other class. To come out with an unclean test and a silver medal and having gone first; I couldn’t be happier.”
Roxanne Trunnell rode 6-year-old Dolton in the Grade I competition, marking 72.14 percent to finish fifth.
“It went really well,” she said. “He’s so young that I didn’t know what to expect, and he proved himself today.”
Italy’s Sara Morganti claimed Grade I individual gold on Royal Delight, ahead of Laurentia Yen-Yi Tan and Fuerst Sherlock (Singapore) with Elke Philipp of Germany taking bronze with Fuerst Sinclair.
It was redemption for Morganti as at the last Paralympic Games her horse failed the trot-up, and she couldn’t compete.
“After heartbreak in Rio with the horse this means a lot for me,” she said. “I needed it for me, for my friends, for my trainers, for my family, for Italy. I needed it, because I couldn’t stay with that memory; it was very painful. Things can happen, but I didn’t want to live with that memory of my career.
“My horse was really wonderful today, and honestly it was just really the end of a lot of work,” she continued. “It all came together today. It was wonderful; we were really very prepared for this championship. We worked really hard for it.”
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We’ll be onsite for the full two weeks of WEG to bring you all the news you need to know plus gorgeous photos and insight into the competition. Be sure to check out the Oct. 8 issue of the Chronicle for detailed analysis.