Hart Wins the USA’s First Herning 2022 Medal
Para-dressage veteran Rebecca Hart wins Grade III Individual bronze at Denmark World Championships
By Kim MacMillan
Photos by Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography
The medal drought for the USA at the Ecco FEI World Championships Herning 2022 ended August 11 when Paralympian and 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) para-dressage bronze and silver medalist Rebecca Hart ascended the podium to accept another bronze, this time for her Grade III Individual test.
Although US dressage riders, vaulters, and jumpers have put in strong performances here in Denmark, Hart is thus far alone in the hardware haul. With dressage and vaulting finished, and only two more days of jumping and para-dressage left on the schedule in Herning, hopes are high for more medals to come for America.
Hart, the senior member of the Herning 2022 US para-dressage team, is a veteran of four Paralympic Games and three previous FEI World Championships. She is the only athlete on this team who is competing on a horse she’s ridden for some time. A little over four years ago, she and Rowan O’Riley’s 13-year-old KWPN gelding El Corona Texel (Wynton – Urieta Texel, Goodtimes) formed a partnership that’s gotten better and better over time. The pair won individual bronze and freestyle silver at the 2018 WEG in Tryon, North Carolina, then was part of the bronze-medal-winning team at the Tokyo Paralympics last summer.
Para-Dressage Day 1 Recap
The para-dressage competition at Herning 2022 kicked off August 10 with individual competition for Grades IV, II, and I. First up for the USA was Grade IV athlete Kate Shoemaker and her new partner, the eight-year-old Rheinlander mare Quiana (Quaterstern –Rubina). Their steady, harmonious test was good enough for fourth place on a score of 73.900%. Found in Europe after an exhaustive search, Quiana is co-owned by Shoemaker and her parents, Craig and Deena Shoemaker.
Kate Shoemaker, who is a practicing veterinarian with a specialty in equine sports medicine, previously represented the US at the 2018 WEG and the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games with her gelding Solitaer 40, whom she still owns. She competes in both dressage and para-dressage.
Next in the BB Horse Arena in Herning was Grade II athlete Beatrice de Lavalette riding Sixth Sense, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Sir Donnerhall x Florencio) owned by Elizabeth and Nicholas de Lavalette. The newest member of the Team USA, de Lavalette represented the US in CPEDIs (FEI-recognized para-dressage competitions) in Wellington, Florida, in 2020 and 2021, and then was a member of the Team USA at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics last summer.
Here in Denmark, de Lavalette and “Sensei” also earned a fourth-place finish, with a score of 71.758%. Sensei is a new ride for de Lavalette, who told reporters that she slept in front of his stall when he arrived to help the two of them to bond. “I have pictures to prove it,” she added with a smile.
The final US para-dressage athlete competing in Herning on day 1 was the reigning Grade I Paralympic champion and world number-one-ranked para-dressage competitor, Roxanne Trunnell.
Trunnell’s Tokyo 2020 partner, Dolton, is doing well and being considered for a possible run at the Paris 2024 Paralympics, she said, but meanwhile she chose to bring out her newest partner—astonishingly, they’ve been together only two months—for the World Championships. And he’s a stunner: a chestnut Oldenburg stallion (Floriscount x Rascalino) named Fortunato H2O, owned by Lehua Custer. “Tuna” is only six years old and he’s an active breeding stallion to boot, but he walked like a old pro for Trunnell, who called him “an old soul.” Their score of 72.571% put them in sixth place.