September 15, 2016–Following five days of Team and Individual tests, Paralympic equestrian team competition concluded Thursday afternoon at the Deodoro Equestrian Center. Rebecca Hart was first down centerline for the U.S. Team in the Grade II Individual test, scoring 67.714%. In the Grade Ia Individual test, individual competitor Roxanne Trunnell produced a score of 69.565%, while team representative, Margaret McIntosh, scored 66.217%. The U.S. finished 12th in team standings. Great Britain secured their 10th consecutive Team Gold medal, having topped the team competition since para-dressage’s inception at the Paralympic Games in 1996. Germany won Silver, while The Netherlands took Bronze.
The Grade II Individual tests kicked off Thursday morning at the Deodoro Equestrian Center. Hart (Wellington, Fla.) and Romani, her own 2002 Danish Warmblood mare, executed a respectable test and qualified for Friday’s Freestyle. Though the pair never quite found their rhythm, it was a clean test that placed them ninth in the class.
“It was not the test that I wanted so I am disappointed. Everything is a learning process though and you go with what you have at the moment; we did the best we could with it. I couldn’t have done anything differently, it was just not our moment,” Hart explained.
Speaking to her experience at her third Paralympic Games, Hart said, “It has been wonderful. It’s been a pleasure to be here in Rio where everyone has been so hospitable, welcoming, and very gracious.”
Riding as an Individual for the U.S. in the Grade Ia Individual test, Trunnell delivered a solid test aboard Royal Dancer, Julia Handt’s 2005 Westphalian gelding. The pair overcame a bobble during the first centerline to perform a harmonious test that placed them 10th in a very competitive field.
“I thought the test was good,” said Trunnell. “Royal was a good boy, especially in the free walk. We have been working on relaxing and he just flowed with it. Compared to the Team test, he felt more relaxed in the arena.”
This was Trunnell’s first Paralympic Games and she commented on the event, saying “It is also Royal’s first Paralympics so it’s nice that we are going through it together. It’s not something I could have ever imagined, there are so many more people here than I expected. The crowds have been really respectful of the lower grades which we don’t always get, so that has been really nice.”
Riding as the final member of Team USA, McIntosh and her own Rio Rio, a 2006 Rheinland mare, placed 20th in the Grade Ia Individual test.
“The weather was so beautiful today in comparison to how hot it has been, so my horse was very happy out there,” said McIntosh.
Competing in her first major championship of any kind, McIntosh stated that while the actual competition experience was similar to a normal horse show, the exciting part of the Games for her has been staying in the Athlete Village. “I am in awe of the courage, determination, and effort that these athletes put into their daily lives, let alone what it takes to compete at this level and excel at their own sports. It’s been overwhelming to walk around the village and to see so many vibrant people at the top of their game.”
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