The Growth of Para-Dressage

Riders target 2012 London Paralympics.

Credit: Scott Stanley Susan Treabess and Fugitivo XII

At the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) Para-Equestrian dressage earned more international distinction and appreciation, which helped to further the sport in the United States. A total of 80 para-riders, including 10 U.S. riders under chef d’équipe Missy Ransehousen stepped forward with their mounts to debut a discipline that was ready to grow. Thanks, in part, to the WEG, these riders will be more prepared than ever for the upcoming 2012 London Paralympics, held one week after the traditional Olympic equestrian competition.

Over the last two years, the number of Para-Equestrians in the United States has tripled, and more national and international shows have been added to the calendar, combining Para-Dressage with able-bodied dressage. At WEG, the U.S.Para-Equestrian dressage team showed their strength with top scores and accurate tests throughout the week. “The World Equestrian Games were a wonderful opportunity where riders from all of the disciplines and the public could see the type of horse and rider that is in the para-dressage discipline,” commented U.S. para-rider Susan Treabess. At the 2010 WEG, Treabess rode Moneypenny, owned by Katy and Dan Peterson, to a ninth-place finish overall. Treabess rides at the Prix St. Georges level in addition to Para-Dressage. Born without her left hand, she utilizes a prosthesis during competition. Over the last few years, and since WEG, she has received support from multiple sponsors and trainers, and this past spring she earned the opportunity to prepare and ride Fugitivo XII, an FEI dressage stallion owned by Terry Waechter.

To prepare for the opportunity to qualify for London, Para-Dressage riders like Jonathan Wentz, from Wylie, Texas, are also traveling to competitions overseas. With encouragement from his coach, Kai Handt, Jonathan made plans to travel to Denmark this summer. “Steffen Peters trained in the United States for years but it wasn’t until he went over to train with the big boys in Europe that he launched his career,” said Wentz. “That is my plan. I want to go over there and show with the European riders in front of international judges to become a recognizable name.”

Para-Equestrians have multiple choices nationally and internationally to qualify for an opportunity to compete at the 2012 Paralympics. Riders must earn a 60 percent score or above in their respective divisions at any Concours Para-Equestrian Dressage International three star horse show (CPEDI***), and all scores must be achieved from Jan. 1, 2010 through Mar. 30, 2012. Riders who achieve at or above a 60 percent in any team or individual division at any CPEDI*** are then given an invitation to the 2012 Paralympic Selection Trials (location and date is yet to be determined). For more on the Para-Equestrian Dressage discipline, visit






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