Trust and new tactics reward US pair as hunt for team medals hots up in Herning

  • Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel delivered the goods to produce a counting score in the US’s hunt for a team medal in Herning. New warm up tactics paid off for the pair, who scored 74.71% in the grade III Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Championships results table.

    This 13-year-old gelding, owned by Rowan O’Riley, is so expressive and his performance looked a step up again from Tokyo last year, where he helped the US to team bronze.

    Trust and understanding have been key to the success of this partnership, who claimed individual bronze on Thursday, to add to their individual bronze and freestyle silver from the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon. While they have been together for five years now, Rebecca explained how their relationship is still improving.

    “This competition, we changed how we do our warm up,” she said. “It just kind of happened – I wasn’t feeling that great physically when I was at home, so I did a really long walk warm-up with him. Jen, my coach, had been doing a lot of walk work with him just to let him have time to process and we realised that that really worked for him.

    “We do a super long walk. He sets the tone and then I slowly start to ask him questions and when he’s comfortable with the answers, then we add a little bit more impulsion, harmony and flow that we want to have in the show ring.

    “It’s a very quiet kind, relaxed warm up and we try and carry over into the ring. We’ve been doing that for about the last month and pretty consistently when we’re competing, and so far, it’s been working pretty well.”

    The elegant Wynton son uses his body with such fluidity and the spring through his medium trot was a real highlight of their clean test.

    “He’s a phenomenally talented horse, but also can be a little tricky,” said Rebecca. “He has to trust the people in his system, not just me as the rider, but on the ground as well.

    “He’s got a wonderful groom in Esteban, so he is comfortable with all of his people and then he can come out and really do his job.

    “It’s taken a good five years to really kind of gel, with trial and error to see what makes him the happiest athlete I can have. I think we’re starting to strike some really good things with him.”

    Australian rider Emma Booth’s purple streak at these championships continued, following up on her personal best in the individual grade III contest with a smart test for the team aboard Maree Tompkinson’s stallion Furst Deluxe. The pair’s score of 71% in the World Para Dressage Championships team results today is a boost for the nation’s hopes and puts Emma in strong contention for a place in Sunday’s freestyle final.

    “You can’t meet ‘Fursty’ without falling in love, because he has such a sweet nature,” said Emma.

    “The trot that we had coming around the outside of the arena before we went in was just probably the best feeling I’ve had on him ever.

    “He had a little look at the gate person as we went in, which meant I then didn’t hit the centre-line perfectly, but most of it was good.

    “The walk pirouettes are always a little bit sticky, but I don’t think he grounded today. It was enough to get us a slightly higher percentage than yesterday, and we’ll hopefully do the same thing in the freestyle tomorrow.”

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