Lee Pearson, the multi-gold medallist and elder statesman of the British para dressage squad, was the first Brit to face the challenging wet conditions in the para dressage competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Caen, Normandy.
Lee returns to the team after a couple of years off, but he is back with a vengeance and went straight into the lead in the Grade Ib competition. He is riding the 10-year-old Flemmingh gelding Zion, owned by Lee with his parents Lynda and Dave Pearson, and Gillian Chin.
The test was a little tense at times as Zion (known as “Kevin” at home because he’s so laid back) “doesn’t like plastic” and the constant rain meant plenty of stewards, officials and volunteers were wearing plastic capes.
While there was some tension on show, Zion held it together in the walk and also produced some lovely trot work.
“There was far too much atmosphere,” joked Lee afterward., “what with the rain and the music and quad bikes, and a lot of plastic around! He has been quite settled, but he is only 10 years old and it’s his first major championship.”
Ricky Balshaw also produced a strong test, looking very polished apart from a mistake when LJT Enggaards Solitaire jogged for a few strides between the walk and trot movements. Otherwise his test looked very impressive and scored a more than respectable 71% to finish in eighth place.
In the Grade lll test, where Britain doesn’t have a rider competing, the talented German rider Hannelore Brenner came out on top on her Hannoverian mare Woman of the World scoring 72.47%. Dutch rider Sanne Voets took second place very close behind with Vedet PB NOP.
With another two days of team competition to come it’s too early to call, but Team GBR look to be in a strong position.
More para-dressage from WEG
Find out how our para-dressage blogger is settling in at WEG in Caen, Normandy
Horse & Hound tells you all you need to know to enjoy the para dressage competition at WEG