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August 31, 2012 Donna Ponessa (USA) Secures U.S. Scores While Great Britain Maintains Team Medal Lead at 2012 Equestrian Paralympics

Donna Ponessa (USA) Secures U.S. Scores While Great Britain Maintains Team Medal Lead at 2012 Equestrian Paralympics

 Article and Photographs by Lindsay Yosay McCall

To view this press release with photographs please click on the PDF version (PDF)

London, England, United Kingdom–August 31, 2012 – Seventy-eight Para-Equestrian Dressage riders entered the ring at Greenwich Park on August 30th and 31st for the Team Test competition. Seventy-eight horses trotted down centerline moving one step closer to earning the 2012 London Paralympic Equestrian Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals. Those seventy-eight horses engage, suspend, and perform technical requirements in front of international FEI judges President Kjell Myhre (NOR), Lillian Iannone (ARG), Freddy Leyman (BEL), Anne Prain (FRA), Gudrun Hofinga (GER), Sarah Rodger (GBR), Carlos Lopes (POR), and Kathy Amos-Jacob (FRA) as the reserve member. As the last United States Para-Equestrian to enter the venue, Donna Ponessa (USA) and Western Rose excelled in the Grade Ia Team Test earning the United States an increase to their overall percentage score. Great Britain turned up the heat Friday and brought in three of their final riders for Grade Ia, III, and IV Team Test competition. Earning the Grade Ia win was Sophie Christiansen (GBR) and Janeiro 6. The pair earned an 83.765% overall and even had one judge’s score at 93.824%. In Grade III, German Para-Dressage rider Hannelore Brenner brought home the win with a 75.741% as the overall percentage.  In Grade IV Great Britain did it again capturing the highest percentage score in Grade IV with a 75.906%. These final scores cemented the Team Test scores that will combine with the individual Test scores for a final calculation.


Each country is judged under a random selection of five judges for their Grade test. If a country is competing for the Team competition, they will have three or four riders that they choose to contribute to the Team scores. The top three scores of each the Team Test and Individual Test will combine to produce an overall Paralympic Medal winner. The Team Test competition for Grade Ia, Ib, II , III, IV was also a warm-up for individual countries that will be competing in the Individual Championship over the weekend. Saturday September 1st begins the Individual Test for Grade II and Ib followed by Sunday’s Grade Ia, III, and IV championship tests.


The United States is looking to improve upon their scores so they may reach their top ranking for the Team Medal.  Improving the United States team ranking was on the mind of Donna Ponessa during the entire morning before she showed.


Ponessa noted, “I had a little bit of an advantage being a spectator on the first day of competition. With that advantage I was able to settle in and convince myself it was just another show. I have to admit that the weight I was bearing was a little much. So when I started to feel the pressure of the Team depending on my scores I tried to find busy things to do.”


She continued, “Riding for my country has been an amazing experience. At first I was a little overwhelmed and the mare was a little tense when I walked in the ring but, all of my teammates agree, it’s another show with an Opening Ceremony and you can’t be thinking about anything else. It’s about each footfall and your job ahead. Once I got that centered, everything seemed to flow better.”


Ponessa’s horse Western Rose, owned by Wes Dunham, maintains two performance traits making her a superb Grade Ia horse. Her strong walk including the free walk across the diagonal scored a high mark pulling Ponessa’s score up into 70 percent. During the working walk Western Rose began to increase her steps. Ponessa explained, ”Rosie kept trying to stop and look. I am not noted for the subtlety of my aids so when I felt her go to stop all I could think was, ‘Not here mare, no.’ So I sat a little too hard and she let me know it is not going to fly when you sit on me that hard.”


Ponessa earned the fifth position in the Grade I a Team Test where 25 year-old Sophie Christiansen (GBR) earned the highest score of the day aboard Janeiro 6. Christiansen commented, “I was quite nervous at the beginning of my test considering the fact that other members of the team have been posting very good scores. I couldn’t have asked for a better score at the end of this test.”


Christansen earned a 93.824% percent during her ride resulting in a score that most Dressage riders have never heard announced. Christiansen explained, “I usually get above 80% in training, but to get it in the Team Test was something special.”


Results Grade Ia:

  1. Sophie Christiansen (GBR) and Janeiro 6—-83.765%
  2. Laurentina Tan (SIN) and Ruben James 2—-74.235%
  3. Helen Kearney (IRL) and Mister Cool—-72.235%
  4. Sergio Froes Ribieriro de Olivia (BRZ) and Emily—-71.353%
  5. Donna Ponessa (USA) and Western Rose—-70.235%


Grade III is a unique Grade due to the fact that the test includes walk, trot, and canter and yet the ring is smaller making each moment appear faster. Hannelore Brennar of Luneburg, Germany explained her exquisite performance, “When I entered the arena my mare was a little excited. She is a sensitive mare and can be hysterical at times but after two rounds in my warm-up she was perfect..”


Hannelore and Women of the World have been together for seven years. “Every year our partnership gets better and better and we come together more each time, she expressed.”


Hannelore also competes in able-bodied Dressage and has competed through ‘S’ Dressage in Germany, the highest level of Dressage. In 1986 Hannelore was competing in Eventing and was injured in a riding accident on course.  Although Hannelore did not compete at a high level of Dressage before her accident, she is now competing at the highest level of the sport.


Results Grade III:

  1. Hannelore Brenner (GER) and Women of the World—-75.741%
  2. Deborah Criddle (GBR) and LJT Akilles—-72.926%
  3. Annika Dalskov (DEN) and Aros A Fenris—-72.889%
  4. Sanne Voets and Vedet PB (NED)—-72.037%
  5. Susanne Sunesen (DEN) and Thy’s Que Faire—-71.333%


The final Para-Dressage rider to achieve the top score in the Team Test competition was Sophie Wells of Great Britain aboard Pinocchio. When Wells qualified for the British Dressage Association Para-Equestrian Team in 2008 she was unable to travel due to her horse’s laminitis. So for the 2012 year Sophie had one goal in mind, “Great Britain has never lost a Gold Medal and I don’t want to be on the first team that fails to win gold,” smiled Wells. “We’re all doing our best to retain the record but a Gold would mean everything.”


Results Grade IV:

  1. Sophie Wells (GBR) and Pinocchio—-75.906%
  2. Michele George and Rainman (BEL)—-72.906%
  3. Frank Hosmar (NED) and Alphaville—-71.781%
  4. James Dwyer (IRL) and Orlando—-69.719%
  5. Line Jorgensen (DEN) and DiCaprio—-69.406%


Preliminary Team Medal Country:


  1. Great Britain
  2. Germany
  3. Denmark
  4. Netherlands
  5. Belgium
  6. Ireland
  7. United States of America


On Saturday the Grade II Individual Championship Test will commence at 9:00 a.m. The Medal ceremony for the individual championship will occur at 12:30 p.m followed by the Grade Ib Championship Test at 2:30 p.m. The 2012 London Paralympics continues through September 9th, 2012.  The Paralympic Equestrian competition will finish on September 4, 2012.




Rebecca Hart, 27, of Unionville, Penn. and Jessica Ransehousen’s Holsteiner gelding Lord Ludger

Jonathan Wentz, 21, of Richardson, Texas and Kai Handt’s 18 year-old NTEC Richter Scale

Donna Ponessa, 51, of New Windsor, N.Y. and Wesley Dunham’s Oldenburg mare Western Rose

Dale Dedrick, 56, of Ann Arbor, Mich. and her 14 year-old grey Hanoverian Bonifatius


Team Staff:

Missy Ransehousen (Unionville, PA)- Chef d’Equipe

Jim Wolf (Lebanon, NJ)- Chef de Mission

Pam Lane (Gladstone, NJ)- Team Leader

Stacey Kent (Cochranville, PA)- Team Veterinarian


2012 Paralympic Equestrian Schedule at Greenwich Park



September 1, 2012

Grade II Mixed Individual Championship Test 9:00 AM – 12:15 PM

Medal Ceremony Individual Championship Grade II 12:30 PM-12:45 PM

Grade Ib Mixed Individual Championship Test  2:30 PM-5:30 PM

Medal Ceremony Individual Championship Grade Ib   5:45 PM -6:00 PM


September 2, 2012

Grade IV Mixed Individual Championship Test  9:00 AM-11:30 AM

Medal Ceremony Individual Championship Grade IV  11:45 AM-12:00 PM

Grade III Mixed Individual Championship Test  1:45 PM-4:14 PM

Grade Ia Mixed Individual Championship Test 4:15 PM-6:45 PM

Medal Ceremony Individual Championship Grade III  7:00 PM-7:15 PM

Medal Ceremony Individual Championship Grade Ia  7:15 PM-7:30 PM


September 3, 2012

Grade II Mixed Individual Freestyle Test 9:00 AM-11:30 AM

Medal Ceremony Individual Freestyle Grade II

Grade Ib Mixed Individual Freestyle Test 2:15 PM-5:00 PM

Medal Ceremony Individual Freestyle Grade Ib 5:15 PM-5:30 PM


September 4, 2012

Grade IV Mixed Individual Freestyle Test 9:00 AM-11:30 AM

Medal Ceremony Individual Freestyle Grade IV 11:45 AM-12:00 PM

Grade III Mixed Individual Freestyle Test 1:45 PM-3:45 PM

Grade Ia Mixed Individual Freestyle Test 3:45 PM-6:00 PM

Medal Ceremony Individual Freestyle Grade III 6:15 PM-6:30 PM

Medal Ceremony Individual Freestyle Grade Ia 6:30 PM-6:45 PM



September 9, 2012

Closing Ceremony



Information on Live Streaming Paralympic Coverage at Paralympic.org and Television Coverage at NBC Sports Network (information about coverage below was provided by the International Paralympic Committee and was not written by USPEA)


By creating original video content for the US Paralympics YouTube channel, YouTube.com/USParalympics, while also partnering with NBCUniversal and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), US Paralympics will provide the American public with more coverage of the US Paralympic Team than any previous year.


Beginning on 29 August and continuing through the conclusion of the Games on 9 September, US Paralympics will provide 10 daily video highlights packages via its US Paralympics YouTube channel.


In addition to the online content, NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will air one-hour highlight shows on 4, 5, 6 and 11 September at 7 p.m. EDT. Following the Paralympic Games, on 16 September, NBC will broadcast a 90-minute special from 2-3:30 p.m. EDT. All NBC and NBC Sports Network Paralympic highlight shows and specials will re-air on Universal Sports Network and UniversalSports.com.


During the Games, which start on 29 August, the IPC’s website will have five channels broadcasting live sport each day. Four channels will have English commentary whilst a fifth channel will be available in Spanish.


The website will also feature a revolutionary new SMART player which has been developed by the IPC’s worldwide IT partner Atos. The player uses innovative technology that will enable those watching live swimming and wheelchair basketball on www.paralympic.org to view real-time results tickers, statistics, biographies, news and social media – all in one integrated and synchronized window. It also simplifies the user’s interests and gives specific and relevant results per sport, similar to the ones available to commentators inside the venues.


Direct Link: http://www.youtube.com/paralympicsporttv

U.S. Paralympics website (http://www.usparalympics.org),

U.S. Paralympics Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/usparalympics/)

U.S. Paralympics Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/usparalympics/).



For more information about the United States Equestrian Federation please visit www.USEF.org


For more information about the Para-Equestrians heading to London please visit http://www.fei.org/events/games/paralympic-games/london-2012


To view more about the London 2012 Paralympics please visit the official Paralympic website at http://www.london2012.com/




Host nation Great Britain, Germany, Denmark and Canada have qualified the maximum number of riders and will each be represented by a team of four and one individual.


Nine countries – USA, The Netherlands, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Belgium, South Africa, Australia and France – have qualified four riders.


The National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) of Singapore and Mexico, which had originally qualified four riders, returned one qualification slot each and will be represented by three-rider teams. The unused slots were re-allocated to Norway and Israel on the basis of the Individual Para-Equestrian Rankings of athletes not already qualified with a team. As a result, Norway, which had already qualified two individual riders, will be fielding a composite team consisting of three members.


New Zealand and Finland will be represented by two individual riders apiece. Bermuda, Argentina, Japan, Hong Kong and Austria have each been allocated one individual slot.


Three Bipartite Commission invitations have been issued to Thomas Haller of Austria, Lee Frawley of the Virgin Islands and Anita Johnsson of Sweden.


A total of 78 Para-Equestrian riders will be battling it out for the 11 sets of medals available.







4 nations with 5 riders (team + 1 individual): CAN, DEN, GBR, GER

9 nations with 4 riders (team): AUS, BEL, BRA, FRA, IRL, ITA, NED, RSA, USA

3 nations with 3 riders (team): MEX, NOR, SIN



2 nations with 2 individuals: FIN, NZL

6 nations with 1 individual: AUT, ARG, BER, ISR, JPN, HKG

3 Bipartite Commission invitations: AUT, ISV, SWE



PHOTO CREDIT: All photographs taken by Lindsay Yosay McCall for the USPEA 2012


About the United States Para-Equestrian Association:


The USPEA is a network of riders, judges, national federation board members, and equestrian enthusiasts.  The association gives athletes the ability to get involved and expand their knowledge and experience in the Para-Equestrian sport. The USPEA encourages para-athletes to participate in all disciplines under the para-equestrian umbrella.


The USPEA is a recognized affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) which serves as the National Governing Body for the equestrian sport.  This relationship between the USPEA and USEF is to encourage para-equestrian competitors, leisure riders, coaches, fans and enthusiasts to network and get involved with the entire equestrian sport.


Ultimately the goal of the USPEA is to foster growth in the para-equestrian discipline.  From growth in the number of participants to growth as a team, and growth in the experience and knowledge of all involved.  From local horse shows to international Olympic Games, the USPEA will provide para-equestrians the knowledge of what they need to succeed.  The USPEA connects with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), the United States Dressage Federation (USDF), and USEF which provides Para-Equestrians the top equestrian resources.


In June 2010, the USPEA earned its 501 (c)(3) status which has encouraged supporters to help supply funding to the Para-Equestrian Team as a recognized affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).


For more information about the USPEA please visit www.USPEA.org or contact USPEA President: Hope Hand by e-mail: Wheeler966@aol.com or by phone: (610) 356-6481.


To view an online version of this press release please visit: http://uspea.org/?cat=13

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