United States Para-Equestrian Association
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Rancho Valencia “Inspire a Generation” Benefit Party

Rancho Valencia “Inspire a Generation” Benefit Party

Honoring Paralympian Jonathan Wentz

Jonathan Wentz (c) Lindsay Yosay McCall

Jonathan Wentz (c) Lindsay Yosay McCall

Buy Tickets for the Rancho Valencia “Inspire a Generation” Benefit Party honoring  Jonathan Wentz

Date: March 7, 2013

Location: Rancho Valencia

Cost: $100 per person – Please click the “Buy Now” button to purchase a ticket to the party.


Jonathan Wentz at 2012 Paralympics (C) Lindsay Yosay McCall

Jonathan Wentz at 2012 Paralympics (C) Lindsay Yosay McCall

For anyone interested in donating to the Jonathan Wentz Scholarship Fund please click the “Donate” button below and follow the instructions. At the end of your transaction please add “Jonathan Wentz Fund” in special instructions box below the payment box.



Your Donations will go towards the United States Para-Equestrian Association 501(c)(3)

Mailing Address:
Attn: Jonathan Wentz Scholarship Fund
3940 Verde Vista Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

*The USPEA is a 501(c)(3) and all donations are tax-deductible.


The United States Para-Equestrian Association (USPEA) includes every equestrian discipline that is practiced by athletes with physical disabilities. Each rider or driver competes under the eighth discipline, The Para-Equestrian discipline, of the United States Equestrian Federation.  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 sport of Para-Equestrian.
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).  Three months later in September 2010 the USEF High Performance Para-Equestrian Dressage Team made history with their debut at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ held in Lexington, Kentucky.

The number of equestrians has tripled in the last year which has in turn created more opportunities for those wanting to get involved.  The USPEA is a recognized affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and provides programs, clinics, and competition opportunities for athletes with physical disabilities. Riders compete under the USEF rules during their national competitions and FEI rules during international competition.

In the Para-Equestrian discipline, each rider or driver is classified according to his or her functional ability. Those disciplines include Para-Dressage, Para-Driving, Para-Vaulting, Para-Jumping, and Para-Reining. Trained physiotherapists and doctors who evaluate muscle strength, coordination, throughout the athlete’s body, assess Para-Equestrian athletes. The athlete is then given a functional profile that indicates the grade in which they can compete. The competition within each grade is judged on the functional skill of the rider or driver and not the level of disability.

After applying the selection criteria, considering the horse and rider combinations, their rankings and scores at the trials, and a team is selected.  Riders are ranked into Grades, which have been created to allow riders with the same abilities to challenge each other.  The five Grades include Ia, Ib, II, III, and IV.  Grade Ia represents the more severely impaired riders and Grade IV represents the least impaired riders.  For a comparison to regular Dressage, FEI Para Equestrian Grades Ia and Ib are equivalent to USDF Intro Level, FEI Para Equestrian Grade II is equivalent to USEF Training level, FEI Para Equestrian Grade III is equivalent to USEF First Level, and FEI Para Equestrian Grade IV is equivalent to USEF Third Level.

Most nationally recognized horse shows such as United States Dressage Federation Shows will permit a para-equestrian to compete and be judged at each horse show.  The rider will then earn points towards national points and rankings.  For example, in July 2010, the USEF Para-Dressage National Championships occurred at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Chicago, IL.  For one weekend Para-Dressage riders from all over the United States competed under FEI judges to earn the title of National Champion.  Coinciding with the National Championships the USEF Para-Dressage Selection Trials for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ were also conducted.

The primary focus of the USPEA programs are to provide clinic and competition opportunities for athletes with physical disabilities. Many of our USPEA athletes were first introduced to horses through their therapeutic riding programs. The therapy program objectives are to introduce riding to improve balance, joint mobility, coordination, muscle tone and posture to ease symptoms of a wide variety of disabilities. It is a well know fact that horse’s gaits parallel that of the human.

What makes USPEA so special is that a person with a disability can compete in an exciting and well respected sport as an elite athlete and be judged on their abilities.  A Para-Equestrian has the opportunity to reach the highest level of their sport including National Championships, World Equestrian Games, and the Paralympics.

December 23, 2012-Laureen K. Johnson Takes New Role In Stride as USEF High Performance Director of the Para-Equestrian Discipline

Laureen K. Johnson Takes New Role In Stride as USEF High Performance Director of the Para-Equestrian Discipline

Lexington, KY- December 23, 2012- As the United States Para-Equestrian discipline looks toward 2013, the United States Para-Equestrian Association (USPEA) is pleased to honor new discipline director Laureen K. Johnson. Laureen was appointed an exciting new role as High Performance Director of Para-Equestrian and Vaulting Programs and Assistant to High Performance Director of Driving Programs. Laureen’s prior title for the past seven years included Assistant to Para-Equestrian and Vaulting Director. She has also been with USEF since 1999 where she assisted every High Performance discipline except able-bodied dressage. Laureen’s dedication, professional experience and love for the equestrian sport has made this transition exceptionally smooth.

Laureen Johnson High Performance Director of Para-Equestrian and Vaulting Programs and Assistant to High Performance Director of Driving Programs

Laureen Johnson High Performance Director of Para-Equestrian and Vaulting Programs and Assistant to High Performance Director of Driving Programs

Laureen was born in Chicago, IL and moved to Chatham Township, NJ at 13 years of age. On her 16th birthday Laureen received her first horse kindly called, “Sweet William,” as a gift from her parents. Since that moment Laureen has continued to enjoy all aspects of the equestrian world including riding, volunteering at therapeutic riding centers, and working for the Federation. Laureen graduated from Washington School for Secretaries and Business Administration in Washington D.C. and began working for USEF in January of 1999.

The 2012 calendar year was a very exciting year for many equestrian disciplines. With 2013 right around the corner and the 2014 World Equestrian Games approaching Laureen will be an integral part of the continued growth of the Para-Equestrian discipline including both Dressage and Driving. “I love the artistry and elegance of Dressage and Driving,” noted Laureen. “The disabled athletes never cease to amaze me with their dedication and “can do” attitudes.  They are an extremely positive group of athletes.” She added, “Vaulting is also a fascinating sport. The artistry, athletic strength and teamwork to create a harmonious relationship with the horse is magical.”

With the 2014 World Equestrian Games and 2016 Paralympics on the four-year calendar Laureen will also have to face a few challenges. Laureen explained, “The biggest challenge is fundraising and securing high quality, competitive horses.  The budget for Para-Equestrian and Vaulting is limited so it is imperative that the athletes receive more funding which will help increase their international presence.”

Raising the capital for each discipline can be difficult which is why the United States Para-Equestrian Association (USPEA) works with the Para-Dressage and Para-Driving equestrians to help reach their goals nationally and internationally. The USPEA is a large network that continues to support the disabled athletes in all aspects of competition and training. Laureen mentioned, “I’m eager to work closely with the USEF recognized Para-Equestrian affiliate, USPEA, in developing grass root riders into elite athletes.  The USPEA conducts outstanding clinics and educational seminars for riders and officials.  The new and experienced Para-Equestrian athletes are fortunate to have the high caliber support and knowledge from the USPEA.  Synergistically, the USPEA and USEF will develop the finest of athletes.”

President of the USPEA Hope Hand commented, “We are looking forward to working with Laureen and are very excited for her new role at USEF.  Laureen’s great attitude, willingness to work as a team, and dedication to the athletes will provide each of the disciplines she works with the support needed to succeed around the world.

In June 2012 Laureen married Lee Schenck and they reside in Bridgewater, NJ.  Between Laureen and her husband Lee they have six adult children and one grandchild. When Laureen has free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends and relaxing at their beach house in North Wildwood, NJ.

To contact High Performance Director of Para Equestrian and Vaulting and Assistant to Driving Laureen K. Johnson please e-mail lkjohnson@usef.org or call USEF at (908) 326-1155.

On December 14, 2012 the Para-Equestrian High Performance Committee and Para-Equestrian Eligible Athlete Committee were announced. Both committees are pending approval of the USEF Executive Committee.


Para-Equestrian High Performance Committee (Pending approval of the Executive Committee)


The Chair of the High Performance Committee is Hope Hand

Co-Chair of the High Performance Committee is Barb Grassmyer.


Dale Dedrick

Barabara Grassmyer, Elected Eligible Athlete

Hope Hand

Rebecca Hart, Elected Eligible

Mary Jordan, Elected Eligible Athlete

Kim Kelly

Sandy Rafferty

Melissa Ransehousen

Sharon Schneidman

Lynn Siedemann

Hardy Zantke


The Chair and Vice-Chair of the Para-Equestrian High Performance Committee will be named shortly.


Para-Equestrian Eligible Athlete Committee (Pending approval of the Executive Committee)     


Mary Jordan , Chair

Rebecca Hart, Vice Chair

Erin Alberda

Robin Brueckmann

Barbara Grassmyer

Watch U.S. Paralympian Rebecca Hart On Good Morning America October 10th with Co-Host Ann Romney

Watch U.S. Paralympian Rebecca Hart On Good Morning America October 10th with Co-Host Ann Romney

Article by Lindsay McCall

Photos by Lindsay McCall and Susan Stickle

To view this Press release in PDF format please click here.

New York, NY – October 8, 2012 – On Wednesday October 10th, U.S. Paralympian Rebecca Hart of Unionville, Penn. will be showcased on ABC’s Good Morning America. Hart will accompany Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in New York’s Times Square. Mrs. Romney and Rebecca Hart will be speaking about how horses have provided a unique form of therapy for them. Both equestrians will also touch on the 2012 London Paralympics and the equestrian sport. Mrs. Romney will be co-hosting the 8 a.m. (Eastern Time) news hour with George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday where she is filling in for Robin Roberts, who is on extended medical leave.

Rebecca Hart, horse Lord Ludger (owned by Jessica Ransehousen), and U.S Parlaympic Chef d’Equipe Missy Ransehousen will present a previously recorded segment from October 8th showcasing the Paralympic Dressage duo at Blue Hill Farm. In addition to Rebecca Hart and Lord Ludger’s Times Square debut, Ann Romney will accompany Hart riding Ireland’s Bronze Medal Team horse, Orlando, owned by James Dwyer.

Both Rebecca Hart and James Dwyer were recent competitors at the 2012 London Paralympics in Para-Dressage. Rebecca Hart earned a 4th in the team competition, 5th place in the freestyle, and 11th place in the individual test competition. Rebecca Hart was part of the seventh-place U.S. Paralympic Team featuring the late Jonathan Wentz and NTEC Richter Scale, Donna Ponessa aboard Wes Dunham’s Western Rose, and Dale Dedrick on Bonifatius.

James Dwyer was one of the four athletes representing the Bronze Medal Ireland team. Alongside James Dwyer and horse Orlando were Eilish Byrne aboard Youri, Geraldine Savage on Blues Tip Top Too, and Helen Kearney on Mister Cool.

As an elite equestrian and co-owner of 2012 U.S. Olympic Dressage horse Rafalca ridden by Jan Ebeling, Ann Romney can relate to Hart’s and Dwyer’s recent accomplishments and therapeutic use of riding. Ann Romney, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1998, is an advocate for Multiple Sclerosis. Mrs. Romney began riding as a form of therapy and found it to benefit her life in many ways. Hart and Mrs. Romney met in June 2012 where Hart was presented with the 2012 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship. “This whole year has been a whirlwind,” noted Hart. I met Mrs. Romney in June, rode down the Prime Meridian at the London Paralympics for my team in August, met the President of the United States in September, and now will be riding in Times Square. You don’t often get asked to ride in Times Square and I am very excited for this opportunity.”

The program is scheduled on ABC’s Good Morning America Wednesday October 10th at 8 a.m. (Eastern Time). Please check your local listings for your local ABC channel.

View the June 2012 press release about Ann Romney presenting Rebecca Hart her award by clicking this link. 

For press related inquiries, comments or questions please e-mail Lindsay McCall at Lindsay@uspea.org.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Hart receiving 2012 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship award from Ann Romney during the 2012 USEF Dressage Festival of Champions. Photograph taken in Gladstone, NJ (c) Susan Stickle at SusanStickle.com.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Hart receiving 2012 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship award from Ann Romney during the 2012 USEF Dressage Festival of Champions. Photograph taken in Gladstone, NJ (c) Susan Stickle at SusanStickle.com.

Rebecca Hart and Lord Ludger at 2012 Paralympics photo (c) Lindsay McCall

Rebecca Hart and Lord Ludger at 2012 Paralympics photo (c) Lindsay McCall

James Dwyer (IRL) and Orlando at 2012 Paralympics photo (c) Lindsay Yosay McCall

James Dwyer (IRL) and Orlando at 2012 Paralympics photo (c) Lindsay Yosay McCall

Irish Bronze Team photo (c) Lindsay McCall

Irish Bronze Team photo (c) Lindsay McCall

Dale Dedrick

Dale Dedrick and Bonifatius by Lindsay Yosay McCall

Dale Dedrick and Bonifatius by Lindsay Y McCall

Dale Dedrick (Ann Arbor, MI) With a U.S. National Swimming world-record holder for a mom, a father that was an elite golfer, and a grandmother who rode in the Calgary Stampede, it seemed only natural for Dale Dedrick to become an athlete and equestrian.  After a few intense years, earning her M.D. from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Dale stepped back into riding and her Dressage training evolved. During her orthopedic residency at the University of Michigan Dedrick was diagnosed with Lupus. As an orthopedic surgeon symptoms of joint deformities, inflammation, heart disease, and muscle weakness were affecting Dedrick’s ability to work. Dale retired in 1992 as an Assistant Professor of Surgery and Internal Medicine. In her teens she was a successful hunter/jumper rider, was a supreme National Dressage rider and in 1986 she was a U.S. Olympic Festival competitor. As a Para-Equestrian she flew onto the scene training with her mount Bonifatius “Erik” and trainer Rosalind Kinstler of Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2011 she earned the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage Reserve National Champion, was Champion Grade II Para-Equestrian, and in 2012 was the Reserve National Champion Grade II Para-Equestrian.

Dale is on the 2012 United States Paralympic Equestrian Team headed to London England

Diane Kastama

Diane Kastama United States Para-Equestrian Driving for the DisabledDiane Kastama, Arroyo Grande, CA Grade I.  In 1991 a car crash left Diane paralyzed from the waist down. Although a lifelong horse person and dressage enthusiast, riding without the use of her legs was not much fun and she soon turned to driven dressage and then the exciting sport of combined driving. Her relatives and friends thought she was crazy for taking on a sport that involves sitting atop a tall carriage, pulled by a horse going “hell-bent” for speed.
Diane started competing with her home bred Appaloosa’s but now Diane competes with a pair of Section D Welsh Cobs, Rupert and George. She drives them single, pair and tandem. She competes against able-bodied drivers all over the Western United States and occasionally on the East Coast at the Intermediate and Advanced level. Diane has also demonstrated her skills at Rolex, KY, Horse Expo in Sacramento, the “Night of the Horse” in Del Mar. The Equine Affair and various therapeutic horse programs throughout California. She has also participated in the closing ceremonies at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. Diane is always willing to share her skills and knowledge and bring driving to the forefront of equine sports.  Diane has been very succesful in international Para-Equestrian competition, coming home with an Individual Silver and Team Bronze driving a borrowed Welsh Cob Stallion in 2002 Greven, Germany.  2004 she place 5th with a borrowed Welsh cob in Endinburg, Scotland.  In 2006 she came home with Individual Gold driving her own Welsh cob gelding Jasper.  In 2008 Diane earned Individual Bronze and Team Silver driving Jasper once again.


About Para-Equestrian Driving (courtesy FEI)
Para-Equestrian Driving competitions are modeled on the ridden Three Day Event. It is a triathlon which tests the overall versatility of the driven horse. Modern Horse Driving Trials came into existence in 1968 when HRH Prince Philip of Great Britain initiated the formulation of the rules for the new sport. Prince Philip is a past President of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) for able-bodied people in all equestrian disciplines.
The competition consists of three phases, spread over three or four days.

Day 1 Dressage
Driven dressage consists of a sequence of set movements driven from memory and using mainly the voice for control. Dressage displays the schooling and obedience of the horse.
Day 2 The Cross Country Marathon with Obstacles
There are three timed sections plus up to six challenging ‘obstacles’ to be driven at speed. The stamina of the horses and the horsemanship of the drivers are stretched to the very limit. This section gets the adrenaline pumping and the mud-flying. Carriage Driving is definitely not for the faint hearted.
Day 3 Cone Driving Competition against the clock.
Cone driving equates to the Show jumping phase of a ridden event. With only centimeters to spare, cone driving requires extreme accuracy on a tricky course, a steady hand, nerves of steel and a well trained horse.

Each phase of the Driving Trials tests the skill and the nerve of the driver and the fitness, obedience and suppleness of the horse. But above all it tests the bond of complete trust between them both.

Most carriage drivers with disabilities have, for one reason or another, found that riding is not physically possible for them. Their love of horses and their determination to participate in equestrian sport has led them to explore new and equally demanding and exciting equestrian challenges.
Great attention is given to all aspects of safety for the horse and the driver. At all times the driver is accompanied by at least one competent able-bodied person. Traditional elegance is expected, horses, drivers, grooms and carriages are all immaculately turned out.

Organization for this sport is very labor intensive requiring 30-40 volunteer Judges, Stewards, Time keepers, Scorers, Vets, Farriers and many others. However a carriage driving competition for disabled drivers can be easily integrated into a competition for able-bodied drivers. The first three World Championships have been held in conjunction with National Championships for able-bodied drivers in Wolfsburg, Germany in 1998, Stadl Paura, Austria in 2000, Greven, Germany in 2002 and also Hopetown, Scotland in 2004.

About the United States Driving for the Disabled, Inc.

United States Driving for the Disabled, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, seeks to improve the lives of physically challenged individuals throughout the United States and Canada by providing the experience of driving horses in a safe and challenging environment.  Our mission is to provide the extraordinary benefit of therapeutic driving to as many people as possible through sharing knowledge, experience, and serving as a resource for innovations in adaptive equipment for drivers, trainers, and programs offering carriage driving. The Sybil Dukehart Memorial Fund seeks to provide financial assistance to equip and train disabled drivers through providing scholarship funds to applicants.
USDFD fosters opportunities for drivers to compete in national and international amateur competitions by training and providing financial support for Team USA. For more information please visit www.USDFD.org.
Contact for the USDFD:
United States Driving for the Disabled, Inc.
32450 South Wright Rd.
Molalla, OR 97038
Ph: 503-550-9384
President: usdfdpresident@gmail.com
Offices: usdfd.org@gmail.com

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