Making Para Equestrian History

June 6, 2013

Para-Dressage Symposium “A Team Approach” Inspires U.S. Riders & Trainers

The 2013 U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Symposium, held at Carlisle Academy in Lyman, Maine, brought riders, trainers, judges and clinicians together for an intensive symposium from May 29 through June 1. Para-Equestrians from Grade 1a to Grade IV came from all corners of the country to receive classroom training, lectures, video training, and live riding lessons. Additionally, there was a “Train the Trainer” program for trainers and regional coaches, and the “SmartPak Coaches Forum”. Expert leaders at the symposium were FEI “O” Judge and Olympic Technical Delegate Hanneke Gerritsen of Holland, Gold medal Great Britain Paralympic coach Clive Milkins, international Dressage rider Catherine Haddad Staller, and former USEF High Performance Dressage Director Gil Merrick.

For the past three years Hanneke Gerritsen has traveled to Lyman as the original education leader. “I think it was a great event, very well organized, and a pleasure for everyone involved. I was delighted to see how the athletes improved in only

three to four days. In a short amount of time they understood what we like to see as judges and trainers. It’s so important to be together, ride together, and see each other in one venue and informational atmosphere. I am seeing things that we hoped for years ago and now find on an everyday basis.”

Model, actress, and brand new Para-Dressage athlete Elle Wooley travelled from California. Originally from Maine, Elle said “I couldn’t have imagined the symposium being as beneficial as it was. It really helped my confidence. When I watch upper level able-bodied riders I get a little jealous, so being around Para-Equestrians who are incredible riders and other people with ailments almost evens the playing field. Everyone cheered for each other and was really encouraging over the weekend.”

Para-Dressage rider Holly Jacobson brought her new horse George to the 2013 Symposium. “This was a great opportunity to bring my new horse, test out what I have been feeling, and receive feedback from Para-Dressage professionals,” articulated Jacobson.

Several riders at the Symposium will compete at various sanctioned events throughout the country, earning their qualifying scores with hopes of competing at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France. Ultimately, some of these riders aspire to earn a spot on the U.S. Para-Equestrian Team for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. Among them is Mary Jordan, a Grade IV rider from Wells. “Mary’s passion and commitment to the sport of Para-Dressage has been contagious” said Sarah Armentrout, Head of School at Carlisle Academy. “We are excited to be able to foster the growth of this sport by partnering with US Para-Equestrian Association (USPEA) and the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) to organize and host these educational symposiums.”

Take a moment to watch the video from the Channel 6 News interview.

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