Canadian Para-Equestrians Wrap Up European Tour

At the last stop of their European tour, Canadian riders once again achieved top results , with scores in the 70s, against top international

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By: Equine Canada |

At the last stop of their European tour, Canadian riders once again achieved top results , with scores in the 70s, against top international competitors at CPEDI 3* Mannheim, GER, held May 3-6th.

Continuing their winning streak from the week before at CPEDI 3* Moorsele, Lauren Barwick of Aldergrove, BC and Equine Canada’s 13-year-old Oldenburg mare, Off to Paris, were victorious in Grade II with wins in their Individual Championship (72.857%) and Freestyle (77.167%) tests.

“There were incredible competitors this week in Mannheim, and it was a privileged to be riding with such talented riders and quality horses. The competition was close; however, in the end, Paris came through for me and helped me perform two first place rides,” said Barwick, who is a three-time Paralympian.

“We have a good combination for our coaching team. Between horse training, rider technique, arena dynamics and being able to think outside the box, we as riders are very fortunate to have such great expertise at the tips of our fingers. After each day of training with both coaches, my horses felt better and better.”

“I have had fabulous grooms on the tour who have volunteered their time to be my worker bees,” added Barwick. “It’s not a very glamorous job, but there is no way I could successfully get in the arena without the long, exhausting hours they put in on my behalf.”

Riding Double Agent, her seven-year-old Anglo-European Studbook mare, Roberta Sheffield of Lincolnshire, UK finished in second with 71.096% in the Grade III team test. In the Grade III Individual Championship test, Sheffield also placed second, scoring 71.341%, with Miss Evelyn Little’s eight-year-old gelding Dutch Warmblood, Bindro T.

Along with Barwick and Sheffield , all of the Canadian riders – Robyn Andrews of St. Johns, NL and her mare Fancianna, a 13-year-old Friesian Andalusian cross; Jody Schloss of Toronto, ON with her 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Inspector Rebus; and Ashley Gowanlock of Surrey, BC and Collegiate Sweet Leilani, M. Kendalyne Overway’s 13-year-old Morgan mare- all qualified for the final day of competition, which was the first time during the tour that everyone rode their Freestyle test.

“I was pleasantly surprised at how Leilani dealt with the atmosphere of Mannheim. It was no small feat, and she handled it like an old pro. It is nice to go in the ring knowing that I have a solid partner there with me, and I don’t have to worry about any outside distractions,” said Gowanlock. “Leilani is a fast learner, and so willing to do what I ask of her. I am blessed to have found her and been given permission by her owner to take her over to Europe.”

In addition to very strong individual results the Canadian Para-Equestrian Team finished in fourth as a nation in the team competition. As a result of a very successful spring competition season in North America and Europe, Canada is now sitting in top spot in the FEI world para-dressage rankings.

“The 2014 European Tour has been most memorable,” said Andrews. “I received wonderful support from my teammates, my personal coach Sue McTavish, Chef d’équipe Elizabeth Quigg and team coaches Mary Longden and Andrea Taylor. A special thanks should go to Amie O’Shaughnessy who did more than can be imagined and still kept everything going. The tour was a wonderful eye opener for me as this was my first time competing on this continent.”

“It has been very good for our riders to compete against all the top Europeans on a regular basis,” said Quigg. “Being able to put together three strong finishes during the tour has given our riders tremendous confidence as we move toward the World Equestrian Games in August. The horses and riders will now take well-earned rest before resuming their training in North America and England. I want to congratulate everyone involved, grooms, riders and all support staff for their efforts.”

Complete results for CPEDI3* Mannheim may be found here.

“The same horse and rider combinations have travelled and competed together in four different countries over the past eight weeks as part of our team strategy heading into the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games,” said O’Shaughnessy, who is the Director of Para-Equestrian at Equine Canada. “We have had brilliant performances along the way, and have had the privilege of competing against the best teams and athletes in the world.”

“I am immensely proud of the athletes, horses, owners, coaches, support staff and grooms who gave their full commitment to make the Canadian Para-Equestrian Team a success in and out of the competition ring. The support of our performance partners, Sport Canada and Own the Podium, for this tour has given us the experience and opportunities that we need to meet our performance goals at the upcoming Games and we are looking forward to an exciting few months of final preparations,” added O’Shaughnessy.

Leading the team on the European Tour was Amie O’Shaughnessy, Director of Para-Equestrian, Mary Longden, team coach; Andrea Taylor, team coach; and Elizabeth Quigg, Chef d’équipe. A large support team is also accompanying the athletes, including: Sue McTavish, Diana Andrews, Patty Merrill, Skye Hanlon, Laura Dixon, Grace Catts Tucker, Lauren Massey and Ellen Arnold.

The Canadian riders’ participation in these competitions has been made possible through the Own the Podium program, a national sport technical initiative designed to help Canada’s summer and winter athletes achieve podium success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.