The U.S. Para Dressage Team had strong performances at CHI Al Shaqab CPEDI3* held February 23-25 in Ar-Rayyan near Doha, Qatar.
Under the guidance of Chef d’Equipe Michel Assouline, the team of Beatrice de Lavalette and Sixth Sense, Fiona Howard and Jagger, and Kate Shoemaker and Quiana delivered several personal-best scores in FEI competition to secure their spot atop the podium.
“It was actually phenomenal, not only to have high scores but also they were consistent throughout the three days. They increased their scores each day, which was amazing,” Assouline said of the team’s performance. “I’m happy with the horses’ performance as well. They are becoming more consistent. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not surprised because the training has been going very well.”
Competition began on Thursday, and Shoemaker and Quiana started things off in an impressive fashion. Shoemaker (Wellington, Fla.) and the 2014 Rhineland mare owned by Kate, Craig, and Deena Shoemaker scored a personal-best 76.250% in the Grade IV FEI Para Grand Prix A Test. Howard and de Lavalette went one-two in the Grade II FEI Para Grand Prix A Test. Howard (Boston, Mass.) and Jagger, her own 2012 Westphalian gelding, scored a personal-best 72.931% in the test. Despite an error, de Lavalette (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Sixth Sense, a 2010 Oldenburg gelding owned by Elizabeth & Nicolas de Lavalette, were second on a score of 71.379%. The U.S. team was in the lead after the first day of competition.
Another day of excellent riding on Friday secured gold for the U.S. Para Team with a score of 446.852%, while the Netherlands took silver (432.389%) and Belgium claimed bronze (415.486%). Shoemaker and Quiana had a decisive win in the Grade IV FEI Para Grand Prix B Test with a personal-best score of 77.793%. de Lavalette and Sixth Sense earned top honors in the Grade II FEI Para Grand Prix B Test with a score of 74.555%, while Howard and Jagger were second with a personal-best score of 73.944%.
The U.S. combinations finished their time at CHI Al Shaqab with Saturday’s freestyle tests. Shoemaker and Quiana earned yet another personal-best score of 81.850% with a lovely ride in their Grade IV FEI Para Grand Prix Freestyle. de Lavalette and Sixth Sense had the top ride in the Grade IV FEI Para Grand Prix Freestyle with a score of 77.722%, and Howard and Jagger were close behind in second place on a personal-best score of 77.433%.
Assouline noted the high scores throughout the competition came from an educated group of judges. “The ground jury was a very advanced ground jury. We had two 5* judges, who were both Tokyo and Herning judges, so they have a good insight and know their stuff,” he said. “Good scores that we get from those judges are very meaningful.”
-- USEF press release
Scores: 2023 CPEDI Doha