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June 2007

Irish Win in Austria

Full Report from the Austrian Paralympic Qualifier

Armagh-based para dressage rider Eilish Byrne has returned victorious from the CPEDI4* Paralympic Dressage Qualifier in Kreuttal near Vienna (31st May – 2nd June), having achieved a first and two second places and being named Grade II Champion on combined results from the individual, team and freestyle tests. 

Eilish was one of a three-member Irish team along with Liza Landau from Moneystown, Co Wicklow, and Yorkshire-based Kathryn Wheelock.  This international FEI competition was hotly contested by riders from twelve countries, all striving to achieve the 60% score required to be eligible for the Paralympic Games in 2008.

Eilish who has spina bifida was competing on her new horse, the ten year old Dutch-bred gelding, Youri.  The judges commented that the pair was forming a strong partnership, with much more to come from the talented horse, competing in his first international.  The stunning chestnut gelding behaved impeccably for Eilish, and the combination is definitely one to watch in the future.  The pair must be serious contenders for a place at the 2008 Paralympics. “I can’t believe we’ve won” said a delighted Eilish, whose hard work and determination over many years is finally starting to pay off.

Grade IV rider Liza Landau was a successful event rider until five years ago when she suffered serious injuries in a car accident.  Her previous competition experience showed through in Vienna as she worked to get the best out of her horse, Caroloban Bridge, but the whole event was a steep learning curve for both of them. ‘Logi’, a former showjumper, is inexperienced in the dressage arena and Liza was up against some serious horsepower and talented riders. “I really need a true dressage horse to compete on a level playing field in the Grade IV competitions”, said Liza. “The standard of riding and quality of the horses is outstanding, and their freestyle tests were a real eye-opener, with advanced moves being performed to perfection, as well as any able-bodied rider.”

Kathryn Wheelock, who was born with cerebral palsy, rode the Dales x TB mare, Elizadoolittle, and exceeded the required 60% for 5th place on the first day of competition in Grade III.  “Eliza injured her leg when we arrived in Austria so it was touch and go as to whether we would be able to compete,” said Kathryn. “Luckily, she passed the trot-up but we were constantly applying ice-packs and cold hosing her leg to ensure that she stayed sound. Thankfully, I achieved a score of over 65% in the Paralympic Qualifier in Belgium last year, so there was no pressure for me to meet the qualifying score.”

The Irish team was placed 5th in the team competition, which was won by Denmark who had entered a strong squad of seven riders.  Full results are available at here.  The Irish squad, which also includes USA-based James Dwyer and Breda Bernie from Cabinteely,  is now looking forward to the 2007 Para World Championships which take place in Hartpury, Gloucestershire, on 18th – 22nd July.

Pictures to follow soon.

Canada announces World Championship riders

Para Equestrian Canada (PEC) has announced that seven riders have been nominated to represent Canada at the Para Dressage World Championships:

Grade 1b
Ashley Gowanlock

Grade II
Dax Adam
Lauren Barwick
Jennifer McKenzie

Grade IV
Karen Brain
Eleonore Elstone
Philip Wright


The riders will fly to England for a training camp from July 11-16 at East Solway Equine Centre in Wiltshire. All seven riders (and their support team) will attend the camp to train with their borrowed horses. At the end of the training camp the National Team coach and chef d’equipe will select four riders for the team.  The remaining 3 riders will compete as individuals.   

The Canadian team achieved a score of 415.628 at the Pacific Rim Paralympic qualifier which already stands them in good stead for achieving team qualification for the Paralympics.

Visit www.paraequestrian.ca for more info and photos of the Canadian riders.


Paralympic Qualifier in Norway

On 14 - 17 June the Norwegian CPEDI4* Paralympic qualifier took place in Kristiansand. Riders from Norway, Sweden, Finland, GB, Ireland, Poland, Germany and Taiwan took part. Results from the team competition were as follows:
1st - SWEDEN
2nd - NORWAY

Results are available here.


GB World Championship Squad Announced

The GB selectors have announced the riders who will aim to retain the World Championship team title at the World Para Dressage Championships at Hartpury.

Grade 1a
Sophie Christiansen
Anne Dunham
Grade 1b
Ricky Balshaw
Lee Pearson
Grade II
Felicity Coulthard
Nicola Tustain
Grade III
Debbie Criddle
Simon Laurens
Grade IV
Michelle Crunkhorn
Denise Shawns
The team of four riders will be chosen from the ten listed above.

Great Britain has also selected five more riders to take part in the World Championships, but according to the BEF website, these riders will not be eligible for World Championship medals. 

Grade 1a - Rory Williams
Grade 1b - Lucy Barclay
Grade II - Natasha Baker
Grade III - Toby Pawson
Grade IV - Sophie Wells


KBIS Qualifier, Richmond

I took both Indi and Eliza to Richmond EC on 23rd June. I'm still trying to decide which horse I will ride at the World Championships so the KBIS qualifiers are providing the ideal chance for me to compete both of them in para tests.


I rode Eliza in E44 as a warm up to the Grade III team test and was pleased to come 2nd in the restricted section with 66%. Eliza's owner, Laura Brittain, arrived in time for the para class and I rode first on Eliza to gain 66.92%. Indi was last to go but was a bit strong in the test so didn't do his best ever test. However he still scored 64.47% which meant I was first on Eliza and 2nd on Indi.

Two other riders also did the 'double'. Unsurprisingly, Lee Pearson was 1st and 2nd in Grade 1b and he is also trying to decide which horse will be his mount for the Worlds. Fiona Maynard was 1st on Roderik and 2nd on Forever Luck in the Grade IV. This was Fiona's last competition before she leaves York to start a BD apprenticeship at Aspen Grove with Gareth Hughes. We wish her all the best of luck with this new job which should be a great boost to her dressage career.

I will spend the next week training with both horses at the Moody's yard before taking them to the next KBIS qualifier on 1st July. I still don't know which horse to choose for the Worlds, though!

Full results here.


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