Para Pass Dressage Team Championship in the Netherlands

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The phrase “going Dutch,” which means splitting things up, is kind of how the Orifarm Healthcare FEI Grade IV World Para-Dressage Championship works.

Grades classify athletes based on their disability to promote an even playing field. In the team competition, each grade competes separately and performs the respective test for its classification. The top three scores from each team are combined and the team with the highest total score wins the gold medal.

So think of strategy as divide and conquer.

©Sanne Voets / FEI

This week in Herning, Denmark, 18 nations showed up, competing over two rounds to determine the 2022 Para Dressage Team Champions. Herning is also qualified for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, offering places to the top seven teams .

The Netherlands were the first team to clinch a golden ticket.

The Dutch were the defending champions, having won the title at Tryon in 2018. Sanne Voets [Grade IV]Demi Haerkens [Grade IV]Lotte Krijnsen [Grade III] and Frank Hosmar [Grade V] received a total score of 230.225%. Denmark, who had individual test winner Tobias Thorning Joergensen (79.265), finished just behind with 229.751%. The United States completed the top three with 225.335% to win bronze.

Katrine Kristensen (DEN) on Goerklintgaards Quarter .©FEI / Richard Juilliart

While the athletes themselves were overjoyed, there was one person whose elation rang above the rest.

“I’ve never screamed so loudly in my entire life,” laughs Joyce van-Rooijen-Heuitink, coach and coach of the Dutch team.

“They must have heard in the stables that it was me. I just can’t describe it, I’m on a cloud 26. We have two new riders and you never know what they do in a championship. I knew Sanne [Voets] and Frank [Hosmar] would deliver, but the other two did too. How cool is that?”

Demi Haerkens and EHL Daula / FEI

Voets is a seasoned rider, having been part of the last World Championship team and winning individual gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games aboard the 14-year-old Demantur RS2 NOP gelding, the same horse she rode. campaign for the team competition in Herning. She is currently number two in the world.

Hosmar also won several medals at several World Championships and Paralympic Games with 17-year-old gelding Alphaville Nop, including individual bronze at London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016. In Tokyo, Hosmar was just behind Voets with a medal of individual money. He was part of the Dutch World Championship winning team in Tryon.

“It was really fun. At times I thought ‘a bit more’, but then I thought ‘no, no, I don’t want any mistakes,'” Hosmar said.

Her score of 75.786 was in line with Haerkens 76.024 aboard 14-year-old mare ELH Daula. Voets edged out the Dutch with a score of 78.415, while Krijnsen served as the drop scorer this time with a 71.412 aboard 16-year-old mare Rosenstolz.

Haerkens and Krijnsen may not all have the same accolades yet, but they have now won their first world championship. So it’s not a bad start.

The United States is not on cloud 26. It is, however, on cloud nine.

“We’re talking about being on cloud nine,” said Grade IV rider Kate Shoemaker (USA), who helped the team win bronze with eight-year-old mare Quiana.

Kate Shoemaker (USA) / FEI

The team did not arrive in Herning with a gold target this time around, their priorities were to secure a place in Paris.

“We came with a very different team of horses to the one we took to Tokyo and our expectation wasn’t a medal, it was to qualify for Paris and then have a build year. But it shows that our program is heading in the right direction. To be bronze with this young team is an incredible feeling. There’s something about when you strive for something that’s just out of reach and then you grab it and hold it firmly.

Team USA celebrates bronze. ©FEI / Richard Juilliart

Expect to see the Netherlands, Denmark, the United States, Great Britain, Belgium, Germany and Italy in 2024 dancing in Paris. But it’s not over yet. The Orifarm Healthcare FEI Individual Para-Dressage World Championships will conclude on Sunday.

Feature image: ©FEI / Richard Juilliart


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