Paralympics selection trials for para-dressage were held May 16-18, 2008 in Wayne, Indiana, which were also the USEF national championships. Five horse and rider teams were named to the US team, which will compete in Hong Kong September 7-11.
“The U.S. Paralympic Equestrian Dressage Team is made up of some of the most talented riders in the sport,” said Pam Lane, USEF Director of Para Equestrian and Vaulting. “Currently, the U.S. is ranked fourth in the world. Everyone is very excited about representing the United States in Hong Kong.”
The US Riders will compete in the team event and as individuals (click here for an overview of paralympic dressage format).
Radetzky, 7-year-old Trakehner gelding
The 2008 Paralympic Games will not be the first for Robin Brueckmann, but they will be for her horse Radetzky, a 2001 Trakehner gelding that she has trained for two years. Robin competed in the 2000 Games in Sydney and is very excited to debut her new horse in Beijing.
Robin acquired reflex sympathetic dystrophy in her right leg as a result of a fall on ice and subsequently developed paralysis there, as well. A lifelong rider, she now had to adjust to riding without stirrups. Concentrating on dressage since 1979, Brueckmann trains her own horses.
When Brueckmann is not riding, she enjoys yoga, gardening and singing.
Mibis, 14-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood mare
Barbara Grassmyer was horse crazy from an early age when her riding career began at a therapeutic riding center in Sunol, Calif. She competed in horse shows for the disabled throughout California and the United States. Barbara was an alternate on the 2000 U.S. Paralympic Team and will make her Paralympic competition debut in Beijing.
Barbara was born with Aperts Syndrome, a congenital birth defect which results in poor rotation of all joints, syndactylism of hands and feet, head and face anomalies caused by bone fusion in the skull and face and speech impediments. She is a graduate of Feather River College. When she is not riding or caring for her horse, or traveling to clinics and competitions, she enjoys reading and working as a nanny for her six nieces.
Norteassa, 16-year-old Hanoverian Gelding
Rebecca Hart got involved with the Paralympic movement in 1998 at a regional competition in Atlanta, Ga., that served as the selection trials for the 2000 Games in Sydney. It was there that Hart decided she wanted to aim for international competition herself. She purchased her first horse and began to train seriously for national and international competition. Now, she’ll ride in her first Paralympic Games in Beijing.
Over the years, Rebecca has represented the United States at several international events, including the 2003 and 2007 Para-Equestrian World Championships. With her current competition horse, Norteassa, Hart won the 2008 National Para-Equestrian Championships and was named to the 2008 U.S. Paralympic Equestrian Team.
Rebecca was born with Familial Spastic Paraplegia, a genetic disease that causes muscle wasting and lack of control from the waist down. She grew up in Erie, Pa., and when not riding she enjoys kayaking, sailing, camping and rock climbing. Rebecca is currently a senior at Penn State University, where she is majoring in international business and accounting.
Walk on the Moon, 11-year-old Thoroughbred Gelding
The 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing will be the second go-round for Keith Newerla. At the age of 21, he finished in fourth place at the Athens Games.
Keith always tries to help children with disabilities see the benefits of adapted recreation and keep a positive outlook on life, whether it is by helping coach the local youth wheelchair basketball team or teaching skiing lessons. He graduated from Minnesota State University-Moorhead in 2006 with a degree in mass communications. He currently works for Brandywine River Nursery.
Rolex Toltien, 10-year-old KWPN Dutch Warmblood Gelding
Lynn Seidemann is a paraplegic from a 1983 snow skiing accident that left her with no feeling or function from the belly button down. She started riding with Equest 11 years ago and began competing in 1996. Riding with two side walkers and a leader, she became an independent rider by 1998. She competed at the CAN National Horse Show in St. Louis, Mo., where she won the high point award for her division and earned the highest dressage score of the show. It was at this point that her international career started.
Lynn works to promote the para-equestrian sports and volunteers time on several committees. This includes acting as the Chairman of the Para-Equestrian High Performance Eligible Athletes Committee. Additionally, she promotes disabled riders and facilities through appearances and demonstration rides.
Lynn lives in Coppell, Texas with her family. Sam, her ever supporting husband of 20 years, helps keep the family schedule running smoothly, as they are raising two kids, Nick (16) and Jena (11). Seidemann also has a full-time job as a supply chain analyst at Microtune, Inc. She has been very active in sports her entire life, competing not only in dressage, but also in basketball and tennis. She strives to excel in every endeavor, and has also won a silver medal in tennis doubles at the 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.