Wellington, Fla. - June 18, 2016 - Cherry Knoll Farm is proud to announce that Rebecca Hart and Schroeter's Romani have been named to the 2016 United States Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Hart and Schroeter's Romani, a 14-year-old Danish Warmblood mare, will compete in the para-dressage competition, Grade II, which takes place Sept. 12-16 at the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center.
"I am super excited to represent the United States with Annie [Peavy], Sydney [Collier] and Gigi [Margaret McIntosh]," Hart said. "We are going to do our very best to represent our country to the best of our abilities. I think my relationship with Romani has been coming into its own in this last year. We've had a lot of success over in Europe on our last few tours and this last winter in Wellington was wonderful. I'm looking forward to head off to the Games!"
Hart was born with a rare genetic disease called Familial Spastic Paraplegia, which affects her muscles and joints causing partial paralysis and severe spasticity. She began riding horses at 10 years old, and she soon became determined to join the growing sport of para-equestrian dressage. She is a seven-time national champion and represented the United States in the World Equestrian Games (Lexington 2010 and Normandy 2014) and the Paralympics (Beijing 2008 and London 2012).
This year, Hart decided to compete without stirrups to help limit spasticity in her legs and she has been working on riding her tests with more accuracy.
"Riding without stirrups has been a huge change, and I think it's been for the better," Hart explained. "It has enhanced my communication with Romani and has helped me so that I don't get as braced in the tack. It adds to the harmony and the flow throughout the test."
Hart has been actively training out of Cherry Knoll Farm in Wellington, Florida, working with professional dressage rider and trainer Todd Flettrich.
"We have been working on Romani's fitness and making sure we don't give away
little points. At the Games, the difference between those top places is so small, and everyone is going to be on their 'A' game. We're really focusing on the small things such as square halts, riding into the corners, being as accurate as possible and really looking at where we can gain those tiny little points that hopefully will serve us well."
Hart and her horse Schroeter's Romani, owned by Rebecca Hart in conjunction with Margaret Duprey, Cherry Knoll Farm, Barbara Summer, and William and Sandy Kimmel, have had an exciting career together over the past two years with top finishes around the world. In January, at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida, Hart was the Grade II individual champion and team gold medalist at the CPEDI3*. The pair also traveled to Europe to gain more experience and they placed first in the Grade II Individual Test at the CPEDI3* in Deauville, France.
"Thank you to all of the people that helped me find Romani and who have been supporting us along the way," Hart said. "Margaret Duprey has been huge in letting me come and train out of Cherry Knoll Farm and she enabled us to go to Europe. Todd [Flettrich] has been crucial to our success as both a trainer and mentor. All of my other owners, Bill and Sandy Kimmel as well as Barbara Summer have been there every step of the way, and we would not be having this moment right now without everyone's belief in us!"
To follow Hart on her road to Rio, please visit, www.rebeccahartequestrian.com. For more information on Cherry Knoll Farm, please visit www.cherryknollfarminc.com.