Hart traveled to Florida in early December to work with Wellington-based international dressage trainer Todd Flettrich out of Cherry Knoll Farm, which is also a partial owner of Romani. Hart and Flettrich have worked consistently on warm-up and preparation with Romani after taking a break from showing when the mare returned from the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy, France. White Fences offered the ideal venue for Hart to prep for the upcoming CPEDI3*.
“She felt really good,” Hart smiled. “We wanted to come out and use this show as a schooling session to get her ready for the CPEDI3* that we have in about three weeks. I just wanted to get her out and about because she had a little bit of a break after WEG. This was her first time out at a recognized show since then.”
Hart continued, “I am really happy with the direction we are going. She was looking at the atmosphere and looking at everything, but she was able to keep her focus, which was really nice. We are definitely growing as a pair. I am more confident in my ability and my cues with her. It’s nice to be able to give her that confidence.”
The pair rode a fluid test with great relaxation and expression, and they earned the highest score of the weekend at White Fences. Hart, a two-time Paralympic dressage rider, has her eyes set on the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There are still many more strides to make before their journey to the podium, but Hart feels confident in their growing partnership.
“Leading up to the next event, I have been working on getting the rhythm, the cadence and the relaxation in order to sustain it through the test. I am working on really getting her to focus on me during the ride. I want to get us into our own little bubble out there so that we can block out everything. We are really going in the right direction, and I want to keep building on what we did here. I think this is a good baseline, but we can be even better,” Hart concluded.
The success for Cherry Knoll Farm didn’t stop with Hart, however. In Charlottesville, Virginia, Katie Cooper and Sandlot captured their second First Year Green Working Hunter Championship in two weeks. They showed at The Barracks Horse Show, putting in four consistent rounds over fences to take home two first place ribbons, two second place ribbons and a fourth in the under saddle.
“It was very good competition this week,” Cooper said. “There were so many people that the schedule was delayed and we had to show much later than expected, but I think it was a good test for his maturity. He handled it really well. Truthfully, he jumped probably the best he has ever jumped. He was very careful, thoughtful, he measured and really made it easy. He was a delight and really is just the best jumper.”