Fiona Howard Makes CPEDI Debut with Diamond Dunes a Winning One at World Equestrian Center – Ocala

March 29, 2024 - Ocala, FL

Fiona Howard started riding Diamond Dunes a week ago, and they won their Grade II test.
Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography
With Fleuresse 4, Howard finished second in the Grade II class.
Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography
Roxanne Trunnell piloted her new ride Fan Tastico H to victory in the Grade I class.
Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography
With her Paralympic partner Dolton, Trunnell was second in the Grade I class.
Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

The first international Para Dressage event sponsored by Hampton Green Farm and Discover Dressage held at World Equestrian Center – Ocala (WEC) began on Friday, March 29, with top riders from North America on the roster, including the athletes named for the weekend’s Perrigo U.S. Para Dressage Team. Fiona Howard, who is based in Wellington, FL, and Hagen, Germany, rode Diamond Dunes, owned by Hof Kasselmann, for the first time in competition and took home the top prize in the Grade II FEI Para Grand Prix Test A CPEDI3*.

“I have only been riding him for a week,” said Howard of the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding by De l’Or x Wolkentanz. “It’s ride number five! I have other horses in training with Hof Kasselmann in Germany. They are super supportive, and they said, ‘We think this horse would make a great para horse for you.’ I rode conservatively, but he just really tried hard. He’s never done para before. I really love him, and I’m excited for the journey with him and to continue riding him.”

Howard and Diamond Dunes scored 72.356% for the win, and she also came in second place in the Grade II class with Fleuresse 4, her seven-year-old Oldenburg mare by For Romance OLD x Hardenberg Donnerschwee, with a score of 70.920%. Beatrice de Lavalette (USA) and Sixth Sense, a 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Sir Donnerhall I x Florencio I owned by Elizabeth and Nicolas de Lavalette, came third with a score of 68.333%.

Originally from London, Howard and her family moved to Boston, MA, where she spent years at Boston Children’s Hospital undergoing treatment for Dystonia. As she navigated her health challenges, Howard had improved enough to consider riding again and started at Harmony Horse Stables in Littleton, MA.

Howard explained, “I needed life outside of hospital and medical stuff, and I wanted to ride again. It’s really beneficial to me. I wanted to do dressage, and they helped me learn the para tests and what it took to get classified.”

When an offer to work with U.S. Paralympian Kate Shoemaker came up, Howard took the opportunity to ride internationally.

Now 25 years old, Howard has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northeastern University. She currently works in cardiac research for Boston Children’s Hospital to try and give back to the place that saved her life, all while competing in the U.S. and Europe to achieve the goal of improving every day with an aim toward the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Continuing their winning streak in only their second CPEDI together, two-time U.S. Paralympic gold medalist Roxanne Trunnell and Fan Tastico H, a seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding Fuerstenball OLD x Weltmeyer owned by Karin Flint, took the top spot in the Grade I FEI Para Grand Prix Test A CPEDI3* with a score of 74.097%.

Trunnell was second on a score of 72.431% with Dolton, her 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games gold medal-winning partner. This marks a triumphant return to competition for Dolton, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Danone I x Londonderry owned by Karin Flint and Flintwoode Farms LLC. Third place went to Marie Vonderheyden (FRA) and Bombastic d’Arion, her own 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Benicio x Baroncelli, who scored 69.444%.

While Dolton is Trunnell’s experienced campaigner, her new partnership with Fan Tastico H is growing with each competition. “[Fan Tastico H] is very much a seat and leg horse which is wonderful for me since that's how I was trained to ride when I was able-bodied,” said Trunnell. “I'm able to use more leg than I have to on Dolton but like Dolton, he doesn't like too much fussing with the head. With both of Karin's boys you put them in the right headset and then leave their heads alone.”

CPEDI3* competition is being held in WEC Stadium this week to give para dressage riders the feeling of a major event in a large arena in this Paralympic year. Trunnell compared, “I was surprised by the stadium; it had the feel of how the stadium in Tokyo had. I think that's why Dolton felt more relaxed in there then he did in the warm-up today. Horses are like elephants; they never forget. It was like he looked around and thought, ‘Okay, this is like the arena in Tokyo, so I must behave like I did in Tokyo.’ I love my little weirdo!”

U.S. Paralympic team bronze medalist Rebecca Hart swept first and second places in the Grade III FEI Para Grand Prix Test A CPEDI3*. She and Floratina, a 16-year-old Hanoverian mare by Fidertanz 2 x Rubin Royal OLD owned by Rowan O’Riley, scored 71.333% for the win, while El Corona Texel, Rowan O’Riley’s 15-year-old KWPN gelding by Wynton x Goodtimes, received 69.167% for second place. Ellie Wooley (USA) and Deucalion, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding (Dimaggio x Sandro Hit), placed third on 65.056%.

Fellow Paralympian team member Kate Shoemaker (USA) and Colijn, a 17-year-old KWPN gelding (Son de Niro x Ulster) owned by Fiona Howard, won the Grade IV FEI Para Grand Prix Test A CPEDI3* with a score of 70.139%. Finishing in second place with a score of 58.009% was Kyla Sorensen (CAN) and Gandalf, her own 11-year-old gelding by Gid Up Winchester x Radjah Z.

Cynthia Screnci (USA) took the top two spots in the Grade V FEI Para Grand Prix Test A CPEDI3*. She and For Memory 4, her own seven-year-old Hanoverian gelding (For Dance x Destano) won with 70.085%. Riding Sir Chipoli, her 17-year-old KWPN gelding (Sir Donnerhall x Carabas), she was second with a score of 67.863%.

CPEDI3* competition continues on Saturday, March 30, at WEC – Ocala with the Test B classes that determine the team competition as well. On Sunday, para dressage riders return to the ring for their freestyle classes.

Full Show Results and Ride Times

All prize lists, ride times and results will be posted and published on the 2024 dressage schedule page HERE. For all questions regarding upcoming dressage competition, contact Teresa.Uddo@wec.net.