December 2014 Issue - page 6

Page 6
December 2014
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Pennsylvania Equestrian
Cherry Knoll Farm, Flettrich and Hart Succeed as a Team
Todd Flettrich, Coatesville,
PA, is an internationally recog-
nized dressage rider and trainer.
Rebecca Hart, of nearby West
Grove, is one of the brightest
stars of Para-Dressage. When the
two joined forces, they became
an unstoppable team of positive
energy and excellent horseman-
Hart, a Grade II Para-Dres-
sage athlete with birth-onset
hereditary spastic paraplegia,
is a two-time paralympian and
an incredible six-time USEF
Para-Equestrian Dressage Na-
tional Champion. Prior to the
2010 World Equestrian Games,
Rebecca's primary trainer, Missy
Ransehousen, asked professional
dressage rider Flettrich to help
polish Rebecca's performance
during her final preparations for
the event. Since then, he con-
tinues to work with Hart before
many major events.
"When Missy asked me,
I was skeptical because I had
not taught a para-rider before,"
Flettrich acknowledged. "Yet it
wasn't as difficult as I thought
because it all comes back to the
basic riding principles."
The relationship between
Hart and Flettrich has grown
and strengthened over time and
through several mount changes
for Hart. They work together
because they feel it's a mutual
learning experience.
For Hart, the first meeting
with Flettrich actually swept her
off her feet.
"I went to Florida to hang
out with Margaret Duprey and
Todd. When Missy dropped me
off at the barn, I literally fell out
of the truck at his feet," Hart said
laughing. "I told him to teach me
as if I were an able-bodied rider
and I will adapt it to my body.
If something doesn't work we'll
have a conversation about it."
Flettrich's training style
worked well for Hart. She enjoyed
great success competing one of
her early international horses,
Norteassa (nicknamed Pippin).
"Todd is impeccable with his
timing and his finesse with the
aids to get the horse responding
at exactly the right moment," said
Hart. "He makes you very aware
of what's going on beneath you
and ensures you're able to keep
it playful, light and energetic.
Pippin really responded."
Hart qualified for the 2012
London Paralympic games with
her new mount Lord Ludger
and again, Flettrich was there to
polish and perfect Hart's riding
prior to the big competition. With
his help, Hart finished in fourth
place, just shy of a medal.
After his impressive career,
Lord Ludger retired and Hart
began the challenging search for
a new international mount. With
the generous support of Margaret
Duprey, owner of Cherry Knoll
Farm in West Grove, PA, they
purchased the 12-year-old Danish
Warmblood mare, Schroeters
"I had to have a skillset in
mind when finding a horse that
would work with my disability,"
Hart explained. "My disease is
a progressive one that causes
muscle wasting and paralysis
from your mid-back down; what I
could do six months ago with my
body I can't do now. So I need a
horse that is adaptable so I can
start somewhere and progress,
and that's what I fell in love with
Romani for."
Flettrich shares Hart's con-
fidence in her new mount and
said having Romani has made
teaching her easier.
"Rebecca having the right
horse allows her to really excel,"
said Flettrich. "We focused on
the basics like fixing her balance
and since she knew my riding
principles, it was easy to jump in
and start helping."
This March, Hart and Ro-
mani tackled their first big CDI
at the Adequan Global Dressage
Festival 12 CPEDI3*, with
Flettrich helping to train them
prior to the event once more.
Through hard work and
training with Flettrich, Hart and
Romani solidified their bond and
began to set sights on the Alltech
FEI World Equestrian Games.
After she claimed her sixth
U.S. National Championship in
June, Hart took Romani to France
for the 2014 Alltech FEI World
Equestrian Games (WEG). The
pair qualified for the Freestyle
after finishing in seventh place
with a score of 67.486 percent
While Flettrich could not be
in Normandy, he was confident
about Hart's abilities and said
he didn't need to give her any
"Working with Rebecca has
been a wonderful experience.
Sometimes I think Rebecca
has taught me more than I have
taught her," Flettrich laughed.
"That girl has an unbelievable
work ethic and she does not allow
her disability to run her life."
With the help of her trainers
and mentors, Hart has climbed to
25th position in Para-Dressage
on the FEI's World Individual
Ranking List.
"I'm so grateful to all of the
people who have helped me along
the way, Margaret, Todd, and
Missy," Rebecca said.
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