Australia’s Para-equestrian hopefuls have had a strong start to competition at the Boneo CPEDI – a crucial nomination event for Australian based riders vying for Rio team selection.

With riders upping-the-anti since the first nomination event in December, improvements were seen across the board and a number of personal bests achieved.

Grade two rider Emma Booth didn’t know what to expect of her new mount Mogelvangs Zidane as the pair have only been together for three weeks. The 24 year old was pleasantly surprised when they rode to a score of 74.167%.

“I was hoping for a good score but he definitely surprised me,” said Booth.

“I’ve only had him for three weeks so it’s a very new partnership and today was our first official competition.

“It will be interesting to see how we progress towards the next nomination event in Sydney and I’m looking forward to working with him to see what we can do.”

After the first nomination event in December, dual World Equestrian Games bronze medallist Sharon Jarvis who is from Western Australia, based herself in Newcastle with dressage power duo Heath and Rozzie Ryan.

“I train with Rozzie and I really appreciate the help that Rozzie gives me, the Ryan’s are amazing and a fantastic help. It’s an amazing environment to be in,” she said.

Jarvis rode horse Ceasy to a score of 71.974% which is a 2% improvement on this combination’s result from the first nomination event and a significant achievement given it is only their second official competition.

“We’ve had a bit more time to get to know each other and that really helped today,” said Jarvis, who was also impressed by the performances of her fellow competitors.

“It’s really exciting for Australia to see new horses and new riders at this competition and the feeling is very positive for the future,” she said.

Equestrian spectators are used to seeing Lisa Martin compete in FEI dressage but having recently undergone classification, Martin today competed for the first time in the Grade 4 competition.

Martin explains how she came to compete in Para-equestrian:

“Many years ago I was competing at open competition at Hartpury. I was approached then if I would like to compete in Para-Equestrian because I had an injury to my ankle about 14 years ago – I came off a young horse and basically smashed the ankle and they ended up fusing it,” she said.

“It’s got to the stage now where Para-Equestrian has become very professional and it’s got lots of support and the group of people involved are incredible to deal with. So I thought if I pass the assessment then why not. It’s a great opportunity to maybe one day represent my county.”

Martin’s first outing with her FEI dressage horse First Famous produced a very strong 73.675% and Martin says the pair will only get better as they fine tune the routine.

“Hopefully we will see even better scores once I ride the test more and get used to it,” said Martin. “I loved it out there today and I loved the cheer squad,” she said.

In the team’s event Australia has taken a commanding lead over New Zealand with riders Sharon Jarvis (Ceasy), Victoria Davies (Andalua Elegido), Joann Formosa (GB Winchester) and Katie Umback (Gronskovlunds Marquis) scoring a combined 215.662 after the first day. Results from tomorrow’s Individual Championship will be added to today’s result for an overall team score.