The majestic sport of dressage has returned to Wellington, home of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, for another amazing season. Often compared to horse ballet, or dancing with horses, dressage showcases the grace, beauty and elegance of a horse and rider pair working together as one. From elite international dressage to more introductory levels to the uplifting sport of para-dressage, all levels of the sport are on display here in Wellington this winter. While the riders and their mounts make it look effortless in the ring, dressage performances are often the end result of years of hard work. If you are not familiar with this graceful sport, be sure to check it out. For those new to dressage, one way to learn more is to visit one of the Friday Night Stars events to enjoy the lyrical musical freestyle classes. Once again, we celebrate this amazing determination and hard work in Faces of Dressage 2023, highlighting just a few of the incredible riders you can see in action this winter at the AGDF.
Morgan Barbançon is not only fluent in French, English, Spanish, Catalan, Dutch and German, but she’s an Olympic dressage rider. In 2012, at the summer Olympics in London, she placed seventh as a team and 23rd in the individual competition. In 2015, at the FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, Barbançon finished eighth. In January, Barbançon and Habana Libre won the Global Dressage Festival CDI4* Grand Prix in Wellington. Up until 2018, Barbançon competed internationally for Spain. She now competes for France.
Anna Buffini represents the United States in dressage, and talent runs in her family. Her mother, Beverly Robinson, played volleyball at the collegiate level. She was selected as an alternate for the U.S. team that played at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Buffini earned several top dressage results early in the 2021 season with her Hanoverian mare FRH Davinia La Douce, placing third in the FEI Grand Prix and FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3* at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
Patricia Ferrando is a Venezuelan dressage rider. She competed at the 2019 Pan-American Games in Lima, where she finished 12th in the finals, and at the 2015 Pan-American Games in Toronto. One of the most successful dressage riders from Venezuela, Ferrando trains with Yvonne Losos de Muñiz. She aims to represent Venezuela at the Olympic Games.
BEATRICE DE LAVALETTE
Beatrice de Lavalette represents the United States in para-dressage and was a member of the U.S. Para-Dressage Team for the Tokyo Paralympic Games with her horse Clarc. De Lavalette lost both of her lower legs in the 2016 terrorist bombing at the Brussels airport. She started riding again five months after the attack. She has an impressive résumé and has had tremendous success. Beatrice and Sixth Sense have won several CPEDI3* events in Wellington already this year.
Rebecca Hart is a para-equestrian originally from Pittsburgh. Hart was born with a rare genetic disorder, Familial Spastic Paraplegia. Her life with horses has been extraordinary, as she is a three-time Paralympian: in 2008, 2012 and 2016. She went to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and placed 9th individually. Beyond the Paralympics, Hart has racked up a long list of accomplishments in the sport of para-dressage. She will be back in the show ring at the para-dressage events in Wellington this season.
German dressage rider Christoph Koschel approaches his sport with the following philosophy: “Recognize the feel and diversity of each and every horse. See the positives and be able to adjust.” He competed at the 2010 World Equestrian Games and the 2011 European Dressage Championships, where he won a medal in the team competition. Last year, he rode American-owned Dunensee to win the CDI4* Grand Prix in Wellington. He is back in Wellington this year and will be an exciting competitor to watch.
Roxanne Trunnell represents the United States in para-dressage. She contracted a virus in 2009 that caused swelling in her brain, putting her in a coma and resulted in her requiring a wheelchair. Since then, she has accomplished a great deal in her riding career. She won three medals at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, including a gold medal in the Individual Championship Test Grade I and Individual Freestyle Test Grade I events, and a bronze medal in the team open event.
Adrienne Lyle has a lengthy list of accomplishments as a top dressage rider and coach. She represented Team USA at the Olympic Games in London and Tokyo and brought home a team silver medal with her longtime partner Salvino. Lyle is currently ranked 11th in the world. Most recently, Lyle and Salvino won the FEI World Cup Grand Prix at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in January.
The ever-impressive Tinne Vilhelmson-Silvén represents Sweden and has competed at seven Olympic Games. She placed fourth in team dressage in 1992 and in team dressage in Beijing in 2008. She also placed eighth at the 2016 Olympics. A regular at the AGDF, Vilhelmson-Silvén won the Global Dressage Festival Friday Night Stars aboard Devanto last year. It’s safe to say the crowd will be excited to see what she brings to the arenas this year in Wellington.