Former New Zealand hanoverian stallion Worldwide is going to the London Paralympic Games as the mount of Grade 1b rider Joann Formosa.
And the former ride of New Zealand Olympian Kallista Field, the 12-year-old warmblood mare Waikiwi, has also made the Australian Paralympic team with Hannah Dodd, 20, from New South Wales.
Formosa was speechless when she learned of her nomination with Worldwide last week. It has been a lifelong goal of the 51 year old Victorian to represent her country.
“Since I was a child it’s been a dream of mine to represent Australia. I was told that I would never ride again so to be at this level is just fantastic. Wearing the uniform and seeing the Australian flag hanging in the stadium will be unreal,” she said.
Dodd, who rides in the Grade 4 division, has the degenerative disease sacral agenesis, which left her without four vertebrae, caused her right knee to grow backwards and forced a reconstruction of her internal organs.
“I think riding into the arena for the first time in front of the massive crowd will be an awe-inspiring feeling and I’m really looking forward to it,” Dodd said.
Waikiwi is by Weltmeyer and out of Concerto, a daughter of Sharon Field’s grand prix mare Silver Fern, who is also the dam of Stuart Tinney’s top eventer Vettori. Waikiwi won the New Zealand Advanced Horse of the Year three times.
Also on the Australian team is Rob Oakley, 50, of ACT, and Grace Bowman, 22, from South Australia, who competed at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.
“I’m very excited and very honoured that this is now my second time representing Australia at a Paralympic Games,” Bowman said. “It’s really helpful to have the experience of a Games under my belt because now I can focus on the job at hand.”
Worldwide PB [the ‘PB’ denotes the fact that he is privately and not state bred], a licenced and approved hanoverian stallion, was imported from Germany as a young horse by Wanganui studmaster Berny Maubach, of Vollrath Stud. Worldwide, by the Weltmeyer stallion Weltbuerger and from the Brentano II mare Bella, was bred by Werner Heitgress. Worldwide was used extensively as a stallion for Maubach, and he crossed particularly well with his Dynamit and Genius mares. Worldwide’s daughters at the stud are now being bred to Vollrath’s current competition stallion Lessing, and the younger sire Fürst Patrick.
Worldwide had an impressive ridden career with Maubach’s wife, Jutta Rosenblatt. The pair won the NZ National Novice Championship and Medium Horse of the Year title, and competed to the level of Prix St George. But with the need to bring in new bloodlines to Vollrath Stud, Maubach sold Worldwide to Australian rider Claire Seidl-Wickens in 2006.
As a result of his performances, Worldwide was approved as a hanoverian breeding stallion in 2009, joining a select group of just eight other horses in Australia. In New Zealand, only four stallions are approved.
Maubach and Rosenblatt congratulated Formosa and her team on the selection, saying: “We promise to keep all our fingers and toes crossed for a successful competition. Keep your nerve, Joann … just sock it to them!”
Worldwide was bought by Formosa in December 2011, and the combination has trained with Manuela McLean since February.
The Grade 1b paralympic section requires a dressage test involving medium to collected walk, a quarter walk pirouette and a long rein walk, as well as working trot and lengthening in the trot.
This has meant Worldwide – a grand prix level performer – has had to learn how to work under very different aids.
“Jo’s injuries through accidents on horses have disabled her so much that she has very little leg strength (she walks with crutches), as well as very poor arm strength, however, she is strong in her core and rides him exceptionally well,” McLean said.
“We began by teaching him the whip-tap aids for gait changes (2 taps), quicker tempo (2 quick taps) and lengthening (1 tap). Once these aids were established to the responses we introduced the changes in seat action for changing gait, the quickening of the seat for quicker tempo and its lengthening for longer strides.
“Worldwide was a quick learner and has maintained the consistency of the seat cues with the reminder of the whip-tap when he is not attentive to the cue,” McLean said.
The Australian Paralympic Committee will formally announce the team on June 19.